I. Before the Accident
Hiroki has been feeling like a burden to Tsukasa lately. When his boyfriend comes home, he feels sorry that he has to clean the whole apartment when it’s painfully obvious that he had had a fill of an exhausting mission that sometimes took a week before they could dispatch the targets, and also the fact that Hiroki haven’t done anything to alleviate it, out of not knowing the how-tos in cleaning and chores.
Though Tsukasa doesn’t mention any of his fatigue or even desires of just flopping down on the bed and sleeping the exhaustion away, but Hiroki can sense it very well with how he can read others’ minds and all. But since Tsukasa seems willing about the work and keeps reassuring him that it’s fine, Hiroki decides not to step in.
YET their cuddle time really suffers a lot because of it that they would only get ten minutes to none before Tsukasa would yawn and say his good nights and proceed to sleeping quietly. That’s the part that Hiroki hates so much that he’d do anything to stretch out the precious time they can spend together.
So his solution: he taught himself to clean and do the laundry, now he’s fairly confident about the chores himself that he does them every single day. But he’s leaving the cooking to Tsukasa. He can’t trust himself not to burn the whole house down if he ever as much as touch the stove.
Tonight Hiroki gets two hours of cuddling time - how convenient.
He was busy listening to Tsukasa’s heartbeats when he said something to break the blissful silence.
“Hiroki…. What do you say about going to a waterworld park tomorrow?”
At the mention of a waterworld, Hiroki rises up and beams at Tsukasa, “To a waterworld park??? Tsukasa, that’s really cool! We should go! We should definitely, absolutely go!”
“Of course,” a soft smile etches slowly on Tsukasa’s face as he tousles Hiroki’s coffee-colored hair. “Now, go to sleep, we’re gonna go out early.”
“Haaaaa, I’m so excited!”
Hiroki goes to sleep full of giggles and happiness.
And the waterworld park date comes….
It would be an understatement to say Hiroki is amazed - he’s overjoyed like he can’t keep his mouth shut the entire tour. He points at different fish and when his curiosity and fondness of wonder get the best of him, he’d stick his face close to the glass just to magnify the species in his eyes.
For the second round of touring, however, Hiroki has sort of mellowed, though he’s still looking up and around the tunnel of water with awe.
“Look, Tsukasa! A manta ray!” He points to it as it swims past above them, “Man, they look really big I can probably make an umbrella out of them. But of course, NOT actually making an umbrella out of them, that would be animal cruelty.”
“Hey, Hiroki. I… Uhm…. I….”
Hiroki glances over to a stuttering Tsukasa behind him, “Hmm? What is it? Do you want to go to the bathroom or something?”
Tsukasa flusters at the suggestion but he forcefully keeps his hand to his side when he’s about to wave them frantically, probably giving him away. He stammers, “N-n-no! No, not like that at all. He pinches on his palm, making it hurt a bit. “I want to ask you something, is all.”
Hiroki looks at him thoughtfully for a second before he shrugs off what he’s observed of Tsukasa’s uneasiness, “Okay. I’m all ears.”
But Hiroki is definitely thrown off when Tsukasa suddenly kneels in front of him.
“Tsu..Tsukasa….” Now it’s Hiroki’s turn to become a stuttering nervous mess. “W-Why are you kneeling??” He scans whole bluish-hued tunnel, from the archway to both the entrances, “Is--Is someone’s going to attack us from above?? Tsukasa?? You’re scaring me!”
“Hiroki, relax. I just want to ask something.”
“Then, why are you kneeling???”
“I’m going to---” Tsukasa almost give away his purpose that he shuts his mouth before he commits an accident that is detrimental to his plan. His mind, with all the signals of its neurons and cells, snaps like electric sparks as he mentally skims through a list of excuses that he can bluffly reason out but wouldn’t be too vague. He can’t find any despite his efforts so he sighs, “It’s...It’s part of it.”
“And---And why are people looking at us??” Hiroki tries as hard as he can not to meet the gazes of people who pass by them who are whispering something to their ears, “And they’re all seem like anticipating for something…..”
“Hiroki, look at me.”
Hiroki snaps back to reality and looks down to Tsukasa. “O-okay.”
Tsukasa pulls out a tiny box from under his coat and after taking a deep deep breath, says, “Hiroki…. Will you…..”
Hiroki feels his palm sweating even though the whole park is air-conditioned, every single corner well-ventilated with cool air.
“I… God, I don’t know how to say this. I’m not really good at this.” Tsukasa bites his lower lip out of embarrassment and upon seeing it, Hiroki thinks it’s cute that heat rises up to the back of his neck.
“I….” Tsukasa looks up at him and the longing in his eyes can put all Shakespearean romantic plays to shame, “I…. want to be with you forever, you know, like I want to wake up every morning with you by my side and live a normal and simple life together…. If that makes sense? I feel like, I just feel like I could be happier when I’m with you, you know.”
Tsukasa’s words pinch Hiroki’s heart from all ventricles and atria he feel like it’s too alive to be beating inside him.
“Yeah….” Hiroki thinks that it’s the right time to say something rather than continue to stand their mutedly like a statue, “I also feel the same way, Tsukasa. I feel safe around you. So what’s the problem?? What is all this?” He gestures at Tsukasa’s current position.
“Well…..” Tsukasa rubs the back of his neck shyly, “This is how most people do it.”
Hiroki is at lost on what Tsukasa meant.
“So,” Tsukasa clears his throat, “Hiroki. Will you…..” He raises up the hand that holds the tiny box and Hiroki gasps at the sight of the ring when Tsukasa opens it, “Will you marry me?”
Heart bursts. Emotions flood. Hiroki stops working.
Hiroki holds his palms up, “Wait, let me get this straight.”
Tsukasa frowns at something he said. “No, Hiroki. We’re gay.”
“I know, ugh!” Hiroki groans, turning away shamefully, as he scratches his head. He points at Tsukasa, “But--- you… you want to spend the rest of your life---” He points at himself. “--- WITH ME?! ”
Hiroki takes a deeeeeeep breath and answers to Tsukasa’s pending question, “Y-yes.”
“It’s a yes???”
“Yeah, Tsukasa, dammit ! Get up!”
And Hiroki had never seen Tsukasa smile widely like a dog so happy to see his owner that he’d bet bucks he has an invisible tail wagging behind him. He stands up and puts the ring on Hiroki, after which Hiroki is having a strange feeling about the ring around his finger like it’s so new to his body but it’s also perfect for his hand.
After that, they decide to take a walk along the seashore to wait for the sunset, barefooted and feeling the heat of the ground from a day of soaking up sunlight warming their soles.
They decide to sit as the sun slowly descends behind the horizon, creating a painting-perfect sky of wild oranges and bruised pinks in its wake. Cries of seagulls tear through the blissfulness, the ocean soaks up the colors.
While they savor the peace, Hiroki decides it’s cool to take a remembrance for the day, so he fishes his phone out of his pocket. First they’re taking selfies but Hiroki wants a picture of their hands intertwined with each other like some thread of fate connecting them, with his ring standing out in the midst of skin. He gets it developed and keeps it for the future days where he can smile at it and remember how special the day was.
Two years later, and things didn’t go as what Hiroki expected.
II. The Accident
“Didn’t I tell you to be on your best behavior when we’re there?”
“But they bug the hell out of me! Do you really expect me to play the goody-two-shoes game with them? I won’t lick their shitty boots even if they would threaten my life.”
“Behaving is different from pleasing them. We almost gave away our secret! Do you really want them to know about us and let them use our relationship against us?!”
“I’m so tired about all of this, Tsukasa! Why can’t we just run away? Somewhere really really far away from those assholes--”
“It’s not easy, Hiroki---”
“Why?! We have enough money! You can withdraw it all out without leaving any trace of where we are going!”
“I told you, it’s not easy----”
“Or you still have some lingering feelings for them??? Like you owe them or something??? And if you won’t snuck up to them like a leech, you’re better off in the ditch??”
“I knew it.”
Sigh. “This won’t work out.”
“What?? Hey, why are you taking the ring out?? Tsukasa, no! No! Put it back! Please?? Okay, I will wait. I’ll be patient, please please please please---”
“I’m just so done, Hiroki---”
“I know, I’m sorry! Tsukasa, please, don’t----- Fuck, Tsukasa, a truck!”
III. After the Accident
People’s mumbles and the monotonous voice of train announcements bore Hiroki out of his mind. Hanging his head back along the backrest of the bench, he stares blankly at the station’s coldly stark steel ceiling.
“Man… Today has been exhausting,” he talks at the steel above him.
There isn’t any single thing to occupy his mind in the meantime, and it isn’t like people-watching is one of Hiroki’s hobbies. He prefers to move around but going back and forth in the same place would only elicit strange looks from people. Though he doesn’t really care about people most of the time.
Ah, fuck it.
He closes his eyes, trying to picture out something but only a void is present before him. Until the weight of his wallet in his pocket seems to remind him of its existence. He fishes it out and opens it, only to be greeted by a rather worn picture that has been stuck inside it for two years already.
Old and grey. Torn around the edges. Sides burned to black, creating a depressing vignette around a photo of beach sand-stricken hands intertwined. A ring disturbing the overall greyish vibe of it.
He holds the picture between his knees, while the station announcer and hustles of people on their way to their homes fade away as he focuses his whole attention on it. Taking in the skin texture of the other hand under the ringed one that is entirely lost on him is like juggling wine bottles for the first time, every memory breaking before they even land in his consciousness.
This is one of those moments where his soul is visiting places his brain doesn’t know - or forgotten. Sometimes he would leave the picture collecting dust in his wallet, but today isn’t that day. Tonight isn’t one of those vacuum-headed nights where empty minds dominated and actions are on autopilot. Something inside him is calling him to solve the mystery of the anonymous hand that prompted him to take it out of his wallet.
He wonders on and on, trying to dredge back memories locked away in chambers only time and patience can open.
The recently crowd-stuffed train announces its departure and as it sails past Hiroki, the photo flies off from his hand, the wind carrying it to the other side of the station where it landed on the floor in front of someone who is on his way home.
Stand well back from the platform edge. The next train at platform 2 does not stop here.
It’s dreary to not have past memories, Tsukasa thought as he’s forced to listen to the train announcer droning on and on. For people who don’t have amnesias, it’s easier for them to daydream their time away in this boring set-up. But for Tsukasa, there isn’t any single memory he’s so fond of that he can recount over and over until he’s bored of it. These past two years have only been a life as humdrum as a lone whirring electric fan in an empty room, living on default from waking up, working, dealing with grumpy customers, turning down double dates & blind dates, going back to his almost-empty too-silent apartment save his buzzing refrigerator, and sleeping, and the cycle goes on.
He barely knows himself - at least, he knows his name is Tsukasa, or that’s what the kind people who took him in said. But where he comes from? What he’s been doing before he’s pushed to do service crew jobs to survive? Who are his parents, if he ever has? Does someone out there know him more than he knows himself? Instead of past memories, his brain is only throwing out questions. Useless brain, really.
It was small and faint, like a fly sweeping past between his eyes, but it falls to a stop on the floor in front of him and it’s when he knew it was a picture.
Tsukasa picks it up and studies the hand-holding picture with a curiosity of a bored adult asking about the latest pop culture news. And it’s when places, various expressions of someone’s distinct tanned face with a pair of bright, yellow eyes, and feelings come surging in his mind like a tsunami wave, that he rubs his forehead to ease an oncoming headache.
And as the train’s last car dashes past him, his eyes light up with recognition at seeing a familiar pair of dandelion eyes staring back at him.
And as the train’s last car dashes past him, he comes to know who he really is.
And as the train’s last car dashes past him, he realizes where home is.
And as the train’s last car dashes past him, he runs across the empty train tracks to go to where his soul finally points.
Hiroki can barely hold back a gasp when someone awfully familiar but he can’t put his finger on who he is sprints recklessly down the train tracks. He looks around him confusedly, checking if anyone is willing to stop the foolishness of this suicidal stranger. He surely doesn’t expect what happens next, that he almost shout for help as someone embraces him tightly, thinking it was assault.
He doesn’t know the guy aside from that he’s suicidal. But something about the warmth of his hug makes Hiroki not shout for authorities for help, makes him stand there unmoving, and makes him melt into the stranger’s hug.
And he soon finds himself involuntarily hugging the person back like his body thought it a reflex. He finds himself tearing up lightly at the corners of his eyes, and the door to the chambers of his mind opening a little to let some light in.
Hiroki nuzzles into the crook of Tsukasa’s neck, sniffing, as he whispers the only word that crosses his mind, “Tsukasa…”