Kakeru stared at himself in the mirror. How did this happen again? One minute he was sitting in his room, enjoying a manga he'd borrowed from Prince, the next he was being dragged to Haiji's room to go to a Halloween party. In a costume.
"We look ridiculous." Kakeru said as he turned slightly to try and look at his back in the mirror.
"No, we don't." Haiji said. He was adding the last part of the costume, a pleased smile on his face.
"Yes, we do."
They did. They were wearing a costume for two people. And a big one at that. An impractical, unhandy, unflattering, big costume.
The Hakone Ekiden finish line.
They were dressed as the Hakone Ekiden finish line.
Kakeru was the right side of the big arch and Haiji the left side. A white ribbon connected the two in the middle. The ribbon was attached a bit loosely so that, to quote Haiji, 'people could run through it for fun.' (Yes, this thing was high enough for people to run through it without them bumping their heads)
The costume was made of cardboard boxes. Holes were cut out for their arms and faces. The whole thing was painted in the right colors and the word 'FINISH' was written on the arch part that connected the two together in the air.
"When did you even make this thing?" Kakeru asked. He finally turned away from the mirror.
Okay, this was getting ridiculous. They couldn't see each other, they had to yell to be heard and they looked stupid.
Kakeru repeated the question a bit louder. It took a few seconds for Haiji to answer him.
"I rented it."
"You didn't rent this costume, you made it yourself. And then you hid it from me because you knew I was going to say no to wearing it. And then you waited until the last minute to tell me about this Halloween party to get me to wear this ridiculous thing." Kakeru tried to cross his arms, but the corners of the cardboard box dug into his muscles. He uncrossed them again.
"I cannot deny that." Haiji said after a long pause. Kakeru couldn't see his face, but he sounded very pleased with himself. Why couldn't they just go as runners or something? Or just let Haiji wear this thing on his own with Kakeru as runner.
Did he even really want to go to this party? Kakeru was not a fan of big crowds with loud music. Apparently a friend of Yuki had invited everyone. Including Kakeru. Of course no one had told him until twenty minutes ago.
Haiji had practically stormed into his room and dragged him away. "We're going to a Halloween party. I already got us a costume." He'd said as Kakeru tried to stay seated on the ground, Haiji pulling on his arm.
He'd seemed so excited. Kakeru found himself unable to say no to him.
That was until he was wearing their costume.
"You don't have to wear it if you don't want to. I thought it might be fun to wear something together. But I understand if you want to take it off. No hard feelings." Haiji said. Kakeru sighed.
He couldn't take it off. Haiji went through all this trouble to make them this horrible creation, so damn it, he was going to wear it.
"No, I'll keep it on. It's pretty cool." He said finally. Haiji giggled. "I know you don't mean that. But thank you, Kakeru." He took a step forward, forcing Kakeru to do the same (being connected by a giant arch and all that).
"Okay! Let's go!" Haiji said, voice louder than quite necessary.
Easier said than done. It turned out that getting out of Haiji's room, into the hallway and outside was very difficult in this costume. They had to duck through every door, take steps at the same time and walk sideways. Everyone was already waiting outside when they finally made it.
"Looking good, guys." Yuki said. He laughed as he said it. The twins were laughing as well and Shindo was hiding a smile behind his hand. Kakeru flushed red, feeling embarrassed.
"Thanks! You too!" Haiji said with a big smile on his face. Kakeru, again, couldn't see him, but he could hear it. Perhaps wearing this thing wasn't the worst thing in the world. If it made Haiji this happy.
All the others were in costume too. Yuki was dressed as a dog. He had brown dog ears on his head, a brown tail taped to his belt and a dog bone in his hand. Not the most complete outfit, but he made it work.
Shindo was wearing a white cat onesie with a hoodie. He had pointy white ears and a long tail, some black whiskers painted on his cheeks. He was holding a stick with a ball of yarn on it.
The twins were both dressed as zombies. Their clothes were ripped and they had fake wounds and fake blood everywhere. Kakeru had no idea how they made those wounds look so real. He'd seen some tutorials on YouTube a while back, but he'd thought it was too difficult for him.
Musa was dressed as a firefighter, with helmet and everything. He was holding an axe and a bucket with water made of pieces of blue paper.
Nico-chan was a werewolf, and King a mummy. Their costumes were simple but nice. And finally Prince, he was dressed as Hinata, from some manga. Kakeru had the first volume in his room but he hadn't read it yet.
It was a fifteen minute walk from their home to the party. Fifteen long minutes if you have to walk in synch with someone you can barely communicate with. It took them a while, but eventually they found a good rhythm. Kakeru could hear Yuki snicker from time to time but he ignored it.
It was pretty crowded already when they arrived. They made their way through the big group of costume wearing guests. "I'll get us something to drink." Shindo said as he scanned the room. "I'll help." Yuki joined him. Joji and Jota moved to the dance floor. Prince was sitting on the ground and the others had wandered off.
The room was decorated in all kinds of Halloween themed things. Pumpkins at the door, bats on the walls, black cats painted on the ceiling, spiders in every corner. Even the drinks were blood red. All very spooky.
Thirty minutes passed. Kakeru was relieved that no one had commented on their outfit yet. Some people had pretended to cross the finish line, but that was actually kind of fun. There was one big problem though. He couldn't talk to Haiji. The music was too loud. They could raise their voices when they were at home, but that was pointless here. The music drowned out everything Kakeru tried to say.
His phone vibrated in his pocket and he cursed softly. He wiggled his right arm back into the cardboard box through the arm hole and turned on his phone. A text from Haiji.
(11.13 p.m) Haiji-san: I did not think this through :P
Kakeru chuckled softly.
(11.14 p.m) You: Nope. You wanna go outside?
(11.14 p.m) Haiji-san: Yes please.
They carefully made their way outside. Some girl crossed their finish line again, Haiji almost tripped a couple of times and Kakeru had to sneeze but couldn't reach his face, but they made it.
The music blasted in the background as Haiji pulled his arms back into the costume. Kakeru did the same and they lifted the arch together and put it down on the street. Kakeru looked at Haiji, Haiji looked at Kakeru, and that's when they bursted out laughing. Tears streamed down their faces. The new arriving guests were staring at them but they didn't care. Haiji wiped away his tears and stepped closer to Kakeru.
"Hey." He said with a soft smile on his face. Kakeru was still laughing a bit. "Hey," Kakeru replied, "nice to see you. I didn't even know you were going to be here tonight." He grinned. Haiji laughed again. "Okay, I deserved that. I didn't think it would be this difficult to communicate while wearing that thing." He pointed to their costume. The, now empty, arch was standing on the side of the road.
They walked to a nearby fending machine. Haiji was a tiny bit tipsy so he chose a bottle of water. Kakeru did the same. They leaned against the wall and drank in silence.
Kakeru didn't really know what to say. All night he'd been thinking about talking to Haiji, and now that he could, he didn't know what to talk about. Just standing next to him was nice enough though. He took another sip. Haiji sighed.
"I guess I should have put you in a sexy vampire costume after all."
"Yeah." Kakeru replied. He drank some more. Wait what.
"Wait what?" He met Haiji's gaze. He was staring at him, eyes half lidded, a smile on his face. Kakeru blushed but didn't look away. Why did he say that?
"I thought it would be nice to share a costume, like couples do, but I probably should have bought a sexy vampire outfit for you."
The tips of Kakeru's ears turned red. 'Like couples do?' Why did he want to wear a couples costume? They weren't dating?
Not that Kakeru would mind dating Haiji. In fact, that's all he'd been thinking about for the past couple of weeks. Maybe he was a little in love with Haiji. Maybe the idea of kissing Haiji was something that'd kept popping up in his head. Maybe he only put on that ridiculous arch thing because it made Haiji smile.
But he never expected Haiji to feel the same way about him.
Or was he just messing with him? Best friends could wear costumes together. He'd probably jumped to the wrong conclusion.
Haiji walked to the trashcan and threw his empty water bottle away.
"Kakeru, I swear to god, you better not be thinking that I'm telling you to dress as a sexy vampire because we're good friends." Kakeru didn't say anything. Haiji joined him against the wall again, closer than before. Their shoulders touched.
"Oh my God, Kakeru, you think I'd tell Yuki to put on a sexy costume?" He asked as he rested his forehead on Kakeru's shoulder. Kakeru froze. Haiji was so close and he smelled so good, like peach shampoo and some sort of perfume and rain and his hair looked so soft and fluffy and he wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around him.
"No, I guess not." He answered after a few seconds. He could feel Haiji laugh against his shoulder.
"Why a vampire?"
"Because vampires are hot." Haiji said before Kakeru even finished the question.
"They are?" Haiji lifted his head to look at Kakeru.
"Yes, they have pointy teeth and they suck blood from your neck, what's not sexy about that?" Kakeru shuddered.
"Literally nothing about that is sexy to me." Haiji wanted to protest but Kakeru started talking again.
"Although, I guess you would look pretty hot if you were wearing a devil costume, and devils aren't hot."
Haiji's whole face broke into a smile. It didn't really hit Kakeru what he'd said until a few seconds later. He blushed furiously and turned his gaze away. Haiji laughed. Then his eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up. He smacked Kakeru's arm.
"We can go as devil and angel next year! I'll be the devil because I'm hot as hell, and you'll be the angel because, well, you're an angel! Couples costume!" His excitement was adorable and Kakeru couldn't help but giggle.
"Next year, huh?"
It was something Kakeru didn't like to think about, the fact that Haiji was moving away after graduation. Hearing him say this was reassuring.
"Yes, next year." Haiji said. His smile was kind and soft and he was standing so close. Kakeru took a deep breath.
"I'm in love with you." He whispered.
Haiji pressed his forehead against Kakeru's. "Hmm. Did not see that one coming." He whispered back. Kakeru closed his eyes.
Was that a mistake? Did he ruin their friendship?
He didn't move away though, and neither did Haiji.
"I'm in love with you too, you know that, right?" Haiji asked. Kakeru's eyes shot open.
"Kakeru, you're so freakishly oblivious." He said softly as he moved his hand to the back of Kakeru's head.
"All night I've been talking about wearing costumes together. I dragged you to this party because I wanted to do something fun with you. I literally just told you that I wanted to see you in a sexy vampire outfit." Haiji chuckled and sighed. His breath felt warm on Kakeru's face.
"I don't know. I- You're just really important to me, and you're really amazing. I didn't think you would like someone like me." He answered truthfully. Haiji stared at him. Didn't say anything, his expression unreadable. He moved his hand from the back of Kakeru's head to his cheek.
"Can I kiss you?"
Kakeru put his hands on Haiji's sides, blinked once, twice. Then he nodded. Haiji didn't waste any time and immediately brushed his lips over Kakeru's. He barely touched him. They opened their eyes, looked at eachother, foreheads still pressed together. One second passed, Haiji moved his free hand to Kakeru's back. Two, Haiji pulled him closer. Three, Kakeru cupped Haiji's face. Four, they kissed again. Longer this time, like there was no place in the world they'd rather be right now. Frozen in time.
Haiji deepened the kiss, licked his way into Kakeru's mouth. And Kakeru melted against him.
"I've been wanting to do that for so long." Haiji whispered as they broke apart. Kakeru nodded.
"You're really important to me too. And I'm incredibly lucky that you're in love with me because you're so unbelievably amazing." Kakeru stared at him, didn't respond. "Couldn't find the words before, so I thought I'd show you how I felt." Haiji said, smiling.
"Okay! Who had their money on October 31st?" They both flinched.
The whole team was standing there, looking at them. Yuki was grinning, the twins were jumping up and down, Prince and Shindo were smiling, Musa was clapping and King was handing Nico-chan some money.
Kakeru stiffened, but Haiji wrapped his arm around his shoulder and pulled him closer with the biggest smile on his face.
"Announcement! Kakeru is my boyfriend! You may now congratulate us!"
Kakeru smiled and took Haiji's hand. The others practically threw themselves at them, asking a million questions. "About time." "When is the wedding?" "Who started the kiss?" "Did you use tongue?" (Joji got hit on the head for that one) "Why did it take so long?" "Why couldn't you wait two more days, I lost money because of this."
They didn't answer any of the questions. They just held hands.
Their walk back home was peaceful. Haiji'd paid Yuki and King to carry back the Hakone Ekiden arch so that he could walk next to Kakeru and actually talk to him. Their fingers were intertwined.
"So, vampires huh?" Kakeru asked with a grin.
"Shut up." Haiji said as he started laughing.
He lifted their hands and kissed the back of Kakeru's.
"Devil and angel next year, right?"