There were happy voices in the locker room. The twins chattered away about their exchange times, Retasu was collecting towels and talking with Miyuki. Shigeru sat against the wall, frowning quietly. He was staring at his phone in his lap, waiting for a text from his dear friend.
Akane had missed swim practice for the first time ever. In fact, he had been acting strange in class and hadn't walked to school with him in almost a week. He was starting to miss him.
Just as his thoughts started to wander, the door to the club room opened. Everyone's heads turned to the door, and the response was a mix of surprise and shock. Akane stood in the door way, hair messier than usual and bangs hanging low over his eyes. His face seemed off to Shigeru, like he didn't look normal. It was probably the absence of a smile.
Akane calmly walked to his locker, not saying a word to anyone. Miyuki seemed angry seeing him, so he calmly walked over to him, "Akane, practice is over. We postponed for as long as we could."
The smaller boys shoulders were hunched defensively as he stopped moving, his hand gripping tightly on the locker. His knuckles were almost white. "...I know. I'm sorry." He had no fight in his voice.
Shigeru could see how off Akane seemed, so he stood quickly, walking towards the two. "I think he had a test retake, right?" Akane looked at Shigeru, careful not to move his hair too much, "I didn't think to tell you guys, sorry."
Akane paused before going back to his locker, "Yeah. I had a test retake."
Miyuki didn't seem pleased with the answer, but he just sighed, finishing getting dressed. "Fine. Just don't stay here too late, okay, guys? We need you gone by seven."
Shigeru nodded, grabbing his towel and heading for the door, "Hurry up, Akane." Akane nodded, waiting until everyone was out of the locker room to change. Shigeru was waiting for him by the pool, frowning when he came out with a shirt on. "You can't swim with a shirt, bean sprout. What's going on?" He crossed his arms as Akane said nothing, heading for the water. "Dude, you missed practice. What is going on with you?"
Akane looked at Shigeru, unable to meet his eyes, "I had stuff to do, okay? jeeze." He walked to the edge of the pool, blankly staring at the water. He looked like he was debating getting in it or not, a sight Shigeru had never seen before. After a few moments, Akane slowly lifted his shirt over his head, pulling it off completely.
What Shigeru saw made his stomach churn. There were dark red scratches up and down Akane's back, like they had just been made not even ten minutes ago. He had bruises that were in various stages of healing and what looked like bruises on his neck. Shigeru felt a surge of rage burst through his system. He quickly grabbed Akane's arm, turning him around, "Akane, what the f-" He froze when he saw the look on Akane's face. He was nearly in tears, and below his messy bangs, Shigeru could make out a blackened eye. He moved his hands gently, careful to not hurt the smaller boy, and gently lifted the bangs.
"Akane..." He looked horrified at the freshly bruising skin around his eye. The normally cute face of his friends was blotched red from what looked like crying. His eyes were rimmed with tears and he was on the verge of a break down. Shigeru couldn't remember ever seeing his friend in such a bad condition. He did his best to speak calmly, but the rage flaring up inside him caused his voice to shake. "Akane, who did this to you? Did you get jumped? Did-" His voice cut out as he realized the bruising on his neck was a hickie. He gently grabbed Akane's chin, trying to tilt it up.
Akane jerked away from his hand, eyes wide, "Don't-!" He didn't make it far. Shigeru grabbed his arm so he didn't fall into the pool, an action that caused Akane to flinch. He struggled against Shigeru, trying to push him off. "S-Stop! Let go!"
"Akane, will you STOP?! What happened?! WHO HURT YOU?!" His voice was slowly rising, his grip loosening on Akane's small arm. He was ready to murder someone. He saw how Akane stepped back, ready to shut him out. Shigeru attempted a different approach, just wanting information, "Akane, you need to tell me what happened. This- THIS. Is not okay."
"I... You can't hurt him." His voice came out quiet, almost terrified. "He didn't mean to..."
Shigeru put his hands on Akane's face gently, trying to get the point across to him, "Akane, I don't give a shit who he is. He has no right to hurt you like this." He ran a hand over the small boy's head, trying to comfort him, "I will fucking END whoever did this, Akane, and wither you can tell me who it was, or I can go find him."
He quickly grabbed Shigeru's hands, eyes wide, "Shig, no, please- I'll tell you. But you can NOT let anyone else know, please." A few tears slid down his cheeks, and Shigeru quickly wiped them away. "He... He's a third year. I... I-I..." He started to cry harder, his entire body shaking. "H-He's my boyfriend..."
"What's his fucking name? I'm going to snap his neck. Who the fuck does he think he is- I'll fucking end him!" Akane stared at Shigeru, confusion causing him to scrunch up his face. "What? What's that look for?"
Akane pulled his face out of Shigeru's hands, "You... Did you hear what I said...? My boyfriend..."
"And? I don't give a shit about that." Points at the darkened bruises on his ribs, face dark. "I give a shit about that."
Akane suddenly looked relieved, quickly sitting on the floor. "Holy shit, Shigeru. Holy- Oh my god." He buried his face in his hands, shoulders shaking from crying. That wasn't the response he had expected. Shigeru crouched, suddenly worried, but Akane was smiling. He looked at Shigeru, tears streaking his face, "I- I thought you were gonna treat me weird. I was too scared to tell you this while time- Fuck man."
Shigeru gently ran a hand over Akane's head, frowning. "AKane, dude. I've sat through playing the gayest game on the face of this planet. I'm not worried that you're attracted to dudes, oaky?" His words calmed down Akane noticeably. He kept running hand hand over Akane's hair gently. "...Now then. Where the fuck is he?"
"...I'll show you where he lives." And with that, the two stood up and headed back to the locker rooms.