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December First. The start of winter and four days till Akaashi’s Birthday in which, to him, was nothing more than an ordinary day. He was never one to make a big deal out of it except for those days back at Fukurodani when his team insisted but otherwise, he wasn’t one to celebrate. Dodging countless invites and continuing to do so at present. 

For some reason, there was an exception this year. Miya Osamu had texted him just now, telling him to either take a half day off or take a leave from work entirely on the fourth. As Akaashi read on, it felt like a demand. An insistence, if you will, rather than suggestive. He shouldn’t have expected anything less though since he’s known the owner of Onigiri Miya long enough to understand that when he wants something, he gets it. He’s emphasized it in the stories he shared of him and his twin, and today was no less. And so, Akaashi had no choice but to oblige but since it took him awhile to respond, Osamu took the liberty to send succeeding messages indicating that he knew he was hesitating and that he would have none of that.

Akaashi Keiji was going to celebrate his birthday for the first time in a long time, care of Miya Osamu who practically had given him no choice but to do so.  

December Fourth. Akaashi had opted to take a half day instead of a leave which Osamu found typical of him to do so. Akaashi breezed through his deadlines, finding it quite odd actually that he had his to do list done considering December usually was the busiest time of the month with end of the year initiatives and tasks to get done. His brows furrowed at his computer as he went through his list once, twice, thrice, to make sure if he had missed anything. But alas, there was none. All boxes were ticked and what was left to do was wait for revisions he had submitted to come back to him for the final rundowns.

When the time finally came, he shut off his computer and said his goodbyes to his colleagues. Tenma-san, specifically, gave him a well-known look that completely translated as a tease to Akaashi which he purposely ignored before heading home to his apartment.

Other than the time and place of meeting, Osamu had not given any clues as to where he was taking him. Akaashi had tried to pry even the tiniest bit of information but the other just wouldn’t give. He knows this much though—they were not spending it in Tokyo.

Akaashi sported a brown comfy knit sweater that was a size larger than his usual and black pants. To top it off, he had a blue winter coat and a scarf in christmas colors knitted by his mother that was wrapped around his neck. He was very bundled up to say the least. With having enough time to spare before meeting Osamu at the train station, he took it upon himself to walk around the city.

Despite the freezing temperature, Akaashi deemed winter as one of the warmest seasons by far. In the sense that the most trivial matters tend to become more precious. The extra comfort from a warm drink the moment it reaches your fingertips, seeping slowly within. Recognising someone’s face even when bundled up and the only distinguishing features are the eyes and nose that peek out. Buying presents for those that you hold dear and going the extra mile to add another thing for the simple reason of hey, I thought of you when I saw this . Wrapping each individual gift and making sure the present looked pretty enough that would instill the hunger to unwrap once received. Those little things.

Akaashi walked through Tokyo, passing by store windows that were decorated in different christmas ornaments and flaunting festive sales and packages to lure people in. He ponders about the list of people he needs to give gifts to: His parents, his former volleyball teammates, Tenma-san, Bokutu-san and Myaa-sam. Hm. Wonder what he’d want for Christmas? Would kitchen appliances be too obvious? He surely would receive those from most of his loved ones. Then, what if something that he can do whilst he isn’t working? Though, I’m not even sure of what he’d like to do in his spare time. He did mention playing video games and watching movies but doesn’t that seem too simple? 

And there Akaashi went off again—overthinking. As he continues to walk with no direction, he tries to take inspiration from the stalls set out, the items displayed and the discussions he hears off of people to find the right gift for Osamu, the one person he was not confident in giving. With all of these thoughts, time had flown by and it was time to head on over to the train station. Maybe the place where they’re headed can give him a pair of fresh things to look over or, he could simply ask Osamu what he would like.

Akaashi arrived a few minutes earlier than the meeting time. His hands already felt the drop in temperature as the night settled in. He felt like his fingers were turning into icicles and the possibility of them falling off if he doesn’t purchase a warm cup of coffee would turn at least 80% max . He was about to message Osamu that he would do so until he saw the silhouette of the other running towards him.

Osamu was wearing a black winter jacket where the hoodie had grey fur surrounding it. Over it was a dark blue denim jacket and grey sweats to finish it all off. He had a backpack slung at his back and a scarf around his neck, though it was much simpler than Akaashi’s christmas themed one. It was plain brown. Not festive at all.

“Yer ere’ early! Looks like yer more excited than ya think” Osamu says quite breathlessly.

“I -” Akaashi cleared his throat, cheeks flushed in red but thanks to the cold, it’s a normal reaction on the face. Or was it? “... I prefer to be early or on time when it comes to activities that have a set time to meet, Myaa-sam.”

“Ya make this sound like an obligation rather than a celebration.”

“I don’t mean for it to be. I just don’t see the need to celebrate my birthday, let alone welcome it.”

“Well. Allow me ta’ change yer mind.” Osamu straightened his posture. His breathing less ragged as he finally regained the oxygen he lost from sprinting. “By the first thing tomorrow, yer gunna’ have a wide smile on yer face and you’ll tell me that ya enjoyed.”

Osamu had this genuine smile on his face albeit Akaashi sensed the smugness interlaced in his words. He couldn’t help but feel endeared by it though. Without even realizing, his own lips mimicked the smile of the man before him. “I look forward to it then.”

There was a pause. A silent comfortable beat that lingered between the two as they stood outside the train station under the moonlit sky. The weather was kind to them for today’s adventure when usually, winter didn’t mean the end of rain. Since, at most times, Japan’s worst storms occur around this time of the year. But today it seems that whatever entity was on Osamu’s side and he wouldn’t say it aloud but for Akaashi too. 

“So, where are we going?” 

Osamu fished out from his pockets two train tickets and waved it in the eye's view, announcing quite proudly. “We’re going to Hakone.” He didn’t let Akaashi respond to it though. He can do that later when they are seated but for now, Osamu let his fingers wrap around Akaashi’s wrist and tugged him along to the platform.

Right on time, due to Osamu’s hastiness, they were one of the first few on board. They had both taken window seats, sitting opposite each other with Akaashi facing forward and Osamu facing backwards to the direction of where they were headed.

“Is there a specific reason as to why you chose Hakone?” Curiosity got the best of him. Akaashi asked the minute they had taken off their jackets and left it neatly folded at the vacant seats beside them.

Osamu first and foremost, smiled. There was a faint pink blush that slowly faded from his cheeks and Akaashi wondered if it was the winter’s doing or an actual reaction. Was he embarrassed? Or shy? “Because I wanted ta’ take ya away from the city, from the people.”

Akaashi raised his brow at that. “But Hakone’s a tourist destination?”

“Right. But it surely ain’t gonna be as crowded as Tokyo’s gunna be. At least, at this exact date of the year.” Osamu’s hand lifted up to rub the back of his nape, eyes refusing to meet Akaashi’s as it settled on the corner of the window. “I know how ya’d prefer not ta’ make a big deal out of yer day. But I also know that ya like scenic views, nature and traditional stuff. So, I figured I’d give ya all three in Hakone.”

Akaashi sat there dumbfounded, thinking about when he had mentioned those things to Osamu but came out blank. Too stunned and lost in thought, Akaashi spoke what was in his mind without intending to. “But I never-”

“Never mentioned?” Osamu shrugged his shoulders. Hand coming back down to rest at the table. “Didn’t have to. Guess I just know ya that well.”

The travel time was at least an hour and a few minutes. In that time frame, Osamu and Akaashi had exchanged stories about their December traditions. 

Ever since moving out to live on their own, the twins promised their folks, particularly their mother, that on festive days, if work permitted, they would spend it at home. Last year, Atsumu and Osamu spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with them. Osamu mentioned that he missed his Ma’s cooking. Nothing could ever beat it even if he probably cooked better than her already. A mother’s cookin’ is always different, he’d say and Akaashi agreed. Work was extra hectic and unfortunately, he had to stay at his place for the festivities rather than spend it with his family. His mother however had sent food over and although it would have been better if he had eaten it with them, it still tasted every bit of home.

“Things are looking different this year though.” Akaashi started whilst his fingers drummed against the flat surface. “I finished my work quite early today. That never happens.”

“Looks like things are lookin’ out great for ya this holiday season.” Osamu half-raised his fists in excitement whilst the automated announcement echoed in the train to announce their arrival at their destination. “Let’s keep it goin’ then, shall we?”

Akaashi gave Osamu an unspoken agreement to his claim. Osamu didn’t need to hear a response anyways since the smile he had shown was more than enough for him to grasp that he was hopeful for a better winter. Akaashi didn’t know what Osamu had planned for the night and the welcoming of his birthday. He was nervous but at the same time looking forward to it. Something new wouldn’t hurt, right?

Hakone was breathtaking. It had always been one of the places to visit in Japan and while this was a known fact, seeing and experiencing it for yourself is another thing entirely especially during winter. The town was beautifully decorated with festive decorations but it wasn’t as grand compared to the city. It was more of an accent to the traditional buildings that stood out on its own. Christmas lights were hung at every surface however they weren’t turned on. It was the street lamps that lit up the town and he wonders why that is so.

In Tokyo, the city being urbanized had limited trees but at Hakone, it was thriving albeit it being bare. Akaashi imagined how pretty this place would be during spring to which he takes note to visit again if time permitted. Nature was something Akaashi easily grew to love. It gave him that moment of serenity amidst the hectic deadlines he endures each week. Whether it was the soft blows of the wind that lets leaves float by, the prickly feeling of grass at his fingertips or the blossoms of each flora; it was his moment of his peace. Hakone gave him that. Akaashi was completely enthralled.

Akaashi took a few more minutes to gawk at the sight before Osamu playfully nudged his arm. “Hakone isn’t gunna explore itself, ya know.” 

He blushed at that, thankful for the scarf that he can sink himself into. “I-sorry. Where to?”

The tease completely backfired on Osamu considering he found the sight of Akaashi being caught red-handed in admiring the view, the most precious thing he’s seen yet. He tore his eyes away from him and stretched out his hand to point at the Christmas market before them.

“We can start there and make our way around. Snacks first though, I’m hungry.” 

The Christmas stalls in Hakone were quaint. It was complementary to the vibe of the town. Each one was different. From food, drinks, tiny trinkets to possible christmas gifts and Osamu and Akaashi visited each one.

First stop were the food stalls. There was an array of sweet and savory treats to choose from but one thing common to be seen was a traditional Japanese Christmas strawberry cake. Akaashi remembered how his mother would bake it herself as well every time December rolled in and Osamu agreed that his ma’ would too as well. He even shared that he was in charge of mixing the batter but as he grew older, he was delegated to do other jobs while Tsumu was still left to taste testing and or licking the remains on the kitchen appliances.

As they continued to go through each stall, Akaashi thought that if he had to explain what Osamu looked like in this moment, it would be an exact representation of a child seeing their present under a tree, all giddy and excited. He won’t lie though, he too was itching to try each one and lucky for him, his companion had an appetite that would enable him to do so.

They started with takoyaki, nothing grand, nothing special. But the vendor simply cooked it to perfection that Osamu had quite literally dragged Akaashi on over. They were fried to golden perfection, glistening and crispy, filled with pieces of octopus, tenkasu (tempura scraps), benishoga (pickled ginger) and spring onion and slathered with a savory brown mayonnaise sauce made with aonori (dried seaweed) and katsuobushi (dried bonito fish flakes). The aroma was too divine to ignore.

Osamu was the first to dig in and Akaashi looked at him expectantly. Osamu blew a few times on his piece before popping it into his mouth. His face scrunched momentarily as if completely digesting the different flavors of each ingredient, waiting for it to melt in his mouth and once he swallowed, his eyes lit up like christmas lights. 

“Ya have ta’ try this!” Osamu placed their snack on the little table the stall had offered and picked up a piece where he deemed was the best looking one. Before giving the takoyaki though, Osamu blew on the piece to cool it down. His hand, steady below the snack to make sure it wouldn’t fall before slowly offering it to Akaashi.

In the middle of all this, Akaashi had his arms flailing, words of protest slipping out of his lips, saying that he could take a piece for himself but Osamu insisted and in the end, with a slight flush in his cheeks, he parted his lips and Osamu popped the piece into his mouth. Akaashi chewed, cheeks full with the round delicacy and soon enough, he understood why the other lit up with quite the joy. It was delicious. 

It’s true what they say about food and the ability it has to lift up one’s spirits. The takoyaki had both Osamu and Akaashi smiling from ear to ear. After which, they moved on next to a snack that would fill them up a bit more and a few stalls away was the familiar sizzling sound of yakisoba . Again, they purchased only one to share. This time, Akaashi was able to grab his own set of chopsticks much to Osamu’s dismay though it didn’t last long considering he was swept away with the deep savory flavors of the wheat noodles made with pork, cabbage and onions.

There was a small warm feeling that started to brew in Akaashi’s stomach as the night progressed. He was sure it wasn’t from the food he had eaten or the fondness of their discussions of how it tasted right after but rather it was from who he shared it with. Sure, they had lunches and dinners together prior to tonight but this was the first time they actually shared a meal together, let alone, Osamu feeding him as well. It felt new to Akaashi, igniting a courage in him that he didn’t even know existed and so when he had purchased some yakitori , it was him this time who wanted to feed Osamu.

Osamu’s eyes widened at the sight, being caught surprised by the action only for his features to soften afterwards at Akaashi offering the yakitori to him. Akaashi’s lips parted into an “ah” shape to nudge the other to do the same. god, he was cute, Osamu thought there was no way he was going to let this chance slip by. Osamu’s lips parted as instructed and after, he enclosed his lips on the chicken skewers, taking a piece and saving some for Akaashi to try. As he was munching, he urged the other to bite onto it so they could say their peace both at the same time.

“Nothing spectacular but I think it tasted better cause it was you who had fed it to me.”

Akaashi, who was in the middle of drinking water, started to choke as it slipped down the wrong pipe. Osamu, freaked out, started patting and rubbing Akaashi’s back until he had regained composure only for them both to fall into fits of laughter seconds later.

As soon as their laughs had died down, there was a pause. It was comfortable. It felt silly and at the same time it didn’t. It felt fun, so much fun. It was the kind that felt freeing. 

Osamu was first to break the silence. “Think that’s a sign that we’ve had enough meals, don’t ya think?” 

“Oh? Is Miya Osamu actually done with eating meals for today?” Akaashi was a lot more playful than when the day had started. It caught Osamu off guard even. Akaashi wasn’t sure where this new energy had come from, along with the still unknown warmth in his stomach but whatever it was, he welcomed it.

“I-. Hey! What’s that supposed ta’ mean!” Osamu said, despite knowing what Akaashi meant. His mind was too much in disarray to think of a rebuttal.

Akaashi couldn’t help but stifle a laugh. Not too loud but not too soft either. It was a whole new sound that slipped out of his lips, a combination that was accompanied by the aftermath of a tease. Osamu was more than surprised, he was entranced. His heart furiously beating out of his chest and the only time he was pulled back into reality was when Akaashi had left a question in the air. “Shall we check out some of the trinkets and presents?” 

Osamu shook his head and cleared his throat once to fully bring himself back into the present. “Yeah, of course. Let’s do that.” It was Akaashi who strided forward this time. Not because of excitement but because he wanted to smile to himself about the sight of the chef being caught off guard by this somewhat new him who was heavily influenced by the way Osamu made him feel. Maybe one day he’d tell him though but tonight, it was his secret.

Akaashi had an affinity towards trinkets that were traditional and wooden. He preferred those that resembled a vintage feel and Hakone exactly had that. Akaashi was observant. It’s a known fact. He noticed how the stalls that catered to items and knick-knacks had orange lighting. At first, he questioned it considering that white light would be brighter and enabled you to further examine the item you would purchase but after walking much further, he realizes that it wasn’t meant for a brighter light but to actually accentuate the objects instead. Orange light was soft to the eyes and something about it made the item all the more tempting to buy.

Osamu had noticed the change of lights too though not in the way Akaashi had but in the way it reflected on Akaashi’s pale skin. He was already captivated by the way Akaashi pointed to each stall, saying he wanted to check this, look closer to that and peek further on this but when that light hits Akaashi just right, it felt as if he was glowing. His gunmetal blue eyes widening and squinting as it took in every detail of the items before him. His lips slightly ajar showcasing how in awe he was of the design that was meticulously placed. And his nose and cheeks that were flushed in red added with a bask of orange from the fluorescent? He was breathtaking.

With the lithe of his fingers turning the object, Akaashi slowly examined the wooden Christmas Ornament that he deems his mother would fully enjoy. It was a group of reindeers carved out in light wood. The pads of his fingers ran through its edges, admiring the handiwork that must have gone in to craft such a thing especially with how tiny the spaces in between were.

His purchases kept on coming. Hakone had everything for the people in his list except for one, Osamu. This causes him to halt in his step with Osamu pausing instantly for a beat after. 

“Is there something wrong?”

There was no point in stressing when the man he wanted to give a gift to was right there beside him and if the goal was to give the perfect gift then asking was the only way to go. “What would you want for Christmas?”

Other than you? Osamu blinked a few times, lips scrunching in thought. “I’m not sure, actually.”

Akaashi’s brows furrowed until he spots at the corner of his eye a reindeer headband on display. His features instantly shift into a childlike manner as he makes his way to grab the headpiece and place it on top of Osamu’s head.

“How do I look?” Osamu’s head was tilted off to the side. His wide smile and naturally red nose from the cold completing the whole get up. 

You look handsome. “Think it suits you. You’d make a great reindeer.”

“Think I’d fit in with the squad at Nara Park?”

Akaashi lets out a laugh at that. “Though they would surely take you in, I might just turn a little bit selfish if they did,”

“Selfish? What for?”

“I don’t want them to take you.” 

“I don’t want to be taken away from ya either.”

Another pause. The warmth in Akaashi’s stomach slowly spreads throughout. Sure, Akaashi had always loved buying christmas presents, looking at different trinkets and gawking at beautifully crafted objects but somehow, the past few moments with Osamu had felt more.

Akaashi broke the silence by turning on his heel to take a reindeer headband for himself. “There. Now, we match.” And despite him feeling silly, the smile on his face was enough for Osamu to be endeared. Ya really are something else, Akaashi Keiji. Truly.

They continued to walk through the Christmas Market, Akaashi kept his eyes out for something Osamu would want until a cool breeze blew through signifying that they were close to the lake and view of Mt. Fuji. Akaashi wanted to take a glimpse but failed to do so when another gust of wind blew, made him start to shiver. His hands grasped at his coat to enclose it further around his frame. Osamu was quick in both noticing and responding to Akaashi’s movements. The former’s arms wrapping around the other in an instant, rubbing his hands at the sides to conjure up the needed warmth.

“Let’s go get ya some hot chocolate. We passed a vendor sellin’ em not too long ago.”

“I’d like that.”

Just as Osamu mentioned, there was a stall dedicated to selling warm drinks a few steps back. Osamu was able to purchase two hot chocolates and a slice of a christmas strawberry shortcake before the sudden flock of people arrived, lining up to get their hands on one with the sudden drop in temperature.

“Ere’ ya go. I went with the particularly festive lookin’ one. I hope ya don’t mind.” Akaashi was half and half towards whipped cream. There were days where he preferred it and days where he didn’t as it adds to the sweetness which he had limited tolerance for. Today, he preferred a rich hot chocolate rather than sweet, but who was he to say no to the man when he figures that Osamu’s eyes must have sparkled upon the sight.

His hands wrapped around the cup, fingers instantly being soothed by its warmth. And with his body needing to follow, he lifts up the brim to his lips and takes a gingerly sip. Despite the whipped cream and marshmallows, the hot chocolate remained rich. His body was instantly comforted with how the heat seeped through within but unbeknownst to him, the drink fogged up his glasses and the whipped cream stuck to his nose.

Osamu’s heart skipped a beat. Many beats at that. The sight of Akaashi, fogged glasses and a whipped cream nose was too much for his heart to bear. Osamu figured Akaashi was used to his lenses fogging up. So Osamu let himself look a bit longer at his companion, while the other was oblivious to it all. His eyes had softened, lips curling upwards into a smile and with just one look from an outside party, fondness would be the word to describe his entirety.

Akaashi blinked once, twice; even a few more times awaiting for his lenses to clear. He couldn’t make out how Osamu looked at him and so, he had to ask. “Is there something on my face?”

“Yeah, there is.” Osamu responded almost quickly and yet it was the kind of tone that lets you know his mind was elsewhere. It took him a second to finally realize before speaking up again. “Got a lil’ somethin’ on yer nose.” He leaned in a bit closer, arm stretching out and with the use of his thumb, he brushed off the whipped cream at Akaashi’s nose.

Akaashi stopped breathing the moment the slight brush of Osamu’s thumb touched his nose. It was surprising how that simple graze brought him all kinds of emotions. A sense of embarrassment, perhaps? Maybe it was due to nervousness that Osamu was that close. Whatever it was, the touch sent a rush to his cheeks to which he was pretty sure wasn’t from the breeze.

Could Osamu hear how erratic his heart was beating? He hoped not.

“There. All done.”

Akaashi let out a deep exhale, pulled out his glasses and rubbed the lenses against his scarf. For once, he was grateful for having terrible eyesight. He wouldn’t have known what to do if he had seen the way Osamu looked at him and his whipped cream nose. “Thank you, Myaa-sam.”

“Was it good?”

“Which one?” 

“The hot chocolate?”

“Ah, yes. It tastes rich still despite the added sugar from the whipped cream.” Get it together, Keiji. You’re fine. You’re okay.

“Oh?” It was Osamu’s turn to try it this time. His drink had sat for a good few minutes causing it to be more lukewarm than piping hot. He didn’t mind though, it only allowed him to take a huge gulp instead. Lo and behold, Akaashi was right. The hot chocolate managed to stay rich despite the added sugar from both whipped cream and melted marshmallows.

The moment continued on like this. Simple chats, sharing cake and taking sips of warm hot chocolate and for a little while, Akaashi thought that the warmth he felt was not from the drink anymore but from how tender this all was. He wouldn’t mind staying here a little while longer, though the night had other plans and it seemed like Osamu did too.

The crowd was starting to move all at once in one direction, catching both of their attention. With a look at his phone for the time, Osamu realized how fast the night had just gone. 11:30PM.

“We gotta go’ or else we’d be late.” Osamu had said in a rush. He brings his hot drink up to his lips and with another large gulp, he finishes it all up. It was his turn this time to get a little messy with the remains of the whipped cream; leaving a little spot at the corner of his lips.

“Wait.” Akaashi spoke without a second of thought, stopping Osamu from turning on his heel. “What? Are ya okay?” 

“You...You just have a little something.” Akaashi lifted up his hand, mimicking Osamu’s prior movements and letting the pad of his thumb brush away the whipped cream.

Oh. So, that’s how that feels. Osamu froze in his spot and before Akaashi could even comment or see the heat that would’ve risen up from his cheeks, Osamu took him by the wrist and tugged him on forward to the center of the town.

Akaashi was quick to follow Osamu’s pace. It was more of a brisk walk rather than a leisurely one and the only time he was able to ask where they were headed and why they were rushing was when the answer was right before him. At the heart of Hakone was a tall unlit Christmas Tree decorated with traditional ornaments and wooden carvings.

Once Osamu finally slowed down to a stop does Akaashi realize they were standing in a position that gave a good view of the tree whether to see up close or up top. “We’re going to watch the town light up?”

“Yep. Starting with this big tree right ere’.” Osamu answered. “I figured ya’d like it instead of having a birthday cake. A moment where the whole town lights up for ya, for yer birthday.” He paused momentarily before turning to face Akaashi. “And no one would know. But you and me.” 

For someone whose profession revolved around the use of words, he didn’t have any to respond to Osamu with. And it seemed like he didn’t have to. While the people that surrounded them had their eyes on the tree, counting down the seconds for it to illuminate, Osamu and Akaashi had their eyes on each other.

Five … Four … Three … Two … One.

December Fifth. 12:00AM . One by one, the Christmas lights on the tree had lit, starting from the bottom until it had reached the top where the star stood. It was only then did Akaashi and Osamu look upwards to marvel at the decor that reigned above the town. 

Under the moonlit sky was a Christmas Tree, perfectly colored in different palettes. Akaashi gaped in wonder at how opposites managed to combine into something beautiful: the traditional wooden ornaments and the modernity of colors in lights. The people around them had erupted into cheers, their attention split into different parts of the town while Akaashi’s remained at one.

And it wasn’t at the Christmas Tree or the rest of the town’s christmas decorations.

But at the person beside him.

The Christmas Lights perfectly reflected at his skin, a mismatch of colors yet he managed to still look breathtaking. His rocketmetal grey eyes got lost in translation as the different palettes overwhelmed it in color and yet, it was just right. It was perfect. 

Christmas had always been a holiday that Akaashi awaited each year, especially as a child. Every time December rolled in, Akaashi would get excited and write down his wishes filled with his childhood fantasies and dreams. But there was also a saying that as you got older, the excitement that you felt as a child for the holidays would disappear. Akaashi stopped writing and stopped wishing until today, until this moment where the stream of lights gleamed softly into Osamu’s flesh, caressing and complementing the beauty he beheld. Maybe, just maybe, it was time to start wishing again. 

He wasn’t able to. At least, not with Osamu catching on to the fact that he was staring. Flustered, he quickly sputtered his first thought as he tore his gaze away. “You’re supposed to make a wish when the lights open.”

“Really?” Osamu returned his gaze to the Christmas Tree, eyes falling shut to do as he was just told. Akaashi, grateful about the fact that Osamu had a penchant for childish antics, had let out a silent exhale. That was close. Too close. Once he steadied his heartbeat, he found himself following his own words nevertheless, albeit being made up at the time. His eyes falling shut and all at once, today’s events sprung back to him. Today had him feeling so many things at once. 

The first time was when they shared meals and felt as if the most mundane things felt like a different kind of adventure. It made him want to try new things, like he could do anything and it wouldn’t matter if it ended negatively or positively. 

The next happened during gift shopping where Akaashi finally understood when people said that doing something with someone makes it more. And despite liking his alone time with it, he enjoyed it more so with Osamu. He liked being able to share things with him that he loved to do, and if ever Osamu felt the same way or if he simply wanted to come along, Akaashi wouldn’t mind. Akaashi would love to have him by his side.

I don’t want them to take you.

I don’t want to be taken away from ‘ya either.

It’s been months now of continuously existing by each other’s side, been months since they had said hi in the form of “Fukurodani Setter” and “Myaa-sam”. It’s been months and yet Akaashi isn’t quite sure what to make of what they are, what they could be. The term feeling for someone is as scary as it could be. Allowing a person that much power over your heart and surrendering to it feels as if you’re free falling from somewhere high, no control and simply at the mercy of gravity. And yet, why does it feel so right? Why does the heart want to concede to something so frightful? Why does the mind try to convince you to agree and take the leap? Akaashi thought that sometimes it all felt like too much and at the same time, it simply felt right. Today, in a different part of Japan, where the Christmas Tree glistened, it felt more than right.

Sometimes, there are things that don’t require an answer. Sometimes you’re allowed to linger just a little bit longer. Maybe that’s why, today, things are allowed to be a mixture of different colors like how the lights flash before them and how the decorations are a variety of designs. Maybe for today, Akaashi’s allowed to live in the moment and in what he feels. Maybe for now, he’d like to stay in this bubble, in whatever this is, whatever they are, whatever it could be.

You make me feel, Osamu, in more ways than one and it confuses me. It’s actually frightening how much it confuses me. Maybe one day I would understand what it really means, but for now I think it means that I want you to stay. No, on this day, I might as well wish it. I wish for you to stay.”

With that, Akaashi made his wish. His eyes fluttered open at the same time Osamu opened his. Their eyes met at the same time they both turned to look at each other. And although both were caught in surprise of the similar action, both immediately surrendered and simply relished in the fact that it happened. A smile was exchanged in between it all, an indication of pure contentment.

Osamu first tried to speak but with the amount of people trying to get to one place from another, Akaashi and Osamu ended up being pushed and shoved into different directions. Before the crowd could further pull them apart, Osamu had reached for Akaashi’s hand and grasped it tight. To Akaashi, who was slowly developing a sense of overwhelm with uncontrollable crowds was relieved to find solace in the hand that held him. He shuffled himself closer to Osamu as they both navigated out of the center of the town. Akaashi wasn’t sure what was happening as he kept his eyes down on the ground but at one point of the struggle to escape the crowd, he heard Osamu speak words that instantly translated into safety.

“Don’t worry, I won’t let go.”

And he didn’t. Not even when they had made it out of the lighting ceremony and especially not when fireworks had started to go off from a distance, revealing a luminous light that colored Mt. Fuji. Akaashi overheard the locals mentioning about a firework display, he just didn’t know when and he was glad that he didn’t. It made the moment all the more sweeter. Slowly, unknowingly, but rightfully, their fingers started to interlace one by one. An action that didn’t need to be said, the movement of their fingers was more than enough.

That’s how their night in Hakone ended. A firework display, a town beautifully lit and a million feelings tied together as their hands entwined. They didn’t let go even after. They took the last train back to Tokyo seated side by side with fingers getting braver. An index brushing knuckles and a thumb caressing skin. 

In fact, Akaashi thanked himself for mentioning earlier how he wanted to be selfish with Osamu. He didn’t have to reiterate. It was a silent plea that was loud enough for Osamu to hear when they had arrived back at the entrance of the train station. Stay. Don’t let go. Walk me home. 

Akaashi’s apartment was only a few minutes walk from the train station which is why, for the first time in his life, he walked as slow as he can in the streets of Tokyo.

“I have something for ya.” Osamu breathed out, a puff of clouded mist left his lips at his every word. 

It was only now when Osamu had released his hold on Akaashi’s hand and if he was being honest, he had already missed the warmth it gave him. He stood waiting patiently whilst Osamu shrugged off his backpack to retrieve a crumpled brown paper bag to give. “It isn’t wrapped since I just bought it awhile ago but I hope ya like it.”

Akaashi held the item in his hands, opening the crumpled top at an attempt to seal the item and what he had pulled out instantly produced a soft gasp to escape from his lips. It was a glass snow globe designed with wooden carvings of Hakone’s christmas market.

“Myaa-sam, I.”

“So, you would remember what happened tonight.”

“I don’t think I could ever forget.”

Akaashi gave the snow globe a tiny shake and snow started to fall from the inside. It was simple. It was perfect. Just like how tonight had been. Akaashi was sure about the beauty of winter but tonight he had witnessed something more. It was the perfect juxtaposition. The cold chills to the bone that makes holding the hand of another even warmer. It’s the dragging late night that lengthened the time spent with someone special. The cold air that created a misty cloud whenever speaking and the flush red nose that makes a person all the more endearing. The way that December was his birth month and he was never one to make a big deal out of except for tonight when he welcomed his birthday in the quaint place of Hakone, waiting for the town to turn on the entirety of its christmas lights, starting with the tree in the middle the minute the clock strikes twelve.

It was nice. It was new. It wasn’t anything grand and yet it was just how Akaashi liked it. In fact, he had thoughts of repeating it again in the next year. But it didn’t end there. After he had received the gift, Akaashi initiated for their hands to be entwined again and Osamu quickly obliged. It was something the two grew fond of doing rather quickly. He was happy. Welcoming his birthday had been something he unexpectedly liked and he didn’t think it couldn’t get any better but he was wrong.

The minute they had arrived in front of Akaashi’s apartment, tiny particles of ice crystals clumped together started to descend from the sky. It was the first snowfall of the year. Akaashi and Osamu quickly had their gazes glued to the sky. Small puffs of snow fell effortlessly, delicately and ever so beautifully. Akaashi wasn’t sure what was more mesmerizing, the way the snowflakes flit down from the sky or the fact that Osamu had proven that he would enjoy tonight.

“Would ya look at that, it’s snowing.”

“It is.”

“Did ya enjoy tonight?”

“I did. Thank you, Myaa-sam.”

“I’m glad because I did too. Happy Birthday, Akaashi.”

And there goes his heart again, attempting to leap right out of his chest and for once, he didn’t fight against it, he let it. The ever growing warmth in his stomach had spread throughout him and he melted at the feeling. But there was more.

Osamu had stepped a foot closer, leaving but an inch of space in between. He, himself wasn’t sure as well of where he had plucked the courage to do this but he figures it was the fact that it was cold and Akaashi had mentioned before that without proper layering, being sick was easy to occur.

Osamu took his scarf off and wrapped it around Akaashi’s neck, just atop his own, covering his nose and lips in which he fixed it right after to reveal his features. “Wouldn’t want ya to get sick.” His voice was barely a whisper. 

“Thank you.” Akaashi responded in the same kind of whisper. “Myaa-sam I-”

“Wait, yer ears are red.” Osamu rubbed his hands together a few times before placing it on Akaashi’s ears. All this time he was acting upon the worry of keeping Akaashi from getting sick that he hadn’t realized how close he had placed himself and yet, he didn’t have it in him to pull away. He wanted to stay, he wanted to do more; may it be because of how amazing tonight has been and ending it this way, would make it even more memorable.

As for Akaashi, for most of tonight, he has acted upon what is right. Not once did he overthink his actions. Not ever did he second guess. He just simply did and with that in mind and the great urge to continue, he lifted up his gaze, gunmetal blue eyes looking upwards to meet rocketmetal grey ones.

And then there was a pause. An occurrence that happened quite frequently tonight. A prologue Akaashi labels it, as it was a beginning of an act to something better. Maybe this time, they will continue on forward; they will let it.

Slowly, stepping in a foot closer to erase all space in between. Both eyes fluttering shut. Hearts beating at a pace where finally the question of if they could hear was answered. There was a thin line that separated friendship and lovers and all it needed was someone to take one step forward. This time, with neither of them knowing, it was both of them who was taking the step. Their lips only a brush apart, cheeks flushed in red, wanting, needing, hoping.

But Osamu overthought. Whilst Akaashi hung onto the high of tonight’s events and the courage he had mustered, Osamu was the opposite. His courage dwindled after every thought that entered. Was it right to do this now? Should I take advantage of the fact that it’s his birthday and this would be the perfect time to do it? Was it too much? But then again, everything’s always too much when it comes to the holidays anyways. Is this okay? god, Miya. Pull it together!

He didn’t. It never happened. Akaashi’s eyes opened to find Osamu taking a few steps back. “I. I have ta’ get back. I just remembered Tsumu must be waitin’ for me at home. The dumbass prolly froze to death outside.”

Akaashi was blinking multiple times before it finally registered what was just about to happen and that Osamu’s twin could probably be truly freezing out in the snow. “Oh, of course. Right. Yes. I’m sorry to have kept you out so late.”

Oh fuck. He’s going to overthink this isn’t he? “No, no. Don’t worry. I had fun tonight. I really did.”

Akaashi, cheeks still in a flare of red, finally looks to meet the other’s gaze. “I did too. I really enjoyed.”

“I’m a man of my word.” His heart was a flutter, the color red on his cheeks just as evident as Akaashi’s and the smile on his face was every bit genuine. “Ya should head on inside. I’ll wait for ya.”

Akaashi nods as he turns on his heel to unlock the door with his key. He had turned on the lights with a flick of the nearest switch before turning on back to face the outside where Osamu stood nearest to the street.

“I’ll see you soon, won’t I?”

“What? Missed my company already?”

“Perhaps.”

“Well. I still do have a restaurant ta’ run ere’.”

“That’s true. Take care on your way home.”

“Ya get some rest, Akaashi. And, Happy birthday again.” Osamu lifted his hand for a wave.

“Thank you.” And Akaashi returned it in the same fervor.

But before Osamu started to walk and Akaashi in the middle of closing his door. There was a question that was left in the air. “By the way, what did ya wish for tonight?”

Akaashi tilted his head to the side, lips angling to the right. “My apologies but I’m not telling. A wish happens to not come true if you say them out loud.”