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Mind Defibrillator

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Denki’s room was filled with video games, he had multiple consoles, and saved up money for an impressive gaming computer. For time and energy that he put towards gaming, it was impressive how much he sucked at playing them. He’d die repeatedly and shit talk NPCs as they owned him, much to the amusement of his friends. He didn’t realize the value of being an unintentional gamer failure until a friend uploaded a video of him being wrecked by a dragon in Skyrim. He was initially annoyed by this betrayal, but then the video went viral. He started making more gaming content, uploading video after video. If only so he didn’t die being known only as the ‘Yeet off a cliff’ guy. His videos and live streams quickly rose to the top of the popularity charts. What was once just a joke turned into a surprisingly lucrative career as the game streamer Chargebolt.

The conventional wisdom was to only stream popular games with established followings. Luckily, wisdom was Denki’s dump stat. Little brought him more joy than discovering ridiculously bizarre games and odd hidden gems. It was like unearthing glittering buried treasure. He still made videos featuring mainstream games, a guy has to eat after all. He figured that his indie game stream would be his personal pet project. To his surprise, it quickly became some of his most popular content. He would take game requests, narrow down the options, and then pull the game he’d play out of a hat.

He got requests for a large variety of weird games, but Mind Deliberator still took him completely off guard. Momentary panic seized him when skimmed the game’s description. It featured a gay main character with electric powers. Did people think he was gay? No, it must’ve been the electric aspect. A reference to his name and infamous love for Pikachu. He did a quick search to learn more about the game. Outside of the inevitable homophobic comments, all the reviews gushed praise. The game was niche, relatively unknown, yet showed promise. It was made by Studio Ultra, he couldn’t find much information on them except for a short interview with the lead game designer Shinsou Hitoshi. Apparently, the game started as a collaborative project that grew into something bigger. Knowing indie games, this designer likely handled a workload that was typically split between several people. Denki was a sucker for a scrappy underdog story. This was exactly the sort of game he liked to help give exposure to. He added the game to the hat. He wasn’t a coward or a homophobic asshole. That’s what he told himself.

Yet his stomach still dropped when Mind Defibrillator was the name he pulled out of the hat.

 

—————————————————————————————————-

 

Men in black coats yanked a lanky teen boy into a white van. An angry black muzzle was cutting into his face, the tight metal forcing his mouth shut. He flailed and kicked out desperately, his eyes bulging in a silent scream. The men shoved him bodily into the back of the van. The boy scrambled to get up, but the van doors slammed in his face. He pressed his palm against the window pane. The camera zoomed in on the teen’s face and his tearful expression hardened.

His deep voice played over the dramatic music, echoing as if it was in a dream. Ugh, the voice actor had such a hot voice. “You must stay hidden, don’t get caught. Please.” His eyes were pleading as the van pulled away.

“No!” Denki yelled into the mic, his face lit by the glow of the screen. “Those creeps got Mew boo!”

He’d gotten a tad invested in Mind Defibrillator. The game was narrative driven, it had a slice of life feel to it with the addition of special powers and creepy men in black coats. The player character was named Yuki, he was a rather unremarkable teen with the exception of his secret powers. Denki could use blasts of electricity to stun and attack enemies. He first got to use the special attacks while fighting off some bullies who were harassing Mew boo. His character also had the ability to use electric manipulation to hack into electronics. This process was represented by a mini puzzle game that Denki was laughably terrible at. It was a cool concept and made for some funny epic fail moments on the stream.

The love interest in the game was a reclusive boy named Ryo. Due to his psychic powers Denki had nicknamed him Mew boo. He spent a whole session building a relationship with the NPC. He saved him from bullies, they shared their secret powers with each other, and had their first kiss. It was super cute. The game wasn’t shy about the gay narrative at all. He should’ve predicted that the game was going to play his heart like this by having Ryo kidnapped. Whenever a game invested so much time getting you to like an NPC, it meant something bad was going to happen to them. It was like the law of video games.

___________________

 

“Denki are you even listening to me?”

He jumped slightly at his girlfriend’s irritated voice, snapping out of his daze. He’d been completely zoning out. She was probably talking about her album release. The album was a big deal, the project had been eating up all her free time. They barely managed to squeeze in the time to grab a drink at the bar before her next recording session. He should’ve been listening. Shit, he was a terrible boyfriend.

He smiled sheepishly. “Ah... Sorry, sorry. Spaced out.” He reached out to tuck a strand of her dark hair behind her ear. She swatted away his hand with a frown.

Jirou Kyoka had been part of his friend group before they began dating. He honestly never thought she’d return his affections. She was smart, talented, and pushed him to be better. It wasn’t until his gaming career took off that she reciprocated his flirtations. While he floated through life in a daze, she was badass and ambitious. He was lucky to have her. She deserved his full attention. He just couldn’t focus today, his mind kept drifting to Mind Defibrillator. The game and the crisis it had reawoken in him.

“Space cadet,” she flicked his nose affectionately and rolled her eyes. “What has you drifting this time?”

It was the same thought over and over. It was a mantra, playing on loop in his head. He opened his mouth to apologize, but his brain and mouth were clearly at odds with each other. The words tumbled out of his mouth seemingly on their own. The simple phrase bouncing around his brain. He stared into her eyes.

“I think I’m bi.” The words came out flat, in a voice unlike his own. It was an understatement, he’d known this about himself for a long time.

Kyoka set down her beer and frowned at him. “Oh ha-ha. Playing one gay game doesn’t make you queer. No matter what the internet trolls say.”

He huffed out a shaky laugh that was mostly just air and shook his head. “No really, I’m attracted to guys. I always have been I just-”

She cut him off sharply, “Did a guy flirt with you or something? Being an attention whore isn’t the same as actual attraction, Denki.” The playfulness in her voice was gone. His stomach clenched at the bite in her voice. What was he doing? He had to get her to understand.

“My first crush was on a guy. I’d get fluttery feelings whenever the kid talked to me, but I was totally in denial about it. I think ‘cause I like girls it felt easier to just ignore those feelings like…” he trailed off. His girlfriend glared like she was attempting to shoot lasers out of her eyes at him. “You’re mad?” He asked, biting his lip nervously.

“You sat on this information until now? Right when something exciting is happening in my life. This is when you have your gay awakening?” She pinched her brow as if to hold back a budding headache.

“Bi, not gay,” he mumbled.

“For fucks sake, you can’t go ten minutes without shit being about you, huh? You were the one that wanted to go public about us dating and you follow up with this shit? Your family is the one sponsoring my album. Your religious family. Are you trying to ruin my career or are you just that stupid?”

His mouth fell open and he felt indignance boil up. He stood abruptly, snatching his jacket off his chair. “Just forget it then,” he snapped. “Sorry to be an inconvenience.”

She reached out and grabbed his hand before he could storm off. He paused, his heart pounding in his chest. He felt like crying, but his eyes were dry.

“You’re just confused, babe.” She said softly. “You have a big heart, that’s all.”

He swallowed. He was going to lose her. With that fear in his head, all the justifications approached like old friends. Why did it matter if talking to handsome guys made him weak in the knees? The same thing happened with cute girls too. He could easily just pretend to be a regular straight guy. Besides, he was in a relationship. It’s not like he was going to do anything about his gay feelings. It’d upset his parents and for what? The truth was overrated. Incognito mode was made for a reason.

“You’re right,” he said in a flat tone. “I’m just confused.”

He wasn’t confused, he was a liar. She smiled gently and squeezed his hand.

“Let’s just forget about this,” he continued. It was like his voice was coming from someone else. “Focus on your album. I’m being silly.”

He abandoned his half-finished drink at the table. They hugged goodbye and she didn’t follow him out. Once outside he checked the time on his phone. He needed to get home, it was almost time for his live stream.

___________________

Denki was sure that he was approaching the end of the game. He had used his character’s electric hacking abilities to break into the research facility that kidnapped Mew boo. He just overloaded the power and cast the creepy laboratory into darkness. The flickering emergency lights and suspenseful music had his hair standing on end. He tried sneaking around the best he could, but he was never great with stealth challenges in games. An enemy popped out from behind a desk and he shrieked into his mic.

“Eeeee! Pika-Pi bitches!!”

He slammed his thumbs down furiously for an attack move and the scientist convulsed with flashes of light. He exhaled in relief when the enemy slumped to the floor and combat ended. Grabbing the dropped loot, he saw his inventory fill with a key and research notes.

“Well, that’s convenient!” He chirped as he tapped opened the research notes. Audio started narrating the paper’s information on patient 057.

“The patient demonstrates resistance and aggressive behavior towards researchers, it is unknown if hostile to all humans. Sedation and restraints required to collect samples. Predictive movement implies potential mind-reading capabilities, handle with extreme caution. To test the hypothesis of isolated hostility towards researchers, test subject 020 is introduced into 057’s holding area. 057 displays suspicion, but does not attack the other test subject. 020 removed 057’s muzzle as instructed. Exchange of dialogue triggers unusual behavior in 020. Verbal component of power activation confirmed. Both test subjects attack researchers when retrieval attempts are made. 020 returns to passive conduct when struck and shows signs of memory loss when questioned. 057 sustains damage before sedation takes effect. Efforts must be made to improve subject’s behavior for quality of data to improve. Injuries show little promise for encouraging behavior modification. Depravation of sustenance recommended to create a persuasive reward system and incentive for cooperation. 057 is to be transferred to the long-term observation rooms in the red ward.”

A new objective flashes on the screen: Find Ryo in the red ward.

“Wow that’s super ominous,” he says after the audio finishes. “Time to bust out my boo.”

Navigating to the red ward is fairly uneventful, he had to knock out a few more enemies and use electric manipulation to force open some sealed doors. He figured that this aspect of the game would be expanded if they had the budget for it, the plight of the indie game.

The disturbing factor was turned up a notch when he entered the red ward. The door opened to a long hallway with rows of rooms on either side. Moans from the room’s occupants drift through the air occasionally. The rooms have one-way windows installed so he can view the misery within. Some of the windows have bloody handprints smattered across them.

“They should fire the janitor,” he quipped.

Some patients were strapped to beds, thrashing around trying to escape. Others paced back and forth like animals in a zoo. One room had a containment chamber in the center of it, like a giant test tube. A young girl floated inside the tube like a sample for a science experiment. The extra detail in the design suggested that she could be important somehow, but Denki couldn’t find any way to access the room.

“Dang this got really dark,” he mumbled into his mic. “Almost Silent Hill status up in here.”

When he gets to the end of the hall a cutscene triggers. Yuki runs to the last room and presses his hands against the glass of the mirror. The camera shifts and zooms in on the battered form of Ryo.

Denki gasps in horror at the reveal, “Oh no.”

The skin around the black muzzle is raw and bloodied. Ryo’s eyes are sunken in and his skin wraps tightly around the bones of his arms. Yuki releases a burst of light and the electronic security door bursts open. An alarm starts to wail. Ryo blinks slowly as if in a daze. The muzzle is removed using the key Denki picked up earlier. Convenient. Recognition registers on Ryo’s hollow face and the two boys embrace. The Denki watches the touching scene with his lip wobbling. It’s just so sad and sweet!
Suddenly the heartfelt music screeches in horror and the camera shifts. A bald man in a lab coat stands in the doorway, pointing a gun directly at the boys.

“Step away from the patient, I’m not afraid to shoot,” the bald man croaks out.

All the emotion in Ryo’s face slips away and becomes a mask of cold indifference. “No, I think you are afraid, Dr. Ujiko. The fear is radiating off your mind in waves.” His voice is like ice.

“How do you know my-” the doctor starts to reply before suddenly stopping. His face goes slack and it’s like the spirit had been sucked right out of him.

A chilling grin splits across Ryo’s sunken face, “Goodbye doctor.” The doctor slowly begins to raise his gun to his own temple.

The scene goes into slow motion and two action options appear on the screen. Press X to stop the doctor. Press O to let him die.

“Oh shit!” Denki’s yelps out in a moment of panic as he considers the two flashing options. His eyes flicker to Ryo’s battered body and then he hits O.

“Screw that guy!” Denki yells triumphantly into the mic.

The doctor pulls the trigger and a gunshot cuts through the music. Blood spatters on the wall, Dr.Ujiko falls dead to the ground with a thud.

“We savage as fuck,” Denki states solemnly.

“He is dead at last,” Ryo whispers in relief, tears running down his cheeks. He shakes his head as if to ward off a bad dream. “More will be coming. We must get to the girl quickly; her teleportation is our only escape.”

Denki resists the urge to pause the game for a breather as a new objective flashes on the screen. Using game logic, that’d be the girl down the hall that he noticed earlier. Sure enough, when he gets to the room he has the option to overload the electric security system door with his remaining power. He runs to the containment chamber in the center of the room and hits X to open it. Another cutscene plays, dramatically revealing the young girl who snaps awake. Her silver eyes are glowing with light and she disappears momentarily. She reappears next to them with a pop.

“Mew two?” Denki mumbles into his mic.

Ryo raises a large syringe next to him. Where did the come from? Ugh, he hates needles. Gross.

“They have been formulating this serum using Eri’s blood, it has the ability to erase powers” Ryo states solemnly. “You will also lose all memories of your abilities and anything associated with it. You can go back to your regular life.”

Denki’s eyebrows raise, he wasn’t expecting that. He skims over the dialogue options and hits “What will you do?”

“The serum isn’t an option for me, they will pursue Eri and I no matter what. If you come with me, they will chase you too. You can forget all of this. Forget me, you have friends and family who will miss you.” Ryo’s firm deep voice wavers a bit at the end.

The dialogue options reappear. Take the serum. Go on the run.

Denki’s throat feels like it’s about to close in on itself. His knee jerk response is to refuse the serum, keep his powers, and not take the easy way out. Yet, his own words from earlier in the day echoed in his mind.

“Let’s just forget about this,” he had said to Kyoka. “Just forget it.”

Just forget, just forget. I’ll just upset everyone and for what? He could take the lie, keep his family, pretend to be like everyone else. A straight guy with an amazing girlfriend. A liar. His shoulders began to shake and he realized his vision had long ago blurred. Fat tears already coated his cheeks, when had he started crying? He tried to take a breath and it came out as a strangled sob. He was unsure of how long he sat there, sobbing in front of his monitor before he managed to collect himself enough to register the flood of comments flickering down his extra monitor.

“What is happening?”

“Ha pussssy.”

“This is intense!”

“Chargebolt R U ok ;_;”

“rite in da feeersls”

Oh. Right. He was live streaming, this fact registered in some rational corner of his mind. He wiped his eyes and cleared his throat.

“Uh sorry about that everyone. H-hit a little close to home.” His voice sounded strangled and strange to his own ears. He wanted to make a dumb joke, but nothing surfaced. Nothing but the truth. “I’ve been trying to come out as bi for a while now. The whole forgetting things to pretend to be normal really, um, resonated with me.”

He glanced nervously at the comments again and was instantly overwhelmed by the tidal wave of text. He swallowed back a sob that had threatened to fight free. “I…I want to try to be braver from now on,” he croaked out.

He picked up his controller and hit the option to refuse the serum. He was keeping his powers, consequences be damned. Ryo looked at him with a soft smile and pressed their lips together for the final cut-scene. The two boys and the girl disappeared in a flash of light.

 

After finishing the game, he quickly shut down the stream and collapsed into bed. He was exhausted and wrung out from all the crying.

When he woke up the next day it was almost noon. He woke up to a shit show. Notifications lit up his phone. It took some quick scrolling to deduce the situation. Someone had recorded the live stream and reposted it. His bi meltdown went viral. He should’ve expected that. He felt oddly numb. Scrolling through his phone, he tapped play on a voicemail from Kyouka.

Fuck you Denki! You impulsive fuck! My phone is blowing up with questions. What am I supposed to say to them? I knew you were selfish and an idiot, but I didn’t think you were a liar too. It’s just a matter of time before your parents find out. I never should’ve-

He paused the voicemail and swallowed the lump in his throat. He’d finish listening to that later.

He tapped on his text messages instead, purposely avoiding the ones from his girlfriend. Ex-girlfriend? No, they’d work it out. Right? Probably not.

He needed to see something friendly right now, he swiped through the various messages. Most of the texts were familiar faces, others from people he hadn’t heard from in a long time.

Izuku: Hey I know it’s been a while. I saw that video. I’m here if you need someone to talk to okay?

Mina: i kno Kyouka is mad. im tryin to calm her down. Don’t freak. We all luv you!!!. <3 <3 <3

Sero: y didn’t you say anything before man! I’m straight but its cool if ur not. Call me dude.

Kirishima: that was so brave and manly bro. Im so proud of you right now for reals

Katsuki BakuBoom: Called it. Several people owe me cash. Thx dunceface.

He laughed at the last message, from Bakugou that was practically a hug. He scrolled through the various messages of support. His friends were the best. He flopped over, face first into his pillow with a groan. He was probably going to be dumped and disowned. Despite that, he felt like a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders. This was a shit show, yet right now he couldn’t stop smiling.

--------

A few days passed and his predictions proved to be correct. His parents were furious and his girlfriend dumped him, exactly what he had expected. Once upon a time, this turn of events would’ve felt like the end of the world. However he oddly felt at peace with it. For the time being.

What was really bothering him was the reaction some of his fanbase was having. Cognitively he knew that most people either didn’t care or were supportive. That didn’t stop the bigoted assholes from screaming 10x louder than the reasonable folks. He had also unwittingly started a “gay game challenge.” The challenge was to play Mind Defibrillator all the way through without having a gay awakening. He was unsure if this trend was supposed to be laughing with or at him. The intentions seemed mixed. He decided to avoid looking at any online content relating to himself for a while.

The Kaminari Denki social media purge lasted a full three hours before it was busted open with the grace of the Kool-Aid man. The metaphorical wall busting came in the form of a text from Kirishima Eijiro.

Kirishima: Sooo it looks like you need to apologize to a Shinsou Hitoshi

Chargebolt: who I piss off now =_= let me be queer in peace

Kirishima: sum of ur crazy fans doxed that poor guy. Guess he made that game?

“Are you fucking kidding me?” he spat out in frustration, resisting the urge to chuck his phone.

Thus, he jumped right back into the deep end of social media. Apparently, there was a small subsection of gamers that were furious that the game had “turned him gay.” These internet vigilantes took it upon themselves to revenge this dishonor. They doxed the designer who did the short interview about the game. Shinsou Hitoshi’s social media accounts, email, home address, phone number, and photo was released. Along with his information, the trolls posted a rambling diatribe about how gay propaganda was ruining games. Denki’s stomach twisted in guilt as he looked at the photo of the guy. He was young like himself, likely in his early 20s. He had an awkward half smile and he was looking away from the camera as if he didn’t want the picture taken. The guy made an amazing work of art and this is how Denki repaid him. He had to make this right.

He hadn’t released any videos or content since his meltdown, he had thought it’d be best to let things blow over a bit. With a surge of determination, he started setting up the lighting to record a video. Staring at the camera, he took a deep breath. He could do this.

“I know a lot of people are surprised by my recent live stream. I surprised myself too! I’m very touched by the words of support I’ve received. I’d been struggling to come out for a while now, so it was just a matter of time before the dam broke open.” He chuckled a bit. He wanted to start positive, he couldn’t just feed the trolls.

“To those that have an issue with my sexuality, you’re entitled to your opinion. Feel free to stop watching my videos. To those who felt the need to violate the privacy of one of the game's creators, you disgust me. I do not condone this action and ask you to cease this immediately,” he tried to say this part with his best resting bitch face possible.

“I’ll be continuing my stream as usual starting Friday. Sending love from Chargebolt! Especially to the creators of Mind Defibrillator, you can hit me up anytime,” he said the last part with a wink.

He hadn’t planned on the last bit, but he uploaded it anyway. He felt a tad disappointed when he never got a message from Shinsou. He resisted the urge to reach out, he shouldn’t even have the guy's contact information, after all.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2.   

 

Denki was sprawled out on his couch, leafing through a gaming convention pamphlet. He’d been invited to attend as a special guest for an LGBT gamer panel. He couldn’t believe it’d only been a year since his bisexual meltdown was broadcasted to the world. Ultimately, scandal had helped his career. Apparently, it’s true that there is no such thing as bad press. Being a queer streamer opened him up to a whole new demographic of fans. His fanbase had been purged of the homophobic neckbeards and his fan interactions were better than ever. It was hard to imagine himself being in the closet again. 

 

He sighed and twirled the pamphlet in his hands absentmindedly. Typically he was excited about gaming convention gigs. It was a blast to meet fans, demo new games, and generally nerd out. However, this particular convention was located near his hometown. He hadn’t been back to visit since he came out. 

 

He glanced at his phone that was nestled innocently against his leg. His elder siblings were supportive about him being bisexual, but his parents had reacted as if he’d stabbed someone. His mother tried to convince him that he was just confused. His father refused to speak to him until he, “Got back on the right path in life.” Denki had pulled away to give them time and space to process, but months ticked by with zero improvement. 

 

He slowly ran his finger over the address on the pamphlet, it was probably only a twenty minute drive from his childhood home. He thought of the neighborhood he grew up in, a sleepy suburb lined with trees. 

 

When he was a kid, one of their neighbors had a tire swing hung from a tree in the front yard. He’d begged his dad to build one for him too. His dad brusquely brushed him off, ignoring his whining. Denki had all but given up, until one day he came home from elementary school to find a tire swing swaying under their tree. His father had shrugged nonchalantly at his squeals of excitement, but a hint of a smile ghosted his face. His mother’s warm laughter would ring around him like a song as she pushed Denki on the swing. He’d beg her to push him higher and leaves would swirl all around them as the tree groaned in protest. The memory filled him with a soft ache. Back home, the tire swing still swayed under the tree. 

 

He knew his father loved him, but he’d always been a slightly aloof man. It was hard to imagine chipping away at his resolve. However it didn’t seem possible that his relationship with his mom could deteriorate forever. They were basically the same person. Goofy, bubbly, and a tad airheaded. They were also both people-pleasers, his mother especially. 

 

By coming out, he’d broken the unspoken pact to be the bubbly peacekeepers in the family. He took a deep breath and grabbed his cell phone. He dialled the number he knew by heart, not bothering to use the saved contact. She picked up by the second ring. 

 

“Oh, hi Denks! I was just eating a hamburger and was thinking about how much you like them. How strange! ” His mom’s voice was bright and cheerful. He couldn’t help but smile at the sound of her chuckling. They had the same laugh.

 

“My hamburger senses were tingling!” He quipped and her laughter filled the speaker. His joke wasn’t even that good. 

 

“Always knew you had superpowers. Has my baby boy been working hard? I haven’t heard from you.” 

 

He rolled his eyes at the endearment. “Yeah, I just thought I’d check in, been a bit.” He shrugged sheepishly even though she couldn’t see him. It was an understatement, they hadn’t spoken in months. He didn’t want to break the spell his mother had cast. The conversation felt so normal, like their relationship wasn’t falling apart. “How’re you?” 

 

“Oh, I’m good, I’m pleased by how well Kyoka’s album is doing! Such a talented girl she is.” Her tone was chipper, but he could sense the tense undertone behind her words. “You two still talk, right?” 

 

Just like that, the spell was broken. He swallowed thickly; why did she have to bring up his ex? 

 

“Uh yeah, I mean sort of. We have a lot of the same friends so y’know,” he muttered lamely. 

 

He fidgeted his feet into a pillow on the couch. He knew his mom was fond of Kyoka, she’d treated her like a daughter. The enthusiastic support of his girlfriend had been something he loved about his mom. Now it just made him uncomfortable. Kyoka had broken up with him. He’d tried to work it out with her and was brutally rejected.

 

Growing up, Denki was constantly getting his heart broken. He always fell too hard and fast, his crushes hitting him like a freight train. It was cheesy, but his mom had always been the guaranteed person to help pick up the pieces. She would cheer him up with a pep talk and go on about how he was too good for them. Where was that fire now? It was selfish, but he wanted someone to be completely on his side. He wanted to feel okay about the burning hurt that still thrashed inside him. He didn't want the gentle reminders that it must’ve been hard for her too. 

 

“I still don’t understand why you two broke up, you were such a cute couple. She was good for you,” she lamented wistfully.

 

He clenched his teeth and ran a frustrated hand through his already tousled hair. Why couldn’t they just go back to joking about his hamburger superpowers? They’d already had this conversation before, but she kept playing dumb. It was like she wanted to give him the opportunity to rewrite history. 

 

“I already told you why mom. She dumped me when I came out.” He wrinkled his nose and decided to lay it on a bit thicker. “She was pretty mean about it too.” 

 

“She did remind me a bit of your father, sharp tongues on them, huh?” she murmured softly in a sad tone. “Y’know, he’s never going to accept it right?” 

 

Denki swallowed the lump in his throat and blinked hard. He knew it was possible his dad would never come around. It was a twisting fear that he kept tucked away. He took a deep breath and shrugged. “Well maybe eventually...” 

 

“I know my husband,” she interjected. “Honey, you know I just want you to be happy. But if you’re still attracted to girls, then wouldn’t that just be easier for everyone?” 

 

What was he supposed to say to that? She wasn’t wrong, it would be easier for everyone. Everyone except for him.

 

There was a long pause, but he could still hear her soft breathing. “Denki I really miss you.” 

 

His throat felt tight. He missed her too, she was his cheerleader and confidant. Yet lately all of their conversations devolved into a mess. If only he had a magic wand that could make them suddenly be alright with his bisexuality. 

 

She continued, “I want my son back, before all this drama.”

 

The longing pulling at his insides faltered and crashed. He closed his eyes and slumped against the back of the couch. 

 

“I’m the same person, I’m just more honest now.” It was an automatic line that he had rehearsed in the mirror over and over. A script that he had armed himself with for moments like this. It flew out of his mouth on autopilot. 

 

There was a silence again until it was broken by a soft hiccuping. He gripped his phone so tightly his knuckles went white. Was she crying? He couldn’t deal with this. He could imagine her blue eyes spilling over with tears. Of course she was upset, her family was falling apart. All because of him. It felt absurd, he wasn’t even dating anyone. Part of him wanted to cave, to lie and say he’d just been confused. He could slip back into the lie like an old coat, well worn and familiar.

 

 “Well, I gotta go mom, talk to you later.” He hung up before she could reply. 

 

He stared at the device in his hand as if it betrayed him. He resisted the urge to chuck it across the room. He blinked hard and swiped a hand across his stinging eyes. Shit . That hadn’t gone well at all, but at least it wasn’t a screaming argument. He had to stay strong and not be swayed by guilt. His mother loved him. This couldn’t last forever, it just couldn’t. This was just a phase. 

 

His mom wasn’t exactly subtle about wanting him and Kyoka to get back together. His parents hadn’t cut their sponsorship of Kyoka’s album like Kyoka had feared. He wasn’t sure why, perhaps they assumed she didn’t support his “new lifestyle.” He made a point not to ask such questions. Kyoka had gone through great pains to make sure all their friends understood she wasn’t homophobic. She claimed it was his method of coming out that was the issue, not that he was bi. He’d decided to let her have that, for the sake of their friend group. Them getting back together was definitely not on the agenda though. 

 

He slumped back against a pillow and flipped half-heartedly through the pamphlet’s event section. At this point it was more to see what he’d be missing. He didn’t care that the gig paid well and his gamer friends begged him to attend, it’d be too weird to be so near his hometown. The conversation with his mom stamped the seal of nope on it. 

 

He was about to throw the pamphlet aside, when he spotted a name. Shinsou Hitoshi. He straightened himself on the couch, his mouth falling open. The name seemed to jump out of the page and hit him over the head. He blinked as if the letters would suddenly morph to reveal a prank. The name stayed the same, typed out clearly under the panel called Weaving Narrative into Games . Shinsou Hitoshi. No fucking way. His previous convictions against attending flew out of his mind like a bat out of hell. He snatched his phone, a toothy grin splitting across his face. He hastily tapped out a text to Mina.

 

Chargebolt: I’m goin to 1Up Con! =^w^=

 

_______________________________________



Denki had to haul ass across the convention center to make it from his panel to Shinsou’s. By the time he made it to the correct room, he was huffing for air. He eyed the door nervously as he caught his breath. He was going to finally see the guy that he’d been so curious about all this time. 

 

He tried to collect himself, adjusting his clothes self consciously. He whipped out his phone to check himself on the camera. His cheeks were pink from running and his hair was a bit of a mess. Shit. He only had a few minutes to spare. He pulled on his ultimate disguise, a baseball cap. It was a disguise only Superman would envy, but it was better than nothing. He didn’t want people making a fuss about him being there. 

 

Puffing up his courage, he slipped discreetly into the room. He snagged a seat in the back, pulling down his cap to hide his face. The room was much smaller than the hall his panel had been in. It’d be difficult to get lost amongst the other people. 

 

He snuck a glance at the front of the room under the brim of his hat. His breath caught in his throat. It was him, live and in person, Hitoshi Shinsou. It was the guy he’d developed an irrational crush on, despite only tracking down a few photos of the dude. He’d found the photos attractive, but in person he was so much better. 

 

Shinsou’s fair skin stood in contrast against his entirely black outfit and his jacket was littered in patches. His wild lavender hair stuck out in every direction in a messy, devil may care fashion. If he ran a hand through those locks, would they spring back into place? Were they soft? It was like he just rolled out of bed. Now that was a sight that Denki would like to see. The blonde hastily looked down at his knees and felt his face grow warm. Did the all black theme of the ensemble include his boxers as well? He tried to will away the images of the other man sprawled out on a bed in black boxers. 

 

Christ, he was in a public space. 

 

His dangerous train of thought was cut off by the amplified sound of a throat clearing. “I think it’s safe to assume that you’re all here due to an interest in storytelling.” 

 

Denki straightened in his seat, he knew that voice. It was deep, resonate, and oh so familiar. He furrowed his brows in confusion before it dawned on him: Shinsou had done the voice acting for Mew boo. 

 

It was a common practice for low budget indie projects, there was no reason for him to be so surprised and flustered. He gulped as Shinsou continued his presentation in his naturally husky voice. Had Denki announced how hot he thought the character sounded during his live stream? Probably not, he didn’t say stuff like that back when he was closeted. 

 

He had to keep his mind busy or he was going to fall down a rabbit hole of inappropriate thoughts. He pulled out his sketchbook from his bag and began to idly doodle as he listened to his crush speak. 

 

It was an old trick that helped stop his mind from doing jumping jacks. Gradually the doodling turned into him attempting to sketch Shinsou. Denki’s tongue poked out of the corner of his mouth as he struggled to capture his likeness. That hair was incredibly difficult to draw and the eyes didn’t seem right. If only he was closer. 

 

“Does anyone have any questions? We have some extra time.” 

 

Denki blinked in surprise and lowered his sketchbook. The drawing and Shinsou’s rumbling voice must’ve put him into a trance, it seemed like no time had passed. Several people raised their hands and Denki squirmed in his seat as the questions were answered. This was his chance, no time to be a coward. He raised a shaky hand. Why was he so nervous about this? He kept his head down, hoping the baseball cap would obscure his face.

 

“You there in the back.”

 

He lowered his hand and cleared his throat awkwardly. “Um, how much of your stories are based on your own life?” he spilled the words out much faster than he’d intended. He kept his head down.

 

“Could you repeat that?” Shinsou’s amplified voice was patient. “I couldn’t quite hear you.”

 

Denki raised his head and tried again. Louder and clearer. “How much of your stories are based on your own life?”

 

Shinsou’s mouth opened and closed. He blinked at Denki with a look of recognition. Shit. Shinsou wasn’t the only one, before he could reply audience members began zoning in on Denki.

 

“Oh my god, it’s Chargebolt!”

 

“Wait, didn’t he make the game you had a freak out to?”

 

“Don’t start crying Chargebolt!”

 

“Can I have your autograph Chargebolt?”

 

“I want an autograph too!”

 

Q&A had fallen into disarray, audience members left their seats to surround him. The more respectful members sat awkwardly, unsure of what to do. Denki tried and failed to turn the attention off him. This panel wasn’t about him, he didn’t want to seem like a spotlight stealing attention whore. Plus, he was nervous about being around Shinsou. He wasn’t in the state of mind to handle excitable fans.

 

“No autographs, sorry, please sit down.” He frantically waved his hands in front of himself, trying to fend people off. “Not right now please. Come on guys, really.”

 

“That’s all for Q&A.” He could hear Shinsou’s deadpan voice amplified over the ruckus. “Thanks for coming.”

 

Large security men sprang into action, clearly happy to finally have something to do. They shooed people out, notably not asking Denki to leave. The more persistent congoers mumbled complaints, but the room cleared quickly. Shinsou had already collected his things and was walking towards the exit. Denki gave the bulky security guys a glance and they shrugged at him.

 

Denki laughed awkwardly and caught up to Shinsou at the door. “Sorry about that! Y’know I’ve always wanted to make games? You make amazing games. All I can do is play ‘em and joke around. I’m just a glorified class clown, yet I’m the one signing autographs. Do you hate me?” 

 

Shinsou paused and held the door open for him. Denki took a moment to appreciate how tall the other man was. He could probably rest his chin on Denki’s head. Up close Denki could see the shadows under his eyes, that’s what was missing from his drawings. Shinsou’s expression was unreadable. 

 

“Hate isn’t the word I’d use.” Shinsou’s reply was sharp, his lips were drawn tight and eyebrows furrowed.

 

Denki couldn’t read him at all. For once in his life, he was at a loss for words. All the clever pickup lines he’d usually throw out at this point died in his throat as the other man’s gaze flicked over him appraisingly.  

 

Shinsou sighed and pulled a pen out of his pocket. He scribbled something onto a card and muttered, “Look, I have some con responsibilities and this isn’t the best place to talk…”

 

Denki’s temporary paralysis lifted. “Oh shit, right. I didn’t mean to troll your con time. I’ll just-”

 

“No. I mean, ugh.” Shinsou cut him off with a noise of frustration. The business card was shoved into Denki’s hand. “Let’s meet tonight. If you’re free.”

 

Denki looked down at the business card in his hand, a number was hastily scribbled onto the back of it. He stared at the number and was pretty sure his stomach was doing summersaults. When he looked up Shinsou was already walking away. Patches decorated the back of his denim jacket. Was that Grumpy cat? His large hand rubbed at the purple wisps of hair at the nape of his neck. Denki thought his heart might explode.

 

“Woot woot!” 

 

Shinsou jumped slightly and turned to look back at him. His eyes crinkled in a small laugh. A crowd of con-goers swarmed between them. By the time the crowd cleared, he was gone.

 

———————————-

 

Denki tried and failed to focus on the presentation he was attending, “The Mythology of Twitch Plays Pokémon.” He purposely picked something goofy to accommodate his goldfish attention span. The con couldn’t end sooner. He’d originally been looking forward to it, but now it was just an irritating side quest getting in the way of his treasure. The treasure being a tall handsome man with lavender hair to die for and an out of date cat meme on his jacket. That patch had to have been Grumpy cat. For sure. He tapped his hand on his thigh nervously. It’d been only an hour since he talked to Shinsou. Shit, was it too soon to text him?

 

Fiddling with his phone, he paused over Shinsou’s number and instead tapped on his squad’s group chat.

 

Chargebolt: i got a question

 

ExplosionMurder: No.

 

Chargebolt: o come onnnn  ಥ_ಥ

 

RedRiot: What up bro?

 

AlienQueen: Boom boi is just pissed he lost the last round ಸ‿ಸ

 

ExplosionMurder: STFU  

 

Chargebolt: I met pure hotness and got their #  

 

RedRiot: sry Im already dating Katsuki ;)

 

AlienQueen: BARF (ᗒᗩᗕ)

 

Chargebolt: when is 2 soon 2 text?

 

JustSero: get itt deenki!

 

JustSero: smash dat pussy!!1! =^.^=

 

 Chargebolt: he doesn’t have 1 tho (*﹃*)

 

JustSero: smash dat dick!!! <==3

 

Chargebolt: thx for ur support bro ( ;ω;) ♥

 

ExplosionMurder: Smashing dick isn’t a thing dumbass. Fucking straight people.

 

Chargebolt: if u say so

 

Chargebolt: ur the pro ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

 

ExplosionMurder: WANT TO DIE?

 

Chargebolt: no i rly need help tho Ó╭╮Ò

 

RedRiot: That y ur freaking out? Cause its a dude? Been a while rite?

 

ExplosionMurder: Don’t be a coward Pikachu

 

Chargebolt: no not cuz of that! > ╭╮ <

 

AlienQueen: Did you get his # with one of ur terrible pick up lines?

 

Chargebolt: Nice pants baby. Whats the drop rate? ೭(ಸ ‿ ಸ)೨

 

AlienQueen: ur the worst. Disaster bi strikes again. =_=

 

Chargebolt: hater. rly tho. I didn’t. he just gave me his # and said we should hang out 2night.

 

ExplosionMurder: You’re a moron.

 

RedRiot: What he means is u got this. Ur golden bro. Just text him!

 

 

He wasn’t completely sure why he wasn’t telling his friends that “pure hotness” was the creator of the game that triggered his bi meltdown. They would freak out and he just couldn’t handle that kind of pressure. He lowered his phone and slowly filled his lungs with air. It was good that he was sitting at the back of the room, texting during a presentation was super rude. An image of Lord Helix was lit up on the presenter’s slide show and Denki chuckled. Luckily it wasn’t the most serious panel at the con, people in the room kept snickering and the presenter seemed to struggle at keeping a straight face.

 

It wasn’t typical for him to get so nervous about texting a guy. His friends were right, he totally had the green light. Here goes nothing. Very carefully he typed out a message, trying his best to use decent writing for once. He didn’t want to scare the guy off by being a dyslexic shit show. Thank Lord Helix for spell check.

 

I’m free now and after the con if you still want to meet up. ^-^

 

That was a perfectly normal message. He looked it over a few times and hit send. No big deal. The presenter was now discussing the importance of Dome Fossil for scapegoating the struggles of RED. His leg bounced in his seat. He glanced at his phone. No reply. Fuck.

 

He could not chill, nope nope nope. Trying his best to be discreet, he stood and slipped out to the hallway. His phone vibrated in his pocket and he pulled it out so fast it almost flew out of his hand. He fumbled for a moment and then saw the notification. His heart sank, it was just the group chat again. He plopped down against the wall with a pathetic groan. A girl walking by gave him a weird look. He really was a disaster bi.

 

He knew he shouldn’t do it, but he couldn’t help himself. He quickly tapped out another message.

 

I totes understand if you made other plans by now tho. No pressure. But yeah itd be cool to hang. Or whatever u want to do really. ( ^-^ )

 

He regretted it as soon as he hit send. Was there an undo button? Fuck. He even forgot to keep his grammar acceptable. He sounded like a dumb, desperate loser. He was in the middle of frantically googling how to unsend a text message when a notification popped up.

 

Shinbae: I’m still free. Almost done. Can you meet me at booth 37 around 4?

 

A grin split his face as he frantically typed out his response.

 

----------

 

“I’m not going to the after party with you guys.”

 

He made his announcement as Katsuki, Eijiro, and Mina finally joined him at his table. As professional competitive gamers, their schedules were completely packed during the con. Sero had to fly out to a different event and was absent. Denki was lucky any of them had time for a quick meal before his hot date. Was it a date? He hoped it was a date.

 

“What?! Don’t you dare condemn me to the third wheel!” Mina sputtered, pointing at the couple next to her. “These two will ignore me the whole night.”

 

Eijiro smiled sheepishly, “We won’t ignore you Mina. Anyway, now you can invite Jirou. She wanted to network for music projects.”

 

Denki scrunched his eyebrows, “You guys could have invited her anyway. I told you, we’re cool now. The breakup was ages ago.”

 

Katsuki looked up from his menu to roll his eyes, “Psh, yeah right. She hates your guts.”

 

Mina groaned, “I wanted someone to party with and we all know our boy Denki is the best dumb slut for the job.”

 

Denki cleared his throat in mock protest. “Excuse me, this dumb slut is going on a wholesome date. Well, I think it’s a date. I hope.”

 

“You hope? You don’t even know it’s a date?” Katsuki shook his head in disgust. “Fuckin’dunce.”

 

Denki’s last ounce of chill spiralled and died.

 

“He’s too cool for me. He’s not even on social media. I low key attempted internet stalking while waiting for you guys to show up and it’s like he’s a ghost. I could only find his amazing games and dry professional shit. What kind of too cool for school monster doesn’t have a Facebook account? I have an account on every social platform known to man. I’m doomed.”

 

Denki actually had a solid guess as to why Shinsou wouldn’t have a social media presence. He really didn’t like the implications. 

 

Katsuki rolled his eyes. “I didn’t have any of that social media crap until I was forced to for work shit. So the fuck what?”

 

“See?! Too cool for school. I couldn’t date Katsuki!” Denki dramatically clasped his heart.

 

“Fuck no you couldn’t.”

 

Luckily Eijiro took that moment to intervene. “Dude you got this. You’re a hugely popular game streamer, he’s at a gaming con, you have things in common. People love you. You date all the time. You’ll be fine.” He put a heavy hand on Denki’s shoulder.

 

“Aw bro…” He gushed, his eyes sparkling with appreciation.

 

“Bro.” Was the solemn reply.

 

“Plus!” Mina suddenly piped up. “If you bomb you can just join us at the after party.”

 

 

--------------------

 

The main exhibit hall was crowded and bustling full of people. Denki stood awkwardly at booth 37, double checking the number to be sure he was in the right place. Shinsou was nowhere to be seen. He tapped nervously on the table of the booth. The middle-aged man that was running the booth regarded him with an unimpressed expression. He had messy black hair, a strand fell into his face as he idly texted something on his phone. 

 

“You can at least try the demo if you’re going to loiter here,” he deadpanned, not bothering to look up from his phone. 

 

“Oh right, um of course.” 

 

He grabbed one of the VR headsets and strapped it over his face. He could hear the man at the booth sigh heavily as if Denki had just done him a great disservice. What a jerk. 

 

The game loaded and he instantly felt disoriented. His perspective shifted and a virtual bedroom towered around him. He lifted his hand and a small childlike hand followed his movements. Ah, the player character was a kid, that explained the low camera. 

 

The sound of a woman’s loud sobbing filled the speaker. Denki looked around frantically and the room swayed around him. He stopped moving to orient himself. The volume of the sobbing increased as the door to the room opened. A middle aged woman with a strained smile crossed the threshold. She loomed over him with a smile that didn’t match her eyes. 

 

“You’re going to be staying with a nice family for a few nights honey,” she murmured in a voice laced with pity. “Do you have a favorite stuffed animal?” 

 

“Where’s mama?” The response was high and shaking. 

 

Denki jolted when he left a small tap on his shoulder. “What the-“ he yanked off the headset with his heart pounding. “Oh.” 

 

Shinsou stood with his hands raised in front of him, his expression reproachful. “ I didn’t mean to startle you.” 

 

He laughed a little too loudly as his heart rate slowed down. “N-nah, you’re good man, no worries.” 

 

“Hope I didn’t make you wait too long,” Shinsou fiddled with the cuff of his jacket. 

 

Okay, that was a cute habit, Denki thought to himself. He was really cute.

 

“Oh no, not at all,” Denki beamed at him. “Anyway, I got to try out this weird game.” 

 

The corner of Shinsou’s lip twitched and he shoved his hands in his pockets. “It is an odd one isn’t it,” he agreed in a bemused voice.

 

“Yeah, it felt weird being small!” Denki nodded eagerly, glad to have a shared topic. “The crying and the lady creeped me out too, wonder if that was on purpose.” 

 

“Well you could just ask him,” the older man at the booth drawled. “It’s his game after all.” 

 

Denki’s eyes widened in horror. He just called his crush’s game weird, right to his face. Fuck . He swallowed and frantically tried to think of a good recovery. He nervously glanced over at Shinsou, but he wasn’t looking at him. He was glaring at the man at the booth. 

 

“Can you not?” Shinsou grumbled to the dark haired man, rolling his eyes. His gaze softened as he looked back at Denki. “Let’s walk around a bit huh?” 

 

Shinsou’s soft expression made his panic settle slightly. Maybe he didn’t mess up as bad as he’d thought. He grinned and wiped his sweaty palms on his pants. Be cool, he told himself. 

 

“Sure,” he said casually and fell into step with Shinsou. 

 

The exhibit hall was buzzing with excitement and people lined up to try out the more popular releases. A man was handing out free energy drinks. Denki leaned in a bit closer to talk, raising his voice. 

 

“I really hope I didn’t offend you before,” he said with a nervous grin. “I’m just not used to VR games, y’know?” 

 

Shinsou waved a hand in the air dismissively, “It’s an experimental VR experience, of course it’s weird,” he gave Denki a sideways glance. “Besides, maybe I like weird things.” 

 

Denki ducked his head to hide the stupid smile that split across his face. What was that supposed to mean? Was he flirting with him? 

 

“You’re hanging with the right guy then!” He quipped, puffing out his chest. 

 

Shinsou hummed to himself thoughtfully, “You’re saying the famous Chargebolt is weird? What a plot twist.” 

 

Denki walked with a bit more of a spring in his step. This definitely seemed like flirting. “You can call me Denki if you’d like,” he beamed. “All my friends do.” 

 

“Alright, call me Hitoshi then.” 

 

“Hitoshi.” 

 

His quippy reply was dampened by a crowd suddenly jostling past them to get free samples. He stumbled and felt an arm catch him, stabilizing him. Hitoshi had placed an arm around one of his shoulders, partly shielding him from the crowd. Denki took a deep breath through his nose. Shit, that was ridiculously hot, like something out of a manga. He’d never been so thankful for being a clumsy fuck. The moment was too fleeting.

 

“Careful there,” Hitoshi murmured and dropped his arm once the crowd cleared.

 

Denki cleared his throat, “Uh, do you wanna try a game demo?” He pointed haphazardly at the first demo he could see that wasn’t swarmed by people. “Maybe that one?” 

 

“Sure.” 

 

Denki’s heart sunk when he realized it was a retro fighting game, he sucked at those. He was sure it was a side effect of being friends with people who were absurdly talented at them. Getting repeatedly stomped just took the motivation out of his sails. He didn’t want to look like a total dumbass in front of his crush. 

 

“Just warning you, I really suck at these,” Denki laughed awkwardly as he picked up the controller. 

 

Hitoshi simply shrugged and picked a character from the selection screen. The match had hardly begun before Hitoshi accidentally spun his character off the battle arena and into the void below. Denki blinked in surprise. Each round after that spelled defeat for Hitoshi, half of the time from his own clumsy maneuvering. Denki was starting to feel bad for announcing that he sucked before, but the other man didn’t seem bothered by his own failures. He’d smirk in amusement each time he fumbled and ended up dead. 

 

“Try using the downward X button to block my attacks,” Denki offered helpfully. “Also, you can’t use your special move until the power bar there is fully charged.” 

 

Hitoshi practiced the block. “You picked up on the controls fast,” he mused. “I didn’t have games growing up, so I’m hopeless at these retro style ones.” 

 

“Why didn’t you?” He asked the question without thinking, “Most developers have been gaming since infancy.” 

 

A scowl crept across Hitoshi’s handsome face, his nose wrinkling in disgust. “Not everyone is so privileged to-”

 

He was cut off by an excited shriek behind them. “Ohmygod it’s Chargebolt! My total gamer crush!” 

 

Denki inwardly groaned, he didn’t have time for fans right now. His crush still had a scowl on his face and he had damage control to tend to. He fidgeted with the controller in his hands. Shit, maybe Hitoshi grew up poor. He must’ve seemed so insensitive to-  

 

“Can I have a selfie with you?” It was a group of young adults, holding up their phones expectantly. A few were already snapping pictures, not waiting for his response. Would they post them online? Would people recognize Hitoshi and connect the dots? He really just wanted them to go away, but he couldn’t really say no without seeming like a jerk. He felt trapped.

 

Hitoshi stood and made to move out of the way. “I should probably just let you...” he trailed off. 

 

Dammit . He couldn’t let things end like this, it still wasn’t even clear if this was a date or not. Throwing caution to the wind, he sprung up and snaked an arm around Hitoshi’s. He leaned slightly into the other man. 

 

“It’s a bit much in here, could we step outside?” He gazed up at Hitoshi with a hint of desperation.

 

His crush’s face transformed from surprise into comprehension. “No photos right now,” he said firmly to the fans. “He’s tired, we’re just heading out.” 

 

The bubbling anxiety that was growing inside him simmered. Somehow Hitoshi was able to quickly deduce how overwhelmed he’d been getting. Most people completely missed that side of him. They assumed he was always the happy go lucky extrovert, an attention whore. 

 

Hitoshi guided them towards the exit, ignoring the fans’ complaints at being deprived their photo opportunity. He leaned in and muttered so only Denki could hear, “Honestly, I hate crowds. I thought you’d never ask.” 

 

---------------

 

Once outside, Denki had the acute awareness that it was time for him to let go of Hitoshi’s arm. Without the crowds he didn’t have an excuse to cling onto him anymore. His amber eyes flicked over his surroundings. It was getting late and the sun had started to set. How much longer would they spend together? He felt like he was running out of time. He still wasn’t even sure if this was considered a date or not. It was safe to assume that Hitoshi was queer. After all, what kind of straight guy made a video game featuring a gay couple? He seemed flirty and receptive to touch, but was that enough? Denki licked his lips nervously, maybe he was just having hopeful thinking. There was no guarantee that Hitoshi was into him. He thought over the pep talk Eijiro had given him earlier that day. “Dude you got this.” Eijiro was right, he had this. He wasn’t a coward. 

 

Taking a deep breath, Denki loosened his hold on the other man’s arm and tentatively entwined their hands together instead. “Is this alright?” He smiled at their joined hands with uncharacteristic shyness. 

 

His hand was given a soft squeeze as Hitoshi nodded, “Well yeah, but can I ask you something potentially awkward?” 

 

A strange response, but it certainly could be much worse. He’d take that as a win.

 

“I speak awkward fluently,” he giggled breathlessly in reply. “Go for it.” 

 

They continued walking, approaching the park across the street from the convention center. The streetlights were starting to flicker on. 

 

“Why didn’t you respond when I reached out?” He seemed to be avoiding Denki’s gaze, carefully studying the trees. “You said the creators of Mind Defibrillator should hit you up, but you never replied.” 

 

Denki’s eyes widened. “Wait you messaged me? No way! I never saw that,” he half shouted into the night. 

 

“I sent you an email.” 

 

“Oh, shit. I hardly ever check that… I’m sorry I figured you’d hit me up on social media or something.” 

 

The wind ruffled Hitoshi’s lavender locks and a few leaves swirled around them. He was frowning.

 

“I had to delete all my social media accounts,” he muttered gruffly. “I figured you’d know that.” 

 

Denki chewed his lip anxiously. He knew people had given Shinsou a hard time, but that’s why he made that video telling them to cut it out. What more could he have done? Obviously he didn’t do enough. Why didn’t he check his email more carefully? Guilt clawed at his insides. 

 

“Was it really that bad?” he mumbled. “I thought people might cut it out after I scolded them.” 

 

Hitoshi shook his head with a sardonic smile, “I was getting flooded with messages, most of my inboxes were full.” He kicked at a pebble on the ground and it skid off into the bushes. “It wasn’t just hate messages, it was supportive ones too. It was too much at once, I’m not used to all that attention.” 

 

A horrible thought settled into Denki that made his chest tight, “Wait the doxxing didn’t out you to your family and stuff right?” He didn’t know why he never thought of that before. He was so caught up in his own coming out drama, he’d never even considered it. He gave the hand entwined in his own a nervous squeeze. “Did they already know you’re gay?” 

 

Hitoshi gave him a scrutinizing glance and sighed heavily. He gazed up into the sky. “I don’t have parents, not really. I have a mentor who keeps an eye on me now that I’m out of the system.” He suddenly sounded very exhausted, “Don’t look at me like that.” 

 

“What? You aren’t even looking at me!” Denki squeaked in protest. Was he really so easy to read?

 

“I can feel your sad puppy dog eyes radiating next to me,” he grumbled. “By the way, just because I made a gay game doesn’t mean I’m gay.” 

 

Denki’s mouth fell open in horror, “But, but, you and I are, we-” 

 

A sly grin crept across the taller man’s face, “I mean I am, but the point stands.” 

 

Denki could only stare dumbfounded at him before letting out a bark of laughter. “You’re a butthead,” he playfully nudged his side. “I freaked out for a second there.” 

 

Hitoshi just smirked, “I know.”

 

The sun had fully set at that point and the sky was peppered with stars. Almost no one else wandered the park, just a few people walking their dogs. Denki shivered slightly and tugged them towards a park bench. The taller man obediently followed and sat beside him, their hands still locked together. It was a sweet peaceful moment, but the silence filled him with pulsing anxiety. It was just screaming at him to ruin it. He fidgeted his fingers against Hitoshi’s, seeking some sort of comforting friction. 

 

“I really feel horrible about the doxxing,” he rambled. “Honestly I kind of expected you to hate me because of it.” 

 

A moment of silence passed between them and Hitoshi stared at him with his intense violet eyes. There was a fierceness to his gaze, like he was trying to read the blonde’s mind. Denki shivered and leaned closer to the other man, seeking warmth. Hitoshi shook his head as if snapping out of a daze and released his hand, putting an arm around him instead. His hand lightly rubbed up and down Denki’s arm, warming him.

 

“You clearly don’t realize this, but your stream is what put me on the map,” he gave Denki a light squeeze. “That stupid gay awakening challenge made sales skyrocket. It’s against the rules of karmic justice for me to hate you.”

 

“Oh god, you’ve seen the video where I flaunt what a disaster I am?” He felt his cheeks warm up and fought the urge to hide. “Ugh, of course you’ve seen it, it’s your game.” 

 

Hitoshi shook his head, “Disaster? Do you know what it’s like to have someone react that way to something you made? It was- it was…”

 

“Cringey. I’m really sorry about that.”

 

“Why the hell are you apologizing? You’re not understanding at all,” frustration was laced in Hitoshi’s every word. He turned so they were facing, almost nose to nose. Denki felt his heart speed up and unconsciously parted his lips. Hitoshi’s long thin fingers traced along his jawline and stopped to cup his face. 

 

“It was the most beautiful fucking thing I’ve ever seen.”  

 

He wasn’t sure who leaned in first, but their lips locked and he felt dizzy with the connection. They kissed gently at first, mouths moving carefully against each other. Then his tongue traced along his bottom lip and fervent longing filled him. Denki knotted his hands in Hitoshi’s shirt, pulling them closer together. His tongue slipped inside his mouth, gentle but demanding. He groaned softly, low in his throat. He needed more contact, more friction, it was like they could meld together and it would never be enough.

 

It felt more right than any kiss he’d ever had, it was euphoric. It was as if all of his troubles and doubts just blurred beyond recognition. It seemed absurd that he’d ever considered staying in the closet. How could he pretend to be straight if it meant he couldn’t do this? He threaded his fingers in Hitoshi’s soft hair. He’d wanted this for so long. They parted for breath, both of them panting and their foreheads pressed together. 

 

“I want more,” he whispered. 

 

Their lips locked again and at that moment in the park, he was ecstatic to be his true self.