❤︎Chapter 28: The Story

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Momoka's POV

I close my eyes, listening to the sound of Tomomi's heart beating. He holds me gently by my shoulders as I press my ear against his broad chest, kissing the top of my head.

"It sounds normal to me..." I tell him, but my voice breaks halfway through.

It had taken him awhile to explain in my kind of terms what was wrong with his heart. There were so many words I didn't understand, so many procedures, so many medicines. I couldn't believe someone so sweet and kind and strong suffered in silence so much...

He could barely even play the sport he loved!

"I was born with a weak heart, but I didn't start having serious issues until a handful of years ago. My grandmother was always strict about keeping excitement out of my life for my health.  At some point, that excitement involved my own personality. I used to be a lot rowdier and much more talkative and got into a lot of trouble without a care in the world...but I started to change... I've gotten so used to being this way, the me on the inside seems like a strange phase from the past..."

I looked sadly into Tomomi's eyes. I didn't like the idea of him suppressing his true self in order to maintain his own health. It seemed complicated..painful, almost. I mean, how could you be sure it was even a useful strategy in the first place?

"Why didn't you tell me any of this..." I wipe at my eyes and Tomomi's places his forehead against mine, sighing heavily.

"I'm sorry. I was afraid you'd take pity on me. I always want to be your strong protector..."

"Tomomi!" I pulled away from him and shook my head, looking up into his dark eyes, "I could never look at you that way. You're the strongest, coolest person I know."

"I wish.." Tomomi chuckled darkly, taking my hands in his. I looked up into his troubled expression and watched his eyes cloud over in deep thought. It was silent between us for a few heartbeats, and then suddenly he squeezed both my hands.

"What's wrong?"

"Momoka..there's an operation."

My stomach twisted as I realized what he was trying to tell me. "And you...?"

He nodded slowly, "At first, I refused..but..ever since the two of us became a couple..I've been considering it."

"Oh, Tomomi.." I took a step forward and wrapped my arms around his middle, squeezing him tight. He wrapped his arms around my shoulders and pulled me into his chest. I placed my ear against it to listen closely to how his heart reacted to me.

"I'm used to missing out on things because of my heart, but... I don't want to miss out on you, Momoka."

I sobbed into his chest, soaking his shirt. I knew I'd regret it later, but I couldn't help it. I was so scared for him. So scared something would go wrong. Even more scared that he'd be different after he went under the knife.

And I don't want HIM to be scared.

"My heart is stronger with you in it." Tomomi whispers, and we stand in silence, holding each other and never wanting to let go. Despite my sadness, I felt so much closer to Tomomi.

I was afraid for him, but I was also going to actively support his decision.

"Will you be afraid?" I pulled away and looked up at him, and Tomomi smiled back with warm, watering eyes.

"Not with you by my side."

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