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5 Years in the Making

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Ryuji knew all too well that Akira was up to something. He recognized that cat-like smirk Akira donned whenever the topic of the thieves’ five year anniversary came up. The few times Ryuji tried to bring it up in the group chat, the others seemed to insist that they didn’t have many ideas, but assured him that it was going to happen and saying, “we’ll figure it out soon!” But they said that every time, and no concrete plans were ever said, to him at least. Until one day, Akira came home with that smirk on his face, telling him how they were going out to celebrate on Christmas Eve, exactly five years after their last battle as the Phantom Thieves. Where they were celebrating was never revealed to him. He asked all of them individually where they were going, but no one would tell him, completely avoiding the question in their own unique ways. Morgana lived with the two of them in their small apartment but was able to uphold the secrecy. When asked, he would usually just shrug (could cats shrug?) and walk out of the room. Akira was obviously no better, since he seemed to be the mastermind of the whole thing. Day after day, Ryuji asked them all, yet none of them cracked.

Steadily, the college term flew by and before he knew it, Ryuji was packing his suitcase, getting ready for the trip. He had been allowed to know that they would be gone for the weekend in order to know how much to pack, but that was the limit to his knowledge. He could try his best to ascertain where they were going, though. There wasn’t any need for plane tickets, so they’d be staying in Tokyo. But where could they be staying for the whole weekend? Akira made it sound like they’d be in the same area the whole time. Ryuji racked his brain for any semblance of an idea while he stuffed his things into his suitcase. Morgana jumped up onto the bed next to him.

“Ryuji! All your clothes will get wrinkled,” he meowed.

“I’ll fold them if you tell me where we’re goin’,” said Ryuji. Morgana just scoffed.

“As if I’d fall for such a simple trick!” The sound of the door unlocking rang through the apartment and Mona ran off to meet Akira at the door. Ryuji zipped up his suitcase and soon the two headed out for the train station with Mona in Akira’s bag.

Ryuji still had no idea where they were headed to, but notifications in the group chat kept them both updated as to the whereabouts of their friends.

"Are you excited?" Akira asked. Ryuji looked up from his phone where he was reading Ann freak out over all the sweets she was going to eat.

"Huh...? Oh, well yeah, man. Even if I don't know where we're goin' yet." Akira smirked mischievously at that.

"Well, I'm glad. You'll find out soon enough."

"I still don't get why it had to be a secret from me." Innocently, Akira looked away, staring off into space as if Ryuji wasn't even there. Mona popped his head out of the bag.

“Maybe I’ll give you a hint if you pet me.”

“Stay in the damn bag!”

~~~~~~

 

“Dude...are you for real?” Ryuji couldn’t keep up with the flood of information that was being jammed into his brain. Destinyland with all its tall buildings and roller coasters sprawled out in front of him. The girls (despite knowing where they were going) were gawking at the sight. Akira chuckled next to him, wearing that mischievous smile of his once again.

“So? Do you like it? I thought it would be fitting, coming back here. I don’t think anyone has been here since we disbanded,” Akira said. Ryuji smiled.

“Hell yeah, man! This is perfect. I woulda never thought of this.”

“Akira, this is perfect! I’ve wanted to come back ever since the first time but it just didn’t feel right. Thanks!” Ann was beaming as she looked at the castle in the distance.

“I agree with Lady Ann! This place is pretty cool,” Morgana said while poking his head out of the bag.

“Mona-chan, are we allowed to bring you in?” Haru asked while scratching behind his ears. Ryuji shrugged.

“I mean, we brought him before, yeah? I’m sure it’ll be fine as long as you don’t fly out of the bag on the rides.” Ryuji smiled when he saw Akira chuckling at the thought of that.

“Guys, we should head over soon,” Makoto said calmly as she pointed towards the ever growing line for the ticket booth. They all started walking forward.
Ann insisted the first thing they did was hit the giant shop, just like she did all those years ago. This time, however, she demanded that all of them wear the ear headbands. Ryuji, Ann, and Futaba were able to find the same ears that they wore the first time, and spent the rest of their time helping the others pick theirs out, with Ryuji looking for Akira’s. His eyes lit up when he saw a pair of panda bear ears. With Futaba distracting Akira, Ryuji snuck up and threw the ears on his head. Akira turned in shock and looked in the nearby mirror, breaking into a smile.

“Good choice, Ryuji,” he said and kissed Ryuji. Futaba scrunched up her face and ran towards Yusuke complaining about “those dweebs being all lovey-dovey.”

Ann practically had to be dragged out of the shop before she bought everything in it. Once outside, Ryuji and Futaba took off towards the biggest roller coaster in the park, the Anti-Gravity Tower. Even though the ride held more than 20 people at a time, Futaba’s high pitched scream could be heard above all else when it dropped them over 13 stories. They spent the rest of the afternoon going on as many rides as they could until Yusuke complained of being “quite famished”. For the first time in the whole trip, Akira had a surprise that was meant for all of them. The entire group was shocked and a bit embarrassed to be a group of seven adults (and one cat) in silly Destinyland ears sitting at a table in the most expensive and fancy restaurant in the park. Haru seemed right at home while the rest were slightly uncomfortable, and even had the audacity to be confused when Makoto complained of the whole situation being “awfully humiliating”, but the restaurant staff didn’t bat an eye. After dinner, the sun was setting and everyone except for Ryuji exchanged knowing glances.

“C’mon guys, just tell me!” Ryuji demanded.

“It wouldn’t be a surprise if you knew!” Morgana’s muffled voice came from the bag. Wordlessly, Akira led them through the park confidently, clearly with a destination in mind.

 

~~~~~

 

It didn't feel real to be standing in front of the castle like this. Sparks of light lit up the sky as loud booms exploded from the fireworks. They all rose above the castle and into the dark sky above. Ryuji heard Ann gasp as another round was set off, lighting up in golden streams of light. The others gawked too, Futaba exclaiming "woah!" and Yusuke replying "Oh my! It's beautiful!" as he proceeded to pull out a sketchbook and pencil that seemed to materialize out of thin air. It was odd, staring up at the fireworks. To think that five years ago the eight of them were staring up at the same sky, at the same place, reacting the same. So much had changed though. The Phantom Thieves were no more. They had all gone on with their lives, gone on to careers and school, moving and meeting new people. And yet nothing had really changed, either.

Ryuji looked up at the beautiful show in front of him, not paying attention until he realized that all his friends were looking towards him, with surprised expressions. Ann, who already had tears in her eyes, immediately burst into tears as Haru followed right after. Ryuji was confused as to why everyone was looking at him, including other strangers around them but as he looked behind, his heart nearly stopped. Akira was down on one knee, holding a ring box, with something sparkling inside. Ryuji was so shocked he couldn't say anything. Luckily he didn't have to as Akira started speaking, his normally quiet voice cutting through the noise surrounding them.

"Ryuji Sakamoto, I love you. I fell for you the moment we met and you've only made me fall harder for you with every passing moment we spend together. I can't imagine a future without you, and it would be a dream come true to spend the rest of my life with you. Ryuji, will you marry me?" Ann sobbed next to him and out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Yusuke furiously scribbling at his sketchbook. All the girls were crying, Futaba sniffing next to Makoto who was hiding behind her hand. Akira looked so ridiculous, with the panda bear ears on his head and that ridiculously wide smile on his face. But he had a look of pure admiration and love as he looked up to Ryuji.

"Yes...hell yes!" Akira sprung up and kissed him. A cacophony broke out as Ann nearly screamed and fireworks went off above them. But Akira held the kiss for several seconds, before breaking away and grabbing Ryuji's hand.
"I love you, Akira." Ryuji said as a silver ring slid onto his ring finger. “You stole my heart, Joker”. He felt so silly, especially with everyone staring at them. He here was, standing in bear ears at Destinyland getting engaged. His entire face was bright red, though he couldn't have felt happier. Ryuji stepped forward and pulled Akira into a hug, burying his face into his shoulder.

“I love you so much, Akira,” Ryuji whispered.

“I love you too, Ryuji.” More fireworks burst above the castle as the rest of the group joined into a massive hug. The show was nearly over by the time they all pulled away. Ryuji and Akira held hands as they walked back to the hotel. The group separated off into their rooms, Morgana going with Futaba to her room.

“Don’t get too loud you two! Makoto’s room is right next to yours and she’ll be pissed if you keep her up all night!” Futaba smirked as she picked up Mona and ran off before Ryuji could retort. Akira turned around with a soft chuckle which grew into a full out mischievous grin when he saw the dark blush on Ryuji’s face. He looked up at the sky, his glasses reflecting the lights above them. When he spoke, his voice was low and quiet.

“Was it okay?” he asked.

“Was what okay?”

“This trip. I mean, I know we still have tomorrow, but…”

“Oh, hell yeah man. I loved this! I dunno if I’d want it to be any other way.” Despite the people that were walking past them, Ryuji couldn’t help but speak in a raised voice. This trip really was like a dream come true. Akira turned to him, his eyes soft.

“Really? I’m so glad. Honestly, I was nervous about this whole thing. I didn’t know if you would like it, especially the way I, y’know, proposed in front of all those people.”

“I loved every minute of it.” Ryuji leaned in and kissed him. He felt Akira’s hand rise up and snatch away his bear ears.

“Hey! What’re you-” Ryuji protested.

“I had a feeling you’d say yes, so...I thought maybe we could wear these instead…?” Akira reached into his shopping bag and pulled out two Destinyland hats that were dressed in a tuxedo and top hat. Ryuji blushed at first, but found himself laughing just a second later.

“It’s so ridiculous! I love it!” He grabbed it and proudly put it on while Akira put on his.

“I love you, Ryuji.”

“I love you too, you dork.”

The two walked to their hotel room hand-in-hand, ready to start the next day as fiances, and as the two dorks in love that they were.