dont forget the i love you before falling asleep
You met Kankri in the second grade. He was in the same class as you (Miss Maryam was your favorite teacher) and you became friends when you kicked a guy in the knee and made him fall in a puddle for teasing Kankri for reading instead of playing on the playground. You did end up getting sent to the principal’s office, but Kankri sat next to you the next day, trading seats with Meenah (she was ever so grateful; she’s never liked you). He thanked you and gave you the other half of his peanut butter and banana sandwich at lunch and you clicked like puzzle pieces.
By the time it was the end of your fifth grade year, Kankri was disliked by many people (except for Rufioh, the kid who played with Barbie dolls). Of course, you were disliked by almost everyone, but you still had Kankri.
In the sixth grade, you and Kankri had three classes together, including lunch. He had Life Science and Math with you and sometime’s he’d let you copy down his homework on the morning bus. During lunch, you’d sit in the far corner of the cafeteria with him and talk about nonsense. Sometimes, he’d let you look at his Geo notes before a big test. In the middle of that year, he also met Latula Pyrope, who ended up becoming someone dear to him. Not only did she have lunch with him, she also had Geography, PE, and ELA with him as well.
He told you he liked her in the seventh grade. You had no classes together that year, and you felt sick to your stomach when you found out Latula and he had nearly the same schedule, minus fourth together. The only time you saw Kankri the whole day was the bus rides to and from school, and even then, his mind was set on Latula.
You met Mituna in PE. He told you that your volleyball skills were horrible and that you were horrible. You told him he was a pile of dirty laundry and the red sock amongst the white. You became good friends after that and ate lunch together. He let you look at his Math homework; you let him look at your Lit homework. It was a win-win situation. You still didn’t forget Kankri.
In eighth grade, Kankri had three classes with you, and Mituna was in two of them. Latula was in one. When you introduced Kankri to Mituna, it was hate at first sight. Kankri despised him and even made it so that he would complain about him on the bus to you. Latula and Mituna hit it off easily, both being fans of skateboarding.
In ninth grade, Mituna and Latula started dating, and Kankri fell into a pit of despair. You sat with him in his room that night, listening to him cry and complain about Latula. You let him hug you and cling to you like a blanket. When he sniffled and apologized for acting so childish, you felt like your heart was going to explode from the amount of compassion you felt for him.
He fell asleep on you that night and you silently thought to yourself the possibilities of having a crush on your best friend.
After that night, Kankri was never that happy. He seemed solemn during the day and would glare at Mituna whenever he passed by in the halls. In fact, Kankri completely shunned the two from his life, and his entire focus was on you.
The Mituna got into a skateboarding crash that cost him his ability to think properly. Latula came over to Kankri’s house that night and he let her cry on his shoulder. You could tell by the way he told you this that he still wasn’t over her. You felt sick all over again and you screamed at yourself that night for having a crush on someone who could never like you back.
Eventually, things got better and Mituna was okay. Aside from his head, at least. Still, he wasn’t the same and he didn’t call you ‘a stupid hipster whore’ or a ‘butt-munching asshole’ anymore. He was different. He was stupid. And for that, you hated him.
You and Kankri grew closer and closer all through highschool. And the more you spent time with him and let him come over to your house for a study session and take him out to Crustie’s for midnight pizza and let him have your pepperoni (you’d always get pepperoni even though you hate it. But he loved it so it really didn’t matter to you), the more you fell for him. You fell for his smile and the way his teeth are so shiny, like a bright nickel. You fell for the way he fell asleep on your shoulder during study hall and the way he’d get so absorbed into the book he was reading that you’d have to snap your fingers in front of his face to get his attention. You fell for the way his hair curled around his face and the way his dark eyes glimmered every time you’d make him laugh.
You fell in love with your best friend, and you never regretted kicking that guy in the knee and getting sent home early.
You were hopelessly devoted to everything Kankri did. Everything he spoke and told you, you listened. You were so attached and your heart was being pulled more toward him and it was like you were drowning. You were drowning and you couldn’t breathe. The only thing that was keeping you alive was Kankri. His everything was the rope you held onto.
You just hoped it wouldn’t break.
You kissed Kankri during another one of your study sessions at your house. It had been a rough day. Junior year was being hard on Kankri and you couldn’t blame him for falling asleep while reading Macbeth. You looked over at him and saw his face angled toward you, the book leaning against his chest, just barely in his hand. His eyes were closed and mouth partially agape. He was snoring very lightly. Your heart ached painfully in your chest. The love you felt for the boy sleeping next to you would be the end of you.
You examined the way his long, dark lashes fell against his cheek and dusted them barely and his light freckles that seemed to shine in the sunset. The sky was orange. It was raining. He needed to be home by 11 because his father would get upset if he wasn’t there.
You leaned down and cupped his cheek in your hand. Your thumb brushed his soft skin and his eyelids twitched. You whispered, just barely, “You have no idea how much I love you.” Then you kissed him, briefly and barely.
The sky flitted with orange, peach cloud and not-really there rain. You lifted your head and the breath escaped your lungs when you saw his eyes open, but still lidded.
You were preparing for the worst. You prepared for Kankri to sit up and yell at you. For him to just walk out and never come back. For him to never forgive you for what you did and—
“Do it again,” he breathed out. Your faces were so close.
“What?” you croaked. Your throat was dry. You needed water. You needed something. You needed—
All you needed was him.
The rain stopped.
After that, you grew closer than before. You drove him to school each day, as usual. He could drive just as easily, but you wanted to take him, to see him every morning before anyone else. You kissed him each morning before driving him and kissed him after school. You kissed him during study sessions and kissed him during lunch, out in the courtyard.
He took your breath away, and each time you kissed, felt like the first.
He was going to be the end of you, the way he clung to you when you would fall asleep next to each other after school. The way he would watch you play your guitar, with half lidded eyes and a smile. The way he looked at you, with such compassion and such happiness and such.
It made you want to cry out in happiness because finally. Finally.
This boy’s heart was yours.
You could barely breathe. It felt like the air had just escaped your lungs and you felt like you were dying. Your heart pounded in your chest and you looked at the text again—fuck the speed limit and traffic laws.
Kankri is in the hospital.
It’s serious. How serious, though? Is it life-threatening? Is he going to die? No, no, no, no. He couldn’t die. He just couldn’t. Not after everything. Not after years of loving him and him loving you. No. This couldn’t happen.
Why. Why. Why him. Why Kankri.
The hospital parking lot was empty. Of course it was. It was night and the sky was pitch black. It was raining heavily. Kankri needed to be home by 11 because he needs to get to work early tomorrow. His boss would yell at him if he wasn’t there. He’d get fired.
No. No. Please. No.
You ran toward the doors of the emergency wing. The room was quiet until you opened the door and ran in, soaking wet. You rammed into the desk, heavily breathing, eyes wide.
“Kankri. Kankri Vantas. He. He just got admitted.” You were shaking.
“Sir, he’s in intensive care right now. You can’t—”
“He’s my goddamn motherfucking husband.” Your voice was loud, but you could barely hear anything. “I need to see him. He needs to come home. Where are you keeping him?” You were shouting. Your face was probably red. The lady looked scared.
A hand rested on your shoulder. “Cronus. Come. Sit.” Porrim grasped your hands and led you to a chair. Your legs were like gelatin. You could barely move.
She let you cry against her shoulder. Her posture was like stone the whole time.
A pair of footsteps led you to look up. Your gaze met another and the doctor—Doctor Harley—gazed down at you. “You can see him now, but—”
“What room,” you gritted out.
“203. But Mr. Vantas, I—”
You didn’t let her finish; you were already racing down the hall, toward 203. Your hands were in fists against your sides and you were shaking. He’s okay, you reminded yourself. He’s going to be okay.
203. You let yourself in.
You took in a sharp breath of air. He looked so broken. So. So fragile. His face was cut up and bruised. His arm was in a cast and a wrap was around his head. His leg was propped up in a cast as well.
You just wanted to hold him, to tell him he’ll be alright.
He looked up at you. He didn’t smile. There was no light in his eyes. They were blank. Dead. Like someone had sucked the life out of them. They weren’t the beautiful auburn color you had remembered so well. They were dark. Brown. They were lifeless.
You smiled all the same. “Hey Kan. How’re you feeling?” You sat down in the chair next to him. He flinched away from you. Like you were a threat. You frowned. “Everything okay?”
He looked scared. Like a deer in the head lights sorta thing. Your eyebrows knitted together and you reached out to touch him, but he jerked away quickly. You brought your hand back swiftly and stood up.
“Kan? Kankri? What is it? What’s wrong?” Your voice comes out wobbly.
He gazes at you curiously. “I. I’m sorry. But. Do I know you?”