Madara tells me that I can tell him anything.

His tone is so... serious. I don't say anything in reply.
I can't look him in the eyes, I'm scared of what I might see.

He says nothing more, pulling a sanding tool from his bag. I warily glance at him while he works.

I can't tell him. I'm unsure of if I even want to tell him.
Perhaps it's foolish, but I still tell him that nothing's wrong even after he choses not to press the topic further.

Previous task forgotten, Madara tilts his head as if he's some sort of stupid, confused puppy.
The word 'cute' also flashes through my mind but I quickly push that thought aside.

The last thing I want are unnecessary feelings for someone that constantly exhausts me (someone that will eventually forget me when time inevitably resets itself).

Madara replies with a teasing smile, and says that it doesn't seem like "nothing's wrong" to him.
He playfully points his sanding tool at me.

Instantly, I regret ever saying anything. I want him to finally give up (but I truly know I don't).
His persistence is one of the many things that I've grown tired of (it's one of the many things that I hold onto like a lifeline).

I look away and pick at a loose thread on my sweater, uncomfortable.

Why couldn’t Madara just accept what I say at face value like everyone else? He's the only person that still tries.

I know he means well. He's still trying to help me feel better but... sometimes he only makes it worse.

Sometimes, he reminds me of him and it scares me. I give Madara a pointed look.

I begin to give an excuse, trying to find some way to compare myself to an old man but he interupts me.
Using that serious tone again, he tells me to drop the 'old man' act.

He asks me why I can't let myself rely on anyone, telling me that he wants to be someone I can depend on.

My eyes begins to ache. This topic wasn’t anything new. We had talked about this many, many times before. More times than Madara could remember.

I close my eyes in frustration.

I can feel my shoulders tense up as I tell him that I don't want to talk about this right now, addressing him directly by name to make sure he understands how serious I'm being about this.

For a moment, I almost regret my decision to stay on campus instead of going home. Almost.

But even being confronted by Madara was preferable to the alternative. At first, Madara says nothing, his brows furrowed.
I don't know if I'm relieved or disappointed.

With a shocked voice, he asks why I used his first name and I instantly feel sick.
I made a mistake. Madara isn’t Madara. He is Mikejima-kun now.
He hadn’t been Madara for a very, very long time now.

I fucked up.

Had the walls I tried to build up truly crumbled so easily? My eyes begin to ache once again so I tightly shut them.

It's quiet so I assume Madara has already left, but I am proven wrong when I feel his arms wrap around me in a hug.

He tells me that he has no idea what I'm going through but he's sorry and that he'll always be here for me.

Why is he like this? How can he so easily apologize for something that isn't directly his fault?
I take a breath and rest my head on his shoulder.

I don't deserve his kindness.

Being hugged by Madara reminds me of moments that don't exist anymore. Soon enough this moment won't exist either. It's so bittersweet...

Madara breaks the hug and leans back to look at me. He looks so determined, so serious.
He tells me that he'll always support me.

He reaches out and slowly swipes his thumb underneath my eye.

Madara grins, his eyes crinkling with joy, when I place my hand over his.