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Shinada was immediately suspicious when he walked into the classroom. Two of his friends were crowding his desk, whispering excitedly, then glanced up as he came in.

“Oh, there he is!” Sasaki chuckled, smirking slightly as he sat on his own desk, arms crossed, “Mister Popular!”

“Yeesh, look! He’s got more already,” Okada said, nodding at the small bag of candy he was already eating from.

Shinada let out a small laugh, only slightly nervous. What the hell were they talking about?
“It’s giri-choco from Aoki-chan. She got it for everyone in class, she even told me that as she gave it. Her dad runs a store or something, not exactly going out of her way.”

He then blinked, noticing what they’d been staring at. On his desk, there was a box and a card.
“What the hell?” he muttered, setting the other candy aside to sit down and inspect the gift.

He pushed the card aside from a moment to open the box, untying the small bit of pink ribbon keeping it secured and taking off the lid. Inside were some chocolates in the shape of small hearts, sitting on top of a few sugar cookies.

Shinada felt his cheeks start to blush, staring at the contents. “These are handmade. They have to be.”

Sasaki jabbed him in the back, scoffing loudly.

“You think Chihiro-chan still likes you?” he asked teasingly, propping his feet up on Shinada’s chair.

At this, Shinada blushed more, this time in irritation, shoving Sasaki’s feet from the back of his chair. “Not cool dude, you know she broke up with me before we started high school,” he grumbled, slumping his cheek against his fist, “You know she wouldn’t go to this effort.”

He stared at the treats again, letting out a small hm. They did look pretty damn good.

He licked his lips and took one of the chocolates, popping it into his mouth. Chewing slowly, he raised his brows. There was a small hint of strawberry there – one of his favourite flavours. Delighted by this, he started eating another as he went to look at the card.

“This must mean you have a secret admirer, right?” Okada said, hiding a giggle behind his hand.

Shinada narrowed his eyes, stuffing another chocolate in his mouth. “Hm. I guess.”

The image on the front of the card was rather generic for the season, a cute chibi illustration of a boy holding several heart shaped balloons, made from some glittery paper. Inside, the message was contained in a shaky red heart, though written carefully in incredibly neat handwriting.

Tatsuo Shinada

Happy Valentine’s Day

I don’t think you’ll guess who I am,

But I want you to know I think you’re very cute.

Enjoy the candy and cookies. Good luck on your next game. I’ll be rooting for you!

Love

?

<3

“Jeez…” Shinada ate another of the chocolates, then paused, unable to stop smiling to himself. Whoever this was, they were certainly very sweet. And the fact that they knew he’d love to have strawberry flavoured chocolates was even better. They clearly knew him well…

“Oiii, did you see anything Dojima?”

Shinada glanced up to his right, already munching on one of the cookies. He hadn’t even noticed Daigo there, he was always so quiet, but the other boy practically leapt from his seat at the even mild acknowledgement of his existence, nearly throwing the book he’d been reading across the room.

“Uh, huh? Wh-what?”

Okada rolled his eyes with a loud sigh. “Did you see which girl left this stuff for Shinada-kun? You’re always here early.”

Daigo frowned, corners of his mouth tugging down, as a slight pinkness covered his cheeks, before he shook his head. “Uh. No idea. Sorry. That stuff was on his desk when I got here.”
“I bet it’s Sano-chan,” Sasaki said, crossing his arms confidently, “She’s always giving you looks lately.”

“Can’t help being so handsome, can I?” Shinada chuckled, tossing his hair back slightly, but he went back to looking at the card almost immediately, finger slowly tracing the shape of his name. It didn’t look like it would be Sano’s handwriting at all, really…
He looked over at Daigo quickly, expecting to be met with his signature scowl from being so quickly dismissed, but instead he was smiling a little, or at least trying to. There was a flash of his top row of teeth as the corner of his mouth quirked up, his cheeks still pink for whatever reason as he went back to reading. Such a soft expression Shinada wasn’t quite used to seeing on him.

Heh. Cutie was a thought that flashed through his mind.
He then frowned for a second. Huh? Cutie?

That…was an unexpected kind of thought. It’s not like it was wrong, Daigo was pretty cute, awkward smile and all.

Shinada looked away and brushed crumbs from his uniform. Cute…

More of the class started filing in now, including Aoki, who set the small cellophane bags of candy and chocolate on the desks of the students she hadn’t ran into yet.

She paused in front of Daigo, who’d gone back to reading his book, pulling a face at her empty hands. He lowered the book for a moment, raising his brow.

“What?”
“Um…” Aoki glanced around quickly, noticing her friends giving her looks. “Sorry, Dojima-kun. I…forgot how many people were in class and ran out.”

Daigo looked at the ceiling, huffed loudly, then started to read again. “Whatever. It’s fine.”

Shinada watched as Aoki rolled her eyes with a slight sneer, going off to her own seat. He then looked down at his own desk, humming slightly. He’d finished off the candy Aoki had given out, but still had some left from whoever his secret admirer had been…

Gulping slightly, he reached over to tap Daigo’s shoulder. Again, he jumped, raising his fists up but relaxing immediately.

“Something wrong?”

Shinada flashed a small grin, holding out the gift box and giving it a shake. “You uh…want some?”

Daigo blinked, narrowing his eyes. “Why? Is there something wrong with them?”

“Not as far as I can tell!” Shinada chuckled, trailing off when Daigo didn’t join in, “Just, you know, I’ve had a lot, and my mom would be so annoyed if she found out I’d eaten all these sweets before school. And…”
He shrugged, gesturing towards Aoki with his head. “You know…”

Daigo followed the gesture and sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “It’s fine, I don’t mind…”

“No, c’mon!” Shinada shook the box again. “Go ahead. They’re really tasty! Whoever made them did great.”

Daigo’s cheeks went pink again, and that thought of cutie flashed through Shinada’s brain again, starting to blush himself. Regardless, Daigo reached out and took one of the chocolates, doing that awkward smile again as he bit into it.
“Well. Thanks.”

Shinada smiled back, scratching his cheek. “No problem Dojima-kun…”

Their homeroom teacher walked in and cut off any more conversation they could have had. Shinada did keep glancing at Daigo out the corner of his eyes, biting his bottom lip slightly as he felt some fluttering in his stomach. He could rarely focus in class anyway, but right now his mind was buzzing.

There was only one reason he’d have a fluttery stomach and keep thinking someone else was cute…

Later on, after class whilst he was walking to his locker, Okada came up and punched Shinada on the shoulder, raising a brow. “Why’d you share with Dojima?”

Shinada squeaked, raising his hands to his chest. “Why does it matter? I had a lot of candy, and he didn’t get any. Didn’t feel fair.”

“Yeah but he’s...” Okada shrugged. “I dunno. Weird.”

“I just gave him a piece of candy.” Shinada got his lunch out of his locker, scoffing. “That’s all.”

But…was it?

***

 “How do you manage to do it?”

Shinada rolled his eyes, taking the card taped to his locker. “It’s not like I have a skill for it!”

He crouched down to pick up the box, heart fluttering for a moment. He already knew what to expect as he pulled the ribbon off, remembering the previous Valentine’s Day.

“Why’d they leave it here?” Okada asked.

“Maybe we’re not in the same class anymore? They did mix us around from first year.”

“I still think it’s Sano-chan,” Sasaki said confidently, nodding as he peered over Shinada’s shoulder.

“She moved to Kamuro Tech over winter break.”

The three frowned and turned. Daigo stood behind them, and flinched, stuffing his bag into his own locker. Shinada noticed a bruise on his cheek, his knuckles scuffed and gave a small smile. Despite being top of the year, Daigo always seemed to be getting into fights, especially lately.

“He has a point,” Shinada said, licking his lips at the box’s contents – the same heart shaped chocolates and sugar cookies as last year. “Unless she came here super early right as the building got opened, it’s someone who still goes here.”

He took care running his finger over the seal of the envelope, before opening it to take the card out. This year, the design on the front was an illustration of a cat and a dog holding flowers and surrounded by hearts.

Tatsuo Shinada,

Happy Valentine’s Day

You’re still incredibly cute. I’m sad we can’t be in the same class anymore so I can’t see you as much.

I hope you enjoy my gift as much as you did last year.

I’m still rooting for you every game! You’re bound to get scouted at Koshien.

Love

?

<3

“Any hints?”

“Nah. Nothing new. Only they’re in a different class, like you said.” Shinada shrugged, popping one of the chocolates into his mouth before putting the gift box and card into his locker. “You guys are obsessed. Let me just have this secret admirer, okay? They’re just shy…”

***

Shinada got excited for Valentine’s Day in his third year. Actually excited, fluttering in his stomach like always. His secret admirer had been consistent so far, why stop now? Maybe they’d actually confess this year, leave an extra note saying to meet behind the building after school ended, like those comics he’d sometimes read.

He took a quick pause, psyching himself up a tad before approaching his locker, but as he turned the corner...

“Oh.”

There was nothing there. No box or card.

That wasn’t exactly a bad thing. Maybe it was left in class like first year. But again, once he got to his desk, it was empty.

“…oh.”

He sat in his chair with a heavy sigh, leaning against his palm. Did his secret admirer not like him anymore? Or had they moved? Quietly he hoped it was more to do with the latter than the former.

He didn’t think it would bother him that much, but it ended up distracting him for the rest of the day. Maybe it was the lack of attention, but it even threw him off his game during baseball practise after school.

“Oi! Shinada! Focus!” the coach yelled as he missed another ball flying past him.

“S-sorry sir!”
He eventually managed a hit, dashing through each base and back to the bench with his head low, slumping back heavily.

“You okay dude?” Sasaki asked, giving him a small shove on the shoulder.

“Yeah, just…thinking about stuff.”

“That’s dangerous for you, Shinada,” someone scoffed, and he forced himself to laugh along.

He still kept thinking about it, even as they were doing some cool down exercises, when…

“Hey, you remember Dojima?”

Shinada’s heart fluttered at the mention of his name. It…had been a while since he thought of him. Or saw him around school. Like he’d vanished.

“Oh yeahhh,” someone said, “What happened to him?”

“Knowing him, probably beat up a teacher and got expelled or something.”

A few of the other boys laughed at that. Shinada managed a half-hearted chuckle.

The same guy that had mocked him earlier sneered, stretching out his back. “Honestly, good riddance, the fucking-“
Shinada pretended not to hear that last part. Remembered why he never thought about Daigo like he once had.

When he got home that evening, he rummaged through various drawers and shelves, full of schoolwork and books he never managed to throw out or organise, until he found the two previous Valentine’s cards.

He fell back onto his bed, opening one up and tracing the heart drawn within, rereading the message.

“Hope you’re okay, wherever you are,” he mumbled, tapping the small question mark.

***

Shinada grinned, biting into another chocolate covered strawberry and chuckling smugly to himself as he snuggled closer on Daigo’s lap.

“These are sooo good,” he moaned, licking his fingertips as he reached for another.

Daigo grinned, taking the strawberry from him and hovering it just above his mouth.

“Not too many more now, my love,” he said softly, rubbing under Shinada’s chin as he swayed the treat back and forth, “Don’t want to spoil your appetite for dinner.”

“You know that’s impossible,” Shinada said with a wink, before the strawberry was stuffed in his mouth.

He chuckled as he chewed, tilting his head back more as Daigo started to gently play with his hair.

“Well, that’s not all I got you, you know…”

“Oooh?”

Daigo reached over to his suitcase, taking out a small tin and setting it on Shinada’s middle. Shinada tilted his head curiously, licking chocolate from his lips, before opening the tin.

“Ahh! Cookies!”

“I hope they’re alright,” Daigo said, rubbing the back of his neck, suddenly shy, “They’re the only thing I know how to bake, and I haven’t made them in…”
He trailed off, letting out an odd nervous sound. “Shit, twenty years, I guess?”

“You made these?!” Shinada cried, having already started eating one of the cookies, spraying crumbs as he spoke. He swallowed his mouthful, admiring them in their tin again before finishing his current one off.

“Do they…taste good at least?” Daigo asked slowly, playing with Shinada’s hair again, “Like I said, it’s been a while…”

“Of course they do! They taste amazing.” Shinada sat up a little more, wiping crumbs from his lips. “I haven’t had cookies like this since high school! Haven’t really had a Valentine since high school either, hah…”

He paused suddenly, snapping his fingers. “Oh! That reminds me. Lemme show you something.”

He scrambled over to his shelves, muttering under his breath as he lifted a few containers and books until he found what he was looking for – an envelope, the pink paper it was made of a little dulled with age.

Daigo swallowed as Shinada sat opposite him with a bump, taking out the card that was inside.

“I was trying to find some batteries, but I found this instead!”

Daigo kept staring, starting to blush. “Uhh, what is it?”

“Valentine’s card I got in high school. Like I said, haven’t really had one since.”

Shinada opened it, starting to grin a little dopily as he pointed at the message. “Two years running, I got a gift and card from a secret admirer. I know it’s kinda dorky, but I remember being so touched. Never figured out who, or why I didn’t get anything senior year…”
His pupils dilated for a moment before his eyes snapped up, throwing the card in Daigo’s face. “You!

“Obviously…” Daigo blushed more, rubbing his forehead where the card hit him. “Who else would have?”

Shinada let out an excited squeak, hands bunching up to his face. “Ahhh, Daigo-kuuun~!”
“Oh, Tatsuo, no-“

Before he could finish, Shinada had already dived forward, pushing Daigo to his back and nuzzling against his neck.

“Urgh…Tatsuo…”

“I forgot you fell in love with me at first sight.” He framed his chin with both hands, fluttering his eyelashes. “I mean, why wouldn’t you?”

“Oh, shut up…”

“Seriously though, I never got to thank you then so…thank you.” Shinada was blushing now, pressing a kiss between Daigo’s brows. “It meant a lot to me. I can’t believe you made me those though. What did your parents think, seeing you making those for Valentine’s Day?”

“No idea,” Daigo mumbled. He grabbed Shinada’s shoulders and without much protest, managed to wrestle him underneath instead, pinning him down with a smirk. “They never found out. I made them over Kiryu-san’s place and hid them in my schoolbag.”

“Still.” Shinada covered his mouth as he let out a mocking giggle. “I can’t imagine sixteen-year-old you, of all people, making cute little chocolates and baking cookies. You were a real romantic baby yakuza, weren’t you?”

“Mm, somewhere under all that repression.” Daigo trailed off his sentence with a growl, pressing a small kiss against Shinada’s lips. “You know in second year? I was waiting around the corner for you to arrive and open it, so I could see how happy it made you.”

“Heh. You lil’ creeper,” he said with a wink, which got him a tap on the nose. He glanced away, scratching his temple with a weak smile. “You wanna know something?”

Daigo rolled his eyes, expecting more teasing. “What?”

“…the first time you did it was the first time I really noticed you.” He started to blush, avoiding eye contact and staring at the wall instead. “First time I ever really realised I had noticed you, if that makes sense.”

He kept smiling as he finally managed to look back, holding either side of Daigo’s face. “Wish I wasn’t such a coward and just spoke to you more.”

“Not like I was any braver. Giving you anonymous gifts and staring dreamily at you from the stands at your baseball games for two years.” Daigo smiled, one of his rare genuine and un-awkward looking ones, loosening the pressure he was using to hold Shinada down and leaning in to give another kiss. “I think our teenage selves would be very happy to see us now, don’t you?”

 “Oh, trust me, baby Tatsuo would be ecstatic with our relationship, lemme tell you,” Shinada said with a wicked little smirk, which earned him another hard tap on the nose, “Oww…heh. Love you Daigo-kun.”

“Love you too, darling.”