Akira Kurusu was not oblivious.
He paid attention to the little details. Being a Phantom Thief, it was part of the job. Or at least that’s what he told himself. The busy days and busy nights- things got jumbled, missed.
It was Saturday afternoon, school was nearly out; and the Phantom Thieves leader waited impatiently for his chance to bolt. The month was near its end, and they were on a tight schedule.
The boy who sat behind him with the almost gray black hair and the timid tendencies brushed past and caught his attention. Akira hadn’t gotten over the bento gesture from last week and decided to spark up conversation.
“I saw you the other day at the café in Shibuya.”
It took the boy a moment to realize Akira was, in fact, talking to him. “I was studying.”
He grinned. “I figured. It’s a good place for that. But if you’re into coffee you should stop by Leblanc in Yongen-Jaya. I live above it and work there sometimes.”
Akira wasn’t really sure why he was offering this information. Curiosity? This guy definitely caught his attention more than the standard fare of Shujin student.
The boy looked at him with interest. “Oh, you do? That explains the smell.”
“Coffee beans and cat, probably.” He realized that sounded kind of gross and tried to backtrack. “Not together of course, but there are worst things to smell like. I think it’s pretty nice.”
“It is.” The second it was uttered, the boy’s eyes widened; and he started to turn red. He tried to bite out a few more flustered words, fidgeting with a keychain on his bag, before he managed to get out, “Ah, I’ve-uh- got to catch my train. Later, Akira.”
“Really do come by, I look forward to it.” Akira called out after him, causing the boy to run right into the classroom door. Akira grimaced- that had to hurt- and two other girls laughed.
Akira watched as he picked himself up, holding onto his face as he darted out of the classroom. Ann sat down on the edge of the desk next to him, giving him a sideward glance. “That was almost painful to watch.”
“Yeah, I hope he’s okay.”
“Not what I meant.” She sighed dramatically. “You’re being mean, teasing him like that.”
“What are you talking about?” Ann tilted her head towards the door. Akira’s face scrunched in confusion. “You mean Green Pencil Case Boy?”
“You don’t know his name?” Her words dripped in exasperation.
Akira scratched the back of his head. “Ah, no…” It sounded bad when she put it that way. But he talked to plenty of people during the day while running his many errands so he hadn’t thought much of not knowing a name.
She smacked his arm, admonishing him- more disappointed than anything. “Akira!” She took pause- her frown turning to a sly grin. “He likes you, you know.”
“You know,” She motion widely with her hands. “Likes you.”
She couldn’t possibly mean Green Pencil Case Boy. Akira shook his head. The guy was just being nice- probably from all the stink eyes Morgana shot him from the depths of his desk. Not because of any interest in himself. “No way. I’ve barely even talked to the guy.”
“People have fallen for less.”
“Now you’re being dramatic.”
“I’m not. How can you not tell? He gets so flustered around you, and it’s not because you’re the criminal transfer student.”
“I swear I think you’re seeing too much into this.”
He’d soon come to realize that maybe Ann wasn’t seeing too much into this.
The boy felt like he was running into Akira everywhere now. It left him flustered constantly as the strange guy showed up in even stranger places. Working at the flower shop in the underground mall, cleaning out the gift shops nearby (why did he even need fancy fans and incense?), and dropping loads of cash at the shrine and even more in the gashapon machines outside the electronics store in Akihabara (until he was walking back to the station with an absurd arm load of capsules).
It was one such day that they happened to be on the same train to Shibuya. The curly haired teen was sitting down with three large duffel bags piled on the floor and in the seat next to him.
How did he get away with stuff like that? If it was him, security would have stopped him in a heartbeat. The boy held onto one of the bars next to him, mumbling out a short greeting. Dark eyes darted to his face under a thick layer of fringe. They widened slightly in recognition. It left a subtle warm feeling on his skin.
“Hey, Shibuya?” Akira asked.
The boy nodded, flashing the case in his hands. “Mmhm. I have to return a DVD.”
“That’s a good one. I like the alien part.” Akira commented idly. The train beeped- a woman’s voice announcing their arrival at the station. As the train slowly skidded to a stop, Akira began to collect his things.
“Ah-“ He interjected awkwardly. “Um, I could help. Three bags is an awful lot to carry.”
Akira gave him a strange look, scrutinizing and weighing something in his mind, before shrugging it off. “Yeah, okay.” He offered a bag to the boy. The plain boy took it, stumbling forward at the sheer weight of the strap pulling on his hands. He gasped, Akira steadying him with a chuckle- “Woah there. Careful. You don’t have to, if it’s too much.”
The boy blushed furiously. He had some sense of pride. Careful as he slung it over his shoulder to not create too much momentum that would topple him to the ground. “It’s fine. I’ve got it.”
Though the thought crossed his mind- Akira was carrying all of these?
“Ha, sure.” Akira chided, amused, as he slung the other two straps onto his shoulder like it was nothing. Oh god, how strong was he? Or how built? The thought sent him down a questionable path, resulting in the heat on his face intensifying tenfold.
He tried his best to brush this feeling off.
Akira led him through the back streets and into the shop they hid out in the other day. The man in the shop- Iwai if he remembered correctly- met them with the same amount of disdain as before. “Whataya want?”
Akira heaved one of the bags onto the counter with a loud, shaking thud, and unzipped it. The boy stood on his tip toes to gaze curiously at its contents. “Huh?” He mumbled aloud. This was the weirdest stuff- broken clocks, candelabras, and were those galaxy underpants?
He dumped out the seemingly bottomless contents out onto the counter- more junk, jewelry, the boy swore he saw a whip in there too. Some things were better left unquestioned. He glanced over to Akira who was as blank as ever as he asked. “How much?”
“Hmm,” The man mulled over the stuff. “200,000 yen, this time.”
This time?! His glance was now wide eyed and shocked. This guy was rolling in money! He had to be to keep up those strange habits; but it shocked him, nonetheless.
Akira hummed. “Yeah, that’s fine.”
“You should be thankful I do fair business with a kid like you.” The man scoffed as he pulled the assortment of goods behind the counter and handed over stacks of yen.
“Always am.” Akira added with a smirk as he pocketed the money.
Outside the shop, Akira popped a curious question. His head tilted slightly to the side. “You aren’t going to ask me about that?”
Ask him about that?! There were some things he was better off not knowing- what Akira was up to was number one on that list.
The boy shifted on his feet, glancing down at Akira’s black shoes and then back to the face that was looking at him expectantly. “It’s not that much more unusual than what you normally do. I mean you keep a cat in your desk and make lockpicks in school. I’m used to it by now.” Akira’s eyes intensified for a moment, suspicion darting across his face, but the boy quelled it in one genuinely uttered sentence. “Your secret’s safe with me.”
Akira’s expression softened with a smile.
The boy bit the bullet and got a ticket to Yongen-Jaya. The pin on his navigation app pointed him down the back alleys of the district, past a suspicious looking clinic and the batting cages- where he heard a rumor that Akira always hit home runs. The shop itself was inconspicuous, oddly placed directly across from a bathhouse.
He checked the map again. This was the place.
It was empty inside, except for an older man reading the newspaper behind the counter. At the sound of the bell he threw a glance at the boy. The plain boy stood up a little straighter to cover up his nerves. The man set his paper down. “A Shujin Academy student?” He looked closer. “I haven’t seen you before. Are you friends with Akira?”
Akira. At least he was in the right place. “Yeah, something like that.” A small smile teased at the corner of his lips.
Friends. It was a strange, refreshing thought.
The man called into the back of the store. “Akira! Someone’s here for you.” Said boy peeked his head out of a storage closet in the back, accompanied by crashing sound and a cloud of dust as a bunch of supplies fell to the ground. Akira broke into a fit of coughs.
The owner grimaced, with a long sigh. Akira’s face brightened at the sight of the other boy in the café, and he quickly shoved all the brooms and mops back into the closet, brushing his hands on the apron tied around his waist.
The plain boy swallowed dryly. That was way too good of a look on him.
The owner looked between the two teens. “I’ve got some errands to run. You can close up early if you want.”
“Sure thing, boss.” Akira said as he left.
When he was gone Akira leaned across the counter, eyeing the boy with interest. “I didn’t think you’d actually come.”
“But you invited me.”
Akira laughed. “True. I did but still-“ The boy’s heart thudded loudly, feeling like Akira was staring into his very soul with those dark eyes. The smirk on his face was enough to make him melt. If he didn’t know any better, he’d think Akira was teasing him. The curly haired teen’s demeanor changed quickly, dropping to that soft expression he’d seen when he was around Ann and Ryuji. “I promised you a cup of coffee, right?”
“Oh, yeah. I mean if it’s not a hassle.”
“Don’t worry. It’s not.” Akira busied himself behind the counter. The plain boy was entranced with watching him move expertly around the café, hands working the many machines in a steady, quick rhythm. The only sound was the whir of the overhead fans and the low rumble of the TV; and of course, the sound of his own breath- unsteady in his chest.
There was something about seeing Akira doing something truly mundane that was kind of nice.
Like just maybe this guy wasn’t so alien after all.
After a few moments, Akira slid a cup into his hands.
“Cream and a little bit of sugar. I figured that’s what you’d like.” He took a sip. It was warm- just the right amount of bitter and sweet. Akira was spot on. How could one guy be this talented at so many things- charming his way into people’s lives, acing his exams, keeping up with all those strange hobbies of his. At the same time, he exuded kindness, bravery, and intelligence- the kind of guy who wasn’t afraid of anything, but also the kind who would help an old lady carry her groceries. And now to top it off- a thoughtful, excellent barista.
The boy found himself staring, distracted by the way the warm glow of the café reflected off his dark curls- giving his hair an almost honey tint. When he realized his eyes lingered too long, he diverted them to the mug, thumbing the ceramic exterior thoughtfully. “You’re really something, Akira.” He muttered, not catching the widening of Akira’s eyes, or the way he readjusted his glasses with a slight flush.
There was a short silence. Akira interjected into it, in a near breathless tone. “Hey, let’s go somewhere.”
The boy’s head jerked right back up. “What, right now?”
“Yeah. What do you like movies, ramen, parks-“ Akira wiggled an eyebrow. “Maid cafes?” The boy shook his head wildly at the last, and Akira flashed him a show stopping smile that gave him goosebumps. “Kidding. At the last one. The rest though- completely serious.”
The boy still couldn’t comprehend it, but Akira was giving off such an earnest enthusiasm. “Eh?”
“None of those? Because there’s also the book store, planetarium, or the arcade.” Akira offered eagerly.
The plain boy’s brain froze. “What are you trying to do?”
A small frown formed on the strange boy’s lips, and he leaned his head in his hand. “To spend more time with you?”
“I’m asking you out.” Akira clarified.
“Like a date?” He said slowly as if the concept was foreign.
“On a date.”
On a date.
It felt like his brain was about to explode. His heart surely did in that moment. But this was Akira, how-? Disbelief was the only feeling he could conjure. “Are you serious?”
Akira leaned closer, fingers ghosting over the cuff of the plain boy’s sleeve. He didn’t back away, wondering what Akira would do. “Deadly.” He whispered. He leaned even closer, closing the short distance between them to press a kiss to the corner of the boy’s mouth.
Akira pulled away with a smile playing at his lips. The other boy covered his face, bright red with a furious blush.
Akira Kurusu had kissed him.
Akira Kurusu, who was so special and striking, kissed him, a guy who’s most defining characteristic was the color of the case on his desk.
His heart beat faster to see Akira grinning so enthusiastically at him. “Do you want to go?”
He blinked. The answer was obvious.
“Yes.” It left him so quickly, he hadn’t realized he said it until Akira was tugging him by his hand to the doorway.
Akira laughed awkwardly, asking the question he’d put off for a while. “So, what’s your name again?”