It always amused Akira how well put-together Ryo looked even at bedtime—matching silk pajamas, bright white per usual, an elastic band pulling his bangs out of his face as he went through his tedious skincare routine. Akira just lounged on their bed with a pair of baggy gray sweatpants and a black tank top that showed off his toned biceps. He would tease Ryo for the longest time, scrunching his nose at the sight of the other preening himself in the mirror.
“Ryo, you’re about to go to sleep,” Akira would laugh, head propped up against a pillow, “you don’t need to do all of that. Who are you trying to impress?”
“You,” Ryo would reply mindlessly every time, barely casting his boyfriend a glance at first, but Akira would always catch a glimpse of those long eyelashes batting in his direction as his big blue eyes dilated.
The blond finally padded over to their bed, crawling on top of the crisp white quilt and moving up to where his partner laid his head. In his hands were a singular cotton ball doused in astringent and a pot of cold cream. His own face was slathered in a mud mask, skin pulled tight beneath it as it began to crack and dry on the surface.
“Mmm...?” Akira hummed, pulling his attention away from his phone for a moment as Ryo leaned in, pressing the cold cotton ball to his cheek.
“You really ought to take better care of your skin,” the blond huffed, words slightly slurred from the inability to move his lips beneath the drying clay. He rubbed the cotton against Akira’s tan forehead and cheeks, careful to avoid his eyes.
“My skin is fine, Ryo-chan,” Akira chuckled, closing his eyes as he let himself be doted on, “a few pimples here and there don’t bother me like they bother you.”
Becoming satisfied with the gray grime that gathered on the surface of the cotton ball, Ryo set that aside as he unscrewed the cold cream lid. “Having a skincare routine isn’t only about superficial things, you know.” He dabbed some onto his fingertips before massaging it into Akira’s cheek, who sighed at the feeling and closed his eyes with a soft smile. “It releases neurotransmitters in the brain that help maintain a healthy state of well-being. You can prevent entire diseases of the skin by just taking care of it every night. You should know this.”
“We must not have covered that yet.” Akira was content, laying there until his anal boyfriend decided that he had rubbed enough cream into his skin, giving him his space again as he rolled off of the bed. Ryo tugged on his silk shorts to pull them further down his milky thighs as he went back into the bathroom to put the cream away and toss the cotton ball.
“Are you excited for our date tomorrow?” Akira called, unlocking his phone and continuing his mindless scroll through social media. It usually consisted of liking all of Miki’s nightly tweets, scrolling through Facebook to see what his old classmates were up to, and winding up in a YouTube rabbit hole that somehow always brought him to implausible conspiracy theory playlists.
Ryo hummed in response, wetting a wash rag. “You know I don’t like the beach, Akira...”
“But that’s because you never actually swim. If you got into the water, you’d like it.”
“The water is too cold.” He wrung the rag out, using it to scrub his face of the mask.
“It’s not too bad; that’s only because you’re used to the hot springs that we went to when we were little.”
“I burn, Akira.”
“Well, it’s a good thing I’m a nurse!” The man on the bed grinned toothily, sitting up to look at his man. The blond rinsed his face in the sink, porcelain skin soaking wet as he washed it thoroughly.
Ryo massaged moisturizer into his cheeks while cocking an eyebrow at his boyfriend.
“You’re not a nurse just yet—don’t flatter yourself. You’re still in medical school.”
“Damn, Ryo, we all can’t graduate college with a Masters in two years like you did.” Akira yawned. “I know how to nurse a sunburn. I’ll just lather you in aloe and make you drink lots of water. And it’ll be sad because you’ll be hurting and sore but it’ll be nice because I’ll have to baby you and you know I love babying you.”
The lightswitch clicked as Ryo left the bathroom again, crawling between Akira’s legs and resting his head against his chiseled tummy. He took a moment to wriggle and nestle in comfortably, draping himself out and using his partner as a pillow.
“You can baby me whenever you want,” Ryo nearly purred as Akira’s calloused fingers combed through his platinum hair, “I don’t mind it.”
The two were content to lay in silence for a while, Ryo half-asleep as he was doted upon, resting his arm against Akira’s hip as he typed emails with one hand. Akira scrolled through his feeds, absentmindedly running his fingers through his lover’s hair. The action was relaxing both men, and their bodies grew heavier into the mattress.
“Mm.” Ryo said, holding up his phone without turning his head for Akira to look at something.
“Hmm?” Akira squinted, taking the phone. “What am I looking at?”
“Scroll through the post,” Ryo instructed, tilting his head slightly to peer up at him through long eyelashes, “those are pictures of Chalkida, Greece. Look how crystal-clear the water is.”
“Wow!” Akira marveled, genuinely impressed, “I bet if you were to swim in it, you could see the bottom.”
“It’s only an hour out from Athens.” Ryo took his phone back, resting his cheek against Akira’s stomach. “There are a lot of archaeological discoveries being made there at the moment... perhaps you would like to relocate there.”
“Awh, Ryo-chan, but I don’t want to have to do medical school online.”
“You wouldn’t have to. We could stay in Japan until you finish.” The blond continued to scroll through his timeline, unbothered. “It’s just a suggestion. I think if we were to move anywhere, we would wind up in America.”
“Oh, really? How come?”
“There are a lot of medical opportunities for you there, plus the archaeological sites in the Southwestern United States are beautiful and still being excavated. We could settle down somewhere in between them and drive to wherever we need to be.”
Akira yawned, cupping Ryo’s face and brushing his thumb over his soft lips. “Yeah, maybe.”
Ryo talked about the future a lot. Akira found it kind of sweet; he was usually very stoic and seemingly-uncaring to anyone who didn’t really know him (but that was untrue), but he always fantasized about his life with his boyfriend and the places they would go. He would talk about it everywhere— when he was sitting on his laptop on the couch, when they were out with friends, when they were in bed at night. And Akira ate it up. He was just as excited for their life as Ryo was, but since the other’s job depended on location more than his, he let the blond infodump about different places that they could live together; they would get more serious about it once Akira drew closer to graduation.
“I’m going to put a ring on your finger,” Ryo had murmured to him one night that they were laying in bed, back pressed flush to Akira’s torso with the man’s strong arm strapped across his frail waist, big hand pressed against his belly.
“Yeah?” Akira nosed the back of Ryo’s neck, half-asleep. He smelled of clean shampoo and vanilla lotion; he had a personal rule that he couldn’t smoke once he’d showered, so the smell of cigarettes didn’t offend Akira’s nose this time.
“Encrusted with diamonds; half a million yen.” Ryo turned his head a bit so he could peer back at his boyfriend just the way Akira loved, with his eyes half-lidded and the blues sparkling with love. “A thick silver band, I think. You look nice in silver.”
Akira just leaned in to press his lips to Ryo’s nose, the blond closing his eyes and feeling his heart skip against his ribs. He relaxed himself so he would rest more of his body weight against Akira, smiling gently as the arm around his waist squeezed just a bit tighter. Their lips brushed but didn’t connect, and Ryo’s eyes fluttered open to peer directly into rich, brown ones.
“To be your husband,” Akira whispered, breath hot against Ryo’s lips, “would make me the happiest man in the world.”
“What time did they want us to meet them there?” Ryo clicked his phone off and just laid against Akira, hand caressing the outside of his thigh, sweatpants warm with his body heat. His boyfriend didn’t mind it, fingers tangling back into platinum strands once more.
“I think Miki said eleven; hang on, lemme text her.” Akira removed his hand momentarily as he opened his messages, and Ryo huffed out a quiet whine, pouting until those thick fingers rubbed against his scalp again.
“You’re a big baby,” Akira teased, and Ryo just closed his eyes and smiled in satisfaction, sighing through his nose.
“Are you tired?”
A moment of silence as the man resting between his legs allowed his mind to catch up. “A little, yeah.” Ryo’s voice was deep and crackly.
“Then come on, let’s go to bed, you big baby.” Akira set his phone on the quilt next to him as he reached down to grab the blond from beneath his arms, effortlessly tugging him upward so he could place him by his side, Ryo squirming a bit so he could be comfortable. He laughed gently at his boyfriend’s determination, giggles growing louder as Akira’s lips pressed against his jaw, peppering sweet kisses there and moving down to his neck. Lithe, pale fingers mindlessly tangled into the fine black hairs at the nape of Akira’s neck in contentment, but after a moment, Ryo moved so he could lightly press his palm against his boyfriend’s chest to nudge him away.
“Wait, wait, Akira,” Ryo breathed, smiling as his giggles subsided, “I need to talk to Jenny really quickly.”
The stronger man gave the blond his space (reluctantly, as he wanted to kiss every inch of Ryo’s pretty face) and rolled off of the bed as Ryo got up, padding across the carpet and out into the hallway to find the redhead. Despite them being older and independent for the most part, she still lived in the pristine white apartment and acted as Ryo’s secretary, making them meals and scheduling appointments and cleaning up after them.
Akira yawned again as he began to prepare for bed, plugging his phone in and turning off the lamps. He could hear Ryo’s voice down the hallway where he had peered into Jenny’s room, his quiet voice pacifying to the medical student.
“If we are not awake by nine, could you please wake us up?” Akira chuckled at this; it would be much easier to set an alarm, but he knew that Ryo was secretly reluctant to let Jenny go, attached to the woman and not wanting any sort of indication of growing apart from her.
Thus, he tended to act slightly childish at times, convincing himself he was just as dependent on her as he was when he was a child, because he didn’t want to see her go.
“Miki said eleven,” Akira said as Ryo returned, shutting the door behind him with a gentle click. Miki and Miko liked to do double dates at least once a month; it had been Miki’s turn to pick the activity, so she had chosen the beach. The blond hummed and nodded.
“How come you don’t call her ‘Mom’?” Akira asked, Ryo’s nubby eyebrows rising in intrigue as he crawled onto the bed again, “She’s basically your mom. I think you both have that kind of parent-child attachment to one another.”
“I’ve been calling her ‘Jenny’ so long that I think it would just feel strange.” Ryo’s expression felt serious, if not a bit sad. He had been cared for by the Fudos until he had (technically) been adopted by Jenny and taken to America, raised by her into adulthood. In every sense of the word, she was his mother—he held no memories of his biological mom and could hardly remember anything of his father—but he had forced himself to believe that she was nothing more than a secretary when he was younger. Now that he was older, he had been coming to terms with it, but their relationship was far too professional-feeling for Ryo to want to change anything.
The two men wriggled beneath the covers, the glittering lights of Tokyo illuminating the room just slightly through the glass wall. Akira found a good spot to rest his head on the pillow just as Ryo nestled into the crook of his neck, laying against his broad shoulder. Lanky arms wrapped around Akira’s middle and he put his muscular arm around the blond’s shoulder, tugging him closer. They shifted and squirmed until they were both flush against one another, warm legs tangled beneath the sheets and their faces pressed comfortably against each other. Akira used his free hand to brush Ryo’s bangs out of his face, prompting the other to open his eyes and sleepily peer at him.
“You’re so beautiful,” Akira breathed, making Ryo’s cheeks flush.
“And you’re handsome,” he murmured back, hand lovingly caressing the tan chest in front of him. Akira could tell that Ryo was more tired than he let on, because his body was heavy against his, his neck unable to support his head and resorting to keeping it resting on Akira’s shoulder.
“I can’t believe I get to hold you every night for the rest of my life.” Akira tended to ramble on about his infatuation when they were intimate like this, Ryo smiling knowingly as he closed his eyes and allowed himself to be snuggled. “I’m seriously the luckiest guy on Earth.”
“Bold of you to assume that I’m not the luckiest guy on Earth with a boyfriend like you.” Ryo was half-asleep, chest rising and falling at an even pace. Akira could feel his gentle heartbeat through the warm silk on his back.
“Marry me, Ryo.”
“I absolutely will.”
“Ryo, marry me.”
“We have discussed our engagement before—you know beyond an unreasonable doubt that I will become your husband. It is already written in the stars,” a smile was audible in Ryo’s voice as he added, “the rabbits on the moon were the ones that wrote it.”
“Ryo.” Akira pulled back a little and Ryo’s eyes fluttered open, his smile falling as he saw how serious his boyfriend was, brown eyes glittering with tears. “Ryo. I want you to marry me. Please. I’ve decided now. I’m ready.”
The other was silent for a moment as he took this in. “Wait... are you being serious?” Ryo’s voice was light as his breath was stolen from him, mouth open slightly in awe as he felt his pale skin heat up. “Is this—is this a proposal? Like, a real one?”
“Yes.” Tears spilled onto Akira’s tan cheeks and he squeezed Ryo’s waist, sputtering his words. “Yes, Ryo Asuka, I want you to marry me. I’m so, so in love with you that it hurts. The thought of ever being away from you kills me, and—and—“
“—of course I will, you crybaby,” Ryo pressed their lips together and the two melted into one another, Akira crying hard and Ryo feeling a few tears of his own slip down his cheeks as he laughed at the other’s tendency to be emotional, “I want nothing more than to be your husband, Akira. You don’t need to cry. I would always say yes.”
Akira rocked Ryo back and forth in his arms as they embraced tightly, pressing kisses to each other’s faces and whispering declarations of love in the other’s ear. Ryo had planned something much more extravagant eventually—showering his love with gifts of all kinds; jewelry, food, luxury items; a full-course meal at a five star restaurant with a chauffeur and personal chef—but something about Akira beating him to the punch in such a simple, intimate way felt just right. Like this was the way it was meant to occur.
And suddenly, the idea of a multi-million dollar proposal sounded incredibly lame.
“I love you,” Ryo said, lips moving against Akira’s as he swiped his thumb beneath his eye to brush away his tears.
“I love you,” Akira replied, reinforcing where their legs were tangled. Both of his hands pressed into Ryo’s back, one between his shoulder blades and the other in the divot at the small of his back.
Ryo was the first to fall asleep, his heart fluttering against Akira’s palm even in rest, his face blissful and serene. He looked like an angel, skin illuminated by the moonlight, and Akira pressed his lips against his forehead and closed his eyes.
“I’m so thankful that the universe brought you to me,” Akira whispered, the other man unaware.
That night, Akira dreamt of a beautiful blond angel, enveloping him in eight feathery wings as he laid draped in Akira’s arms, thick tears rolling down glowing cheeks. Supple hands cupped his face and he could feel the angel’s body trembling against his in overwhelming emotion.
Thank you, Father, thank you, the angel had breathed as he nuzzled Akira’s cheek, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Akira would not remember his dream in the morning.