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one (ten) more time(s)

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The end begins with the cherry blossoms.

It's strange, Subaru thinks, as he watches the trees swaying gently to the spring breeze, how he knows.

Hokuto is still asleep, gentle breaths puffing into the crook of Subaru's neck, arm thrown gently over his waist. Perhaps any other day, any day a year ago, this would be the happiest thing to wake up to: his lover by his side, the warm spring sunlight shining through the blinds, blue skies and blooming flowers.

The silver ring on his finger seems to glow in the sunlight, and Subaru smiles, watching it glimmer and shine. A moment later, the blankets rustle and Hokuto's sleepy blue eyes blink up blearily at him, rimmed with panic for a moment of shock, and then relief as he smiles up at Subaru.

"Morning, Hokke," he breathes, quietly, like the clouds in the sky.

"Morning," Hokuto replies easily, just as gently. He smiles again, sleepy, and Subaru indulges him with a kiss; feeling his heart soar in his chest.

Today, he's going to get married to the love of his life.

Today is the last day.



The first time it happens is the first time he listens to Hokuto sing.

His voice is beautiful; melodic and lilting, just a perfect balance of rough and smooth. It's kind and gentle, soothing; somehow breathtakingly emotional and so, so perfect.

Subaru doesn't think he's fallen in love so fast before in his life.

(Hokuto's voice isn't everything. There's the way he smiles, too; the way he doesn't understand jokes, the way he shares his umbrella with Subaru when he forgets his own. It's just that Subaru learns all these things later, much later, and that in this moment, all he can think about is the sound of Hokuto's voice and how it'd sound together with his own.)



"Wow, this is still your phone background?"

"Mm." When Subaru glances up at him, there's pink dusted all over his cheeks and floating down his neck, too. He presses his face into Subaru's shoulder not a moment later, pretty blue strands tickling all down his neck, the rest of his body warm against Subaru's back and arms tight around his waist.

"I like it," Subaru says. It's a picture from a date, the moment after a kiss. He isn't even sure how Mao managed to capture it in all its perfection; Hokuto gazing so softly at him, the gentle love in his eyes as Subaru beams up all wide and smiling at him. He knows every detail of this picture by heart anyway.

Quietly, he leans back against Hokuto, humming happily. He likes this, comfortable in Hokuto's arms, gentle and loving; immune to the rest of the world.



"I'm home."

Subaru blinks, the ceiling staring back at him. It's already dark. Hokuto's probably taking off his shoes in the entranceway, but he doesn't have the energy to get up.

"Akehoshi?" Footsteps patter into the room, and then there's a weight on the bed as Hokuto sits beside him.

"Hokke." His voice sounds so tired, so drained. He wants to have the cheerful call again, to have dinner ready for him when he comes home, to smile and hug Hokuto even before he takes off his shoes.

"Hey," Hokuto whispers, brushing away Subaru's bangs to press a gentle kiss to his forehead. "Have you eaten?"

Subaru sighs. "No."

"I'll make something for dinner," Hokuto says, and Subaru wonders how he can still sound so gentle. On a good day, maybe, he might have gotten out of bed and maybe swept up the apartment, but it isn't a good day. "Is there anything you want?"

"Stay for a bit," he pleads instead. He isn't hungry.

Hokuto slips under the covers a moment later, his body warm. Recently, it's been all Subaru wants: just the warmth of his body, the sound of his voice, the reassurance that Hokuto is there and real.

He falls asleep later, for the first time in hours, to the sound of Hokuto's quiet singing and a hand in his hair, and with a foreign peace in his troubled heart.



"This is our last song," Hokuto cries to the audience, and deafening cheers rise in the cramped live house. "But before we sing, I want to say something."

"Hey," Makoto hisses from the drum kit, "was this in the script?"

Subaru shakes his head.

Hokuto steps off stage for a moment, and returns with a bouquet in his arms. "Akehoshi."

"Hokke?" Subaru feels his heart stop, breath caught in his throat; the world slowing down to the penlights and the flowers and the mic clutched in front of him. "I- um, what's- what's this for?"

"Seriously," Hokuto sighs, "you forgot our anniversary was today, didn't you?"

Subaru beams. The audience goes wild.

"You're really stupid sometimes," Hokuto continues, the gentlest of smiles touching his lips. "But I love you. I love you, and I want to sing with you. Forever."



There's dinner on the stove, bubbling steadily, as Subaru slithers his arms around Hokuto's waist and hums. He can feel warm water dripping down his bare back from the shower, but it doesn't bother him at all as he presses kisses to the side of Hokuto's neck and nuzzles his face into the curve of his back.

"Akehoshi," Hokuto mutters, "now really isn't the time."

"Just 'cause I'm not wearing a shirt doesn't mean you have to have your mind in the gutter, Hokke." He giggles until Hokuto elbows him in the ribs, face flushed a deep pink. "Ow!"

He resorts to leaning over the counter, watching Hokuto as he stirs and adds in a bowl of vegetables to the pot. The ring on his hand glimmers, and Subaru bites back a grin at how happy it makes him to see it; his lover, soon-to-be-husband.

"What did you want?" Hokuto sighs, lid now firmly on the pot and frown on his lips.

"Nothing," Subaru replies, content to just watch him cook. Hokuto stares back at him, eyebrow raised.

"...Put on a shirt," he says, finally, after his eyes flicker downwards one too many times.

(The bottom of the pot does burn, but it's worth every kiss when he comes back wearing Hokuto's sweater.)



"Sorry I'm late!"

It's beautiful how Hokuto's smile simply blooms on his lips, pink flushing all the way to his ears as Subaru hugs him tightly, happily beaming. "Akehoshi."

"Hokke," he sing-songs in return, and pulls away to take his boyfriend's hand. "You look nice."

Hokuto blushes again, the lanternlight dyeing him in shades of orange and somehow making him look so, so pretty. They haven't even gone anywhere yet, the summer festival still waiting for them, but Subaru feels a fluttering lightness, like he's falling in cotton candy.

So he blurts, "I love you," to the summer sky of their first date, and then lets the tightly squeezing happiness in his chest curve his lips into the brightest smile as Hokuto reddens and shyly brings their lips together in a reply.



"Akehoshi, don't just stand in the doorway," Hokuto huffs, despite slumping against the bedframe. "We've still got lots of stuff to move."

"But I'm so happy," Subaru breathes, smile splitting across his face as he takes in their- (he has to repeat it to let it sink in,) their apartment. "We're gonna live here. Together! Together, Hokke, we're gonna live together-"

"Idiot," Hokuto says, stepping over the piles of boxes to cradle Subaru's face in his hands, "we have forever together."

(Subaru has to break the kiss when he almost sneezes into Hokuto's mouth, but then, he thinks, they have forever to kiss as well.)



It's a silver ring, plain and simple; curving around a brilliant blue gem. Sapphire, the shop assistant provides, and Subaru feels his heart slip into his throat as he watches the light from the store catch on the jewel, and he knows Hokuto will love it.

"I want this one," Subaru says, breathless; without looking away.

The shop assistant hesitates. "Are you sure you want this one? Do you want to look at some more before you decide?"

He thinks of Hokuto, how beautiful he'd looked in the pale sunlight that morning as he'd slept; how the thought of sliding a ring onto Hokuto's finger had simply happened into his mind. How the idea of forever had seemed just a little closer.

"It has to be this ring."

The ring is perfect.



"Hokuto's in love with you, Subaru. It's obvious from the way he looks at you."

The rain falls all around them as Subaru grabs hold of his wrist, not letting go.

He knows the way Hokuto looks at him, glances stolen when he thinks Subaru isn't looking; the way he lets Subaru take big bites of his homemade lunches and the way he reluctantly treks across the entire campus to buy his favourite juice when the vending machine is broken.

He doesn't want to let go, ever, so he holds on tight, even as Hokuto refuses.

And he puts that fateful umbrella over their heads. Somehow, Hokuto is still beautiful, even with tears brimming in his eyes and drenched in rain; even in the shadow of the clouds, and Subaru wants to kiss every inch of him. He knows he'll relive this moment forever, the moment where he kisses rain and tears and sobs from Hokuto's lips and falls once again, dreaming of endlessness.

He knows he'll fall in love again and again, and he'll make up for the fact that Hokuto hadn't been the one he was supposed to love from the start, so-

"I love you, Hokuto. And I'm not letting fate take you away from me."



"Goodbye, Hokuto. I love you."