The postcard never left Atsushi’s hands, even a couple of hours after the party ended and he was back at home. He lay in his bed, staring at it, wondering how Kinshiro was doing. Now that the distraction of the Christmas party with his friends was over, the loneliness began to blanket him. He always missed Kinshiro, even when he was in the same school, three meters away. He thought that them being friends again and knowing they’d always be together from now on would do more to alleviate the yearning, but knowing Kinshiro was a whole other continent away actually made it worse.
Seeing Kinshiro’s embarrassed looking expression in the photo did make him smile, though. He wondered how long it took for him to be convinced to dress up like that for the photo. He was really grateful for En for setting the whole thing up. It was the best gift he could have received. It also made him feel better that Kinshiro had Arima and Akoya with them, and the three of them looked like they were having a good time.
It didn’t take the pain away from missing him though.
Part of him thought it was unfair, that just as he and Kinshiro got their relationship back, he had to leave again. Atsushi knew he was unfair himself for thinking that when Kinshiro was bettering his education for his future…
But. He couldn’t stop the yearning, just like he couldn’t when he’d been sure Kinshiro hated him and was done with him.
But then, at least he got to see Kinshiro from afar every day...
He sucked in a breath, willing the gloomy thoughts to leave, focusing on the good, on the photo, on the fact that Kinshiro wouldn’t be gone forever, they’d see each other again in a few months.
Atsushi set the photo down on his nightstand, reaching over to grab his phone. He looked at his message history with Kinshiro, the last one being a couple of weeks ago. Kinshiro must be very busy. That school abroad must be a lot more advanced than high school here. Did they even get time off for the holidays? Atsushi had no idea. But looking at the phone, Atsushi realized it had also been a long time since their last phone call, since he’d heard Kinshiro’s voice.
His soft voice that seemed to be reserved for just Atsushi… his stern student council voice… his voice when he was awkward or embarrassed… Atsushi loved them all.
Before he knew what he was doing, he was hitting Kinshiro’s contact and pressing ‘call.’
After a few rings, Atsushi hurriedly cancelled it, his face flushing. He threw an arm over his eyes.
“He’s probably in class,” Atsushi muttered to himself. It was always difficult for him to remember what their time difference was. It being late evening meant it was earlier in the day for Kinshiro. It was hard for them to find times to talk like that. Usually, when Kinshiro got off from class, Atsushi was already asleep.
Speaking of, he should probably just get to sleep. Perhaps this somberness will fade by the time morning came. Although, something told him that it would be very difficult to actually fall asleep with so much on his mind.
Atsushi took off his glasses and closed his eyes. However, the heaviness kept weighing down on his heart, a tight grip that wasn’t letting go.
Just then, a loud buzzing filled his bedroom. His phone.
When Atsushi slipped his glasses back on and grabbed it, his heart leapt into his throat when he saw just who was calling him. He answered without hesitation.
“At-chan!” Kinshiro’s voice sounded breathless and frantic, twisting Atsushi’s stomach. “What’s happened? Is everything alright?”
“Huh?” Atsushi said dumbly, too surprised by the sudden call to answer properly.
“Did you get hurt?”
Kinshiro’s voice raised a pitch and Atsushi shook his head.
“No, no, everything’s fine,” Atsushi answered. “Nobody’s hurt or anything.”
He let out a shaky breath of air afterward. Perhaps he shouldn’t have called Kinshiro like that, he’d just worried him…
“Oh.” He heard Kinshiro exhale slowly through the other end of the phone, and when he spoke again, he sounded more relaxed. “When I saw I had a cancelled call from you, I got worried.”
Atsushi smiled. It was just like Kinshiro to care that much.
“I didn’t mean to make you worry,” Atsushi said. “I’m sorry. I just…”
Atsushi’s face heated, the words stopping in his throat. It would be too embarrassing to just say that he missed him and wanted to hear his voice, wouldn’t it?
“... I got your postcard, and I wanted to thank you. I... I forgot the time zone difference.”
Which was also the truth.
“Oh.” It was now Kinshiro’s turn to sound awkward. “It might have been a bit tacky... but I’m glad you received it alright. I was surprised when Yufuin reached out and suggested the idea, but...”
“It’s not tacky at all!” Atsushi interjected. “You looked cute in that outfit, Kin-chan.”
“Cut-” Kinshiro audibly sputtered, and Atsushi’s face heated up even more. He inwardly groaned. So much for avoiding saying anything embarrassing!
“Yeah,” Atsushi said, and quickly changed the subject, “by the way, aren’t you in school? Aren’t you busy?”
“I’m in between classes right now, so it’s fine,” Kinshiro said quickly, almost tripping on his words.
“Oh... okay, good,” Atsushi said. “I wouldn’t want to keep you.”
“You’re not...” Kinshiro said. “I’m glad you called. Well, not at first when I thought something horrible had happened to you, and I was getting a call to tell me bad news, but-”
“Kin-chan, relax, it’s okay. Next time I’ll just send a text message.”
“Oh,” Kinshiro said. “No, it’s alright. You can call me whenever you’d like. I... I miss hearing your voice.”
Atsushi froze, becoming silent. His heart started thundering, so loud, so loud he could hear it rushing in his ears.
“At-chan?” Kinshiro’s timid voice on the other end clenched at Atsushi’s heart even tighter, and he wished, he wished he could see Kinshiro’s face. He wished he could reach over and touch Kinshiro, hold his hand, brush a lock of hair behind his face... the sudden yearning to be right next to him was so strong it almost strangled the air out of his lungs.
He took in a deep breath. “I miss hearing your voice too,” Atsushi said quietly. “It’s why I called... it might have been impulsive, but I was looking at the photo you sent me, and I just wanted to hear from you too.”
There was a light sigh from the other side of the phone, but Atsushi could hear the smile in his voice when he spoke again.
“That makes me happy.” Kinshiro sounded really emotional. “I feel the same way.”
Atsushi let out a breath of air, half relieved that it wasn’t just him feeling these things, half embarrassed for saying something like this over the phone. Not that it would be easy to say in person. Just like these other feelings of Atsushi’s he wanted to confess to Kinshiro, but he told himself he’d wait until they were face to face again for that.
“Talking with you like this makes me happy too,” Atsushi said. “By the way,” he said, remembering something he’d thought about since receiving the photo earlier. “You got me this nice photo as a gift... but I haven’t gotten you anything yet. Is there anything you want?”
Kinshiro was quiet for a moment before replying. “You don’t need to get me anything. Hearing your voice is the best gift for me.”
Atsushi’s throat closed up as he took in a deep inhale, choking on his breath.
“Eh? Eh?” Atsushi’s voice came out squeaky and his face was definitely red, he could feel the way it burst into flames. “Kin-chan…”
He hadn’t expected Kinshiro to say such a thing at all. Atsushi didn’t know how to handle it. His heart felt like it was going to explode.
“At-chan…” Kinshiro sounded like he was stammering now too. “Was… was that too much? I’m sorry.”
“No!” Atsushi said. “It wasn’t… I… it made me really happy. And I feel the same. I missed hearing your voice.”
And you, he thought, but felt too embarrassed in the moment to say that part, too.
It became quiet for a moment, and he could hear Kinshiro breathing on the other end. Was it just him feeling this awkwardness? He wished he could see what Kinshiro’s expression was. Did he look awkward too? Was he blushing? Atsushi loved Kinshiro’s blush.
Atsushi didn’t quite want Kinshiro to hang up yet, so he hurriedly changed the subject.
“Um. So, Kin-chan, do you celebrate Christmas over there too?”
Kinshiro audibly exhaled. “Yes. It’s quite a big deal here, too. It’s quite a bit too much sometimes...”
Atsushi laughed. “So do you decorate?”
“Well, not much,” Kinshiro said. “Though Arima got us a small tree for our dorm room.”
“Ah, that’s nice!” Atsushi said. “It’s good to have a bit of festive spirit in your room.”
“I suppose,” Kinshiro agreed. “It doesn’t take up much space, which is good.”
“You must need the extra space for studying, right?”
“Is it difficult? The classes there?”
“... It’s more advanced, but it’s going very well.”
Atsushi smiled. “I’m not surprised, you’ve always been really smart.”
Kinshiro made a weird sound that caused Atsushi’s heart to stutter. “I… thank you, At-chan.”
“It’s just the truth,” Atsushi said softly.
Speaking of class…
“Wait, is it okay for you to keep talking? Don’t you have to get to class?”
“Oh.” There was a pause as Kinshiro audibly shuffled something around, before he exhaled loudly. “I might be a bit late.”
“What?” Atsushi’s eyes widened. “You should go! I’m so sorry for keeping you, Kin-chan.”
“No,” Kinshiro said. “It’s fine. I’d rather have made sure everything was fine with you.”
“Kin-chan…” Atsushi’s heart swelled. Kinshiro, such a sticker for the rules and tardiness, saying something like that to him meant a lot and he knew it.
“Besides… it was worth it.”
Before Atsushi could even reply again, Kinshiro murmured a quick ‘talk to you soon’ and hung up.
Atsushi stared at his cell phone in shock, his heart throbbing, his stomach twisting.
He flopped back down on his pillow, wanting to scream, to cry, or something in between.
Kinshiro’s soft voice kept playing on repeat in his mind, making Atsushi happy but also missing him even more at the same time. The phone call did make it a lot better, but he still didn’t know if he could sleep.
Atsushi picked up the photo one more time.
Kinshiro said he didn’t need any gift in return, but Atsushi really wanted to get him something.
But what would be good?
Atsushi got up, turned on his bedroom light, and paced around the floor as he thought about it.
Something useful, perhaps? Or something sentimental… something Christmassy?
His eyes moved across his room, landing on his closet.
And that’s when something Kinshiro said on the phone connected with something that came to him in a flash of vivid memory.
It was a little more than a week later. Atsushi woke up early, he had to in order to wake up En and drag him to school. He got up and put on his uniform, all before he checked his phone.
When he did, Atsushi was greeted with a wonderful surprise.
It was a message from Kinshiro.
Atsushi smiled before he even opened it.
But when he did, the smile brightened, his heart feeling warmer than it had in a long time.
There was a photo to go along with the message.
'Hello, At-chan. I send this message to confirm that I’ve gotten your parcel. I cannot believe that you still had these after all this time… they make a perfect addition to the tree. It’s a wonderful gift. I'm really happy. Thank you.’
The photo was of Kinshiro posing awkwardly with a smile in front of their Christmas tree. Had Arima taken the photo for him? On the tree was Atsushi’s gift for him - ornaments. Ornaments he and Kinshiro had made together as children. He’d found them in a box of memories in his closet. There were four of them, messily hand-painted, each of them had made two. But they were beautiful and made Atsushi smile to remember how much fun he and Kinshiro had while making them.
Atsushi smiled at the message and the photo for a while before thinking about messaging back.
It was funny, now that he had this new photo of Kinshiro smiling, it felt like an extra gift. Perhaps he should find something else to gift Kinshiro in return, too.
Even if they were far apart for Christmas, this made him feel so much closer to him, and Atsushi wouldn’t rather it be any other way.