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Photo Booth

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tonight 7 pm at the arcade i’ll bring chika

That was the text Tanaka Ryuunosuke had sent to one Futakuchi Kenji that morning, earning him a text back telling him the other boy would be there with a kissy-face emoji attached at the end. Now Tanaka just needed to figure out how to drag Ennoshita Chikara away from his homework.

When they left school that day, Ennoshita had gone home with Tanaka, thinking this was going to be one of their usual study dates, and at first it was. That was until the hour hand on the volleyball shaped clock in Tanaka’s bedroom started to inch closer and closer seven.

Tanaka threw a quick glance at the clock, and noticed how little time they had left before they were meeting Futakuchi.

“Shit,” he muttered, and slammed his textbook closed, making his boyfriend jump. “Come on, Chika, we need to go now.”

He grabbed Ennoshita’s hand, and dragged him with him. Out of his room, down the stairs, and into the overcrowded entryway that led out of the Tanaka residence.

“Hey, Ryuu … where are we going?” Ennoshita tried to protest, but Tanaka wouldn’t budge.

“No time, babe, we’re meeting Kenji there in fifteen.”

Ennoshita, still slightly dazed, put his shoes and jacket on and followed the other boy outside.

Twelve minutes later, they could see Futakuchi waving at them in front of the arcade, grinning like a maniac.

“Ryuu! Chika!” he shouted, and Tanaka, who had grabbed Ennoshita’s hand again after they put their shoes on, sped up, dragging the dark-haired boy with him.

“Kenji!” he shouted back, and leaned in for a kiss when he got close enough. It was just a quick peck on the lips, but it made Futakuchi’s smile grow significantly larger. Futakuchi then went on to gingerly place his hands on Ennohsita’s face and give him an Eskimo kiss.

“Hey,” he said softly, kissing Ennoshita on the lips.

Ennoshita was still a bit confused about what was happening, but he couldn’t help but smile up at the taller boy.

“Hey, yourself,” he answered, just as softly. After a short pause, he asked at a normal volume: “Can any of you explain why we’re at the arcade?”

“I’ve seen how stressed ya have been lately, so Kenji and I thought ya might be needin’ a break,” Tanaka explained, grabbed Futakuchi with his free hand, and dragged them towards the entrance.

“You need to take breaks, you know, Chika. We can’t have you working yourself to death,” Futakuchi said and opened the door to reveal a room lit with lights in every colour imaginable. Some old pop song was blaring out of the tiny speakers on the walls, and there was a cacophony of voices, children and teenagers alike, as well as beeping and theme songs from different games.

Ennoshita shook his head at his boyfriends antics, but was secretly moved that they cared that much about him.

Sadly, most of the games turned out to be occupied. It was a Friday night and it looked like everyone and their cousin had decided to show up. That didn’t bother Tanaka and Futakuchi, though. As soon as a spot opened up at a game, they squeezed in as fast as they could.

One time, Futakuchi almost elbowed someone’s grandma in the stomach while running towards Dance Dance Revolution. He quickly realised what he’d done, and apologised profusely to the surprised old lady. She just smiled at him, and patted him on the cheek, saying something about what a lovely young man he was and how today’s youth were all so kind towards their elders.

Ennoshita and Tanaka, who were already by the game, laughed at the sweetness of the scene in front of them.

The three of them managed to get through quite a few of the games, even though the universe at times seemed to be working against them. Like the time one of the shooter games broke down right before they were going to start playing, or when a kid spilled all his soda over one of the Mario Kart chairs. Still, they had fun just spending time together, joking and laughing at stupid things that didn’t really mean much, but at that moment, it felt incredibly important.

Right before they were leaving, Tanaka spotted the photo booth in a corner of the arcade. It looked old, graffiti covering parts of it, the curtain slightly frayed at the bottom. It seemed like people didn’t use it much anymore, no teenagers hanging around it, no kids dragging their parents towards it, pleading to let them try. In Tanaka’s eyes, it looked perfect.

“Guys, guy,s” he said quickly, pointing towards the photo booth, “we need to try that.”

The other two looked towards where he was pointing, shared a grin, and nodded.

Getting into the booth turned out to be harder than they had thought. The booth was cramped with two people in there, and three seemed almost impossible. Somehow, they still managed to fit themselves into it, Tanaka on the stool, with Ennoshita perched on one leg and Futakuchi on the other.

Adding the right amount of coins, Futakuchi powered up the machine, and it started reading the instructions out loud.

Lining up for the first picture, Ennoshita and Futakuchi squished their cheeks together with Tanaka’s. What they didn’t expect was that the photo booth would start counting down out loud in a metallic voice.

“Three … two … one.”

The sudden voice made Tanaka start laughing, and soon all three of them were cracking up. They didn’t even notice the flash going off for the first picture.

After calming down, the three of them got ready for the second picture. This time they were prepared for the voice to start counting down, and they managed to capture a picture of the three of them smiling at the camera.

While waiting for the machine to get ready for the third and final picture, Ennoshita and Futakuchi glanced at each other, both realising what they had to do. While the machine was counting down, they both leaned in and kissed Tanaka on the cheek. The picture just managed to capture the surprised look on the shaven headed boy’s face.

The machine spewed out three copies of their strip of photos. The first picture was hilarious. All three of them were laughing, open mouthed and eyes closed, actual tears pooling in the corners of Tanaka’s eyes. The second was all soft smiles and squished cheeks. But they all agreed that the last one was their favourite. The surprise on Tanaka’s face, and the other two kissing him on the cheeks, their eyes showing just how much they love him.