Masayoshi knew the setup to a perfect kiss. He’s seen it a million times on TV, and even watched it happen first hand between other actors in the numerous dramas he’s performed in. It seemed quite simple, really. First, you have to set the mood. No noisy distractions, no clutter in the environment. A moonlit night is your best option, but if that is not available, substitutions of candlelight are acceptable as well. Then come the gentle touches. It could be their hand, their arm, their shoulder or their cheek (or, if you’re feeling particularly intimate, all of those, gradually, in that order). Next is eye contact.
Now, Masayoshi was a little hesitant on this part- prolonged eye contact was hard for him on the best of days. It was something Ishihara had consistently gotten on his case about. But no matter: he was sure if it was with Goto, it wouldn’t be an issue. He loves Goto, after all. So, eye contact. Make sure the other person knows what you’re about to do, and then- that’s when you lean in. Go slowly, making sure to give them time to back away, if they so wish. As you get closer, tilt your head ever so slightly. And then it happens: a perfect, show-stopping, utterly magical kiss. Supposedly, if all goes well, you'll hear choirs of heavenly angels, or bells ringing, or feel sparks and fireworks as you kiss your beloved.
This was all fine and dandy, but Masayoshi had one major problem: he had never kissed anyone before. Not even when acting in a drama. He was typically relegated to side characters, since frankly, he wasn't actually a very good actor, and was mostly there as eye candy for the viewers. And if he ever did have to portray a romance, it was always subtextual, with no outright declarations of love.
So sure, he knew the setup to a perfect kiss. But only in theory.
And this was where he was stuck. For the truth is, he so very badly wanted to kiss Goto. It was an ache he felt deep in his heart every time Goto set aside a coffee for him in the morning, before leaving for his shift at the police box. When they were eating curry together at night, and Goto laughed at something Masayoshi had said, he felt an urge to reach across the table and pepper Goto's face with a million little kisses. He wanted to kiss him good morning, and good night, and hello, and goodbye, and without any reason at all. Masayoshi wished more than anything to feel Goto’s lips against his own. He wanted it even more than the new limited edition of the original Kamen Rider Blu-ray set (though it was a very close second).
But he had no clue if Goto felt the same. Sure, they shared an apartment, and Goto had long since stopped asking Masayoshi when he was going to move out. And maybe they had gone about their whole ‘relationship’ thing in the wrong order, but Masayoshi was pretty sure that they were dating. At least, Goto had never shifted away when Masayoshi leaned against him while watching a movie together, his head resting comfortably in the crook of Goto’s neck. And they even held hands sometimes!
Yet even so, they still hadn’t kissed. And it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying on Masayoshi’s part. Countless times, he had tried to get that perfect mood going, but something kept interrupting.
The first time barely counted as an attempt at all. His plan was to make a fancy, romantic dinner, just for the two of them. He had enlisted Mizuki’s help in preparing the menu, and in teaching him how to actually cook the meal. He hadn’t had much experience with anything besides curry, and as much as he loved the dish, it simply wasn’t suitable for a moment as special as a first kiss.
(Plus, they had already had it three times this week.)
Masayoshi looked again at the ingredients list on his phone as he meandered through the supermarket. Suddenly, it buzzed with an incoming text, and he nearly dropped it in surprise.
>Goto: Hey, when are you planning on getting back home? I just got off of my shift.
Masayoshi smiled. ‘Home’, Goto said. It was their home. The grin stayed on his face as he texted back.
>Masayoshi: I’ll be home shortly. I’m at the supermarket right now- did you need anything, while I’m here?
>Goto: Nah, I’m good for now. Thanks for offering.
A moment passed, then another text arrived.
>Goto: Oh, that’s right. You said you were cooking something special tonight. Any hints for what it is?
Masayoshi’s grin grew even wider, his cheeks starting to hurt just a bit from his unrestrained glee.
>Masayoshi: Nope! It’s a surprise. You’re gonna love it though, I promise.
>Goto: I see. Well, I’m looking forward to it. Today was a bit rough. So many useless reports to file.
Masayoshi was about to respond, concerned that maybe Goto wasn’t feeling good after his apparent stressful day. But he was interrupted by an incoming call, Ishihara-san displayed on the screen. He blinked at the screen in surprise. Before the call could disconnect, he quickly hit the answer button and held the phone to his ear. “Hello?”
“Ah, Masayoshi. Good evening.” Ishihara’s voice came through, slightly static-y through the line. Her voice had a slight edge to it, a nervous current in her words. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
“Oh, no ma'am. I was just doing some grocery shopping. What’s the reason for your call? I thought today was my day off.” Masayoshi frowned, impatient to get back to his errand and back home to Goto.
“It was, but...”
Masayoshi absolutely did not like the sound of that. “...But?”
“But, there’s a bit of an emergency. The model for this photoshoot suddenly came down with a fever and collapsed on set, and you’re the only one in our company who matches his measurements for the clothes. It’s for a major magazine, and today is our only opportunity with the photographer to get this shoot done.” Masayoshi bit his lip, knowing exactly what she was implying.
“So I need to come in, is that right?"
“Unfortunately, yes. And as soon as possible. We’ll need to re-do photos from earlier in the shoot, so there’s a chance it could take a while.” Her tone, while apologetic, clearly harbored no room for argument or refusal.
Well, Masayoshi thought. There goes dinner. There goes my perfect first kiss.
“I’m sorry, Masayoshi,” she continued. “But we really need you right now.”
Masayoshi sighed. He supposed it didn’t have to be tonight. Perhaps it was a sign from the universe, actually. Maybe there was some important, cosmic reason he couldn’t have his magical kiss that day. (And with Goto, it was sure to be magical. Masayoshi had no doubts about that.)
“Alright. I’ll be over in twenty minutes.”
After confirming the details, Masayoshi hung up, letting out the groan of exasperation he had been holding in. He took a moment to compose himself, before calling Goto.
“Hey, Masayoshi. What’s up?” Goto asked as soon as he answered.
“Goto-san, I’m so sorry. I can’t make dinner tonight after all.” Masayoshi could feel tears prickling at the corner of his eyes. He felt slightly ashamed for crying over something so minor, but after all, he had been planning this dinner for weeks! Having to cancel at the last minute felt like the world was crashing around him. Time off was becoming more and more rare, with photoshoots, interviews, drama filming, and lately, even politics taking up the majority of his days.
“Huh? Why, what’s wrong?” Goto paused. “You, uh... you didn’t get in any kind of trouble again, did you?”
Masayoshi perked at the concern in Goto’s voice. “Oh, no, not at all,” he reassured. Had Goto been able to tell he was about to cry, even through the phone? He quickly wiped the tears away before they could fall. “It’s just a work thing. They need me to come in to replace another model who got sick.”
The other side of the line went silent for a moment.
Goto cleared his throat. “Well, it can’t be helped. I’m a bit disappointed, to be honest, but work is work.” He chuckled. “Though you’re already popular enough, what'll I do if you get so popular that someone tries to steal you away?”
Masayoshi panicked. Goto was disappointed! His beloved Goto was disappointed in him! Masayoshi’s distress at this development was so great, that the other remark didn’t even register. “I’m so, so sorry, Goto-san! I promise, I’ll make it up to you any way I can!” Just then, an idea sprouted in his mind. “That’s right, next week is Christmas! What if we go on a... uh, what if we spend Christmas together in town?” He hesitated to say the word date. They had yet to call any of their outings that, and despite his confidence in their relationship, it just didn’t seem necessary to put any labels on them like that. They were close enough that it just didn’t quite feel as important as simply being together.
Goto hummed. “Christmas, huh? I kinda like the sound of that. Could we do Christmas Eve, though? I think I’m scheduled to go in for the day itself.”
Masayoshi beamed, relief washing over him. “Yes, Goto-san. That sounds lovely. I look forward to it!”
“Well, then, it’s a date.” Masayoshi choked slightly at those words. Goto had said it so easily. “Let me know when you’re on your way home from the shoot. I’ll wait up for you.” He huffed. "And it should go without saying, but no hero antics. I don't want to file any more reports just because you decided to be a freak again."
“Oh, yes, of course,” Masayoshi sputtered, still reeling from the shock. “I don't even have my suit with me, so that wasn't an option in the first place." He had spilled curry on it the night before, and sent it off for dry cleaning. "I'd better get going, Goto-san. I don't want Ishihara-san to bite my head off for being late. I’ll see you soon.”
“Mm. See ya.” And with that, the call disconnected, leaving Masayoshi to make his way over to the studio in silence.
Christmas Eve, then, he thought, determined. That’s the perfect time. There was nothing really special about today, anyways, he reasoned. Having their first kiss on Christmas Eve sounded much more romantic.
But, unfortunately, it seemed the universe, yet again, had other plans in mind. It had started out just fine- excellent, even. Masayoshi and Goto walked through the downtown area, admiring all the decorations and basking in the romantic Christmas spirit that filled the air. Masayoshi’s hand was warm and tingly where it was held firmly in Goto’s grasp. This was utter bliss.
And it’s only going to get better, he reassured himself.
For tonight was the night he was going to kiss Goto. He had it all planned out. As they wandered through the shops, he would slowly guide them towards the giant Christmas tree in the middle of the town. There, he would follow all of the steps exactly, culminating in a beautiful, wonderful, super perfect kiss in the glow of the festive lights, all beneath the shining full moon. Nothing could get more romantic than that. Although, the whole thing was a bit more... public than was preferable, but no matter. He squeezed Goto’s hand, filled with a sudden rush of affection.
Goto looked at their joined hands, then smiled oh-so-softly. He squeezed back, and Masayoshi beamed at him. Yes, this night was going perfectly.
“Well, if it isn't Samumenco!”
Both Goto and Masayoshi froze. Slowly, hoping his ears were deceiving him, Masayoshi turned his head to look behind him. But alas, it seemed his luck for the evening had run out: for there was Mari, with Moe practically hanging off of her shoulder, looking at her with adoring eyes.
Masayoshi grimaced. The last source of evil in this world, indeed. Why now, of all times?
Goto pinched his brow, sighing, and let go of Masayoshi’s hand so he could turn around to face them. "Mari, Moe. What a surprise."
Moe finally seemed to notice them, turning her gaze away from Mari (for probably the first time that night). She squeaked in surprise. "Oh! It's... you two. Good evening, Hazama-san, Goto-san."
Masayoshi noticed her displeased side eye at Goto. It seems she still had some lingering jealousy. He didn't blame her: now that he finally had Goto all to himself, he was more wary of Mari than ever before. Mari and Moe might have reconciled all their differences, sure, and are now happily and officially girlfriends, but he just can’t quite trust Mari not to make any sort of move if she were to see Goto in uniform again. And evidently, Moe shared those same concerns.
But Mari herself paid no mind to their misgivings. “Having a little Christmas date, are we?” She smirked, nudging Masayoshi in the side with her elbow. A bit too forcefully, actually.
“Ow!” Masayoshi grabbed his aching side. Hopefully, it wouldn’t bruise. “That was just uncalled for, Mari. And yes, if you absolutely must know. We are.” He didn’t even bother concealing the disdain in his voice.
Goto glanced at Masayoshi, and chuckled when he saw the pout on his face. He quickly moved his hand up to cover up his smile. With his other, he grabbed Masayoshi’s and squeezed. Masayoshi’s frown disappeared as quickly as it had come.
“So you are on a date!” Mari grinned, and Masayoshi felt his heart drop to his stomach. He knew that look on her face. He knew it far too well, in fact. That was the face that meant he was about to be dragged along in some unpleasant scheme of hers, and he, for one, wanted no part in it.
“Anyways,” he continued, trying to get out of this situation as possible, “We kinda had plans already, so-”
“Nonsense! You’ve been sooooo busy lately, we haven’t had any time to catch up.” Mari clapped her hands together. “The four of us are all here right now, so why don’t we make it a double date?”
Goto coughed. “Mari, I’m not sure that’s a good idea.” He glanced briefly at Moe, who seemed to be silently seething. “Ah, that reminds me, though, where’s Mizuki?”
“She complained that it was way too cold to go out.” Mari rolled her eyes. “And of course it’s a good idea. All of my ideas are good ideas.” Here, Moe nodded emphatically.
“Uh,” Masayoshi began, “I’m not so sure about that. I think going to fight King Torture wasn’t exactly a great plan.”
Quick as a flash, Mari whipped her head around to glare at him. A vicious glint shone in her eyes. “Shut up, Masayoshi. You did the same thing.” She quickly schooled her expression back into a smile befitting of an idol. “Anyways, I simply won’t take no for an answer. Now come on, let’s go!” She grabbed Goto’s arm and started pulling him down the sidewalk, dislodging his hold on Masayoshi’s hand, and ignoring all of his protests.
Masayoshi and Moe both squawked in disbelief. “Hey! Mari, you can’t just grab him like that!” Masayoshi ran after them, with Moe following close behind. When he finally caught up, weaving between the other pedestrians (some of whom not-so-inconspicuously gawked at him, saying hey, isn't that the future world president?), he wrestled Mari’s hand off of Goto’s arm, and sidled himself between the two. He took hold of Goto’s hand, and held it firmly. He was not going to have his... whatever-he-was... stolen away from him a second time.
Goto just laughed. “Masayoshi, it’s not that serious. You don’t need to protect me from her, I can handle myself just fine.”
“But, Goto-san, our date!” Masayoshi whined, and pointedly ignored Mari rolling her eyes at him. “I had it all planned out! We were gonna go get hot chocolate, and get a Christmas cake, and then go see the big tree, and then I was gonna-” He cut himself off, clamping his mouth shut before he could reveal the true end goal of this master plan.
“We can still do all that with them.” Goto leaned in, whispering in his ear. Masayoshi went completely red, feeling very strangely hot all of a sudden, despite the cold temperature outside. “I don’t think Mari’s gonna give in on this one, and I’m honestly afraid she’ll do something to disturb the peace if we don’t go along with her.” He pointedly glanced back at Mari, who was tapping her foot in impatience.
Moe had draped her arms around her, clearly in an attempt to get Mari’s focus, but Mari remained unfazed. Eventually, Moe sighed. “Hazama-san, maybe we should join up for tonight. It could be-” she grimaced, “...fun.”
And with his last possible ally defeated, Masayoshi knew he had lost the battle. “Ugh, fine.” So much for his romantic Christmas kiss. Masayoshi wanted to curse the universe for preventing his goals yet again. Why did nothing seem to go his way recently? It was almost like after the universe stopped bending itself to his desires, it did a complete face-turn to bend itself away.
“You know, you could at least pretend to be happy to spend time with me,” Mari said, scoffing. “I’m gracing you with my presence, after all.”
“Yes, Hazama-san,” Moe added. “You should be grateful. Mari-san shines brighter than any of these lights!” She smiled at him, but it didn’t quite seem to reach her eyes.
Oh well, he thought. At least I have someone to commiserate with.
He didn’t get a kiss that night, either.
And so, he kept trying. Masayoshi was a man on a mission (a mission to kiss his kind-of-boyfriend-kind-of-fiance). But every single time, the universe seemed determined to prove that not only is Murphy’s Law absolutely real, but it is directly out to get him.
On New Year’s Eve, just one week later, the power went out right before midnight, interfering with Masayoshi’s plan to ring in the new year with a kiss. Instead, they spent the last few minutes of the countdown looking for candles. While candle light was great for romance, they had completely missed midnight, and the timing was ruined. When he tried to make dinner again, he accidentally left the steak in the oven too long and burnt it to a crisp. (Goto had just laughed, and laughed, and wouldn’t stop laughing until Masayoshi threatened to give him the silent treatment.) Then, when he took him out to a fancy restaurant a few days after that, Masayoshi was recognized by other patrons, and they couldn’t get any privacy for the rest of the night.
All in all, Masayoshi was almost resigned to the fact that they might just never get to kiss at all. And the worst part was, Goto didn’t even seem to notice Masayoshi’s ever growing frustration regarding this issue. He just laughed each new obstacle off, as if it didn’t even matter, as if the very fate of their relationship wasn’t hanging on the line!
Okay, even Masayoshi had to admit that was maybe a bit of an exaggeration.
This pattern of meticulous planning, only for his plans to be halted in their tracks, continued for weeks. Masayoshi was nearly at his wits’ end. He sprawled out on the couch (that they had bought together), and sighed, not even able to focus on the new episode of Neo Axe playing on the television.
“Whoa, that was a hefty sigh.” Goto said, exiting the bathroom. "What's got you all worked up?" Having already bathed, he had changed into his sleepwear for the night, which consisted of a pair of comfy grey sweatpants and, Masayoshi noted quite pointedly, no shirt. The sweatpants hung low on his hips. Masayoshi quickly averted his eyes, not wanting to get caught staring. (Goto had called him out on it before, and it was one of the most embarrassing moments of his life. Goto didn’t seem to care, pointing out that he had seen far more of Masayoshi’s body- multiple times, in fact- but Masayoshi still couldn’t get rid of that lingering sense of shame.) Even after months of living together, Goto’s bare torso, tanned and toned, was a sight he still hadn’t gotten used to. He imagined it was quite possible that he never would.
As Goto approached the couch, Masayoshi shot up into a seated position, scooting over to make room. Goto grabbed a beer from the fridge on his way, and plopped down next to Masayoshi, making himself comfortable. He reached an arm around Masayoshi's shoulders, then pulled him in closer.
Masayoshi nearly stopped breathing. He was leaning against Goto’s bare chest. His skin was still slightly damp from his bath, and Masayoshi could clearly smell the scent of his body wash. He fought the urge to breathe it in deeply. He could feel the gentle inhale and exhale of Goto’s breathing. It felt open, and warm, and somehow a little bit vulnerable. Coming from Goto, this was an act of affection Masayoshi had never expected. It was an intimacy far greater than he thought he could handle.
Especially since they still hadn’t even kissed.
Masayoshi groaned in frustration. “This just isn’t fair!”
Goto paused in the middle of a sip. Slowly, he put his beer down on the table in front of them, and turned to look down at Masayoshi, pressed against his shoulder. He raised a hand to slowly card his fingers through Masayoshi’s hair. “What’s wrong?”
Masayoshi nearly teared up at the feeling of Goto’s gentle touch. And yet, he couldn't stop himself from leaning further into it. “This! All this stuff you do, it’s so natural for you!” He looked up at Goto, meeting his gaze. “It’s not fair that you seem so nonchalant about all this affection stuff. Meanwhile, I plan, and plan, and plan, and I still haven’t gotten a chance to kiss you!”
Goto’s eyes widened, and his hand stilled. “You were... worried about that?”
Masayoshi pushed away from Goto’s chest. “Of course I’m worried about that!” His heart started pounding, feeling like at any moment it would simply burst through his ribcage and make a dash for the door. He hadn’t felt this level of adrenaline since that night so many months ago in the ruins of his old apartment. “I guess it’s not a huge deal for you, but you don’t know how hard I’ve been trying to make this work out in the best way possible. You haven’t even officially said yes to my proposal yet, so without a kiss, how am I supposed to know where we stand?” Tears welled up in his eyes.
“I’ve been doing my best here, Goto-san. I seriously have! I know how first kisses are supposed to go. I know how to set a mood, I know how to lean in, and tilt my head, and I know that there’s supposed to be angels singing or fireworks shooting off or something else cheesy and romantic like that. It’s supposed to be perfect. So why is it that the whole universe seems to be against me? It's just not fair!” Masayoshi threw out his arms at the end of his outburst, breathing heavily.
Goto bit his lip, before reaching for one of Masayoshi’s outstretched hands. With his other hand, he softly wiped his thumb underneath Masayoshi’s eyes, catching the tears threatening to fall. Then, gently, he pulled him closer, and closer, until he had him wrapped in a tight hug. Masayoshi didn’t protest.
“Masayoshi, when have you ever done things the way they’re supposed to be done?” He asked, his voice both softer and sweeter than Masayoshi had ever heard from him before. “I think I know what the problem is, here.”
“Huh?” Masayoshi’s brain felt like it was short-circuiting, both from Goto’s sudden tenderness, and from having those strong, bare arms wrapped tightly around him.
“See, you’ve gotten so used to things going your way. You’ve forgotten that we’re not some characters in a drama or tokusatsu show.” Goto rubbed small, gentle circles into Masayoshi’s back. “These sorts of things aren’t just scripted for others’ entertainment. I mean, these are our lives we’re talking about, here.”
“But- but I wanted it to be perfect! And special! And romantic!” Masayoshi found himself turning into soft putty in Goto’s embrace.
Goto snorted. “That’s ‘cause you’re a freak who thinks everything has to be just like your shows.” He pulled away just slightly, enough to cup Masayoshi’s face between his hands. He leaned forward, barely touching their foreheads together. “Masayoshi, you’re no good at planning. It's just like when I knew you couldn't be the mastermind behind From Beyond. Let’s be real, you’re much better when you’re completely winging it.”
And just before Masayoshi could open his mouth to retort, Goto swooped in.
It certainly wasn’t much like all those ‘perfect’ kisses Masayoshi had seen before. The noises from the TV, playing the Neo Axe credits music, filled the background. There were empty beer cans on the table, and the whole room was a bit of a mess, frankly. It was a cloudy night, with no moonlight shining through the window, and there certainly weren't any candles lit in its place. Instead, there was only the harsh light from the bulbs in the ceiling. Masayoshi didn’t even have the chance to look deeply and passionately into Goto’s eyes before it happened. He had spent the whole time whining.
And yet it was everything he had ever dreamt of, and more.
And yet Masayoshi suddenly found that he didn’t really care about all those ruined plans.
And yet Goto was kissing him and it was absolutely imperfectly perfect in every possible way.
Before Masayoshi could even begin to kiss him back, Goto pulled away. “There. We had our first kiss. Now can you please stop worrying about it?”
Masayoshi didn’t even bother responding. He lunged forward in Goto’s embrace, and knocked him down onto his back, pressing him into the couch as he unleashed all of his pent up frustration into another kiss. Their noses bumped together (Oops, I forgot to tilt my head) and Goto was laughing- laughing! - into the kiss, but Masayoshi didn’t care at all. He had months of feelings and desires to get through to Goto, and nothing was going to get in his way this time. He was sure of it. He ignored the burning in his chest crying out for oxygen, and kept powering through, making sure Goto knew just how badly he wanted this. How badly he needed this.
Eventually, his need for air won out, and he pulled away with a gasp, hovering over Goto on the couch, with an arm on either side of him to support his weight. Despite his heavy breathing as he attempted to get his heart rate back under control, Masayoshi couldn’t stop smiling.
Goto started laughing even harder than he had been during Masayoshi’s desperate kiss. “You can breathe through your nose, you know!” He reached up, and ruffled Masayoshi’s hair with both his hands, like he was some kind of overgrown dog. Masayoshi couldn’t even begin to bring himself to mind. He was just glad everything had finally worked out, after all those weeks of failed plans and frustration.
“I still don’t get how everything is so easy for you,” Masayoshi finally complained after catching his breath. He plopped down on top of Goto, who let out a soft ‘oof’ at the added weight on his chest. Masayoshi nuzzled his head into the crook of Goto’s neck.
“Hey, I was just trying to get you to hurry up with it.” Goto continued stroking Masayoshi’s hair, soft as feathers. “I don’t want you thinking I didn’t notice all your efforts. But I wanted to go at your pace. I genuinely thought you weren’t ready to kiss me yet.” He laughed quietly again. “See, I figured that you’re such an impulsive idiot that if you wanted to kiss me, you would’ve gone and done it already.”
Masayoshi’s eyes widened. “Huh?” So that meant that this whole time, he could’ve just told Goto that he wanted to kiss him, and it would’ve saved him weeks of despair?
Wow. That revelation just made things a whole lot easier. Masayoshi laughed, in both relief and joy, and turned his head to press a small kiss on the corner of Goto’s jaw. He could feel Goto’s smile through the taut muscles in his cheek. The smile was contagious, and Masayoshi found himself grinning along with him.
“Goto-san?” He began, mirth in his voice.
“Hm?” Goto glanced at him, the same joy reflected in his own eyes.
“Can I kiss you again?”