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Moments In Time

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The morning started off with one firm rule:

“You’re. Not. Paying. For. Nothing.”

Akira crossed his eyes to look at the finger emphatically poking his nose with each word, before trailing his gaze up to Ryuji’s determined expression.

“So that means I can pay for something?” Akira responded cheekily, laughing at the unamused stare he received in response. “Alright, alright, I won’t pay for anything, I promise.”

“Good.” Ryuji grinned, pleased that Akira had given in so easily. “Today’s about me spoiling you for a change, and I’m gonna go all-out--so you just sit back ‘n’ enjoy, and let me handle everything.”

Akira’s expression softened. “You really don’t have to, but… thank you. I’m looking forward to it already.”

“Course I do,” Ryuji replied, taking Akira’s hand and giving it a light squeeze. “You’re my boyfriend, and it’s Valentine’s Day. If there was any day for me to spoil you, it’s today, ‘specially after the… y’know. Rough month you had, ‘n’ stuff.”

Akira laughed weakly--”rough month” was an understatement, though he understood why Ryuji avoided saying anything more than that. No need to bring down the mood on what was supposed to be a happy, lighthearted day, after all.

“So, what’s the plan?” he asked, steering the conversation back on track.

Ryuji grinned. “You’re just gonna have to wait ‘n’ see,” he replied smugly, prompting a more genuine laugh from Akira.

“Fiiiine,” Akira replied with an overdramatic, drawn-out sigh as he moved to lean against Ryuji. “I guess I have no choice but to live in suspense.”

Ryuji rolled his eyes and gently tugged Akira along. “If you wanna know so bad, then let’s just head out already so you can see for yourself, you drama queen.”

With a smile, Akira let himself be led along to wherever Ryuji was planning on taking him--and despite his theatrics (and despite his stomach reflexively beginning to turn at the thought of not knowing what was going to happen, especially so soon after he’d managed to get his memories in order), he trusted Ryuji enough to follow him with no questions asked.

After all, Ryuji only ever had his best interest at heart, so if he was going through all of this effort to plan a day for them and to keep it a surprise from Akira, then Akira knew without a doubt that today would be a fun, memorable day for them both.

Akira let out an awed, almost giddy breath as he looked around in surprise.

“You managed to get tickets to come to Dome Town on Valentine’s Day? ” Akira asked incredulously, looking at the brightly-decorated park packed with other couples walking around.

Of course, it wasn’t like he’d never come to Dome Town before--he’d been there plenty of times in other timelines, with other people and sometimes even with Ryuji (as friends, always as friends, as Ryuji would pointedly complain about how he’d rather come to a place like this with a girl instead of with a guy that he just saw as a friend and nothing more, and let’s not think about that right now )--but coming here on Valentine’s Day was a first, if only because the park was always so crowded that he never thought it would be worth the effort when every other relationship he was in over the past hundred years was faked in a poor attempt to keep himself from falling to pieces.

Ryuji was the only one he would ever want to go to a place like this with on Valentine’s Day, and now here they were, and Ryuji had put this all together probably without even having the slightest idea.

God, Akira loved him so much.

“Heh. Surprised?” Ryuji grinned, clearly pleased as he puffed out his chest in smug pride. “I have my ways.”

Akira tried his best to stifle his laughter, clearly able to tell that Ryuji had been looking forward to using Akira’s own line against him--and even though Akira could make an educated guess that he’d gotten Haru’s help with securing two tickets for them, he decided to let Ryuji have his moment and not ruin his boyfriend’s fun.

“I’m impressed,” Akira replied, his smile softening as he gave Ryuji’s hand a light squeeze and added, “I’m glad I get to make another brand new first memory with you: my first Valentine’s Day at Dome Town.”

“For real?” Ryuji’s grin somehow managed to light up his face even more, and Akira found that he could stare at the sight all day long--it was like staring at sunlight in physical form, pure and bright and filled with so much warmth. “Man, then I’m really glad I decided on this!”

“I’m glad you did too.” Akira leaned over and pressed a kiss to Ryuji’s cheek, before continuing wryly, “We should really get moving before we spend all day in line, though.”

“Ah, crap, you’re right--c’mon, let’s hurry!”

Akira didn’t bother to stifle his laughter this time as Ryuji pulled him along, excitement clear in each step--and Akira in turn felt giddiness swelling up in him as he thought back to Ryuji’s slight self-consciousness on their very first date compared to now, where Ryuji felt comfortable enough to walk through crowds of couples hand-in-hand with him without even batting an eye.

The day had only just begun, yet it was already hands-down the best Valentine’s Day Akira had ever lived through.

Though they spent a bit more of the morning standing in line for rides than actually riding them, it was still a thrilling, enjoyable experience for them both--in fact, Akira would go so far as to say that he enjoyed standing in line even more than he enjoyed the rides, if only because he got to spend the entire time shamelessly cuddled up against Ryuji’s side as the two of them talked about everything and nothing.

Honestly, Akira would have been more than happy if that trip had been the entirety of their day, but apparently Ryuji still had more planned as he led him back on the train to their next stop: Inokashira Park.

“Figured it’d be nice to unwind for a bit ‘n’ go somewhere more quiet after all those crowds, even if it’s a bit cold out,” Ryuji explained, leading the way with obvious purpose towards a particular location in the park. “Glad it ain’t snowing, at least.”

Akira nodded in agreement, content to follow Ryuji, though he was admittedly curious where in the park his boyfriend was taking him.

He had a few guesses, but the last thing Akira expected was to follow Ryuji a bit deeper into the park only to find Ann sitting on a large blanket on the grass, with a picnic basket by her side.

Ann pulled her attention away from the phone in her hands, her lovestruck smile making it clear who she had been talking to--and said expression quickly fell into fond exasperation as she rose to her feet.

“It’s about time you two got here!”

“Sorry, sorry, we ended up heading out a bit later than I thought we would,” Ryuji apologized sheepishly. “I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”

“You’d better,” Ann threatened, though her statement was softened by the amused look on her face and the light tap to Ryuji’s chest with her knuckles. “Seriously though, I hope you two had a great time.”

“We did, thank you,” Akira replied, though he couldn’t quite hide his confusion as he glanced between the two of them.

Ryuji and Ann shared a glance before starting to laugh, causing Akira to flush lightly in embarrassment--he wasn’t used to being left so far out of the loop, and though he knew that he would have to get used to the feeling of not knowing everything now that the time loop was (hopefully) almost at an end for good, that didn’t mean he had to enjoy not knowing what was going on.

“Don’t worry, I’m not staying,” Ann assured Akira, giving him a friendly pat on the shoulder. “Ryuji just asked me to save you guys a spot and bring the food over so he wouldn’t have to bring it with him to Dome Town.”

“... Oh.”

Akira ducked his head, trying in vain to hide both his embarrassment and his relief--not that he didn’t enjoy spending time with Ann, but he’d been looking forward to spending the entire day alone with Ryuji.

Ryuji snickered, swinging an arm around Akira’s shoulders and kissing his head. “You’re too cute, I swear.”

“Shut up,” Akira muttered, though he couldn’t stop his lips from twitching upward as he leaned into Ryuji’s one-armed embrace.

Ann rolled her eyes, a fondly amused smile on her face as she observed her two friends. “Alright, now that my job here is done, I’ll leave you two be--I have a video call to make and a beautiful girlfriend of my own to spend the day with~”

With that, Ann took her phone back out as she began to walk away, giving Akira and Ryuji a wave over her shoulder when they called out their goodbyes to her.

“I have to say, I genuinely wasn’t expecting any of that,” Akira said sheepishly once Ann was gone.

“I could tell,” Ryuji replied wryly, laughing as Akira shot him a look. “Hey, at least you’re getting better at handling unexpected stuff, right?”

Akira sighed ruefully as he followed Ryuji over to the picnic blanket, sitting down and immediately leaning against Ryuji’s side once he was seated as well. “I guess, but it’s still going to take some getting used to.” At Ryuji’s confused glance, he added, “Being out of the loop and not knowing everything, I mean.”

Ryuji’s smile died down slightly in concern. “Sorry, maybe I should’ve--”

Akira put a finger over Ryuji’s lips to silence him and gave him a reassuring look. “No, this was good. If I can get used to surprises and unexpected happenings through positive things like today, then hopefully I’ll be at least a bit better equipped to handle whatever less-than-pleasant surprises life throws at me in the future… if that makes any sense.”

“Yeah, I get’cha,” Ryuji replied after Akira moved his finger. “Like easing yourself into it, or building a tolerance for it, right?” As Akira nodded, Ryuji couldn’t help but add worriedly, “So… all this was fine, right?”

Akira took Ryuji’s hand in his own, lifting it to press a kiss to the back before replying with a smile, “I promise, everything is fine. I’m honestly looking forward to whatever other surprises you have in store for today.”

Ryuji relaxed, returning Akira’s smile with a sheepish smile of his own and giving his hand a light squeeze before letting go. “Glad to hear it, but… well, I honestly don’t got that much planned after this, so don’t get your hopes up too much.”

“Still, I can’t wait.”

Ryuji’s smile widened into a grin, pleased by the genuine excitement that he could see in Akira’s gaze, and he leaned over to press a kiss to Akira’s lips before pulling back and reaching out to grab the picnic basket so he could begin to unpack it.

Akira was both flattered and overjoyed to see the home-cooked food that Ryuji was taking out, the light blush coloring Ryuji’s cheeks making it clear who had prepared the food that was being set before him.

“My ma helped,” Ryuji began, avoiding Akira’s gaze out of embarrassment, “but… well, knowing you, I’m sure you already figured out that I, uh. Well, I tried making the food; not sure how good it actually came out, but my ma said it was good and I don’t think she was lying so--”

Akira cut Ryuji off with a kiss, before pulling back with a bright smile as he replied, “I’m sure it tastes delicious. I love it already.”

Ryuji huffed, though he couldn’t quite stop the corners of his lips from twitching upward. “You didn’t even taste the food yet, you sap. It could taste like shit for all you know.”

“Doesn’t matter. I’d love it and eat it all anyway, because you made it for me.”

Ryuji’s blush darkened as he paused in his motions, setting the container in his hands down so he could reach out to pull Akira into a kiss that Akira was more than happy to reciprocate.

“Thank you,” Ryuji murmured, before grinning and poking Akira’s sides as he added, “you dork.”

Akira laughed, squirming and batting Ryuji’s hands away before they both accidentally ended up knocking over the food. “I’m not just a dork, I’m your incredibly handsome, kind, loving, talented dork.”

Ryuji rolled his eyes and went back to emptying out the rest of the picnic basket. “Don’t forget modest,” he added wryly, grabbing two cans of soda out of the basket.

“Oh of course, how could I forget that?” Akira replied with a smirk, before yelping and jumping away as Ryuji suddenly shoved one of the cold cans under his jacket collar and against the back of his neck.

Ryuji grinned impishly. “That cool your ego down a bit?”

Akira huffed and rubbed the back of his neck to try and warm it back up. “I can’t believe this--betrayed, by my own beloved, on Valentine’s Day of all days.”

Ryuji let out an amused snort. “I’m sure you’ll live,” he replied dryly.

“No, I’m dying, I’ll never recover from this heartbreak,” Akira declared, dramatically flopping over onto Ryuji and grinning as Ryuji yelped and nearly lost his balance in response. “Only true love’s kiss will make the pain of betrayal fade away.”

“Drama queen,” Ryuji groused, though there was clear fondness in his expression as he shifted and wrapped his arms around Akira, pulling him closer and pressing a kiss to the back of Akira’s neck. “There, better?”

Akira blushed heavily and shivered, startled by the feeling of warm lips on his cold neck. “I-I, uh… I meant on the lips, but-- I mean, that’s-- that works too.”

Ryuji let out a quiet snort that grew into full-fledged laughter, his head leaning forward to rest against Akira’s shoulder as he hugged him closer--and Akira, despite his embarrassment, couldn’t help but join in on Ryuji’s laughter as he melted into Ryuji’s embrace.

After everything they’d been through, it felt so good to just relax and laugh freely, to play around and tease one another like they were just two normal teenagers in love.

(Akira knew that he, at least, would never be normal--but in moments like these, he could almost pretend that he was, and it was such a liberating feeling to be able to shed his fears and his trauma for just a few small moments in time.)

“Alright, c’mon, let’s start eating,” Ryuji said after their laughter died down. “I dunno about you, but I’m starved.”

Akira made a quiet hum of agreement, basking in the warmth of Ryuji’s embrace for a moment longer before reluctantly pulling away so he and Ryuji could begin opening the containers of food.

There was no need for plates as they merely shared the food straight out of the containers, picking a bit of this and that as they sat huddled side by side with Akira complimenting each and every dish that Ryuji had prepared for him.

As payback for embarrassing him with his extensive praise--or perhaps merely because he wanted to spoil Akira, or maybe it was just a combination of the two--Ryuji held some of his food up to Akira’s lips, thoroughly enjoying the blush that colored Akira’s cheeks even as he opened his mouth to let himself be fed without a fuss.

Akira let out a pleased sigh once they finished off the last of the food, leaning against Ryuji more heavily as his eyes drifted shut.

“You full?” Ryuji asked, slipping an arm around Akira so he could better rest against him.

“Mmhm.” Unwilling to move from his warm, comfortable position, Akira lifted his head just enough to press a light kiss to Ryuji’s throat as he murmured, “Everything was delicious, thank you.”

Ryuji blushed, the kiss briefly distracting him before he remembered what he wanted to say. “Think you’ve got room for dessert?”

“Hm?” Akira blinked, looking momentarily confused before realization set in. “You made me chocolate, too?”

“W-well, I mean, it is Valentine’s Day, so….” Ryuji smiled sheepishly. “I wasn’t gonna set all this up and not give you chocolates--I wanted to get you flowers too, but turns out roses are, uh… way more expensive than I realized.”

Akira laughed softly. “It’s alright, I appreciate the thought.” He shifted a bit so he was sitting back up, smiling excitedly. “So, chocolates?”

“Well, someone’s suddenly excited,” Ryuji teased lightly, reaching out to grab the picnic basket and rummaging around under the empty containers before pulling out a carefully-wrapped package.

Akira took the package as it was handed to him, looking like a kid on Christmas as he unwrapped it to reveal a large chocolate heart, decorated with a gorgeous replica of both Joker and Skull’s masks drawn in colored chocolate garnish.

“Oh….” Akira swore he felt his heart physically swelling as he stared at the homemade chocolate, before turning his gaze over to Ryuji.

Ryuji glanced away in embarrassment, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly as he said, “I, um… might’ve gotten Yusuke to help with the decorating, in exchange for all the botched chocolates I was gonna toss out. I was gonna just make plain chocolate, but… I know you really like all that sappy stuff, so… I figured you’d enjoy something a bit more personal--a-and I, uh… I know you’re not really a fan of super-sweet stuff so I used dark chocolate instead, not sure about the taste but I hope it came out alr--!!”

His rambling was cut off by a hand grabbing the front of his jacket and lips pressing against his own, and despite his blush darkening, Ryuji returned the kiss before pulling back to find--as he’d partially expected--tears welling up in Akira’s eyes and a wobbly smile on Akira’s face.

“God I love you so much,” Akira breathed out, moving to rest his head against Ryuji’s shoulder.

Ryuji chuckled softly, lifting a hand to run through Akira’s hair and smiling as he felt Akira immediately melt under the touch with a soft sigh. “I love you too, you sap,” he teased, pressing a light kiss to the top of Akira’s head before adding, “but seriously, I’m really glad you like it.”

“Of course I like it, you made it for me.”

Ryuji huffed and lightly tapped the top of Akira’s head with his knuckles. “Yeah, with Yusuke’s help.”

Akira laughed softly. “And you think that’s going to make me love it any less? The fact that you wanted it to be so perfect for me that you were willing to ask someone for help just makes me love it even more.”

“Oh… I didn’t even think about it like that.” Ryuji gave Akira a small, sheepish smile. “Guess that makes sense. I’m glad, then.”

“I almost feel bad to eat it, though,” Akira said, looking back down at the chocolate and shifting just enough to pull out his phone so he could take a picture of it. “You and Yusuke both did an incredible job.”

Ryuji shrugged modestly. “Yusuke did most of the work, really. I just made the chocolate in some kinda vague heart-like shape; Yusuke even helped me with carving it so it actually looked like a heart in the end.”

Akira kissed Ryuji again before replying, “You can say all of that until you’re blue in the face, but my opinion isn’t going to change: you and Yusuke both did an incredible job, and I appreciate it more than I could ever say.”

“Let’s see if you can still say that after you taste it,” Ryuji said wryly. “I don’t like dark chocolate, so I’ve honestly got no clue whether or not it came out good.”

Akira took one last picture of the chocolate before carefully breaking off a piece and popping it into his mouth, humming in pleased satisfaction from the taste. “Not too bitter, but not too sweet--it’s perfect.”

Ryuji let out a relieved sigh, smiling as he watched Akira break off another piece and eat it. “Glad to hear it.”

Akira ate the chocolate heart one piece at a time, leaning against Ryuji contentedly and smiling as he felt Ryuji continuing to toy with his hair.

“You sure you don’t want a taste?” Akira asked once he was down to the last bit of the chocolate heart, holding up a piece towards him. “I know it’s not as sweet as you’re used to, but it really is good.”

Ryuji hummed in thought, eyeing the chocolate for a moment before smirking mischievously. “Yeah, I think I’ll take a small taste.”

Akira’s brows furrowed in confusion as Ryuji gently pushed his hand down--but before he could question him, Ryuji’s lips were suddenly pressing against his own in a deep kiss that left Akira lightheaded and dazed by the time he pulled back.

Ryuji licked his lips, grinning as he saw Akira’s eyes following the motion as if in a trance. “Whaddya know, you were right--it did taste good.”

Akira blinked, the sound of Ryuji’s voice pulling him out of his stupor, and Ryuji couldn’t help but laugh as Akira immediately moved to hide his bright-red face against his chest.

“That wasn’t fair,” Akira muttered petulantly, his voice muffled and barely reaching Ryuji’s ears. “You caught me off-guard.”

“Just admit that you can dish it out but you can’t handle getting served,” Ryuji teased, poking Akira’s sides and chuckling as Akira squirmed and swatted his hands away.

“Only thing I’m admitting is you’re a cheater,” Akira huffed, though he couldn’t quite keep a smile from tugging at the corners of his lips, nor could he prevent a pleased sigh from slipping out as Ryuji hugged him close and went back to playing with his hair.

Ryuji rolled his eyes in fond amusement. “Yeah, yeah, whatever you say.” Grinning impishly, he leaned over so his lips could brush against Akira’s ear as he added, “ Darling .”

He straightened up with another laugh as Akira squeaked and blushed heavily in response, continuing to laugh even as Akira shot a weak glare up at him.

“If I have to go to the hospital for heart failure, I’m making you pay the bill.”

“Nah, you wouldn’t make me pay a single yen,” Ryuji replied with a cheeky grin.

Akira groaned, though he couldn’t quite hide his smile as he relaxed against his boyfriend.

“You know me too well.”

Ryuji kissed the top of Akira’s head, his grin softening into an affectionate smile. “Yep, and you love it.”

Finally, Akira gave in with a soft laugh as he nuzzled against Ryuji.

“I do, more than I could ever say.”

After relaxing for a little while longer, Ryuji gently eased Akira off of him with the reminder that he still had a little more planned for today, and the promise that Akira would have plenty of time to keep cuddling with him later.

Ryuji took a minute to text Ann and let her know they were done--apparently she’d been kind enough to not only bring the basket and blanket for them, but to offer to come and pick everything up when they finished; Akira was determined to do at least a little something for her to thank her for her kindness, even if he’d had no idea about Ryuji’s plans until today--before rising to his feet and helping Akira up so he could lead him to their next stop.

Which apparently wasn’t very far--in fact, it only took about five minutes or so of walking before Ryuji stopped him and directed him inside a small shack.

“Boat rentals?” Akira questioned, moments before his expression lit up.

Ryuji was taking him on a romantic boat ride on the Inokashira Pond, on Valentine’s Day.

Even better yet was getting to watch as Ryuji, despite his clear embarrassment, strode towards the counter with purpose and rented a boat while clearly declaring it was for him and his boyfriend.

Akira knew it was silly of him to get so giddy over such little things, but Ryuji seemed to be going out of his way to push each and every one of his buttons to reduce him to a lovestruck, swooning mess.

He’d even gotten them a swan boat. It was so ridiculously cliche as far as romantic scenarios went, and Akira loved it.

Ryuji’s blush darkened as he saw Akira’s expression, but he couldn’t help but grin as Akira immediately latched onto him as soon as they went outside.

“Have I mentioned how much I love you?” Akira said, prompting a laugh from Ryuji as he leaned over to kiss the side of Akira’s head.

“Once or twice, yeah,” Ryuji replied wryly, leading the way over to where their boat was waiting for them at the edge of the dock.

Akira chuckled, a soft smile tugging at the corners of his lips as Ryuji got on first before taking his hand and helping him into the boat. “So chivalrous,” he teased lightly.

“For you? Course I am.”

Ryuji lifted their joined hands and pressed a kiss to Akira’s knuckles, thoroughly enjoying the startled squeak that Akira let out and the heavy blush that colored his face.

He knew he was probably going overboard with the cheesiness, but he also knew that Akira loved it--no, more than just that, Akira needed it. He’d gone for so many years-- decades --without the love and affection he was so obviously craving, and especially after the month of solitary confinement he’d suffered through, Ryuji was determined to make Akira feel as loved as humanly possible.

Ryuji sat down next to Akira in the boat, wasting no time in slipping an arm around Akira’s waist and pulling him close as he kissed the top of Akira’s head. “You ready?”

Akira buried his face against Ryuji’s chest as he clung to him and nodded, and for a moment Ryuji was worried that the small confines combined with the fact that they were on a boat were getting to him--but one glance at Akira’s face showed a peaceful smile that immediately put Ryuji’s concerns to rest. He’d been banking on the fact that the small space would force them closer together to help Akira relax and ease his fears, and he was glad to see that he’d been right in his assumption.

Ryuji pedaled the boat out into the middle of the pond, going at a leisurely pace as he kept one hand on the steering handle and the other on Akira’s head, absentmindedly running his fingers through Akira’s hair and listening with a smile to the content sigh that Akira let out in response.

“You don’t wanna look at the view?” Ryuji asked, keeping his voice just above a whisper so as not to disturb the tranquility of the moment.

Akira looked up at him with an adoring smile. “I’ve got the best view right here in front of me.”

Ryuji blushed lightly and grinned, his heart swelling as he leaned over just enough to press his lips to Akira’s in a soft kiss.

“You’re such a sap, I swear,” he teased, pressing another kiss to Akira’s forehead and relishing the noise of contentment Akira made in response as he snuggled closer to Ryuji.

“Can’t help it,” Akira murmured. “I love you so much.”

Ryuji’s expression softened as he pressed one more kiss to the top of Akira’s head. “I love you too.”

Akira let out a quiet, pleased sigh in response, a feeling of peace and calm settling over him as he continued to rest his head against Ryuji’s chest, keeping his eyes open half-lidded to observe the scenery around them.

This was everything he could have ever asked for and more, wrapped up in a single moment: the two of them, all alone and surrounded by a serene, romantic view of the park at sunset; Ryuji’s warmth seeping into him, chasing away the slight chill of winter; the feeling of Ryuji’s fingers in his hair and the occasional press of his lips against his head pulling quiet, relaxed sighs from him with each touch; the feeling of Ryuji’s arm holding him close, providing a feeling of security and safety; the steady beating of his heart and the sound of his soft breaths, providing just enough noise to break the silence without disturbing the peace….

It was perfect, and Akira found himself fighting back tears just from the sheer bliss and overwhelming love that swelled inside him.

And to think, he would be able to spend the rest of his life (provided he really did break free of the time loop--which he would, he couldn’t bear to think otherwise at the moment) indulging in this sweet euphoria whenever he wanted…. Even after spending the past few months practically glued to Ryuji’s side, it was still so hard to wrap his mind around the thought of the universe actually allowing him this happiness, after spending so many years keeping his distance and watching Ryuji find happiness in other people or--in most cases--losing his life before he could find happiness in anyone at all.

As if hearing his thoughts, Ryuji shifted just enough to move his hands down to Akira’s face, cupping his cheeks as he leaned in to press a gentle, languid kiss to his lips.

Akira could only stare at his perfect godsend of a boyfriend once he pulled back from the kiss, feeling dazed, breathless, and so, so in love.

Ryuji grinned as he saw Akira’s expression. “Falling for me all over again?” he teased lightly.

“Always,” Akira replied without hesitation, a soft smile of his own working its way onto his face as he saw Ryuji blush.

“Well, then I guess I’m doing today right then, huh?” Ryuji chuckled before adding, “And to think, there’s still one more stop left on the list.”

“You still have more planned?” Akira asked, looking up at Ryuji in both surprise and excitement.

“Course I do! We’ve still got all night, don’t we?”

Akira laughed softly. “You’ve got a point.” He shot Ryuji an innocent smile as he added, “Any chance you’ll tell me what’s next?”

“Nope, you’ll just have to wait ‘n’ see,” Ryuji replied, rolling his eyes in amusement as Akira deflated with a pout. “Don’t give me that look, man. I told you everything was gonna be a surprise today and I meant it.”

“Fine, fine,” Akira said with a sigh, though he couldn’t quite hide his smile despite his petulant act.

Honestly, he didn’t care where they were going next so long as he could be by Ryuji’s side the whole time--and he had a feeling Ryuji knew this as well, since he shot Akira one more amused glance before pulling him back against his chest and kissing the top of his head, as if to say give up the act and just go back to relaxing, you dork .

Far be it from Akira to say no to that.

With a content sigh, Akira nuzzled closer to Ryuji as the two of them went back to watching the sunset in peaceful silence.

It was with great reluctance--both on Akira’s part and his own--that Ryuji pedaled the boat back to the dock once the sun disappeared beyond the horizon, disentangling himself from Akira so the two of them could get off of the boat and make their way towards their next destination.

“Honestly, I’ve only ever been to the next spot once before,” Ryuji confessed sheepishly as they made their way towards the train, “so I kinda had to ask Futaba to help out with looking up directions and stuff. Hopefully she found the right spot, or this night’s gonna be a bust.”

Akira chuckled. “Don’t worry--even if it’s not the right place, there’s no way that any part of today could possibly be a ‘bust’.” He leaned against Ryuji and added, “This is already, by far, the best and most romantic Valentine’s Day I’ve ever lived through. We could be going home right now and I’d still be completely content with how today went.”

“Glad to hear it,” Ryuji replied, wrapping an arm around Akira as they waited for their train and smiling as Akira immediately melted against him in response.

At one point in his life, Ryuji might have been embarrassed to be seen on a train with a guy cuddled up to him, but now he couldn’t care less as long as Akira was happy--and the few people that gave them looks were met with a challenging glare that had them quickly averting their gazes.

(Much to Akira’s pleasure, not that Ryuji realized Akira was watching him as he wordlessly told anyone who had a problem with them to fuck off.)

Having Akira cuddled up to him also worked well to keep his last surprise from being ruined, since if Akira had been paying attention to the stops that were being announced, he probably would have realized right away where Ryuji was planning on bringing him.

Even when they got off the train, Akira barely spared a glance at their surroundings as he let Ryuji lead the way--and the reminder that Akira trusted Ryuji enough that he would follow him without question wherever he went brought a smile to Ryuji’s face, his heart swelling with a wave of affection and appreciation for his boyfriend who had been through so much, yet was still capable of trusting and loving so wholly and unconditionally.

It was only when they finally approached their destination that Akira’s eyes widened in recognition, his breath hitching for a moment before a soft laugh slipped out.

“And you call me a sap…,” Akira teased weakly, looking out at the starry sky from atop the hill he’d taken Ryuji to back on their very first date.

“Heh. Figured it’d be a good way to end the night, y’know?” Ryuji ducked his head, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly as he said, “The view’s great, and… well, it’s a special spot, at least for me.”

“Because of our date?” Akira asked, looking over at Ryuji with a curious yet soft smile.

“Yeah, but also… it was the place where it finally hit me that I was in love with you,” Ryuji confessed. “I missed my chance to say it that night, but even just being able to admit it to myself made me feel like-- I dunno, like my heart was lighter or something. I’m still sorry that I never actually said it out loud for so long, though.”

“Don’t be,” Akira replied, leaning over to press a kiss to Ryuji’s cheek. “Honestly, I was prepared to wait the rest of my life to hear how you felt, so the fact that you managed to figure everything out in just a few months and confess that you loved me was nothing short of a miracle in my eyes.”

“‘Just a few months’, huh…,” Ryuji murmured, chuckling weakly when Akira looked at him in concern. “A few months is a long time, at least to me--but you say it like it was nothing.”

“Ah… well, to me it was nothing--the amount of time, I mean; not everything that happened in the duration of that time, of course,” Akira hastily amended, before continuing. “You’re right, though. I guess after living through so many years, my perception of time became a bit skewed--even this one year felt like it passed in the blink of an eye.”

“Well, let’s try not to rush through the rest of our lives, alright?” Ryuji teased lightly, relieved when he saw a smile return to Akira’s face.

“Of course,” Akira replied, taking Ryuji’s hand in his own and entwining their fingers together. “I’ve had more than enough of getting swept away in the flow of time--I want to take my time and live each day, to experience each hour and minute and second to the fullest, no matter what the future throws at us.”

Ryuji’s heart swelled with love and pride as he pulled Akira into a kiss, before pulling back to give him a grin.

“Sounds like a plan to me.”

Akira matched Ryuji’s grin with a bright smile of his own, pressing closer and wrapping his arms around the love of his life with a pleased sigh.

Ryuji gently guided Akira to sit down, uncaring of the cold seeping into him from the ground--it wouldn’t last for long, not with how Akira was practically sitting on his lap as he cuddled up against him.

“It’s a beautiful night,” Akira murmured, his head lifted just enough to be able to observe the nighttime sky without moving away from the comfort of Ryuji’s chest. “This was the perfect way to end the day.”

“Glad you think so,” Ryuji replied, pressing a kiss to the top of Akira’s head. “I wasn’t really sure if I’d be able to match all the over-the-top stuff you always put together for me, but I did my best.”

Akira chuckled. “You know you don’t have to try that hard to make me happy. Even just being with you is more than enough to make my day.”

“I know, but… I wanted today to be special,” Ryuji murmured, moving just enough to bury his face in Akira’s hair in embarrassment. “It was our first Valentine’s Day, and I wanted to spoil you like you’re always spoiling me.”

“And you did,” Akira replied reassuringly, pressing back against Ryuji and nuzzling against him. “I can’t thank you enough for today. This was the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

Ryuji moved his head just enough to tentatively glance down at Akira. “For real?”

“Ryuji, I promise you,” Akira began, glancing up at Ryuji with a slightly teasing smile, “I am being one-hundred percent for real.”

Ryuji huffed and poked Akira’s sides, a smile of his own tugging at the corners of his lips as Akira squirmed and laughed in response. “Jerk. I’m being serious.”

“So am I,” Akira replied as his laughter died down, his expression completely enamored as he held Ryuji’s gaze. “It was everything I’d ever dreamed of and more.”

Though his face flushed in embarrassment, Ryuji couldn’t help the bright, pleased grin that worked its way onto his face in response.

“If you’re sure, then… I’m glad.” There was only the slightest hint of wry amusement in his tone as he added, “No clue how I’m gonna top this next year, though--but I guess I’ve got a whole year to figure that out, huh?”

“And who says you’re going to be the one taking the next Valentine’s Day?” Akira challenged. “Maybe I’m going to be the one to surprise you next year.”

“Oh no you don’t,” Ryuji immediately replied, just barely restraining his laughter as he frowned down at Akira. “I’m not budging on this one--I need at least one other holiday to spoil you on ‘sides your birthday, or you’re just gonna take ‘em all.”

Akira huffed and pouted. “That’s not fair, I want to spoil you on all the holidays.”

Ryuji gave the oh-so mature response of sticking his tongue out. “Too bad, I called dibs first!”

“Fine, then I call dibs on spoiling you for the other 364 days of the year.”

“Wh-- that’s not how it works!!”

“Too bad, it is now.”

Ryuji and Akira stubbornly locked gazes for a moment, the corners of their lips twitching--and Ryuji was the first to cave once Akira stuck his tongue out, prompting a snort of laughter that devolved into a laughing fit that Akira quickly joined in on.

“Man, you’re really something else,” Ryuji teased lightly once they caught their breath, leaning back on the grassy hill and pulling Akira down with him.

Akira took a moment to get the last few chuckles out of his system before letting out a content sigh and leaning against Ryuji as he replied, “I could say the same about you. Who turns down an offer of being spoiled for 364 days out of the year?”

“Who offers to spoil someone for 364 days out of the year?” Ryuji retorted.

“I do, obviously--but only for you,” Akira replied, prompting another quiet snort of laughter from Ryuji as he shook his head in amusement.


“Yes, but I’m your incredibly handsome, charming, amazinmmph --”

Ryuji cut Akira’s reply off with a kiss that he was more than happy to melt into as his eyes drifted shut, and by the time they broke the kiss, Akira had already forgotten what he was in the middle of saying.

“What’s wrong, nothing else to add to the list?” Ryuji teased lightly.

Akira blinked dazedly, before saying the only thing that was on his mind. “I love you.”

Ryuji eyed Akira in a mixture of tenderness and amusement, moving a hand to cup Akira’s cheek and leaning forward to capture Akira’s lips once more as he murmured, “I love you too.”

As Akira leaned into the kiss, he allowed himself to get swept away in the feeling of love emanating off of the most important person in his life, with only one coherent thought flitting through his mind:

As terrifying as the thought of the future was at times, if it was anything like the surprises he’d gotten today, then he couldn’t wait to see what was in store for them in the years to come.