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Rohan, Marry Me

Chapter Text

"Your ice cream is about to drip onto your hand, Josuke."

"Oh!" Josuke quickly brought the cone up to his mouth and flicked out his tongue to catch the aforementioned drip. With his nerves running rampant in regard to what he was planning to soon do, he hadn't been paying close enough attention. Good thing his boyfriend, observant as ever, was there to save him."Thanks Rohan."

Rohan laughed, the kind of laugh that's mostly just an exhale through the nose. He walked beside Josuke with his own ice cream in hand - cotton candy flavored. There was something perfectly ironic about Rohan Kishibe preferring such an innocent and childlike flavor; a stark contrast to his personality. Josuke smiled at the thought.

Bounding happily a few steps ahead of them was a golden colored shiba inu, adorned with a pale blue collar and leash Josuke held in his other hand.

It was a beautiful day in Morioh, the summer sun reflecting off storefront windows and glistening on the ocean they were walking alongside. The ice cream stand Josuke had spotted and promptly dragged them to had been a great idea to cool themselves down, but they had to eat the ice cream quickly to keep it from melting away.

The dog suddenly lurched forward, jerking Josuke's arm and nearly causing him to crash into the sand below. "Heel, Cali!" He tugged backwards on the leash and California came to a stop, her nose pointed in the direction of what had caught her attention: a few seagulls perched on the shore. She barked twice, and they flew away. Seeming pleased with herself, she continued walking, consequentially pulling Josuke after her. He groaned and let himself be half-dragged along, giving up for now. The newest edition to their little family was still in the process of being trained, and pulling hard on walks was one of the biggest issues.

Rohan sighed, seemingly disappointed in the whole scenario. "You must learn to control your dog, Josuke."

'Your dog,' Rohan would always put it, refusing to claim any ownership. He had been displeased, to say the least, the day Josuke had gone out for a gallon of milk and came home with a whole ass dog. Over the following days and weeks, however, Josuke had caught him giving her belly rubs and tossing her scraps beneath the table plenty of times. Whether he'd admit to it or not, Rohan loved the dog just as much as Josuke did.

Josuke smiled sheepishly. "She's just excited, that's all. We don't walk this stretch very often." And she's not the only one who's having a hard time containing themself, Josuke added on mentally.

The constant pull on the leash was certainly straining, but the weight of what he carried in his left pocket was far more encumbering.

Physically, it wasn't very heavy at all. Small enough, in fact, that if it were anything else he could probably forget it was even there. But the meaning that tiny object he carried, the constant reminder of what Josuke was finally going to do felt heavy enough to pull him straight down through the surface of the of the earth.

Rohan's soft voice pulled him back into the moment, and Josuke felt just a small wave of calmness wash over him. "Let's stop here for some photos. The lighting is perfect right now."

Tuning in to his surroundings again, Josuke could see what Rohan was talking about. The sun hadn't yet begun to set, but it was resting just above the horizon, its reflection sparkling off of the ocean it would soon slip behind.

He watched Rohan hold the camera to his eye, with a focused expression that Josuke had grown to love. It was the same face he wore when he was drawing his manga, one of concentration but of peace as well, and a spark of passion in his eyes.

"Go stand out there, Josuke." Rohan smiled at him above the camera after getting a few landscape photos of the beach. Even after two years, it still made Josuke's heart flutter every time he saw that smile. It wasn't the arrogant smirk he often wore, but a soft, genuine smile few had the privilege of seeing. And Josuke got to see it most it all.

Following his directions, Josuke started walking him and Cali out towards the shore but Rohan stopped him. "Wait," Josuke paused and looked back expectantly. "Give me the dog. I want some of just you."

Josuke chuckled and walked back to him, handing him the leash. "All yours."

Once in Rohan's hands, Cali almost immediately sat down. For whatever annoying reason, the dog was far more well behaved with Rohan than she ever was with Josuke. Despite the fact that Josuke was the one who played with, trained, and generally cared for her the most. Openly, at least.

On his own this time, Josuke walked back to where he'd been heading. He stood casually at first, looking past Rohan as if he didn't know his picture was being taken, and then turning to watch the ocean. After a few minutes of candid shots, he began striking a variety of poses, some of which Rohan rolled his eyes at but took the photos nonetheless. Little things like this, the way Rohan would put up with things he would never think of putting up with from anyone else, reminded Josuke just how much that bitter man loved him.

Interrupting his thoughts, Josuke spotted movement behind Rohan; another couple enjoying an evening walk. An idea forming in his head, he rushed past Rohan, who shot him a confused (and annoyed) look, and before he could give it a second thought, Josuke came to a stop right in front of the couple, nearly crashing into the poor man.

He was met with glares from both of them, unsurprisingly, and rushed quickly into an explanation after backing up a few feet. "Sorry! Sorry," he rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish grin. "I don't mean to bother you but is there any chance you could take a couple photos of my boyfriend and I?" Although Rohan was likely far out of earshot, Josuke lowered his voice before telling them the last detail. "I plan on proposing tonight."

A look of understanding came over the two of them and the young woman grinned widely. "That's wonderful! I can certainly help with that. Do you have a camera you want me to use?"

Josuke quickly thanked her and led her to where Rohan was standing. He was still frozen in place, watching with a look that said he wanted Josuke dead.

But that's how Rohan looked at least half the time, so it wasn't too concerning.

"This nice lady offered to take our photos, isn't that great?" He took the camera from Rohan's hands and handed it to the woman before taking his hand. Knowing well enough that he didn't have a choice in the matter, Rohan allowed himself, and California, to be dragged to a spot in front of the shore with Josuke.

After managing to get the dog to sit still, Josuke wrapped his arm around Rohan's middle and pulled him to his side with a big grin. "Smile," he muttered through his teeth, in a tone that suggested it was more of a threat than a request. Rohan rolled his eyes and put on a small, closed lip smile for the camera.

These will be our last photos together as boyfriends, Josuke thought blissfully. In just a short while we'll be engaged. Finally engaged.

For the last picture Josuke scooped Rohan up in his arms bridal style, much to the shorter man's dismay, and kissed him on the bridge of his nose while Rohan glared at the camera. In wake of all the sudden movement Cali barked and jumped up, nearly knocking them to the ground in her excitement.

And it couldn't have been more perfect, Josuke decided.

***

The sun was setting as they walked down he boardwalk, and a pleasant breeze blew over them as the air started to cool for nighttime. Finally tired out from the long walk, Cali was walking at a more leisurely pace, making things much more manageable and enjoyable for Josuke. With the sound of waves gently lapping at the shore and Rohan's quiet presence beside him, it was entirely peaceful.

Josuke twirled the ring in his pocket, his heart racing with anticipation. All was not as peaceful in his head as it was in the world around him. On one hand, this step really wouldn't change much in their relationship. They had already built a life together in Rohan's house, that was now just as much Josuke's as it was his. But on the other hand, this was going to change everything. It was marriage.

He pulled his hand out of his pocket and wiped his sweaty palms on his shorts, hoping Rohan wouldn't notice his ever building anxiety.

"The sunset is quite beautiful out here," Rohan broke the silence, looking out over the water. Josuke followed his gaze. The sky was in painted vibrant shades of red and orange and teal, completely clear save for just a few wispy clouds. The colors were reflecting off the many peaks and ripples on the water, the whole ocean seeming to glisten with fragments of the sky.

Josuke looked back at Rohan with a playful but affectionate smirk. "You know what's eve-" he was interrupted before he could finish the line.

"Yes, I know, I'm even more beautiful," Rohan interjected bluntly, though there was a hint of a smile tugging at his lips.

Josuke let out a small, half laugh, not saying something witty in return this time. The time for stalling was over.

"Rohan?"

"Hm?" Rohan looked over at him curiously upon hearing Josuke's tone turn to something more serious.

"I actually took you out here tonight to ask you something." Josuke's heart felt like it was going to beat right out of his chest. He was sick to his stomach.

He felt the ring in his pocket once more, his thumb tracing over the emerald stone embedded in the metal. Josuke had gone to several jewellery stores, agonizing for weeks over which ring he should pick. He really hoped Rohan would like it.

Josuke looked at Rohan, the man he had grown to love more than anything in the world and was more than ready to spend the rest of his life with, and took a deep breath.

This is it.

He took Rohan's hand, softer and smaller than his own, and got down on his knee. His mind was racing and his chest was filled with anxiety and excitement and a million feelings he couldn't name. Looking up into those lovely, emerald green eyes, he finally let it out.

"Will you marry me?"

Rohan stood frozen, not pulling away but not making any movement towards Josuke. He stared down at him with an unreadable expression for what seemed like forever.

Josuke felt his anxiety double and dread pooled in his chest. This was not the reaction he had anticipated at all. Rohan was supposed to swoop him up into his arms and kiss him long and hard. He was supposed to say yes. He was supposed to say something.

When he finally did, Josuke's heart dropped.

"Josuke, I don't want to get married."

Chapter Text

Rohan was hit hard with regret as he watched Josuke fall apart before his eyes. His nervous, excited demeanor faded into the most devastated expression Rohan had ever seen on his face.

Maybe he should have given some explanation before blatantly rejecting his proposal. Now what had he done?

Josuke was frozen in shock. His mouth was parted but he didn't speak, just stared up at Rohan with wide, dumbfounded eyes. It looked as if Rohan's response had broken something inside him, and that look was enough to break Rohan, too.

His eyebrows furrowed as he looked down at the shiny ring he was still holding, tiny tears forming in his eyes. Rohan could have sworn he felt a bullet go through his chest at that.

"I... I don't understand," Josuke spoke softly, seeming more to be thinking out loud as he turned the ring over in his hand and examined it, as if blaming it for not earning him Rohan's acception.

"Josuke," Rohan started, but didn't know what to say. Empathy was far from being a characteristic of his and he wasn't good with communicating anything in the realm of emotions. But he did know that seeing Josuke hurting like that, especially by his doing, was more painful than anything. He didn't have any idea how to remedy this situation.

Josuke finally looked up at him with tearful eyes. "Does- does this mean you're breaking up with me?"

"No!" Rohan bursted, and then softened his voice upon seeing Josuke's flinch. "Josuke, darling, I don't want to break up with you at all." He crouched down to Josuke's level, placing a hand on his cheek.

"Then why would you say no?" Josuke's voice broke midsentence, and a single tear slipped out and slid down his face until it fell on Rohan's hand. "Why don't you want me?"

The stabbing pain Rohan had felt in his chest was now an unbearable, throbbing ache. "Please don't talk like that. Of course I want you." He cupped Josuke's face with both hands now, running his thumbs just below his eyes to catch the tears. "I love you, Josuke, of course I want you."

Josuke stared back into Rohan's eyes, brows furrowing as if he couldn't quite grasp the situation. "I love you too," he said slowly. "But I don't understand why you..." he trailed off, biting his lip.

"You just said it yourself," Rohan smiled faintly. "You love me. And I love you, too. I just don't think we need a ceremony to prove that. That's why I said no."

Josuke nodded, understanding slowly filling his eyes. He looked back down at the ring in his hand, seeming unsure what to do with it now. Slowly he closed his fingers around it before meeting Rohan's eyes again. "Okay," he replied simply, softly.

Rohan mentally sighed in relief. Josuke still wore a slightly dejected look, but didn't seem nearly as heartbroken as he had moments before. That was progress enough for now, Rohan decided.

He stood up and extended a hand down to Josuke, who allowed himself to be pulled up to his feet once again. Before letting go he pulled Josuke into a brief hug, lifting his chin to press a kiss onto Josuke's cheek.

"It's going to be dark soon," he pointed out gently. The sun was almost gone, just a sliver visible above the horizon. The sky was beginning to dim and the streets were becoming quieter as people headed in for the evening. "We should get home."

California barked, earning a small chuckle from Josuke. Rohan was glad to hear him laugh, if only a bit. There was the Josuke he knew. "I think Cali agrees," Josuke reached down and gave her a scratch between the ears.

The dog had miraculously been laying patiently next to them all that time, as if she had somehow known the weight of the situation. Logically, though, Rohan knew she was probably just tired. That dog could be just as obnoxiously lazy as she could be obnoxiously energetic.

Rohan slipped his hand into Josuke's and gave it a quick squeeze as they started towards the beach again.

As they walked in silence, the stress between gradually lessened. Rohan could still sense an air of melancholy coming from Josuke, but it was faint now.

By the time they reached their street, dusk was upon them. The sky was a dark purple alight with a few stars bright enough to be visible despite the light polition coming from the streetlamps and house lights.

As Rohan was unlocking the door to their home, Josuke finally spoke up.

"Hey Rohan?"

"Hm?" He looked at Josuke inquisitively as he held the door for them to enter first. Cali ran to her water dish as soon as Josuke let her off her leash, eagerly lapping it up.

He turned around and gave Rohan a crooked smile, a twinkle of amusement in his eyes. "You may be off the hook for now, but one day, Rohan Kishibe, I am going to get you to marry me."

***

Despite his lighthearted attitude at the end of that day, Rohan could tell that Josuke was still disheartened by the rejection. The following days went as was normal for them; Josuke would work long shifts at the police station, leaving Rohan at home to work on his manga, tend to the dog, and, secretly of course, worry about Josuke's safety on the job. They would share cooking and cleaning responsibilities, go on their walks, and watch the occasional movie or show together before bed.

But Josuke was more distant; quieter. Try as he may to hide it, Rohan could tell that Josuke was not his usual, upbeat self. It was the little things that led Rohan to this realization. How Josuke wasn't laughing as much when he was with his friends. How he wasn't humming in the kitchen while he fried the eggs for their breakfast, and every once in a while Rohan would catch him just staring at nothing with a forelorn look in his eyes. He wasn't even keeping up with the sarcastic remarks and quips and insults he would usually be shooting at Rohan constantly. Their relationship felt weird without the typical banter.

As refreshing as it was to have a break from that obnoxious behavior and be able to enjoy a more subdued version of Josuke for a few days, Rohan found himself missing the way things used to be. He wanted his happy, stupid, annoying Josuke back.

One evening he came downstairs to find Josuke curled up on the couch, fast asleep. California was alseep too, tucked under Josuke's arms while his head rested on her like a pillow.

It was adorable even by Rohan's standards, and there wasn't much he found adorable. He couldn't even be mad that the dog was up on the furniture like she wasn't supposed to be. Smiling softly to himself, he took a blanket from the basket by the TV and carefully laid it over him. Knowing Josuke was asleep, and therefore wouldn't be able to tease him for this, he let his hand linger for a moment, watching fondly as Josuke snuggled his dog in his sleep.

As he was about to walk away he heard a weak voice. Rohan must have woken him up. Or maybe he hadn't really been asleep.

"I'm sorry," Josuke mumbled, nuzzling into the blanket Rohan had brought him.

What?

Was he apologizing about letting Cali on the couch? No, Josuke would never apologize for something like that. He would argue that his dog deserved a place on the couch just as much as they did.

Rohan furrowed his brows and slowly crouched down next to the couch, brushing a few loose strands off Josuke's forehead. "For what, darling?"

Josuke peeked one eye open to look at Rohan and then closed it again, turning his head more into the blanket as if to hide his face. "I'm sorry I'm still sad," his voice sounded weak and sleepy, but Rohan didn't think it sounded like that just because he was tired. There was a sadness behind it. "I know you notice, and I know it makes you feel bad and I'm sorry. You had every right to say no and I should be over it by now."

Rohan's heart was aching all over again. Damn that boy for being so selfless. Rohan didn't know anyone else who would apologize for being sad, especially to the person that had caused those feelings.

"Don't be ridiculous, Josuke. Look at me." Rohan's tone was warm, but serious. He needed to get through to him on this. Josuke turned back and opened his eyes to look at Rohan, silently waiting for him to continue. His head was still resting on California, who was somehow still sleeping. That lazy hound.

"Just as much as I had the right to refuse, you have the right to be hurt by it. I'm sorry our views on marriage do not line up," he sighed, feeling a twinge of guilt himself. "But it's not your fault. Please don't be hurt by it."

Josuke smiled weakly. "I guess you're right."

Rohan was happy to see him smile, even if just barely. Progress. "Now, are you going to move over or are you just going to let me sit on the floor all night?"

Josuke laughed softly and pulled himself into a sitting postion, freeing one cushion for Rohan to sit on. California was finally awoken by the movement, and she sat up and stretched her paws out before circling the cushion and laying back down, head resting on Josuke's lap.

Rohan sat down next to Josuke and looked from him to the dog, who were both staring at him with a pleading expression. He rolled his eyes but couldn't fight off the smile tugging at his cheeks. "Yeah, yeah. She can stay." Right as Josuke was opening his mouth to cheer Rohan cut him off with a finger to his lips. "Just this once."

"Fair enough," Josuke laughed and gave Cali a few pats before settling down on the couch and nestling into Rohan's side.

Rohan smiled and kissed his cheek. "I love you, Josuke. Don't ever forget that."

"I know," Josuke slid his hand into Rohan's and squeezed gently. "I love you too."

They sat like that for a long time, until the sun was fully set outside and the room, with no lights on, was slowly enveloped in darkness. Rohan didn't catch himself falling asleep but he woke up to the sunlight seeping in and Josuke drooling on his shoulder.

***

After that night, things began to fade back to normal for them. The jokes were back, the banter was back, and the light seemed to have returned to Josuke's eyes. The distance that had grown between them shrank until it was no more. Before long their relationship felt the same as it always had.

Within a few weeks Rohan was beginning to forget the whole proposal situation had ever happened in the first place.

Until one fateful day.

It was a Friday, and Josuke had requested in advance that Rohan would make sure he was ahead enough on his manga (which he always was, so that wasn't a problem) that he could take the day off, and Josuke had arranged to be off work, too. He wouldn't say why. Whenever Rohan asked he would smugly brush it off, telling him not to worry about it.

Josuke seemed to have this irritating coyness about the whole thing, like there was some secret Rohan wasn't being let in on just yet.

He couldn't figure it out, and it was infuriating.

It wasn't near their anniversary or any other special occasion Rohan could think of. Not that it was entirely unusual for them to go on random dates from time to time, but it wouldn't be made such a big deal like this unless Josuke had something planned.

"We're leaving in twenty minutes!" Josuke yelled from downstairs, breaking him out of his thoughts. He heard thundering up the stairs and moments later Josuke was standing by the door to his office, leaning on the doorframe. "Be ready! And dress nice."

"I always dress nice," he grumbled as he pushed his chair back to stand up, but Josuke was already on his way back downstairs.

He reached his arms up and arched his back into a stretch before following Josuke down to the main level. Walking in a much more dignified manner than Josuke's stomping up and down, though, of course.

Entering their shared master bedroom he swung open the door of his walk-in closet to survey the options. After a moment of contemplation he picked out his favorite pair of pants and a nice shirt. One exposing just a tasteful amount of belly instead of a full crop top like many of his others. Paired with his favorite Gucci sandles, of course.

He got out a headband that coordinated with the rest of his clothes and touched up his hair and makeup before concluding that he looked completely flawless.

He checked the time and smiled to himself. Five minutes before they had to leave. His timing was perfect as always.

Making his way into the kitchen Rohan found Josuke sitting at the counter, waiting for him. Considering he hadn't seen or heard him enter their room, Rohan was rather surprised to find he was already ready. He must have been ready since before he'd even gone upstairs to get him, Rohan realized. He also realized that he'd probably ran off before Rohan could get a look at him on purpose. Since when was Josuke ever that ahead of things?

As Josuke grinned up at him with his hands folded on the table, Rohan took in his appearance. He wore a heart printed tuxedo with a glittering bowtie that would have looked tacky on anyone else but Josuke somehow pulled it off. Just like that stupid hairstyle. From his ears dangled hoop earrings, but instead of regular hoops they resembled peace signs. He even had a white corsage pinned to his jacket. When had he snuck out to buy that?

Rohan stared breathlessly for a moment. Josuke looked completely gorgeous. He would never admit it out loud, but Josuke might have looked even better than Rohan did.

"You look nice," was all Rohan said, but it was enough to make Josuke's grin grow impossibly wider.

"Aw, thanks baby!" He jumped up and pulled Rohan into a tight hug before he could resist and quickly pecked his cheek before pulling back and examining him, still holding him by the arms. "You look great too."

"Thank you," Rohan replied flatly, staring back with a deadpan look as he waited to be released.

Josuke chuckled and let go, playfully giving Rohan a soft flick on the forehead. "Now let's get going," he smiled. "Wouldn't want to miss our reservation."

Reservation? Rohan shouldn't have been surprised at this point. He had no idea what he was getting into tonight.

***

As much as Rohan had tried to protest that it was completly unnecessary, Josuke had made him close his eyes leading up to the restaurant.

"Okay, open."

Rohan opened his eyes and blinked a few times as he readjusted to the light and his surroundings came into focus. It was the very place Rohan had taken him on their first real date together. He had secretly been trying to impress him with an upscale restaurant. Unconsciously, his lips curled into a slight smile at the memory. They had both been so nervous, though Rohan had done a much better job at concealing it than Josuke, who had nearly spilled his drink because he was so on edge.

Josuke told the man behind the counter the name on their reservation and a server led them to their table. Rohan took a seat and looked around. He had forgotten how nice the place was. It was a fairly high end restaurant, with low lighting and soft classical music playing in the background. Pristine white tablecloths were draped over the tables, each adorned with a boquet of roses.

It wasn't quite as exquisit as many restaurants he had gone to when living in Tokyo, but it was the best a small town like Morioh had to offer.

The waiter came by shortly to take their orders, starting with drinks. Josuke ordered a pinot noir for the table, Rohan's favorite wine.

Once the waiter left and the two were on their own again, Rohan's curiosity finally broke. "Why are you doing this?" He blurted out suddenly.

"Hm?" Upon the sudden exclamation Josuke looked up, eyebrows furrowed in a confused expression. As if taking Rohan on an extremely formal date with no occasion or explanation was a regular occurance.

Rohan sighed and let his eyes roll slightly, his impatience reguarding whatever secret Josuke was keeping from him beginning to show. "Don't play dumb with me, Josuke. I know there's a reason you're suddenly taking me on a fancy date to the restaurant that practically marks the beginning of our relationship." Rohan could have sworn he saw Josuke's eyes light up at that, as if pleasantly surprised that Rohan had remembered such a detail. "We have no occasion to celebrate on this date," Rohan continued. "So what is it?"

"I don't know what you mean, Rohan." Josuke grinned, a sparkle of amusement in his stupid, pretty brown eyes. He knew exactly what Rohan meant. "Am I not allowed to treat my lovely boyfriend to a nice dinner once in a while?"

Rohan sighed through his teeth, the sound coming out more like a hiss. It was clear that Josuke was not going to budge and let Rohan in on his little secret, so there was no use arguing any further. He sat back and waited for their food to be brought out, taking a sip of the wine that had just been poured as they were talking.

Despite Rohan's apparent annoyance towards the whole situation, the dinner turned out to be rather nice. Life had gotten busy as of late, and he hadn't really noticed until now that he and Josuke had actually had very little time to just focus on each other these last couple months. Maybe a date like this was well overdue. Was that all this was about?

He ate his food and listened contentedly as Josuke babbled on and on about work and how his friends were doing. Apparently Okuyasu was going to be back in town soon, and Josuke was super excited to see him again. Koichi and Yukako, who had gotten married last year, were doing well, a happy couple as always. (Excluding the start of their relationship, of course. No one talks about that.) Rohan found himself truly enjoying the time, and eventually he had almost forgotten he'd ever been annoyed to begin with.

Before long their food was finished and the check had been brought to their table.

"Are you ready for desert?" Josuke asked with a wide grin.

Rohan looked from the check laying on the table to Josuke, confusion filling his expression. This was the end of their meal, was it not? Josuke had said no when the waiter had asked if they wanted anything more and all that was left was for them to pay. "What do you mean? You've already had the bill brought out." He gestured to it, as if Josuke couldn't see the object for himself.

"Not here," Josuke laughed, as if it were obvious. Rohan felt irritation boiling up again as Josuke was once again being vague and secretive. What was it this time?

"Then where?" Rohan asked, not bothering to hide the annoyance in his voice.

Josuke's grin was unwavering, and he finished writing in and signing the bill, handing it back to the server as he came by. "Don't worry about it, Rohan. We'll be there soon enough."

Rohan was beginning to have the feeling that this night was never really going to come to an end.

***

He did not know where he had been expecting to be taken for dessert, but this was not it. Rohan stared up at the sign of a fairly cheap, Wastern style restaurant-bakery with a dumbfounded look on his face. It couldn't have had more of a contrast to the exquisite dinner they had just finished.

"After you," Josuke smiled before Rohan, holding the door open. Rohan rolled his eyes and entered the bakery, Josuke following after him.

Once inside the quaint little shop, Rohan had to admit it had a charm to it. Decorated in soft pastels and the smell of fresh bread filling the air, the place gave off an undeniable feeling of warmth.

He was beginning to survey the variety of sweets and pasteries behind the counter, contemplating what to get, when Josuke stopped him.

"No need!" He chimed with a bright grin. "I've ordered for us ahead of time. Just go find somewhere to sit."

Who orders ahead at a place like this? It was quite curious, but he didn't bother asking out loud. He was beyond questions at this point. Instead Rohan simply obeyed and went to sit at a corner table near the window, watching Josuke talk to the lady behind the counter -likely telling her he was there to pick up their order- before heading back to join Josuke.

Sitting across from Rohan, there he was again with that irritating, amused smile, like this was all some joke and Rohan was just waiting for the punchline.

A few minutes later Rohan spotted movement from the corner of his eye, and looked to see the waitress carrying a cake to their table. He couldn't make it out just yet, but there was something written in pink frosting on the top.

As the cake was placed in front of them, Rohan stared down at it in disbelief. In pretty, cursive writing, the frosted message read: Rohan, Marry Me? Below that, on a plastic holder so to not get frosting on it, was the ring Josuke had used to propose to him that night on the boardwalk.

He then remembered Josuke's promise at the end of that night. So it hadn't been an empty threat, after all. Josuke really was going to be persistent on this.

Rohan slowly looked from the cake back up to Josuke with a flat, unamused expression.

"No, Josuke, I will not."

He was a bit worried about upsetting Josuke again, but he hadn't changed his mind about marriage and wasn't going to pretend he had. However, this time, Josuke didn't look the slightest bit disheartened. Instead, to Rohan's surprise, he laughed.

"I had a feeling you might say that. Now, let's dig into this dessert, shall we?"

Chapter Text

Okuyasu was coming to town, and over the week leading up to his arrival Rohan had to put up with Josuke completly losing his shit over it. After high school Okuyaso had gone into a career as a salesperson, and had to constantly travel around the country for his job. With Josuke staying in Morioh one would think the old high school friends would grow apart over the years, but that was far from the case. To say the two were best friends would be an undersratement.

For Josuke, every time Okuyasu came back to visit it was like a long lost lover returning from war.

And with his visits undoubtably came endless get-togethers with Okuyasu, Koichi and Yukako, and Josuke that Rohan would be dragged along to for the duration of said visit.

And this was one such time.

The sun was hot and beating down on the group of friends as they sat around a small table outside a café. Rohan would have much preferred the indoor seating, but the others wanted to enjoy the "nice" weather and he was outnumbered.

Josuke, Okuyasu, Koichi, and Yukako held their respective cold drinks, while Rohan sipped his matcha. Hot, as tea should be. No ammount of summer heat could sway him to stoop to the blasphemy that was iced teas and coffees.

"So, how's your manga coming along?"

It took Rohan a few moments to realize he was being addressed. The conversation thus far had consisted of the four babbling about things he simply did not care about, so he had started to tune them out.

Rohan turned to glance at Koichi, who was seated next to him with Yukako close on his other side. Koichi was one of the few people Rohan actually enjoyed being around, and he made hanging out with this group far more bearable. "It's coming along as well as always." He replied plainly, a hint of a smile on his lips. "I'm not having any problems with it."

Koichi grinned brightly. "I'm glad to hear that! Not that I'm surprised. Things are going pretty good for us too, Yukako's business is really taking off now that it's summer again." He went on engaging in pleasant conversation with Rohan, Yukako joining in now and then.

She held Koichi's hand under the table, looking over him to Rohan while they talked.

Rohan didn't understand how Koichi could bear being with someone who towered over him as much as Yukako did - he loathed being shorter than Josuke and their difference was far less significant - but they were undeniably happy together.

"So, what should we do the rest of the week, while we're all still together?" Koichi turned back towards the rest of the group.

"What do you mean? Josuke had a bewildered expression, as if Koichi had just spoken in an alien language. "Okuyasu is leaving tomorrow."

Koichi blinked. "He's staying until next Friday. Didn't he tell you?"

"What?!" Joeuke slammed his hand on the table, nearly spilling Rohan's tea in the process. Rohan shot him a glare but Josuke was too caught up in the news to pay any notice. Sighing, Rohan just clasped his hands around the cup more securely as Josuke continued.

"You told them and not me?" He stared at Okuyasu accusingly, and Rohan could have sworn he saw a layer of actual hurt behind Josuke's eyes. He could be so damn dramatic.

"Hey, hey! Don't get mad at me!" Okuyasu threw his hands up defensively. "I thought I told you. It was just a little mistake!"

Josuke propped his elbows on the table and leaned his chin on his fists, pouting like a child. "I can't believe you told everyone but me, your best friend."

"He didn't tell me either," Rohan muttered under his breath, not bothering to actually try to reason with Josuke.

After a minute Josuke lit up, as if a switch had been flipped. "You're here for another week, which means you're here over the weekend! We should totally do something!"

"That's what I was just sayi-" Koichi sighed as he was cut off. There was no getting through to Josuke once he started going off like this.

"Let's go to Lucky Land!" Josuke grinned brightly, apparently having forgotten how offended he was over Okuyasu's betrayal. "For old time's sake."

"Man, I haven't been there in forever!" Okuyasu mirrored his excitement. "We should go tomorrow!"

Koichi and Yukako voiced similar agreements.

"Rohan?" Koichi turned back to him questioningly. "Are you in?"

"No," Rohan replied at the same time as Josuke's "he's coming!"

And that was how Rohan got unwillingly roped into going to an amusement park.

***

Rohan blinked his eyes open and stared at the ceiling, adjusting to the morning light. He could already feel a small pit of dread in his stomach. What was it he had to do today? Ah, yes. This was the day he'd have to go to a children's park with three intolerable adults and just one whose company he enjoyed.

Speaking of intolerable, he could hear one of said adults snoring softly next to him and he turned his head to look at Josuke for a moment. Josuke was not a particularly pretty sleeper. His beloved hair was a mess and his mouth hung open, dripping drool onto the pillow. Rohan smiled fondly and brushed a few strands off his forehead, not surprised when Josuke still didn't stir. As opposed to Rohan who would wake from any sound or movement, Josuke was a heavy sleeper.

He also liked to sleep in, which was why every day, without fail, Rohan would be up and out of bed before him.

Rohan quietly slipped out of bed to leave the room but paused at the door, looking back. He walked back to the bed and pulled the blanket back up over Josuke. "Good morning," he whispered, before leaving the bedroom once and for all.

Once in the kitchen, he got out a skillet to cook breakfast in, starting the stove to get it heating while he gathered the ingredients. He worked silently but contentedly preparing the meat and vegetables. Rohan was a morning person by nature; he enjoyed the quiet it brought and the fresh feeling of a new day.

He went back to the stove to start cooking but frowned down at the small skillet. That would certainly not be big enough for the ammount of food he had to make.

It was funny how even after living with Josuke for as long as he had, he would still sometimes forget he was cooking for two people.

He got out a bigger skillet and grabbed the small one to put back, remembering too late that it was already hot. Pain seared throught the palm of his hand and he yelped as be recoiled from the burn, dropping both pans in the midst of it. Not Rohan Kishibe's most graceful moment. They clattered loudly to the floor and he barely jumped back in time for them not to land on his toes.

After picking the pans back up, carefully handling the hot one this time, he leaned his back against the counter and opened his hand to assess the damage. Sure enough, there was a faint red mark across the palm of his hand.

Moments later he heard the bedroom door open and close followed by a sleepy voice. "Everything okay, babe? I heard some crashing out here."

Josuke came into view, rubbing his eyes tiredly like a child.

Rohan sighed and extended his hand to Josuke, showing him the burn. Josuke's eyes widened when he saw it and without a word he summoned his stand. Crazy Diamond laid his hand over Rohan's and within moments the burn had disappeared and the stand was withdrawn.

"You have to be more careful, Rohan." Josuke scolded gently. "I might not always be here to save you."

Rohan rolled his eyes but couldn't stop a small smile from breaking through. "It was just a small burn, Josuke. I think I would have been okay."

Letting himself be healed for small injury used to be something that would hurt Rohan's pride, but it was something he had long learned to let go. He could still remember the moment Josuke had first started breaking down those barriers in him. For Josuke, it had probably just been ordinary day, but for Rohan it had been a turning point in how he saw their relationship and relationships in general.

***
It had happened years ago, in the very beginning of their relationship. When they hadn't yet labled each other as boyfriends but they both knew they had something beyond friendship. Josuke had been watching him work in his office, his chair pulled up ridiculously close to Rohan's. The constant breathing down his neck was beginning to make Rohan regret inviting him in to keep him company, though deep down it made him happy that Josuke was so entranced by watching him draw.

Despite the neusance of a friend sitting next to him, Rohan was well into the flow of his work and making good time on his manga. He had finished inking a page and was flipping to the next when he felt the edge of the paper slice into his fingertip.

"Shit." He stood up quickly and stepped back, more concered about getting blood on his work than he was about his small new injury. He sighed and started towards the door to his office. "I'm going to the bathroom to rinse this and get a bandage. Feel free to stay here." He reached to turn the handle but was stopped in his tracks.

"W-wait!" Josuke pushed his chair back and stood up suddenly, almost knocking down a stack of Rohan's papers in the process. He steadied them and then steadied himself, grinning sheepishly as Rohan watched unamused from the doorway. "Let me heal you," Josuke requested almost shyly, rubbing the back of his neck.

Rohan scoffed. "Don't be absurd, Higashikata. It's a papercut. There's no need to bring Stands into this."

He turned to be on his way again, but Josuke stopped him once more, this time with a hand on his shoulder. He had crossed the room as well by that point. "Please, Rohan." Josuke's voice was soft and timid, and Rohan could feel himself beginning to give in. "I hate seeing people, seeing you hurt and not being able to fix it when I know I can."

"Fine, Josuke." He turned to see Josuke's expression shift from a sad, pleading one into an elated grin. "For the sake of you leaving me alone, I'll let you heal my finger."

As soon as the words were out of Rohan's mouth, Josuke took his hand and summoned Crazy Diamond. The Stand touched the papercut, and with a soft glow it disappeared.

"That's better," Josuke smiled, calling his Stand back. He walked back to his chair, waiting for Rohan to follow.

Instead, Rohan stood in place for a moment, just staring at his healed fingertip. A strange feeling overtook him. "Josuke?" His voice was suddenly much softer.

"Yeah?" Josuke turned to look back at him, his face showing concern.

"Why do you care so much for me?" It genuinely confused Rohan. He didn't ask for Josuke to come keep him company because he worried about him being lonely. He didn't ask him to make sure he was taking enough breaks from his work to eat and rest and care for himself. He hadn't asked Josuke to be in his life, but now he very much was. Rohan looked across the room to Josuke, who had turned around in his chair to give Rohan his full attention. "I can look after myself, you know."

"Of course you can." Josuke smiled again, that sweet, caring smile that wasn't fit to be recieved by someone like Rohan. "But you deserve to be cared for."

It was a simple answer, but it made no sense to Rohan. He still didn't know why Josuke of all people would spend so much energy on him. He didn't get how he, as a successful adult, needed it. It wasn't until years later that he would fully understand.

But those simple words struck Rohan in a way he couldn't explain, and it was then that he subconsciously decided it was time to let down his guard for Josuke. As much as he hated being dependant and seeking help in any way, from that day forward, he would try to put that aside and maybe, just maybe, let Josuke take care of him sometimes.

Even if that meant letting him heal each and every tiny scratch or bruise Rohan happened to get.

***

"So, what are you making?"

Rohan was interrupted from his reminiscing as Josuke pulled himself up onto the counter, sitting next to the assortment of food Rohan had been trying to prepare.

"Breakfast," Rohan replied. He didn't bother trying to tell Josuke for the hundredth time not tho sit on furniture that's not made for sitting on.

"Thanks, babe, that's helpful." Josuke rolled his eyes and hopped back down to take a seat on the other side, leaning his elbows on the counter. "I'll let you get back to that. But hurry up, I'm hungry."

Rohan picked up an egg and gave Josuke a flat glare. "You know, now that you're up you could help."

Josuke leaned on his hands, blinking up at Rohan with a stupidly innocent look. "But who's gonna heal me if I burn myself? I better leave it to you."

Rohan laughed, turning back to the stove and cracking the egg into the (correctly sized) pan. "You're a little shit, you know that?"

"You've mentioned it!" Josuke's cheerful voice came from behind his back.

Rohan shook his head and got back to cooking, soon forgetting about Josuke watching him. In all reality he didn't mind making most of the meals for them; he found cooking relaxing in a way. Being able to turn a pile of raw ingredients into a cohesive meal satisfied Rohan. He continued working in silence, adding ingredients and cleaning up as he went.

His peace was interrupted as he suddenly felt a pair of arms wrap around his waist and Josuke's chin rest atop his head. Rohan groaned, though he found himself almost unwillingly leaning back into the warmth of the embrace.

"Josuke, please." Rohan tilted his head to look up at him. "It's almost done just wait."

"But I don't wanna wait," Josuke whined, ever so slightly tightening his grip on Rohan.

Rohan sighed and added a few more seasonings, stiffening as Josuke pressed a kiss to his cheek and using all his stength to stay focused on the task at hand.

He stirred a few more times for good measure before setting down the spoon. "It's done," before the words were out of Rohan's mouth Josuke was reaching around him to turn the burner off and then turning Rohan's body towards his own.

"Finally," Josuke murmered, leaning down to kiss Rohan once more.

"Will you let go of me so we can eat?" Rohan suggested flatly. "Before the food gets cold?"

"It'll stay warm for a few more minutes," Josuke smirked down at him, a suggestive glint in his eye.

Rohan sighed, feeling himself beginning to give in. Sometimes there was just no stopping Josuke when he was so adamant on getting his way. He glanced at the clock. They still had plenty of time before they had to leave to meet the others, and they could reheat the food if they really had to. "Fine. Just a few minutes. "

Josuke beamed as Rohan took his hand and led him back to the bedroom.

***

"We've been waiting for so long," Josuke whined, kicking the ground.

Rohan grimaced and stepped back to avoid getting his new Gucci shoes caught in the dust cloud. "It's been fifteen minutes, Josuke, you're fine."

"I'm with Josuke," Okuyasu leaned his arm on his friend's shoulder, as if to further prove that statement. "It's painful watching everyone having a blast on all the rides while we just stand there. Maybe we should just start and they can catch up with us later."

"No," Rohan glared at Okuyasu and Josuke and their incredibly childish pouts. "We told Koichi and Yukako we would meet them by the entrance so we're going to wait for them." He hated playing the parent figure like this, and he had a feeling this wouldn't be the last time he'd have to reign them in today. They had just arrived and Rohan could already feel the day taking its toll on him.

Okuyasu groaned and threw his head back, Josuke patting his his shoulder comfortingly. Rohan wasn't particularly eager to get started on rides and activities, but he didn't know how much more whining he could take from the two.

Like salvation coming for him, Rohan finally spotted the unmistakable silhouettes of Yukako and Koichi hurrying their way.

"I'm sorry we're late! My hair just wouldn't cooporate today," Yukako explained once they'd made their way over to the group. Rohan decided not to question how someone whose Stand was literally their hair could have a bad hair day.

He noticed that her hair had been all been tied into a top bun complete with a rose patterned bandana. It was unusual to see her without her long hair flowing down as it always was, but Rohan thought the look suited her well.

Koichi grinned sheepishly at Yukako's side. "Hope you guys weren't too bothered waiting."

"Oh, we didn't mind!" Josuke grinned. "Right Okuyasu?" He nodded enthusiastically.

Rohan rolled his eyes. "Now that we're all here, what should we start with?"

"We have to find the biggest rollercoaster and ride it first!" Okuyasu exclaimed.

Koichi nodded. "Yep, that's tradition."

The rest of the group members voiced their agreements; everyone but Rohan, that is. He felt his dread begin to grow. He knew he'd have to go on one of those rides at some point today, but he'd thought he'd have more time to prepare than this.

Rohan sighed and surveyed the park, trying to scope out what he'd have to get ready for. Lucky Land was a big amusement park, and it was pretty well known in the area. And for good reason. There were carnival games, food venders, and every rollercoaster and ride imaginable. Everything was painted in pastels and bright colors.

And the park was incredibly crowded, yet another reason Rohan didn't want to be there.

The five of them ventured further in, falling into a formation of sorts. Josuke and Okuyasu took the lead, Rohan naturally taking Josuke's other side while the other two talked excitedly. Koichi and Yukako hung back a few steps behind them.

Rohan tried to keep a cool facade, but as they went about their quest to find the ride he could feel himself growing more and more anxious. Despite the immense summer heat, as he scanned the many rollercoasters twisting and winding all around them, Rohan felt a chill go down his spine. He flipped his Gucci sunglasses down over his eyes, as if armoring himself for what was to come. Or, at the very least, in another attempt to hide his nervousness.

"I'm hungry," Josuke complained after a few minutes of walking. Rohan wanted to roll his eyes at the whining, but right then it was music to his ears. The perfect opportunity to put off the rollercoaster ride if only for a little bit.

Thinking fast Rohan pointed to the nearest food stand. "Why don't we stop there for a snack before we go?"

Thankfully, there was no opposition from the others. Everyone seemed to be in agreement with the idea of stopping to eat something and they got in line. It went more quickly than Rohan had expected; before long they had made it to the front, ordered, and were on their way again, food in hand.

It proved to buy Rohan at least a little bit of time, though. By this point they had figured out which ride they needed to go on first - it was the most terrifying rollercoaster, as promised- and they took a roundabout route to get to it so they could finish eating while they walked.

By the time they got in line, the dread was fully consuming Rohan. He looked up at the tall rollercoaster, mouth going dry as his eyes followed the loops and twists and drops.

He felt stupid for being so afraid of something so ridiculous, and he was thankful his fucking huge Gucci sunglasses were obscuring his expressiom from the others.

This line went slower than the other had, and despite his anxiety he found himself growing bored as they waited.

He leaned against the rail they were stuck behind, watching his friends and the other people in line. Josuke and Okuyasu were talking excitedly as usual, this time hyping each other up for the ride.

"You talk big but I bet you'll be freaking out as soon as we get to the first drop. You'll probably scream louder than anyone!" Okuyasu teased, grinning at Josuke.

Josuke shoved him playfully in turn. "Yeah right, you'll be the one crying like a baby!"

Rohan watched as their banter faded into lighter but still playful conversation, his lips curling slightly in amusement. There was something truly special that the two of them shared. Onlookers might as well think they were the boyfriends, not Josuke and Rohan. He frowned at that thought. Not that he was jealous - he knew Okuyasu wasn't a threat and he trusted Josuke's loyalty - but it should be known that Josuke is his, not anyone else's.

With that thought Rohan subconsciously reached for Josuke's hand and pulled him closer to his side a bit more forcefully than he'd intended to.

Josuke looked startled at first, but then smiled and leaned down to kiss Rohan's forehead. "Aww, looks like someone's craving attention," he cooed teasingly.

"Shut it," Rohan hissed, but he surrendered to the affection, leaning into Josuke's side.

***

Five more minutes passed and they were finally at the front of the line. Rohan's anxiety was back now that the daunting roller coaster was right in front of him, seats open for them to step into.

He eased his grip on Josuke's hand, just now noticing how tight it had gotten. Apperenlty, Josuke had noticed too.

"What's wrong?" He asked quietly. "You're not scared, are you?" The playful taunt behind his voice further convinced Rohan to keep his anxiety to himself.

"Not at all," Rohan replied, feighning an arrogant smirk at Josuke. "I'm just worried that you might not be able to handle it. And thinking about how embarrassing it would be for me if you broke down."

Josuke huffed but didn't have time to retaliate as the gate was opened and everyone rushed the their seats. It was in rows of two, so naturally Koichi and Yukako sat together with Josuke and Rohan a row behind them. That left Okuyasu as the fifth wheel, but he lucked out being paired with a cute girl so he didn't mind.

As they were being strapped in, Rohan's gaze wandered up the steep incline ahead of them, knowing that it only led to an even steeper drop. His stomach turned with dread and anticipation. He'd had to leave his sunglasses in a locker next to the ride and he felt vulnerable without Gucci protecting him. He looked to the side so Josuke wouldn't see the fear in his eyes.

The ride started and they were slowly pulled up, Rohan's fear growing with each grueling second. They were almost to the top and against his better judgement he looked down over the edge. He could see the whole span of the park far below him and the sight sent his head spinning.

Rohan squeezed his eyes shut just in time to feel them pause at the very top. Though he knew what was coming, he was nowhere near prepared when the drop sent them plummeting to the ground. He hated every second of it. The constant wind in his ears and hair was too much and being jerked around strapped into a rollercoaster car was not his idea of a good time.

By the time they go to the second drop Rohan wanted nothing more than for it to be over. Eyes still shut he reached over the bar between them and grasped for Josuke's hand, letting go of his pride. To his surprise Josuke not only squeezed back but, Rohan felt his hand being lifted until he felt Josuke's lips gently press against the back of it.

And despite his current state of terror, Rohan smiled.

He held Josuke's hand until the ride finally slowed to a stop when he hesitantly let go. He cast his eyes to the side again as they waited the few moments for the safty bars to be unlocked.

Josuke chuckled softly beside him. "You could have just told me you're afraid of roller coasters."

Rohan pushed the bar over his head and stood up, scowling. "You would have made fun of me."

"Well, maybe a little." Josuke admitted with a crooked smile. "But I would've understood if you wanted to sit out."

Rohan sighed. "Well, now you know my weakness."

Josuke laughed again, offering his hand to Rohan again which he begrudgingly took. "You say that like it's your only one."

Rohan smiled, finally looking Josuke in the eye. "It is."

***

The rest of the day flew by. They went on every ride imaginable, Rohan sitting out for the more intense ones. Both Koichi and Josuke had offered to sit out with him, but he insisted he didn't mind being alone. It was actually nice, those short, much needed breaks from socializing. He'd brought his sketchbook - he took it nearly everywhere - and found the amusement park made for great inspiration. Not only were there many exciting things to sketch, but the people watching was interesting too, making for good character inspiration.

Later on, they spent some time in the carnival section, and Josuke had made it his mission to win Rohan a prize. No matter how much Rohan insisted he really didn't want or need anything, by the end of it he ended up with an oversized plush rabbit and a goldfish, because apparently adopting pets without speaking with him about it first was just Josuke's thing.

Before long it was evening, and they were all sitting at a picnic table with their so called dinner from one of the food stands. It was overpriced and not the best in quality, but they were all hungry enough that it didn't matter.

"So, Rohan, " Josuke elbowed him playfully, which Rohan returned with a glare. "You ended up having fun here after all, even after all your whining that you didn't want to come."

Rohan sighed, but he couldn't deny Josuke's statement. "I will admit I didn't hate it. At least now I can say I've been on a roller coaster."

Okuyasu looked up from his food, a shocked expression on his face. "Was that really your first time?! Aren't you like twenty five?"

Rohan nodded. "Of course I went to a few theme parks when I was younger but I was always small for my age." He tilted his head and ran his fingers through his hair thoughtfully, as if thinking back on those days. "I never met the height requirements for any of the serious rides. And as I got older I just didn't have any interest in going."

"Well, it's no wonder you were so afraid. Everyone is like that their first time." Yukako, who had quiet up until this point, spoke. "Everyone is like that their first time." Her voice was soft and sweet, and anyone who didn't know her better would think she was a shy, gentle person. But from the stories Josuke had told him, Rohan knew that, when provoked the wrong way, Yukako was a terrifying force to be reckoned with. Though she mostly only uses her powers of intimidation for good now.

"Yeah," Koichi added enthusiastically, giving Rohan a bright grin. He sat next to Yukako on the other side, directly across from Rohan. "I'm sure if you tried it again you'd enjoy it more."

He returned Koici's grin with a small; barely noticeable closed lip smile. "Kind of you, but I don't think so. I'm not particularly fond of those high drops."

"Damn, I didn't realize you were so afraid of heights," he looked to his side to see Josuke poking at his food, pouting. "I wanted to take you on the ferris wheel after this. You know, romantic ride over the sunset and all that."

Rohan chuckled. "Bold of you to assume it would be my fear of heights keeping me from accepting that offer, not simply a lack of desire to go with you." He gave Josuke a sly side glance, just in time to see his puppy dog pout grow even deeper.

"You're so mean to me," he whined dramatically, sounding like an overgrown child.

Rohan rolled his eyes, but there was still a hint of fondness in them when he looked to Josuke. "I'm kidding, Josuke. I can handle rides like that. I'll take you on the ferris wheel."

"Hey, I'm the one taking you!" Josuke piped back, but despite his quarrelsome words, he had the biggest, dopiest grin.

Oh, how that boy's mood could be flipped in an instant.

And how Rohan loved him for it.

***

All the ferris wheel talk had gotten everyone else interested, and it was decided as a group that that would be the best way to end the night. After another agonizing wait in line, which further convinced them that they didn't need any more rides after this, they were finally getting aboard the ride.

Koichi and Yukako sat in their own cart, leaving Josuke, Rohan, and Okuyasu to sit in the next one. Knowing Josuke, he would be utterly offended if anyone would even suggest leaving him on his own.

Okuyasu climbed into the cart first, and despite how close it was to the ground, Rohan had a near heart attack over how much his ungraceful movements made the cart rock. Josuke followed and of course sat right next to Okuyasu, leaving Rohan the seat across from them to himself. Which was fine by him.

Rohan had stopped trying to figure out their strange relationship long ago, so Okuyasu being the one next to Josuke on his and Rohan's romantic ferris wheel ride was really nothing surprising. Plus, Rohan had had very few real friendships in his lifetime so he didn't have any right to judge.

Josuke reached his hand into the space between them, smiling at Rohan expectantly. Rohan took it in his own and squeezed it lightly, a very small smile playing on his own lips.

Once every passenger was on, the ride started and their cart was slowly raised higher in rotation with the rest. Rohan hated to admit it to himself, but despite his claiming that this kind of ride didn't bother him, the way it swayed with every movement, especially near the top, set him on edge. Fortunately, though, it wasn't nearly the level of fear Rohan had felt for the rollercoaster, so he didn't have a hard time concealing his anxiety. He distracted himself by tracing tiny circles on the back of Josuke's hand, memorizing every tiny vein and bump on his almost perfectly smooth skin.

Josuke had been right about this having a romantic atmasphere. The view of the whole park was spectacular, and it was far more enjoyable when he knew he wasn't going to be hurtled straight down this time. Rohan had also been lucky to sit on the side facing the sunset as it painted the sky shades of magenta and orange.

As if stealing the thoughts right out of his head, Okuyasu broke the silence among them. "Josuke, you were right. This view is great!" He grinned brightly, leaning in towards the other side as if that would help him see it better.

Rohan laughed softly. "Ah, but you guys don't see the sunset from where you're sitting. Your view is nothing compared to mine."

Okuyasu turned to look over his shoulder, 'ooh'ing at the sunset while Josuke stared right right at Rohan, a stupidly affectionate look in his eyes. "I dunno, I think I have the best view in the park."

Rohan blushed in spite of himself but tried to hide it with a scowl. "You're dumb."

"You guys are so cute together," Okuyasu groaned, throwing his hands over his face. "I'm never going to find love."

Josuke patted his shoulder. "Don't be so dramatic, of course you will. Did you get roller coaster girl's number?"

"No," he groaned through his hands.

Josuke sighed. "You've gotta take your shot man, you'll never get your dream date if you shy away from every opportunity. In fact, I'm making it my personal mission to find this girl again before we leave!"

Okuyasu finally let his hands down and brightened up a bit, his eyes gleaming with a newfound determination. "When we find this girl I'm going to ask for her number! I won't chicken out this time."

"Hell yeah!" Josuke high-fived him, the impact of it rocking the cart slightly.

Rohan sighed, rubbing his temple with his free hand. "You do realize there are hundreds of people here and it's fully possible she's gone home by now. Getting his hopes up like this is just cruel."

Josuke frowned at him. "Don't shut down his dreams. We're gonna prove you wrong, right Oku?"

He nodded enthusiastically, and Rohan sighed again, shaking his head. Once those two got onto something like this, there was no stopping their ridiculous antics.

The conversation quieted down, and Rohan was beginning to relax and enjoy the ride. That was until on the final rotation it jerked to a stop right when their cart was at the top. Okuyasu cheered and Rohan wanted nothing more than for the ride to bring them back down so they could get off. His stomache turned as the cart creaked and rocked, and the ground seemed much further away than he remembered.

Rohan looked across the cart to Josuke, who had a suspicous, knowing look on his face. Rohan narrowed his eyes at him. "What did you do, Josuke?" Rohan spoke in a threateningly low voice.

Josuke just smiled. "I may or may not have bribed the guy running the ride to make it stop here."

"Why?" Rohan hissed. At this point he was ready to throw him off the ride.

"So I could do this." Josuke shifted forward in his seat and kneeled as well as he could in the cramped space. Rohan blinked in disbelief as realization dawned on him. Sure enough, Josuke brought a very familiar ring out of his pocket.

"Will you marry me?" He looked up at Rohan with his ridiculously pretty violet eyes while Okuyasu gasped loudly.

"You are the worst," Rohan glowered down at him.

"So is that a yes?"

"No!"

Josuke sighed and hung his head for a moment before getting back in his seat. "Aw well, it was worth a try."

Okuyasu was frozen in sheer shock of the situation, for once not making a sound. Josuke laughed and patted his leg. "Don't worry. This happens all the time."

Eventually, they all made jt off the ferris wheel and regrouped before making the treck back to the entrance. By some ridiculous miracle, they actually came across the girl Okuyasu was searching for, standing in line at a cotton candy stand.

With more than a little nudging for Josuke, Okuyasu made his way over and talked to her, and in fact walked away with her number and the biggest grin Rohan had ever seen on anyone.

It was almost dusk when they were finally leaving Lucky Land, the park beginning to glow with the colorful lights from all the rides and attractions.

Rohan smiled and wrapped an arm around Josuke as they walked out the gates.

What a wild day.

Chapter Text

Rohan leaned over the table and stared into the small tank of water in front of him. The goldfish swam back and forth in its little world, light shimmering off white and orange scales with the movement.

"When are you going to name this stupid fish?" Rohan turned his head to look over his shoulder at Josuke, who was scrubbing one of their kitchen cabinets, for once actually helping with the goddamn cleaning around here.

"I can't name him," he replied simply, reaching up to work on the higher cabinets. It was mildly infuriating how he could reach it with such ease, whereas Rohan would have to get a chair just to grab something from the top shelf. It wasn't that Rohan was particularly short - at least he wasn't much below average - it was just that Josuke was so ridiculously tall.

Rohan sighed and turned around, leaning his back on the counter to watch Josuke. "And why is that?" His tone was dry and disinterested, like he didn't really care what Josuke had to say, he was just tiredly playing along with one of his games.

Josuke turned his head to flash him a grin. "Because he's your fish! You have to name him."

"It's not my fish," Rohan replied flatly.

Josuke pouted, offended. "I got him for you!" His voice cracked a little, like he was a teenager again. Rohan couldn’t help but smile at that, but he hid it with a smirk to keep up his annoyed appearance. He hated how Josuke could be infuriating and adorable at the same time.

Rohan sighed again, ready to give up on the argument already. "I didn't ask you to. And either way I don't care what his name is."

"If you don't care then why did you ask?" Josuke smirked, leaning his back against the counter to face Rohan now that he was done cleaning.

"I don't know," Rohan ran a hand through his dark green hair, clearly exasperated. To be fair Josuke had a point, but that didn’t mean he had to be a little shit about it.

"Clearly it was a mistake."

He watched Josuke go silent and his eyes acquired that distant, contemplative look they had whenever he was thinking deeply on something. He seemed to ponder for several seconds, maybe minutes, before speaking up again. "How about Bubbles?"

That was the conclusion to the seemingly agonizing consideration Josuke had just gone through? At this point it shouldn't, but Josuke's stupidity still managed to amaze Rohan sometimes. "We're not naming our fish Bubbles," he stated blankly.

"I thought you said you didn't care what it was named?" Josuke smirked again, an obnoxious glint in his eye.

"You're an idiot," Rohan chose not to acknowledge Josuke's question and instead crossed the kitchen to the fridge, fetching a carton of orange juice and pouring himself a glass. It was the last of it and he tossed it towards the trash. It landing perfectly inside, of course.

"We don't have any damn food," he remarked, taking a seat at the kitchen table. It was true. Both of them had gotten busy, Rohan being pressured to get more updates out than usual, and Josuke having to take on a few extra hours. They hadn't noticed they were running out of groceries until they were nearly down to scraps.

"I know," Josuke came over and stood behind Rohan's chair, bending to wrap his arms loosely around his chest. "That's why we're going shopping today."

Rohan half groaned and half whined, leaning back to rest his head on Josuke's abdomen and look up at him with pleading eyes. "Can't we just order in today?"

Rohan was not a fan of grocery shopping. He hated how much of a dilemma it was just to get food, he hated being around so many people, and it just felt like such a chore when he could be using his time for other things. He would send Josuke alone, if he could trust him to get good groceries - which he couldn't. The few times he had tried Josuke had come home with mostly junk food and nearly none of the stuff Rohan had asked him to remember.

Josuke shook his head. "No, babe, we can't just go out or order delivery every time we run out of food." He rested his chin atop Rohan's head and Rohan pretended to be annoyed, jerking it away.

"Yeah, yeah," he sighed, knowing this wasn't a battle he could win. "Let's just get it over with."

Josuke grinned and snuck a kiss to the back of Rohan's neck before he could pull away from him again. "That's the spirit!"

***

The lights were unnatural and too bright. That was another thing Rohan hated about supermarkets. There were no windows except for the doors at the front, which quickly disappear from sight as you wander farther in. One could spend days there and have no real sense of time passing. It just didn't feel right and it the artificiality set Rohan on edge. Having Josuke there comforted him, even if he often annoyed him to no end.

He leaned against their shopping cart, watching Josuke agonize over what kind of cereal to get. Rohan couldn't care less, he just wanted to get out of there already and their shopping had barely begun. Of course Josuke had to make everything more complicated than it needed to be thus making their trip take twice as long. There was still a long list of items they had to buy from all different parts of the store and they’d been in the same isle for five minutes now.

"Which one?" Josuke held up the two boxes of equally childish looking cereal, blinking at Rohan expecexpectingly.

"They're both just sugar," Rohan responded boredly. "What does it matter?"

Josuke frowned at him but eventually put one in the cart, hesitantly putting the other back on the shelf, his hand lingering on the box as if it were a painful goodbye. Rohan grabbed his wrist and pulled his hand away gently, interlocking their fingers. Only to move Josuke along, of course.

He took the list back out and crossed off ‘cereal’ before moving onto the next item. “We need to go to the produce section. Fruits and vegetables next.” He folded the paper back up and put in his pocket, casting a glance at Josuke. “Because some of us like real food.”

Josuke pouted. “I like healthy food, too! Some people are just boring.” He stuck his tongue out at Rohan like a child, which Rohan chose not to dignify with a response.

Rohan pushed the cart while Josuke followed in step with him and Rohan kept up a pace fast enough to keep them on track and to keep Josuke from grabbing an ungodly amount of unnecessary items off the shelf. Except it didn’t actually stop Josuke form trying to ‘sneak’ more junk food into the cart. Rohan smirked as he caught Josuke snaking a package of oreos, thinking Rohan wouldn’t notice. “Put it back,” Rohan scolded gently, like a mother to a young child.

Josuke whined and plucked them out, giving Rohan his saddest puppy dog eyes as he did. “You’re no fun.”

Rohan’s expression didn’t soften and when it was clear he wasn’t going to give in this time Jouske sadly put the oreos back on the shelf and kept walking behind Rohan, head hung low in a dramatic melancholy. Before long they got to the produce section, where the marketplace opened into a wider area with displays of fruits and vegetables all throughout the middle. He started with the apples, picking a few he deemed worthy of his consumption and putting them in the cart.

He repeated the process with the other fruits and vegetables they had on the list, taking what Josuke would probably consider an excruciating amount of time examining each item for ripeness and possible imperfections. One might find it ironic for Rohan to put in so much time doing this when he was the one that wanted to leave, but if he was already there he was going to make sure he got the best quality produce for his money. Doing this analytical part of the shopping was almost relaxing for Rohan and he found himself nearly forgetting how much he hated being there in the first place.

He checked items off the list as he worked, making his way around the produce section. Josuke mostly helped with holding the bags as he filled them and pushing the cart around for Rohan. Josuke knew his boyfriend could be oddly picky about the food he chose so he usually opted not to involve himself in this part of the shopping. Rohan was aware of Josuke beside him, watching somewhat boredly and picking up the occasional fruit or vegetable to examine it for no reason other than it being something to do. Rohan didn’t mind their shared silence, though. It was quite nice, actually. Josuke had grown somewhat more mature since his teen years but it was still quite the goddamn rarity for him to be so quiet like this.

The silence was broken between them when Rohan was just about done in the produce section. As Josuke turned a mikan orange over in his hand, he spoke up. “Hey, uh,” his voice was uncharacteristically nervous, taking on the tone he tended to have when he was up to something. Rohan was immediately suspicious. He turned to him and raised an eyebrow, waiting for Josuke to continue. “I just realized I forgot something back there so I’m gonna run back. I’ll be back in a minute, okay?” With that he tossed the orange back in with the rest and disappeared back into the isles, leaving Rohan to stare after him.

He shook his head with a somewhat amused look on his face, wondering what the hell Josuke was up to. Really, nothing could surprise him at this point. Surviving being with Josuke for this long, he had seen it all, really.

Rohan sighed, leaned against the display, and waited. There was nothing to do at the moment but wait for his dumbass of a romantic partner to get back with his candy or whatever . He scowled at nothing in particular, tapping on the side of the display. The consistent noise gave him something to focus on but it wasn’t enough. Rohan didn’t like to sit - or in this case stand - and do nothing, not even for short periods of time. Every part of him was itching to do something productive, to create.

Looking up again, he scanned the isles for signs of Josuke. It wasn’t often the two of them would split up on their errands together. He didn’t trust him to be efficient on his own, is what he would tell Josuke. The idiot could be distracted by anything, and if Rohan asked him to go fetch a gallon of milk, he’d come back with everything but. And maybe, just maybe, a small part of Rohan was afraid that if Josuke got separated from him he wouldn’t find him again.

But Rohan didn't really think that; it was completely irrational. And it certainly wasn’t what was bothering him now.

He was just growing restless. Incredibly so. How long had it been now, five minutes? He had his Gucci watch on him but he hadn’t checked the time when Josuke left. He hadn’t noticed his finger tapping getting faster and harder and he stopped, taking a deep breath to calm his body. Josuke would be back soon.

In the meantime, he took to analyzing the oranges in front of him. He picked one up and turned it over in his hand, memorizing the texture and shape and coloration. He did the same with a couple others, noting the slight differences between each piece of fruit. Oranges weren’t all that interesting, unfortunately. Maybe he’d be lucky and find a bug or two crawling through them. He was only aware of his hands shaking when it caused him to lose his grip and drop an orange he was holding. He watched it fall back among the others.

He bit his lip in frustration and looked around again, still seeing no sign of Josuke. What on earth was he doing? This was taking a considerably long time even for Josuke, and god, Rohan didn’t want to wait there any longer. The unyielding fluorescent lights seemed brighter, making his head ache. He should be back by now.

The store wasn’t terribly crowded but it wasn’t empty, either. The longer he waited the louder and more irritating the distant chatter of the other customers felt, seeming to worm its way into Rohan’s head and echo in his skull.

Why wasn’t he back by now? His eyes were watery as he looked up again and finally, he saw a familiar figure coming his way. Josuke was holding… something. It appeared to be a brown box of some sort? It didn’t look like any of Josuke’s usual candy or anything.

Rohan willed himself to stay where he was and not run to meet Josuke, as much as he wanted to. He couldn’t keep the relieved smile off his face, though, when Josuke got closer to him.

“Sorry, babe,” Josuke reached out and squeezed Rohan’s hand, a gesture that Rohan appreciated and returned with a squeeze of his own. He loved that about Josuke, how he always seemed to know what Rohan needed without Rohan having to sacrifice his pride by asking for it. His hand was warm, a stark contrast to Rohan’s perpetually cold ones. “I didn’t mean to take so long,” he smiled sheepishly, a pink blush creeping up his face.

“What do you have?” Rohan cut to the point, nodding to the box in Josuke’s hand. He still couldn’t see it well. Josuke’s hand was big enough to cover most of it, and he was keeping it close to his side farthest from Rohan so the box was almost behind his back.

What the hell was he hiding?

At that Josuke’s grin spread wider and turned into something more coy and knowing, like it was a big secret he was about to reveal.  Before Rohan had much time to give him a judgemental glare he was taken by the hand and pulled away from the orange display into a more open part of the store between the produce and dairy section. Rohan stumbled along as he was practically dragged behind Josuke.

In hindsight he should have seen it coming but he didn’t realize what was happening until Josuke turned so they were face to face and lowered himself to one knee. Rohan glared down at him in disbelief. What was this, the fourth proposal? He wasn’t surprised by Josuke trying again, but really? Here? In the middle of the goddamn grocery store? Josuke grinned up at him, gazing into his eyes as if this were his first time proposing. You know, like a normal fucking person.

By this time, there was a small crowd forming around them. Other shoppers had been drawn in by the excitement of seeing such a big moment in someone’s life, and a small crowd was gathering around the pair to watch the proposal.

Rohan’s disbelief only deepened when he saw what Josuke was proposing with. Josuke was looking up at him with bright eyes, holding an egg carton of all things. But not like any Rohan had seen before, it was too small. Incredibly small. It only looked big enough to hold one egg, which seemed rather impractical. Sure enough, when Josuke flipped the lid and presented it to him, all it contained was a single egg.  An egg on which someone had taken the time to crudely draw the image of an engagement ring. “Rohan Kishibe, will you marry me?”

Rohan blinked down at him, not responding immediately. By now the section of the store they were in had gone silent except for some excited whispers coming from the onlookers. Rohan shook his head, but there was a little side smile fighting its way onto his face. It seemed Josuke could still manage to surprise him in new ways after all.

“You’re an idiot.” He took the tiny carton from Josuke’s hands, closing it using his other hand to pull Josuke to his feet and into a brief kiss. Josuke let out a little surprised noise but he smiled against his lips before they parted.

“And to answer your question.” Josuke awaited with wide blue eyes and bated breath, as if they didn’t both know what he was going to say next. Rohan looked right back into his eyes, straight faced as he answered. “No.”

Josuke pouted dramatically, his eyebrows drawing together and mouth dropping open in false shock. Their little audience seemed unsure what to do, caught in the awkwardness of having just witnessed a rejected proposal. The excited whispering and chattering was replaced with an uncomfortable silence as they started going back to the mundane grocery shopping they had come for, probably trying their best to forget the absurdity they had just seen take place.

Josuke laughed and turned to the dispersing crowd, his mood seeming to switch instantly back to a cheerful one as he grinned as brightly as ever. Certainly a confusing reaction from an outsider’s perspective.

“Oh, don’t worry. This happens all the time!”

***

Rohan yawned as he half sat, half laid against Josuke’s side, watching him play one of his dumb video games.

After finishing shopping they had gone home and went about the rest of their day as usual. Rohan had gone upstairs to his office, worked on his pages until Josuke had dragged him back down for dinner. He had to admit, the meal had been one of the better ones they’d had in a while, likely because Josuke had more ingredients to work with now. Not because he was a better cook than Rohan, of course.

After eating Rohan had made for the stairs to get back to his work but Josuke had stopped him and insisted he stay downstairs, take a break and relax for the evening. It took some persuasion but Rohan had agreed on the condition that he could bring his sketchbook and at least get a bit of practice done. Rohan knew he was the best of the best already, but he still strived to improve himself and his work whenever he could. And so a movie night had ensued, and after the second film they’d agreed not to start another and Josuke had turned on his gaming console instead, when Rohan had failed to offer his input on anything else they could do.

So there they were now, Rohan sketching lazily while Josuke played whatever it was he was playing. Rohan didn’t care to remember its title because he had no opinion on any of them. He simply saw video games as a rather useless way to spend one’s time, but they seemed to make Josuke happy so had learned to tolerate them.

“Wanna play a round?” Josuke broke the silence between the two, offering Rohan a controller.

“Absolutely not,” Rohan turned his attention back to the sketch he was currently working on, stubbornly refusing the offer.

This earned him a laugh from Josuke and he elbowed him playfully, smirking as he started up the next round. “You just know you can’t beat my score.”

Rohan sighed, not having the energy to argue back, for once. “Whatever helps you sleep at night, Josuke.”

It was getting later by the second and Rohan’s eyelids felt heavy as he fought to keep them open, but he wouldn’t be the first to admit he wanted to call it a night. Josuke seemed to catch on anyway, though, setting down his controller with a gentle laugh. “Speaking of sleep, let’s get to bed, yeah?”

After they’d made their way to the bedroom and stripped into sleep clothes, Rohan nearly collapsed onto the bed. Josuke followed after taking a minute to undo his hair, the pompadour falling into loose curls that hung close to his shoulders.

“You did good today,” he said simply as he crawled into bed next to Rohan.

Rohan’s eyebrows furrowed as he tried to think what he had done that was worthy of Josuke’s praise. “What do you mean? I did nothing of significance.”

Josuke turned to him and pulled the blankets over them, giving him a soft smile. “I know you got anxious in the store, when I left you alone for a while. You handled it well. I am sorry about that, though.” His head flopped down onto the pillow next to Rohan, their faces inches apart now.

Rohan blushed, nuzzling into Josuke’s chest to avert eye contact. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Josuke didn’t argue further, he just laughed gently as he pulled him closer and kissed his head. “Goodnight, Rohan.”

“Goodnight, Josuke.”  

Chapter Text

The strawberries were bright red against the greenery that surrounded them, creating a wonderfully vibrant contrast. Rows and rows of this beautiful landscape, green dotted with red. Rohan crouched to a lower height and lifted his camera up from where it hung around his neck. He held it to his eye, steadying the shot before he clicked. He smiled ever so slightly at the satisfying shutter sound.

He took a few more shots, experimenting with angles until he found the one that had the sunlight reflecting off the smooth ripe strawberries just right, making them appear almost shiny. Perfect. He would have to make sure to replicate that kind of shine in his art more often.

Rohan nearly jolted out his skin as he felt a touch on his shoulders, someone's arms gently wrapping around his chest. "Rohan," a voice sang into his ear, his name drawled out in a gently teasing manner. "Put your camera away already, it's family bonding time."

Rohan sighed and took the camera down to flip through the photos, frowning when they didn't look nearly as vibrant as the scene was in person. They never did. It was one of the reasons Rohan had decided to become an artist, because art can capture what photos cannot. Instead of trying to perfectly replicate something that cannot be replicated, you could bend reality any way you’d like, creating something entirely new.

"Alright, I'm done." Rohan let the camera rest against his chest again and turned to face Josuke, who in turn kissed his nose. "For now."

Josuke laughed and the sound filled Rohan with a warm feeling. He didn't have long to savor it, though, as he saw a golden-brown blur in the corner of his eye, flying right at him. Before he had time to process or react to what was happening he was knocked to the ground. His fall had him landing on Josuke and pushing him down too, like a small chain of dominoes.

Rohan squeezed his eyes shut and flailed blindly as California attacked his face with kisses, hopping between him and Josuke. Josuke, on the other hand, didn't seem to mind so much, giggling and only half trying to push the dog off of him.

Rohan heard another person's laughter behind them, much like Josuke's own but softer and higher in pitch. Tomoko held the leash, watching in amusement as the two were assaulted by the small dog. In her other hand was a basket half filled with strawberries. 

Rohan managed to pull himself up after fighting her off for a minute and he looked down at Josuke, who was still at the mercy of his dog. He smirked brought his camera back up to his eye one more time, capturing a shot of Josuke's struggle before offering a hand to help him up. 

Cali got up with him and circled Josuke excitedly as he continued to laugh and pet her while she jumped around him. “Yeah, yeah, I see you!” He bent down to give her a scratch behind the ears. “Good girl, Cali.”

“Your dog is a menace, Josuke.” Rohan said flatly. “Stop enabling her.” 

“I think she’s trying to tell you two to get back to work,” Tomoko picked up Josuke and Rohan’s basket from where it lay discarded on the ground, spilling strawberries onto the grass. “Unless you don’t want any jam, hm?” 

Josuke shook his head frantically and took back the basket. “Sorry, Ma.” He crouched back down and started picking strawberries again. Rohan joined him, picking only the best strawberries he could find. 

Apparently, this had been a tradition of Josuke’s and Tomoko’s far back as Josuke could remember. Each summer they would make the trek into the countryside to this strawberry patch and they would pick strawberries. It was paid by basket but you could stack it high, filling it with as many berries as you could carry. Josuke and Tomoko would bring the strawberries home to turn them into jam, cakes - you name it.  But the two of them hadn’t done it since Josuke had left for the police academy and then eventually moved in with Rohan. 

This was their first year bringing it back and now Rohan was in on the ritual. It felt foreign to him, partaking in a family tradition such as this. Of course he had grown accustomed to joining the Higashikatas for holidays and the like, but this was more personal. This was specific to them. 

He knew he was accepted as part of the family now, but he was still getting used to that. Growing up, Rohan had never learned to think of family as anything more than the people who happened to share his DNA. He had no siblings and his parents had given him the bare minimum of care, feeding and clothing him until he was old enough to take care of himself, but not sparing any affection. He’d grown up living comfortably and had never gone hungry, but he’d never learned to love or accept love from others. That was, until he met Josuke. 

Well, not quite when he met him. Josuke and Rohan had met in less than ideal circumstances as they were, in fact, trying to kill each other at the time. And for a long time, they had despised each other. Even after they realized they were on the same side and became allies, the two had always been at odds. Rohan had hated Josuke for how obnoxious and unpredictable he was. He didn’t understand him and it was infuriating.

But after everything, after that bizarre summer of chasing down Kira, Josuke had wanted to make amends, to befriend Rohan. At first Rohan would have none of it, rejecting Josuke’s every attempt to get on his good side. But the boy had been persistent. Soon their arguments turned into playful banter, and Rohan found himself actually enjoying Josuke’s company occasionally. Their relationship slowly shifted from rivals to friends, and then it was something more. When Rohan started feeling the first sparks of what he would later discover was love, he had hated it. It was confusing and frustrating and, as much as he hated to admit it to himself, it terrified him. He’d started despising Josuke, again, for triggering those emotions Rohan didn’t know how to deal with. 

Josuke never gave up on him, though. Even when Rohan continuously pushed him away,he kept worming his way into his life. It took a long time, but eventually Rohan had started to warm up to him again. When Josuke had told him he loved him for the first time it hadn’t scared him as much as he thought it would, because then he finally realized then how much he loved Josuke, too. 

But that didn’t mean it was easy. Rohan was still learning what it meant to love someone else, and, even more difficulty, how to accept being loved and cared for. A few weeks after they had officially started dating, Josuke had told Rohan he wanted him to meet his mother. 

***

As Rohan stood on that doorstep next to Josuke, a million thoughts ran through his head. What if she didn’t like him? What if he messed it up? This was a new situation for Rohan. He’d always hated meeting new people, but he had gotten used to crowds of fans and editors and interviewers, but in those situations it was so easy to put up a facade. Even if things did go horribly wrong, he could always tweak peoples’ memories a bit with his Heaven’s Door.

But this wasn’t like that. This meeting was intimate and personal, not just a side effect of his fame. It had significance, and it wasn't like he could just use his stand on his boyfriend’s mother. Josuke had assured him that his mother would like him and that this was just a casual dinner, nothing more, but that didn’t stop Rohan’s thoughts from spiraling. If Tomoko ended up hating him, surely it would affect their relationship. What would Josuke do if he had to choose between his boyfriend and his mother? Rohan hoped, rather selfishly, that Josuke would always choose him but there was no guarantee of that. 

Rohan noticed his body shaking the slightest bit and he didn’t think it was just due to him wearing a crop top on a chilly November night. He felt Josuke’s hand slide into his and he held onto it, more tightly than was probably necessary. The touch grounded him enough that he was able to compose himself by the time the door in front of them swung open. 

Josuke’s mother smiled as soon as she saw Rohan, greeting him warmly. “You must be the Rohan Kishibe my son speaks so fondly of. Welcome to my home.” 

The two of them stepped inside and Tomoko almost immediately pulled Josuke into a hug, which Josuke tried to wriggle out of with a laugh. The interaction was sweet, but Rohan felt strangely tense watching it. Was she going to hug him, too? He tended to not react well to physical touch, especially from strangers. When she pulled away and turned her attention to Rohan, her expression softened into a warm, knowing look. She did not hug Rohan.

As the evening went on, Rohan grew more comfortable and found himself enjoying talking and eating with Josuke and his mother. It wasn’t like Rohan’s usual experiences with meeting new people, but not in a bad way. Tomoko was interested in him, his life and his personal interests, not just the manga he was famous for. She didn’t judge him or make him feel like he had to act a certain way, and it filled Rohan with a warm feeling, a strange sense of belonging. Was that what family was supposed to feel like?

He would come to learn that, indeed, it was.

***

Back at Josuke and Rohan’s house (they’d opted to work there, since they had a bigger kitchen than Tomoko’s), they filled the counter with the ingredients needed for the jams and cakes and what Rohan thought a ridiculous number of mason jars. Tomoko was humming as she gathered things together and Josuke kept tossing strawberries for California to catch in her mouth.

"Josuke, please stop giving your dog strawberries before you kill her," Rohan said. 

"Strawberries are good for dogs!" Josuke flashed him a grin while he threw her another. "They're chock full of antioxidants."

Rohan didn't argue further, shrugging it off with a dismissive hum. He hadn't needed to research what fruits dogs can and cannot eat for any of his manga yet, so it was possible Josuke was right. 

"That may be so," Tomoko snatched the next strawberry from Josuke's hand as he was about to throw it. "But save some for the rest of us. She's had enough." 

Josuke pouted, and the dog seemingly copied his expression, tilting her head for good measure. It was ridiculous how often the two mirrored each other, though he supposed Josuke was like a big, dumb puppy, after all. Overly energetic, affectionate, a little destructive at times but still adorable and loveable. Rohan caught himself smiling at the thought and turned his attention back to the baking. 

"We'll start with the cake," Tomoko said, already starting to measure the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. "That way we can make the jam while they're baking." 

Josuke gave the dog one final round of petting before washing his hands (thank god) and getting a smaller bowl out to start mixing the wet ingredients. Rohan was unsure what to do with himself - it seemed all bases were covered and he wasn't much of a baker so his contributions would be questionable at best. 

Josuke seemed to read his mind and before he knew it he was thrusting two eggs towards Rohan. "Crack them into this bowl," Josuke gestured to it and Rohan followed through, cracking the eggs on the counter and into the bowl. Josuke taught him how to mix them in, handing him the whisk. Soon enough he found himself integrated into the baking session as something of an assistant, following orders from Tomoko and Josuke and cleaning dishes in between.

Rohan wasn’t used to following the lead of someone else. He was usually working independently, or occasionally being the one instructing someone, but he found he didn’t mind following along with the other two. Maybe it was okay to let someone else take charge once in a while. 

They finished the batter and poured it into two cake pans - one for Tomoko to take home and one for Josuke and Rohan to keep - and a cupcake pan for them to share with others. Once the cakes were in the oven Rohan was tasked with cutting off the stems and slicing the strawberries into smaller pieces. He would then dump them into a bowl and Josuke would mash them up further before handing the strawberry mush over to Tomoko who would finish making it into jam. It was a simple but effective assembly line, and before long they had sizable batch of strawberry jam cooling in the kitchen.

Tomoko explained that they would have to wait for the jam to chill more before jarring it, but they could take this opportunity to taste the warm jam which was, according to her and Josuke, the best part. 

It smelled wonderful. The sweet aroma of fresh strawberries and cakes still baking in the oven filled the kitchen. Josuke got out a spoon for each of them and eagerly dipped his into the jam after handing one to Tomoko and Rohan. In his haste the spoon slipped out of his hand and catapulted straight towards Rohan and before he could dodge it he felt a glob warm, sticky jelly splat right onto his face. 

There was a moment of silence while Rohan glared at Josuke, who was looking back with a shocked expression. It was honestly quite an adorable look on him, and Rohan couldn’t stay mad with those wide indigo eyes blinking back at him. That didn’t mean he was off the hook, though. Rohan wasn’t quite sure why the childish urge came to him, but as Josuke opened his mouth to apologize Rohan dove into the jam and flung a spoonful right back at him. 

“Hey!” Josuke tried and failed to dodge the attack and jam hit him right on his cheek, bright red contrasting pale skin. “It was an accident when I did it!”  

“I don’t know what you mean, that was purely unintentional,” Rohan tried to keep a straight face, but he only managed for a few moments. Pure, unadulterated laughter poured out of him and soon enough Josuke joined in on it, too. Rohan looked at Josuke, noticing how his hair was just barely starting to fall out of place and the strawberry jam was slowly dripping down his cheek, almost to the corner of his mouth.

Rohan reached up to hold the back of his neck and tilt his face downward, and he leaned up to kiss the spot. The jam tasted sweet, just like Josuke. 

Tomoko got them back on track and they began the slow process of filling jar after jar of jam until, finally, they ran out. They filled fourteen jars in total, but most of them would be shared with friends and family or frozen to preserve them. Tomoko stayed to help clean up, and then she gathered her cake and her share of the jam and headed home. 

Later, Rohan made himself a cup of tea and went outside to sit on the porch while he drank it. The sun was low in the sky, not quite setting but close to. It cast long shadows everywhere that wasn’t bathed in golden light. Rohan smiled as he sipped his tea, enjoying the quiet evening and the warm, gentle breeze. Summer would be over soon, so he was making sure to soak in all the warmth and sun he could before colder weather rolled in.

He heard the door creaking open and footsteps coming his way and then Josuke gracelessly plopping down in the chair beside him. “Wow, you didn’t even offer to make me a cup.” 

“You don’t like tea, Josuke.”

Josuke laughed, and they sat together in comfortable silence, just enjoying the fresh air and each other’s company. It was Josuke who spoke up again. 

“Hey, Rohan?”

“Hm?” Rohan cast his gaze towards him, and it seemed almost unfair how serene and beautiful Josuke looked basked in the evening light. He never failed to take Rohan’s breath away when he least expected it, and he didn’t even have to try.

“Would you consider marrying me?”

Rohan sighed, though it wasn’t one of exasperation. There was a kind of warmth behind it, a tired acceptance. 

“Josuke, have I ever told you you’re the most persistent person I know?”

“Maybe once or twice.”

“The answer is still no.”

Josuke looked back at him, his pretty eyes glinting in the setting sun. “I know.”

 

Chapter Text

Rohan walks down the streets of the all familiar town he’s called his home for the last five years and his childhood far before that, but the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. There wasn't a sound to be heard. Morioh was always a fairly quiet town - that was a big part of the reason that Rohan had decided to come back to it - but this is a quiet unlike anything he had ever experienced. There's no people in sight, not a single car in the road, and no signs of life coming from any of the shops or houses. 

He is unable to discern the time of day. The sky is a dull gray, but it doesn’t seem to be due to cloud coverage. It’s far too even, a single tone of the dark blue-gray running consistently across the sky and he cannot see any hint of light shining behind it to indicate there is a sun at all. It seems more like he is standing under a high ceiling that wraps around to the horizon. It’s light enough that he can clearly see his surroundings but the light doesn’t seem to have any source. It can’t be coming from the painted-gray sky, and none of the house or street lights are turned on.

As Rohan keeps walking forward in this strange and silent Morioh, he cannot shake an impending feeling of dread. His gut is telling him that he has somewhere he needs to go, something he needs to find and he has to find it soon, but he doesn’t know what he is looking for. He continues walking aimlessly, desperately scanning the streets and listening for any sign that could point him in the right direction. 

Finally he catches a faint sound in the distance, but what he hears offers him no comfort. His blood runs cold as he recognizes it as a scream of terror, an all too familiar one at that. The one voice he could instantly recognize anywhere, no matter how faint and far away. Josuke. 

Rohan breaks into a run in the direction he can best guess the scream is coming from, his objective now clear. He has to find Josuke. He has to save him from whatever made him cry out like that, he has to make sure he’s okay. Josuke has to be okay. He hears another yell, this time closer and he can make out his name. Josuke is calling for him. Josuke needs him. He pushes himself to run faster, his legs straining and his breath running short. Again he hears Josuke crying for him, closer than the last time but still not close enough.

“I’m coming!” Rohan makes a weak attempt to yell back as he keeps following Josuke’s voice, but there’s not nearly enough air in his lungs and he’s sure the sound isn’t reaching him. His heart is pounding in his chest with a force greater than he’s ever felt, both from the exertion and his ever-building panic.

“Rohan! Help me, I need you!”

Josuke’s desperate, fearful voice sounds closer than ever, and Rohan is sure he’s just around the corner. Fueled by a new momentum, Rohan sprints with all of his might in the direction of Josuke’s voice, and finally he catches a glimpse of his form hunched against a wall.

“Josuke!” Rohan cries, relief washing over him as he all but trips over himself to get to him. His relief is short lived, though, and is quickly replaced with a sickening horror as he gets closer and finds that Josuke’s entire body is covered in holes. Each about the size of a bullet hole, but they go all through him and Rohan can see to the wall behind them. There was not nearly as much blood as there should have been, only a thin trickle flowing from each hole.

“Rohan,” Josuke looks up at him, his eyebrows furrowing in a mixed expression of confusion and… hurt? “I was calling for you, didn’t you hear me?”

“I came as fast as I could,” Rohan almost choked on his words. His throat felt like it was closing up and his eyes were burning with tears as he crouched down in front of Josuke and took one of his hole-covered arms into his hands. To his horror they were growing bigger, consuming more and more of Josuke’s body. “What happened to you?”

Josuke ignored Rohan’s question, and Rohan looked to his face as he spoke again. “Why didn’t you save me? Why weren’t you there for me?” There were holes on his face now, too, and Rohan cupped his cheeks and stared into Josuke’s sad, violet eyes, trying to will the holes to stop. 

“I’m here now,” Rohan chokes, tears streaming down his face as he watches the holes in Josuke’s cheeks and forehead grow bigger, threatening to swallow his eyes and mouth next. 

Josuke looks back at him with a sad smile. “It’s too late, Rohan. You couldn’t save me. You let me die.” It’s the last thing Josuke can say before his mouth is consumed. By now Josuke’s body is more empty space than a physical form, and the holes spread wider until he is nothing but a sickening net of blood dripping flesh in Rohan’s arms. And then Rohan’s hands are empty, and all that remains of Josuke is a puddle of blood on the sidewalk.

“Josuke!” Rohan wails, grasping desperately at the space his boyfriend had just been. The blood starts to disappear too, the puddle shrinking until there is no trace of Josuke left behind. Rohan falls into himself, grasping his knees against his chest as anguished sobs wrack his body. Guilt consumes him and his mind won’t stop repeating the last words Josuke spoke to him. It’s too late. You let me die. Rohan had tried his best to find Josuke as fast as he could, to save him from the danger he was in, but he was too late. He couldn’t save Josuke. 

Rohan looks up to find the world was disappearing around him. A white nothingness is suddenly closing in on him. At first it's only in the distance, as far as he could see, but it's coming closer and closer. He jumped to his feet knowing he has to do something to somehow escape before he gets swallowed up, too. Suddenly, he finds a pen in his hand. His pen, the one he used every day to work on Pink Dark Boy

With some unknown source telling him what he had to do, he reaches up and draws into the white nothingness. As he draws them, the streets of Morioh come back into existence in a physical form of Rohan’s art. He spins around and draws back in the details of the town as fast as he can, replacing the white void before it can get to him. He finishes sketching everything back in and lets his pen-wielding hand fall to his side, but as soon he does the white comes back, slowly working its way towards him again.

Rohan does the only thing he can think to do. He picks a direction and he runs. As fast as the void keeps catching up with him, Rohan keeps sketching the world back in in front of him. Each time the white comes back to it comes faster, and Rohan keeps drawing the street in front of him and sprint all while sprinting as fast he can to keep it from closing in behind him. In one fatal mistake he trips over his feet and Rohan falls forward into the void. 

For a minute there’s nothing but white nothingness and the sensation of falling but then Rohan stops, finding himself caught by something. A scene fades into view around him but instead of Morioh he finds himself suspended over a dark, deep cavern. A thick rope is tied several times around his waist, and against his back he can feel another person. He turns his head as best as he can to catch a glimpse of them and there’s no mistaking the obnoxious pompadour hairstyle. 

“Josuke!” His heart skips a beat and he skims over what he can see of Josuke’s body, relieved to find there are no holes through his skin this time. Josuke is silent, not acknowledging Rohan in return, but Rohan can feel a slight, steady movement coming from him. He twists his body, cranes his neck as much as he can to see what he is doing, and catches sight of a knife in Josuke’s hand. He’s somehow managed to free one of his arms and is sawing away at the ropes that bind them. 

“Josuke, stop.” Rohan feels his heart rate picking up as he hears the ropes start to snap one by one. “You can’t free us like this, we’ll just fall!” 

“Oh, Rohan,” Josuke’s voice is calculated and cold, a tone so uncharacteristic of him. “I’m not trying to free us, I’m only freeing myself.”

Before Rohan can process what that means Josuke saws through three more ropes, and as they snap Rohan slips out of their bind. He can do nothing but flail and scream as he falls away from Josuke, down into the dark abyss below.

***

Rohan jolted awake, his body lurching to brace for an impact that never came. For a few dreadful moments he had no idea where he was.  A he could see was white, a colorless blur he couldn't make sense of. He blinked a few times, trying to clear his vision, and finally he did. Rohan was staring up at the white ceiling. His ceiling. He patted around next to him and his hands found sheets. Bed. He was in bed. 

Rohan took a deep, shaky breath and closed his eyes, trying to calm his racing heart. He was home. It was just a dream. He was okay. Josuke was okay. 

Josuke.

With his eyes still closed, Rohan rolled over towards Josuke's side of the bed, craving his warmth. He wanted nothing more than to nestle into his chest and feel melt into the sleepy embrace of the one he loved. He reached out his arms only to grasp empty space. His eyes flew open. Josuke wasn't there. 

Why wasn't he there? Josuke was always next to him when he woke up. He never got up first, not unless he got called into work on an emergency early in the morning but when that happened he always woke Rohan up to say goodbye. Always. 

Why would he leave without letting Rohan know? He felt an overwhelming sense of dread crawl under his skin. Something was wrong. He couldn't stop the gut feeling that something was terribly, terribly wrong. It made him sick to his stomach. 

He left you.

The thought was unwelcome but once it came into his head he couldn't push it away. 

He didn't want you anymore.

No!

Rohan curled in on himself his hands coming up to cover his ears like that could do anything to silence his thoughts. He gripped tightly onto the sides of his head until his nails were piercing his skin. The pain finally registered and he forced himself to let go, bringing his hands down in front of him. His nails were tipped with red. Rohan had never been one to be sensitive to blood and gore in the slightest but for some reason seeing the blood he'd drawn made the panic worsen. 

He brought his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms tightly around them, as if compacting his body as much as he could. His chest hurt. It hurt so bad, and his heart was beating violently within it. So loud. Too loud. The sound of his heart pounding in his ears was deafening but it wasn't loud enough to block out his own thoughts.

Josuke left you. He's gone. He finally realized how unlovable you are.

No, he wouldn't! He loves me.

He desperately tried to fight against the thoughts, knowing his brain wasn't being rational and yet was unable to stop it. It was infuriating and he wanted to scream but he couldn't. His throat felt like it was closing up and he couldn't find his voice. Instead, he only managed to let out a few choked sobs.

Help me

His body shook as tears poured out of his eyes, streaming down the side of his face. Everything hurt so much. His chest felt like it was being squeezed by a giant fist, and he half expected his ribs to snap at any second. His head was spinning and he felt like he was going to vomit or die or both. 

Help me.

Help me help me help me help me.

Rohan didn't hear the bedroom door open, nor did he hear Josuke calling his name. The ringing in his ears and his impossibly loud, pounding heartbeat made it impossible for him to hear anything. 

Rohan? 

Josuke's voice. Was he imagining it? 

Of course you are. He left you.

"Rohan!" 

That was definitely real. Rohan opened his eyes to see Josuke standing next to the bed. His image was blurred through the lense of Rohan’s tears but when he managed to blink them away enough to see him clearly he saw Josuke blinking down at him with concern evident in his eyes. Rohan’s tears started anew, this time due to the sheer relief of seeing his boyfriend. Josuke hadn’t left him. Of course he hadn’t. But his heart was still racing and the tightness in his chest wasn't going away. He opened his mouth to say Josuke's name, only managing to gasp on air. 

Josuke crouched down beside the bed, and tentatively reached out to brush some of Rohan's hair out of his face. It had been sticking to his forehead, wet with tears. "Shh," Josuke shushed him softly. "You don't have to talk. It's okay. I'm here." 

Rohan stared back at Josuke, trying to stabilize his breathing, but he still couldn't get the air to go into his lungs properly, resulting in more shallow, uneven breaths. He hated himself for still not being able to snap out of it, even with Josuke in front of him, proving that his worries had been false. 

Josuke spoke again, “Is it okay if I touch you?" 

Rohan nodded, and Josuke brought his hand back to Rohan's hair, stroking it in a calming manner before settling it on his shoulder and slowly rubbing circles on his upper arm. 

"Can you breathe with me?" Josuke asked, and Rohan nodded again and together they worked through the breathing exercises that they would use to help ease Rohan out of an attack. Slowly, his breathing steadied and the pain in his chest became more bearable. 

"Josuke," Rohan’s voice was weak and shaky, but it was there. His vocal cords were finally working again. "Why did you leave me?" Rohan asked, an accusatory edge to his tone.The more the panic subsided the more it was replaced with anger and hurt. It was because of Josuke that he’d been made to feel like that. Josuke had left Rohan alone without telling him where he was going so he where he was going so he wouldn’t worry, wouldn’t panic like he had.  "You left me here alone." 

"I'm sorry, Rohan." Josuke looked genuinely regretful, his eyes filled to the brim with guilt. Seeing him like that made Rohan feel guilty for the anger he felt towards him. "I left to make breakfast. I didn't wake you up because I wanted it to be a surprise."

Rohan bit his lip, trying not to get frustrated again. He knew it was just the leftover anxiety making him irritable and irritation and he didn’t want to lash out at Josuke. It had happened before. "Why are you trying to surprise me all of a sudden?" 

Josuke furrowed his brows, like there was something obvious that Rohan was missing. “Rohan,” he started, running his thumb over Rohan’s cheek softly. “It’s October 24th. Today is your birthday.” 

“...oh.” Rohan had completely forgotten it was coming up. Celebrating his birthday was still a relatively new thing for him. His parents had never done anything for his birthday, in fact most years they didn’t even remember it. And so neither did Rohan. He didn’t even know birthdays were a significant thing for most people until he started going to school and heard other students getting excited about theirs and each other’s birthdays. Talk of parties and presents and cake. For a couple years when he was young he’d been jealous of them for getting to have real birthdays, something he had never had. It was because of this jealousy that he’d rejected every invitation to go to their birthday parties, and eventually they’d stopped asking. 

He'd eventually grown to not care about his birthday at all, and treated it like any other ordinary day. 

That was, until his first year with Josuke. Early on in their relationship he had asked Rohan's birthday, and Rohan had told him, not thinking much of it. He'd never expected Josuke to remember it, much less give him something. And yet, come October 24th, Josuke had shown up at his door with flowers and a wrapped gift - which was revealed to be one of those incredibly tacky art kits that are sold at art stores. He would never use those art supplies in his work, but he didn't tell Josuke that. He'd accepted the gift happily, and he still had it, tucked away untouched in his art studio. It was the first birthday present he had ever received. 

“I’m sorry,” Rohan said softly, his eyes breaking contact with Josuke to stare at the space beside him. 

“You have nothing to be sorry for. You can’t control when you get attacks like this. I should have considered that,” Josuke leaned down and kissed right below Rohan's eyes, wiping away the almost-dry tears. 

“You were just trying to do something nice for me and I ruined it,” Rohan mumbled. He was still lying on his side, his face pressed to the mattress. 

“You didn’t ruin anything,” Josuke assured him, smiling at Rohan. It was that soft smile Rohan only saw once in a while, in the quiet moments when Josuke was feeling particularly sappy. That look was filled with so much love and genuine care that Rohan had no choice but to believe him. 

He managed a frail weak smile back at Josuke. “Okay.” 

“Now, what do you say I get back in bed with you for some much needed cuddling?” 

“What about breakfast?”

“Just a few minutes. It’s not that great, anyway.” 

Rohan laughed, rolling over to give him room. “Just get in here, you big sap.”

Josuke crawled into bed, pulling the blanket over them before them before pulling Rohan into his arms. Rohan sighed contentedly and wrapped his arms around Rohan and a leg between his, intertwining them as much as he could. He instantly felt warmer in the embrace, not just externally, but down to his very soul, reaching every crevice of his heart and mind. 

It ended up not being ‘just a few minutes,’ and by the time they got up again the meal Josuke had made was cold, but neither of them cared. Some things were more important than having an exemplary breakfast. They reheated the food and sat and ate together, and spent cuddled up on the couch watching television, though neither of them really cared about what was on the screen. They were just enjoying each other’s company, wondering how they had gotten so lucky as to be in love with one another. And it was perfect.

*** 

Sometime around noon Josuke told Rohan he had somewhere he wanted to take him. “You don’t have to say yes,” he added, setting a cup of hot coffee (with plenty of cream and sugar) on the table, sitting down across from Rohan. “It’s your birthday, if you’d rather just stay home that’s perfectly acceptable, too. But I think you’ll really like it.” 

That certainly piqued Rohan’s interest. “Where is this place you want to take me?” He took a sip of his tea, looking to Josuke expectantly. 

Josuke smiled smugly, his lips pursed together like he was trying to keep a bigger grin from breaking through. “I can’t tell you that. You’ll find out when you get there. If you decide to come, that is.” His expression wavered with that last part, and Rohan saw him biting his lip. A nervous habit of his. Whatever this was must have been pretty important to him, even though he was trying to play it off casually.

“I suppose I have to,” Rohan set his tea down and sighed, trying to sound unenthusiastic though in reality he was rather excited to see what Josuke had . “The curiosity would haunt me for the rest of his life.”

“Great!” Josuke visibly lit up, and almost spilled his coffee in his excitement. He took one more long sip and shot up, practically bouncing out of his seat. “I’m going to get everything ready and then we can leave. Our train departs at 12:40.”

“We’re taking a train?” Rohan raised an eyebrow. 

Josuke nodded. “It’s a bit of a long ride, but I promise it will be worth it.” With that Josuke disappeared down the hall, apparently to get everything ready. Whatever that meant.

***

They arrived at the Morioh train station and bought their tickets with minutes to spare. The train was almost empty aside from them, which Rohan was grateful for. That would hopefully mean a nice, quiet ride he could enjoy with Josuke. 

They took their seats and the train started soon after. Josuke had informed Rohan that the ride would be about an hour, which Rohan didn't mind too much. As much as he hated being idle, he was used to travel, which meant long rides in, trains, buses, or planes. An hour was nothing. As per usual, he'd brought his small shoulder bag containing his sketchbook and a few pencils, among other things. 

Josuke had also brought something - a backpack full of who-knows-what that Rohan wasn't allowed to touch. The curiosity was killing him, but he knew Josuke wasn't going to budge and let him in on any part of this secret until they got to wherever they were going. 

Rohan took out a pencil, flipped to a blank page, and started sketching. He didn't have anything particular in mind, he just let the pencil glide over the page to see what would become of it. He focused back in a minute later to find himself staring down at a crudely sketched street with Josuke in the middle, covered in holes. Rohan immediately felt sick to his stomach and he slammed the sketchbook shut, tucking it back into his bag. 

Why had he subconsciously recreated that horrible scene from his nightmare? More images from the dream came flooding back to him, but he did his best to push them away. He didn't want to think about it. Today was his day, his and Josuke's. 

He felt for Josuke's hand, and took it into his, leaning into him. Josuke squeezed his hand back and Rohan let the soft whirring and shuddering of the tracks ease him into sleep. 

*** 

"We're here, get up." 

Rohan woke up to Josuke shaking him gently and he blinked his eyes open to find him smiling down at him. The train had stopped, and Rohan looked out the window to find they were at another train station. A very rundown one, at that. 

"Where the fuck did you take me?" 

"Just trust me!" Josuke pulled Rohan to his feet and led him off the train, and onto the abandoned train station. It looked like it hadn't really been used in years, and Rohan watched in disbelief as the train started up again and disappeared into the distance, leaving the two of them there alone. 

Rohan looked around, trying to figure out what it was they were supposed to be there. To his right he could see the beginning of a town, if it could even be called that. He could see no sign of life coming from the buildings he was able to see, and It looked like more of a ghost town than anything.

He glanced back at his boyfriend, raising an eyebrow. "Josuke, where the fuck are we?" 

"We're not there yet," Josuke smiled, taking his hand. "We have to walk just a bit more." Josuke led them out of the train station but instead of taking them towards the so-called town, he took them in the other direction. There was nothing he could see in that direction, only woodland on either side of the road. Rohan wanted to ask again where the fuck they were going, but he knew Josuke wasn't going to give him a straight answer and he didn't want to be redundant so he just went with it, following Josuke down the rundown road to nowhere. 

After a few minutes, Josuke started veering to their left into the… woods? Rohan almost called him crazy again until he noticed the barely visible trail he was turning onto. It was heavily overgrown and looked like it hadn't been travelled in years, but it was there. Rohan fell into step behind Josuke - the trail wasn't wide enough for them to be side by side - as they began to venture into the woodland.

"So, you're taking me hiking? Or are we just waltzing into the forest to get murdered?"

Josuke laughed. "Something like that." 

Rohan paused midstep, narrowing his eyes at Josuke despite his back being to him. "Which question are you answering to?" 

Josuke half-heartedly assured him that they wouldn't get murdered, which Rohan mostly believed. As they continued walking, he found himself relaxing to the sounds of nature, of bird calls and wind rustling through leaves and their footsteps being the only other sound. It was peaceful, but a different kind of peace than the small town life in Morioh brought. A hiking trek in the middle of nowhere hadn't been in the realm of expectations Rohan had for Josuke's surprise, but it was nice. 

After around ten minutes of walking in relative silence, Josuke stopped and turned to face him. The sun shining through the canopy of leaves overhead cast strange shadows over his body, with patches of light illuminating his skin in several places. "We're going to have to go off trail for a while now, but I promise we're almost there." 

Rohan cocked his brow at him. "Are you sure you know where you're going. I really don't want to spend my birthday getting lost in the woods." 

Josuke smiled and stepped towards him, closing the small distance between them. He grabbed hold of Rohan's hands and bent slightly to kiss his forehead. "We won't get lost, babe, promise. We just have to find the river and follow it." 

"We better not," Rohan squeezed his hands and leaned into Josuke, sighing softly. Josuke kept one hand in Rohan's as he led them through the forest until they could hear the faint sound of rushing water. They continued towards it until they finally got to a small river cutting through the woodland. It was maybe three meters across, and the way the sunlight danced across the ripples made it look like a shimmering strip of white and blue. 

The sound of the coursing water was louder now that they were beside it, but it didn't bother Rohan. The constant sound was welcome and peaceful, and as the two of them walked along the riverbank, Rohan felt a sense of tranquility he hadn't realized he was so in need of until then. 

The river began to widen and the sound of rushing water grew even louder. "We're here," Josuke announced and Rohan looked up to find they had made it to a large clearing in the woods. In the middle was large, almost perfectly round pool of water being fed by the river they had been following. On the other side was a short cliff, and pouring down from it, into the pool, was a waterfall. The sight genuinely took Rohan's breath away and for a moment he just stood next to Josuke, taking in the scenery in awe. 

Rohan had travelled to many places and seen all sorts of grand, but this felt unlike anything else. It wasn't huge or spectacular, but it was beautiful in its own right. There was a certain romance to it being tucked away where one would least expect it, a little oasis Josuke had somehow discovered for them. 

"It's beautiful," he murmured, slipping his arm around Josuke. 

"I'm glad you like it." 

The two of them stood together for a few minutes, both content just admiring the view with the other by their side. Josuke cleared his throat, ending the quiet moment, and turned to face Rohan and taking his hands into his once more. He smiled, but Rohan could see a hint of uncertainty behind it and his cheeks were dusted pink. "I'm sorry to do this one your birthday, but this place is far too romantic for me not to make an attempt." Rohan's heart fluttered as Josuke slowly lowered himself to the ground. No, not again. Not this again. Josuke reached into his pocket and pulled out the all so familiar ring. "Will you marry me?" 

Rohan's mouth went dry. A small part of him wanted so badly to say yes. It would be so easy to just accept Josuke's proposal this time, once and for all. But he couldn't. "No, Josuke," he answered softly, reaching down to cup his cheek. 

Josuke didn't seem too bothered by the rejection, and that made sense. Of course he would be used to it by now. He just smiled back faintly up at Rohan before pulling himself back into a standing position and taking his backpack off, setting it down on a rock. "Are you hungry?" 

Rohan nodded. He hadn't noticed his hunger, but as soon as Josuke brought it up the gnawing ache in his belly became apparent. Josuke unzipped the bag and took out two wrapped sandwiches, handing one to Rohan and sitting down. He'd even brought a cute little picnic blanket which he laid out in front of them, along with some additional snacks. 

They sat together and had their picnic, talking and laughing with each other while they ate until both of them had finished their sandwiches. 

"Want to go for a swim?" Josuke asked after a while. 

Rohan glanced from the pool of water to Josuke and raised an eyebrow. "I'd rather keep my clothes dry." 

Josuke grinned that mischievous grin that Rohan knew all too well. "You don't need to, there's nobody around." 

Rohan had to admit, his interest piqued when he realized Josuke was insinuating skinny dipping, and he considered the offer. Despite it being October the day was warm, and he supposed the cool water might feel nice on his skin. 

"Alright," he agreed, finally. "But you're going in first to test the water." 

Josuke happily obliged to that, and Rohan had no complaints with watching him undress. He definitely did so much slower than he had to, truly making a show for Rohan. Once naked, Josuke made his way to the small body of water and slowly dipped one leg in, and then the other, before launching himself  into the water with a splash. He went under for a moment before coming back up, his hair slicked down onto his face. He brought up a hand to push it out of his eyes and grinned at Rohan. "It's not bad! A little cold but we'll get used to it." 

Rohan stood and stripped, leaving his clothes neatly somewhere he was sure they wouldn't get wet or dirty. He walked to the edge of the pool and was about to ease himself in when Josuke lunged out of the water and grabbed hold of him, and Rohan yelped as he splashed into the water. 

He resurfaced and glared at Josuke. "I am going to kill you, Higashikata." He leapt towards Josuke and grabbed onto his shoulders, pushing him back down under the water. He came back up and splashed at Rohan, which he tried and failed to dodge. The two of them chased each other around the pool of water like a couple of kids, laughing and splashing at one another until they eventually tired from it. Rohan swam to where Josuke was and wrapped his arms around his waist, gazing up at him as Josuke returned the embrace. Josuke tipped his head down to kiss him deeply, and despite the slightly cold water, Rohan felt he couldn't be warmer. 

They got out of the water shortly after, and Josuke pulled two towels for them. "You really did plan for all of this," Rohan took one and started drying himself off. He said it in a teasing manner, but he was genuinely impressed with Josuke's efforts. It was sweet how much he was putting into this for Rohan. 

"Just wanted everything to be perfect." Josuke had already finished drying his body and he wrapped his hair in the towel before starting to pull his clothes back on. "I, ah, do have one last thing planned for you but if you just want to go home that's okay." 

"Of course I'm up for it." Rohan dried his hair and started getting dressed as well. "I want everything you have in store for me, Josuke." 

Josuke smiled at that. "It's just a short walk then. Are you ready?" 

Rohan nodded, and Josuke finished getting everything back together before leading the way once again. They climbed the rocks to the other side of the cliff until they got to the mouth of a cave. It seemed to be fairly large, big enough for them both to walk comfortably inside, assuming it didn't grow more narrow further in. 

Josuke took Rohan's hand, and with the other he pulled a flashlight out of his bag, clicking it on and shining it into the cave. "Have you ever explored caves before, Rohan?" He asked. "It can be pretty fun, actually." 

"Not really," he answered honestly. It wasn't that he was particularly against the idea, it was just something he'd never really thought to do. He looked to Josuke with a small smile. "But since I'm with you, I know I'll enjoy it." 

Josuke laughed and squeezed his hand. "Rohan! You can't say cutesy stuff like that, that's my job." 

As they walked deeper into the dark cave, Rohan found himself admiring the simplistic beauty of it. It got slightly colder the deeper they went inside, and it was quiet. Not the same kind of quiet as the woods outside, here was an entirely new kind of quiet, an almost eerie silence that made the cave feel like another world entirely. 

The cave started widening and when they got to a cavern, Josuke stopped. "This is it," he shined the flashlight ahead of them, onto a large stretch of cave wall. He sat down and opened his backpack once more, taking out a container of paints and handing them to Josuke. "This is your birthday present." 

Rohan opened the container and took a look at the paints inside. They were clearly used, some being half full or less, and they were all too familiar. "Josuke, these are my paints." His tone was disbelieving. "Did you take me all this way just to regift my own art supplies?"

Josuke laughed. "That's not what I mean. You're a world famous artist, Rohan. Your work is always on display. Always for the public eye. But here," he gestured to the wall. "You can create something just for us. No one else will ever find it, but it will always be here, hidden within nature itself." 

Rohan tried to respond, but his breath caught in his throat. He couldn't find the words to convey how he was feeling, how much this meant to him. His heart was aching in the best way and he felt on the verge of tears. He sat down on the ground next to him. "Josuke…" he finally managed. Instead of trying to say more he grabbed onto Josuke's face and pulled him into a soft kiss. "Thank you." 

Josuke pulled out his brush set and handed them to Rohan with a smile. "Go on, babe. Start your masterpiece."

Josuke held the flashlight while Rohan dipped the brush into acrylic paint and started making streaks of color on the cave wall. Rohan could usually finish a painting like this in a matter of minutes, but this was special. It meant more to him than any drawing he'd ever created. 

When he was finished, he set his paints and brushes on the cave floor and sat back down next to Josuke. "Is it done?" He asked, and Rohan nodded. Together they sat in silence, gazing up at the work of art. 

"What does it mean?" Josuke asked after a minute. It wasn't often that Rohan created abstract art, but he wanted this to be something only they would know the meaning of, even if somehow someone did stumble across this painting. They would only be able to speculate. 

Rohan pointed to the left side of the painting, where the color pallete was dominated by purples and golds in swirling shapes. "That's you. And over there is me." He pointed then to the other side, which had more greens and blues and the shapes were different, too, sharper in nature. "And everything in between is how we come together. Us." The middle was the most beautiful part. There was an explosion of shapes color, so many colors that seemed like they shouldn't go together and yet they didn't clash, all blending together in perfect harmony. 

Josuke didn't respond at first and for a moment and Rohan felt a wave of uncertainty wash over him, a sense of self consciousness he rarely felt towards his art. "That probably sounds dumb," be laughed softly, trying to sound dismissive about it. 

"No," Josuke was quick to assure him, wrapping an arm around Rohan and drawing them closer together. "It's beautiful." 

***

The sun was beginning to set by the time they were on the train home. Josuke sat next to the window while Rohan sleepily leaned against him, idly playing with Josuke's hand as he held it. It was quiet, quieter than it had been on the ride there and Rohan was quite sure they really were the only people on the train this time. 

"Did you enjoy your day?" Josuke mumbled, shifting against him. 

Rohan smiled and turned place a kiss on the edge of his jaw. "More than anything. I couldn't ask for a better birthday."