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I'll Be Your Strength


"I told you not to go so fast!" She shrugs then winces as he lifts her leg, bending it at her knee to examine the wound that was just starting to bleed.

"But they dared me, Dai-chan! You heard them," she says. Stubborn as always, she was never one to back down from a challenge.

He frowns at her as he shakes his head, still unbelieving at all the trouble she would go through just to prove herself. All throughout their childhood and until now, Yui managed to only make friends with boys. Boys that were, he hated to say it, pretty stupid most of the time. They picked on her for being small and weak but she just fought back harder.

This time though, she had outdone herself. Her bicycle lay on the sidewalk behind her, bent at odd angles, seeing as she had just crashed straight into a fence. She looks embarrassed at the very least, but still defiant. Still proud of herself because she'd ridden down that hill faster than anyone else.

His finger accidentally prods at a sensitive spot and he cringes at the yelp she tries to hide. Sighing to himself, he picks himself up from the ground and holds out his hands towards her. "C'mon, I'm gonna get you home."

Careful not to hit her knee against anything, she takes both of his outstretched hands and gingerly picks herself up only to stumble as soon as she's upright. She screws up her eyes shut at the pain, not noticing how hard she's gripping Daichi's forearms. He forces her to lean against him even as she tries to walk on her own.

"I can walk just fine, Dai-chan, thank you very much." She holds her chin up as she goes to pick up what's left of her bicycle. The chain had snapped and the frame was bent out of shape, she definitely wouldn't be able to ride it home.

"What are you doing? I said I was gonna take you home," he says, already swinging his leg over his own bicycle. He pats the metal seat behind him while staring pointedly at her. "Well? Hop on."

Yui casts one last forlorn glance at the wreck that was her bicycle. "I'm coming back for you," she whispers. Daichi almost laughs at how dramatic she's being. She gets on behind him, forced to ride with both her legs to one side to prevent her wound from hitting the back of his thigh. Her hands are firmly clasped on the metal seat beneath her but she grabs the back of Daichi's shirt as soon as he starts pedaling.

"Oh, sorry. I'll go slow," he says, throwing a glance back at her. Yui just shakes her head and urges him to keep going. She doesn't want to go back home. All she wants to do is go back to their friends and brag about her record-breaking feat. But she can tell that Daichi is worried, even when he acts like he's frustrated with her and even though she's acting the same way, she could not be more grateful.

Her best friend has never treated her like a fragile little girl. But he never treated her like one of the boys either.

When they were little, his mother used to tell him to hold her hand whenever they crossed the street, even when there were no cars around. When they were old enough to watch scary movies, he'd let her hide her face on his shoulder as she whispered 'Is it over yet?' every five seconds.

He waited outside her house so they could walk to school together, he found time in between classes to talk to her, he let her steal some of the food from his plate, and on days when they don't walk home together he always sends her a message asking if she made it home okay.

And most of all, he picked her up every time she fell.

Years later, their friendship remains at a standstill. Every moment shared together is a mix of missed glances and skirting around the fact that neither of them had loved anyone else as much as they did the other. Maybe it's just been too long and they let too much time pass between them.

But one day, Daichi catches a glimpse of a scar just underneath her knee as she twirls before him in happiness after winning a volleyball match. She trips over her own feet and he laughs at her stunned expression as she lands on the ground. Before she can even think of picking herself up, he's already got his palm facing up, waiting for her to take it. She settles her hand over his and hauls herself up. Now she's laughing too, the sound filling his ears and warming him to the bone, her brilliant smile taking over his entire field of vision.

Like a sudden jolt, he wonders how he has never told her how much he cares about her and he wonders if there could be anyone else but her. She's been in his life from the very beginning and imagining some variant of a future without her in it just leaves a gaping hole where something's missing.

He's utterly consumed by his thoughts and doesn't notice Yui's incoming fist until it makes contact with his shoulder.

He grimaces in pain and she looks at him curiously. "Something wrong, Dai-chan?" And it's in the way her gaze pierces him and the way she uses that old nickname that tells him No, she's the one for me.

Rubbing the back of his neck, he just stares down at her and shakes his head.

Now how the hell did we end up here?

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