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The Things That Linger

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Krishna has always been stronger than Momiji. He has always been the one Momiji relies on and the one Momiji looks up to. Krishna has always been there for Momiji, encouraging him to do his best with a kind smile and helping him when Momiji could not do something on his own. Krishna was everything Momiji was not and a small part of Momiji was even convinced that Krishna was invincible.

His childhood friend had no weakness. Momiji sincerely believed that. That is, until the day his mom told him that Krishna had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

There were no warning signs, no cure. There weren't even any preventive measures that could be taken to slow the illness down. It was a fast-moving disease that crippled Krishna, placing him in a white, hospital room surrounded by IV tubes and overly clean walls. The first day Momiji visited Krishna in the hospital after he was first diagnosed, he was in a state of numbed shock. His mind couldn't seem to comprehend that the always strong and dependable Krishna had become reduced to the figure lying in the hospital bed before him, wearing an oxygen mask over his face and a heart monitor sluggishly beeping in time with Krishna's equally sluggish heart.

That night, Momiji could hardly sleep. His sparsely distributed dreams were filled with images of the sleeping Krishna in the hospital and the sound of the heart monitor beeping slower and slower with each passing second.

The next morning, Momiji made a decision. Now that Krishna was the one who needed someone to help him, it was Momiji's turn to help Krishna. He would support and be the strong one for Krishna, to repay Krishna for all the times he had been there for Momiji.

Momiji would visit Krishna every day in the hospital. When Krishna was sleeping, Momiji would sit by his bedside doing his homework for school until visiting hours were over. When Krishna was awake, Momiji would talk to him about everything and anything, speaking enough for two people now that talking had become physically strenuous for Krishna. They would sometimes eat snacks Momiji would pick up from the convenience store before he arrived or were hand-made by Momiji's mother.

On the very rare days when Krishna was feeling well enough to not only stay awake but also walk and talk, the two of them would travel through the hospital's gardens. On those days, Momiji would do everything in his power to act like everything was normal, to treat Krishna like he always did because Krishna is still the Krishna Momiji looked up to, no matter what.

The day before the illness completely consumes Krishna, he asks Momiji for one last thing.

It's on one of his very rare days where he has enough energy to both walk and talk, but when Momiji stands up to start heading out to the garden, Krishna stops him.

"Let's stay in today," he says to Momiji, puzzling Momiji. Krishna knows in his heart that he has little time left but he keeps this a secret from Momiji because he does not want this fact to ruin what few, precious moments they have left between the two of them. Now that Krishna has reached the end of his time, he's ready to bare his entire heart out to Momiji.

"Come over here, Momiji-kun." Krishna gestures to the left side of the bed while he rests on the right. Momiji, although still puzzled, complies and sits down on the bed.

Krishna's expression is amused. "No, I meant lie down with me. Just like how we used to when we were little."

Momiji's face reddens. "I-I don't think that's a good idea. The bed's kind of small and it's not normal to..." Momiji can't seem to finish the rest of his sentence, too embarrassed even over an act so innocent as sharing a bed. Krishna finds it absolutely endearing and his heart swells with love he can't put into words.

"Then," Krishna begins and reaches over to pull Momiji towards him. "Let me at least hold you."

Momiji falls into Krishna's arms with a soft sound of surprise and his face darkens three shades when he realizes their position. He doesn't push Krishna away though.

Krishna's nose finds itself nuzzling the top of Momiji's head, the scent he finds there refreshing and sweet. His arms rest loosely on the small of Momiji's back as he quietly speaks into Momiji's hair.

"I've loved you for a long time, Momiji-kun," he finally confesses. Momiji doesn't respond at first, perhaps because he is too shocked to comprehend the words. Krishna doesn't mind--he knows Momiji won't push him away because he is kind like that.

"Will you grant me my wish, Momiji-kun?"

"Your wish?" Momiji shifts around in the bed until he is looking directly at Krishna. "What is it?"

Krishna's smile widens as he answers. "Will you let me kiss you, Momiji-kun?"

Momiji has never thought about kissing Krishna. He has always believed himself to be a normal, albeit shorter than average, boy who never really stood out. He always thought that he would live out a normal life where he would one day find a cute girl to go out with and they would become girlfriend and boyfriend. The thought of doing something between lovers with Krishna whom he has always admired and respected, is a very foreign concept but he can't refuse. Krishna is dying and Momiji has already decided to be there for Krishna in any way he can.

So Momiji nods and Krishna looks like the happiest man alive as he leans down to kiss Momiji.

It is a soft, tender kiss--the kind Momiji had always imagined having, only he's the one being kissed and it's with Krishna. But it is loving and warm, lingering upon Momiji's lips even after they have pulled apart.

Krishna spends the rest of the day with Momiji, simply holding him and sneakily placing kisses on different parts of Momiji's face, causing Momiji's face to scrunch up in surprise which makes Krishna laugh at how cute Momiji looks.

Krishna's kiss continues to linger upon Momiji's lips and Krishna's scent wraps around him like an invisible cloth even after the day has passed and Momiji leaves the hospital and returns home.

Krishna's kiss and scent stays with him even after Krishna has taken his last breath and as Momiji stands in front of Krishna's grave, never to see him again.