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Reconnection

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What better time was there to reconnect with one’s friends than during summer break? There was no pesky school work to get in the way of having fun. Summer was all friends, fun, and rugby, and that was the way Miyuki liked it. He could stay up late with Gion and play video games, he could show up at Iwashimizu’s place with snacks for an impromptu movie marathon, he could drag any number of people to the park for a friendly match in the park. The possibilities were endless.

Miyuki was taking advantage of his free time. He called Iwashimizu and Hachiouji and told them to meet him at the amusement park. It would be just like middle school, when they would hang out often after club or on weekends. They would go to the amusement park, play games and go on rides and eat tons of delicious snacks. It would be a perfect day.

When Miyuki arrived at the park, Iwashimizu was already there. He waved to the tall blonde as he headed towards him.

“Hey, Sumiaki! Glad you could make it!” Miyuki greeted.

Iwashimizu smiled. “I’m glad you invited me. It’s nice to be here again. I think the last time was the end of the first year of middle school.”

“Oh, yeah! You got sick on the roller coaster and barfed all over your shoes.”

“That was your fault! We had just eaten and you and Hachiouji-senpai wanted to go on that ride so bad. You made that silly face at me. You know I can’t say no to that.”

“I did know. That’s why I did it. I had never heard you scream my name like that. I think Mutsumi almost died laughing.”

“You’re lucky I only yelled at you. I was cleaning vomit out of my shoes for a week.”

“Poor Sumiaki. I promise, no snacks until after the rides.”

Iwashimizu laughed. “I don’t think you can wait so long, Atsushi.”

The two continued to talk as they waited for Hachiouji. Miyuki had been right. It was just like middle school, where they would tease each other and Iwashimizu would fuss over him. He wondered what else had remained the same; did Iwashimizu still love cotton candy? Did he still get excited when he saw cute stuffed animals? Did he still have that little smile that showed up whenever he became overwhelmed with emotion?

Iwashimizu couldn’t help getting lost in his memories, too. Miyuki hadn't changed much since middle school. He looked the same, just a bit broader in the shoulders, maybe a centimeter or two taller. He still had that goofy, heartwarming smile that made Iwashimizu's heart flutter. He still did absolutely ridiculous things that made Iwashimizu groan and chastise him. Iwashimizu knew he still liked taiyaki and would probably beg for him to buy some. And Iwashimizu would because Miyuki, the bastard, could play him like a fiddle.

“Hey, Atsushi! Sumiaki!” Hachiouji called.

“Mutsumi!” Miyuki cheered, motioning the older boy over, “Let’s go! Before Sumiaki forces me to put on sunscreen!”

“Are you not wearing any?” Iwashimizu inquired sweetly, pulling a bottle from his bag.

“Way to throw yourself under that bus.” Hachiouji teased.

“Thanks. And it’s fine, Sumiaki, I don’t need it.”

“You’re going to put it on because I’m not listening to your whining when you’re sunburnt.”

Miyuki whined. “Can’t you at least do it for me?”

Iwashimizu sighed. “So lazy. Do you need some, too, Hachiouji?”

“Actually, I do. Would you mind?” Hachiouji asked.

“Of course not. We should go into the park first, though.”

Miyuki and Hachiouji nodded in agreement. The trio paid their entrance fees and entered the park, finding an empty bench to use. Iwashimizu sat Miyuki down and squeezed a dollop of sunblock on his hands. He gently rubbed some of the cream into the boy’s face and neck, then on the tips of his ears. He moved on to his shoulders and arms, then his legs. Miyuki smiled at him.

“I could have done my legs and stuff.” Miyuki said.

“I don’t trust you when it comes to these things, Atsushi. You always half-ass it.” Iwashimizu said.

“Ouch. That one stung, Sumiaki.”

Iwashimizu hummed in acknowledgement of the playful jab, passing the sunscreen to Hachiouji. “Here you go, Hachiouji-senpai. Make sure to get your ears.”

“Actually, could you help me with my face? It’s easier when someone else does it.” Hachiouji said.

“Oh! Sure. Close your eyes.”

Iwashimizu repeated his actions on Hachiouji. He swiped his fingers over Hachiouji’s face, neck, and ears, massaging the sunblock into the older boy’s skin. He noticed that Hachiouji’s cheeks were already turning red and sighed. Honestly, he expected this sort of thing from Miyuki, but usually Hachiouji was more responsible.

“Finished. You already have a little burn on your face. You should really put it on before you go out.” Iwashimizu chastised.

“I knew you’d have some. Why put it on at home when you can help me?” Hachiouji said with a laugh.

“See? Mutsumi knows. You have magic fingers, Sumiaki. You put on the sunscreen and I never get burned.” Miyuki said.

“My goodness, you two. Aren’t you men? Can’t you take care of yourselves?” Iwashimizu demanded, no heat in his words.

“Sure, but it’s more fun when you do it.”

Iwashimizu huffed, but found himself smiling. It was hard to keep a straight face when his friends were laughing and joking so freely. Miyuki threw his arms around Iwashimizu and Hachiouji’s shoulders.

“Let’s go!” He exclaimed.

****

Hachiouji picked their first destination. The haunted house ride was his absolute favorite; a cart wheeled them through a house as various ghouls and monsters popped up. It always made Hachiouji laugh. Some of the effects were so cheesy it was embarrassing, but they still managed to make him jump. Better yet, they made Iwashimizu scream and Miyuki cling to him. Who didn’t enjoy riling up their kouhais a bit?

The line went quickly, and soon the trio were squeezed into one of the carts, inching their way to the ride entrance. Miyuki was already squeezing Hachiouji’s arm, a huge grin on his face.

“You think they changed anything? I hope that mummy is still there. It scared me shitless last time.” Miyuki said.

“Shouldn’t you be hoping they got rid of it, then?” Hachiouji laughed.

“No way! That’s part of the fun! The only one who’s that big of a scaredy cat is Sumiaki.”

“Atsushi,” Iwashimizu whined, shoving carefully at the boy’s shoulder, “I’m not a scaredy cat.”

“Yes, you are. But don’t worry, it’s cute.” Hachiouji said.

A blush colored Iwashimizu’s cheeks at the comment. There wasn’t much time to be embarrassed, however. The ride had begun. The cart rolled through the darkness, the only light coming from dim lamps overhead. The eerie glow had the trio already huddling together, awaiting the first scare.

When the first ghoul popped up, Miyuki and Hachiouji jumped, laughing. Iwashimizu, on the other hand, buried his face in his hands and screamed. He felt an arm come to rest behind him and a hand squeeze his thigh. Uncovering his face, Iwashimizu found Miyuki and Hachiouji looking at him.

“Hey, Sumiaki, it’s okay. It’s all fake.” Hachiouji whispered.

“Yeah. Nothing is going to get you. I’d kick anything’s ass for you.” Miyuki said proudly.

“Thank you.” Iwashimizu said, smiling softly.

The rest of the ride was more of the same. One of them became frightened - mostly Iwashimizu - and the others comforted them. They laughed at the especially cheesy props. When the mummy appeared, Miyuki attached himself to Iwashimizu and let out an ungodly combination of a laugh and a scream that was far more terrifying than the animatronic itself.

It felt like the ride was over too soon as the trio exited their cart. Miyuki had taken to clutching Hachiouji’s arm as he excitedly babbled about the experience. The older boy found it endearing; he had forgotten how lively Miyuki could be. He was like a slightly more mature Gion. At least, slightly more mature when Iwashimizu wasn’t around to quell his impulsive behavior.

“You doing okay, Sumiaki? You’re not too scared, right?” Hachiouji asked, using his free hand to pat the blonde’s shoulder.

“Oh, I’m alright! It’s only scary when I’m actually in there.” Iwashimizu said.

“You’re shaking a little. Are you sure?” Hachiouji gave a playful smile as he held out his arm, “I’ve still got a free arm for you.”

Iwashimizu looked at the ground, embarrassed. It did sound kind of nice. But surely he was too tall for it to be comfortable, and he wasn’t cute like Miyuki, so it would look odd. Still, Iwashimizu hooked his arm with Hachiouji’s, avoiding the older boy’s smug look. They walked around the park for a while, talking and laughing and pointing out things they wanted to come back to. Suddenly, Iwashimizu pulled away. He headed towards a game booth as Miyuki and Hachiouji watched with curious eyes.

“Atsushi! Hachiouji-senpai! Come here!” Iwashimizu called.

The duo shared a look before following after the blonde. Iwashimizu pointed to the booth excitedly.

“I’m going to play.” Iwashimizu said, eyes sparkling.

“Alright! I want the tiger, Sumiaki!” Miyuki exclaimed.

Iwashimizu nodded. “What about you, Hachiouji-senpai?”

Hachiouji stroked his chin in thought. “I think I like the octopus. The one with the sailor hat.”

That seemed to make Iwashimizu twice as giddy. The taller boy paid the man at the stand and took the three baseballs he was offered. His face became serious, his eyes focused on the stacks of milk bottles he needed to knock down. That was when Hachiouji remembered. Iwashimizu had always liked this game in middle school, and he was good at it, too. He could usually hit the target with one throw. He was also fiercely competitive with it, especially when Miyuki wanted a prize. The dangerous glint in Iwashimizu’s eyes told everyone that he was on a mission to win.

The first ball was thrown. It connected, but only one bottle was knocked over. Iwashimizu’s cheeks puffed out in frustration. He wound up for the second throw. This one did the trick. He smiled excitedly as he motioned for Miyuki to come over and point out his prize. As he tossed his remaining ball into the air, Iwashimizu worried. It had taken two tries on the last stack of bottles. He had to make this one count. He needed to get Hachiouji the cute octopus plushie! Pulling his arm back, Iwashimizu let out a breath and launched the ball with all the force he could muster. It hit the bottles with a satisfying clang. The toppled over, making Iwashimizu clap.

“Can I get the octopus, please?” Iwashimizu asked politely.

The man nodded, pulling down the stuffed toy. “That’s quite an arm, kid. Baseball?”

Iwashimizu became flustered. “Oh, no, sir. Rugby.”

The man nodded and the trio were off again.

“That was so cool, Sumiaki! It’s awesome when you get fired up!” Miyuki praised, squeezing his plush tiger.

“You’re really good at those games. How come you don’t ever want a prize?” Hachiouji asked.

Iwashimizu shrugged. “It’s better when they’re for other people. I got really good playing for prizes Miyuki wanted.”

“Yeah, he won me this huge shark toy. It took him, like, ten tries.” Miyuki said.

“You liked it so much that you slept with it for weeks. You even brought it to the training camp. Remember that, Hachiouji-senpai?”

“I do! That thing had to have its own futon.” Hachiouji laughed.

“Genji needed his own futon. He was a member of the team and a testament of Sumiaki’s devotion.” Miyuki said.

“Do you have to be so dramatic, Atsushi?” Iwashimizu groaned.

“Yes. And now I have to return the display of devotion! Let me win something for you!”

“Not a good idea. You pout when you lose.” Hachiouji said.

“I’ll win this time, though. What do you want, Sumiaki?”

“You really don’t have to, Atsushi. We should ride some roller coasters, those are your favorite.” Iwashimizu said.

“Yeah, but we can do that later. Come on, you love stuffed animals. Let me win you one!”

Iwashimizu sighed, unable to resist the shorter boy’s pleading and puppy dog eyes. Maybe it was okay to indulge Miyuki on this. It would be kind of romantic to have Miyuki win something for him. Shaking the thought from his head, Iwashimizu searched for a simple game that Miyuki could play. Something physical would be good, nothing too frustrating or upsetting. That way, Miyuki wouldn’t become sullen. As they searched, Hachiouji pointed out random booths, trying to deter Miyuki from his mission. He motioned to a row of pillows, each shaped like a cupcake.

“Hey, Sumiaki, weren’t you talking about those the other day to Gion-kun? You said they smell like vanilla and stuff.” Hachiouji said.

“Oh, yes! The white ones with the rainbow sprinkles are supposed to be vanilla scented. And they’re so soft.” Iwashimizu said.

Miyuki’s face lit up. “I’ll win one for you!”

“Atsushi, it’s okay, that game looks difficult…”

“It’s fine! Don’t worry so much, Sumiaki.”

Before Iwashimizu could say another word, Miyuki ran to the booth and happily handed over his money. The attendee smiled and handed him a handful of darts. She explained that he just had to pop the balloons taped to the wall and that he needed to pop three for a small prize and five for a large one. Miyuki puffed out his chest. This was too easy; he had great aim and a great throwing arm. Closing one eye, Miyuki aimed the dart and threw it. It hit a balloon, popping it.

“Alright! You’re going to have that cupcake, Sumiaki!” Miyuki exclaimed.

“Don’t boast before you have the prize, Atsushi.” Hachiouji laughed.

By some stroke of luck, Miyuki actually won. He eagerly pointed to the stuffed cupcake and handed it to Iwashimizu. His grin was so wide it must have hurt. Iwashimizu’s heart skipped a beat. He hugged his new toy and thanked Miyuki.

“You’re looking a little red, Sumiaki. Getting sunburnt?” Hachiouji asking, a teasing lilt in his voice.

“N-No! It’s just warm, is all. Maybe we should find a water ride to cool off.” Iwashimizu suggested, not meeting Hachiouji’s eyes.

“Log ride!” Miyuki cheered.

With that, the trio was off again, looking for the next thrill.

****

After getting soaked on the log ride, Hachiouji and Miyuki were ready for the pièce de résistance. They stood before the park’s main attraction, looking on in awe. The roller coaster was huge, with three loops and two high drops, and went both forward and backward. It was terrifying and thrilling all in one. Iwashimizu gulped. All he remembered about the ride was puking up takoyaki and cotton candy onto his shoes and Miyuki’s soothing hands rubbing his back afterwards.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. He’d be sandwiched between Hachiouji and Miyuki, and he hadn’t eaten anything yet. So, he stood in line with the two other boys and chattered happily with them, even as they boarded the ride.

“You’re totally calm, Sumi.” Miyuki said, slipping his hand into Iwashimizu’s.

“It’s not as scary when my stomach isn’t full.” Iwashimizu said with a laugh.

Hachiouji glanced at the intertwined hands of his kouhais. He could see what Miyuki was doing. He wouldn’t be outdone where flirting was concerned, though. Grabbing Iwashimizu’s other hand, Hachiouji squeezed, giving Miyuki and Iwashimizu a big smile. Iwashimizu’s face burned red. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but he didn’t want it to stop.

The cart began to roll, and suddenly, they were off at what felt like lightspeed. Iwashimizu shut his eyes and screamed, gripping his friends’ hands tightly. However, it wasn’t out of fear; he couldn’t be scared when he could hear Miyuki’s laughing and Hachiouji’s excited yells. It was actually a rush, going so fast and feeling the wind on his face. It was so different than how it had been in middle school. It was actually a lot of fun!

As they exited the ride, it was Iwashimizu’s turn to animatedly explain his feelings on the experience as he walked with Hachiouji and Miyuki, his smile growing with each passing moment.

“Well, I’m starving. Can we eat now?” Hachiouji asked.

“As long as there’s no more rides, I think we should. I’m pretty hungry, too.” Iwashimizu said.

“Definitely. We can get something to eat and find a spot to watch the fireworks, since it’ll be dark soon.” Miyuki said.

“Let me guess. You want taiyaki?”

“What? You’re going to buy me some, Sumiaki? You’re so nice.”

“Why don’t I get the snacks? As a thank you for the octopus you won me.” Hachiouji said.

“Oh, Mutsumi, you don’t have to! It was a gift, you don’t have to repay me.” Iwashimizu insisted.

Hachiouji chuckled. “Well, you went and called me Mutsumi, so I have to. And it wouldn’t be much of a date if I didn’t at least buy you two dinner, right?”

“But I invited you here! I should really pay.” Miyuki protested.

“Wait a second. This...this is a date?” Iwashimizu asked.

Hachiouji and Miyuki shared a look. Did Iwashimizu really not realize that this was more than just hanging out? Between the hand holding, the stares and blushes, and the flirting, they had assumed it was obvious. Then again, Miyuki had been flirting with Iwashimizu since day one and the blonde had never noticed, so maybe it wasn’t so surprising.

“Well, yeah. It’s a date. We kind of like each other. And you, stupid.” Miyuki said teasingly.

“Oh. Oh. I’m so stupid. All day I thought...you both -” Iwashimizu stammered, wringing his hands nervously before looking at his companions - “I like you, too.”

“Alright, we’ve settled this. Let’s eat now.” Hachiouji said.

“Don’t say it like that! This is a big deal!”

“Bigger than a nice bowl of zaru soba and huge cloud of cotton candy?”

Iwashimizu’s mouth watered at the mere mention. “Fine. We’ll talk later.”

“Then it’s settled. Just in time, too. I had been hoping it would come up before the fireworks so we could kiss when they go off.” Miyuki said.

“Atsushi! Don’t say things like that!”

“Say things like that, Atsushi. Look at Sumiaki’s cute blush.” Hachiouji cooed, poking Iwashimizu’s cheek.

“Don’t be shy. Mutsumi wants me to kiss him, too. It’s fine.” Miyuki said, bumping Iwashimizu with his hip.

“Alright, alright. I was promised zaru soba. Let’s go.” Iwashimizu said.

“Lead the way, sweetheart.” Hachiouji said.

The blush on Iwashimizu’s face was gorgeous.

****

The trio were laid out on the ground - Hachiouji settled between Miyuki and Iwashimizu - awaiting the fireworks that were due any moment. They talked and finished up their snacks, nervous touches lingering on each other’s skin as the first stars appeared in the sky. The heat was still heavy, causing the boys to sweat, but it didn’t stop Hachiouji from grabbing Iwashimizu and Miyuki’s hands.

“Oh, oh! Look! They’re setting the fireworks off!” Iwashimizu exclaimed excitedly, pointing at the sky.

Hachiouji turned his attention to the show, smiling. Miyuki and Iwashimizu used the distraction to their advantage. They each leaned in, pressing kisses to Hachiouji’s cheeks. The older boy laughed. Turning to Miyuki, he planted a kiss on the boy’s lips.

“Come on, now, I expected at least you to go for the lips, Atsushi.” Hachiouji teased.

“Yeah, well, I couldn’t outshine Sumiaki, could I?” Miyuki shot back.

“Excuse me. I would also like a kiss.” Iwashimizu huffed, his lips upturned.

“Oh, excuse me.” Hachiouji said, kissing Iwashimizu gently.

“I want to kiss Sumiaki, too!” Miyuki cried.

He crawled over Hachiouji and landed on top of Iwashimizu, pressing his forehead to the blonde’s. He kissed Iwashimizu with a smile. Once the trio had settled down, they looked up at the fireworks, hands intertwined. Miyuki had been right. It was a perfect day.