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Every other thing in this moderately insane circumstance aside, Ritsu’s bedroom was familiar, at the very least, giving Izumi a sense of normalcy to cling onto if all else failed.

Absent-mindedly tugging at the collar of his white uniform shirt helped to calm his nerves a little, as did tapping lightly at the floor beneath his feet in a long-memorised beat. His gaze flicked around the space just shy of restlessly, taking in the fluffiness of the rug beneath his feet, the mounds of pillows on the bed, the photographs that ranged from childhood shots to teenage group photos, and he supposed all of that helped, too.

His boyfriend asking him the exact same question over and over again, on the other hand…

“-got to know, are you really sure, Secchan? I know it seems simple enough, but…” Gone was the ordinarily sleepy and languid boy who rolled around on couches and spoke in slow, uncaring tones, that version of Ritsu now replaced by someone fully alert despite the warmth of the afternoon. The vampire stepped inside the room and shut the door behind him with a click, taking Izumi’s hand and leading him towards the bed as he continued to speak. “The process isn’t reversible. Once I bite you with the intent to turn you, there’s no going back, so-”

“Yeah, I picked that up around the twentieth time you told me,” Izumi said dryly, sitting on the mattress and pulling Ritsu right down with him to try to keep him from fretting. It’d be a lie to claim that the model wasn’t just a touch anxious about this himself, but somehow, Ritsu was outdoing him. “Kuma-kun, I’m sure. Me agreeing to get turned into a literal vampire wasn’t a split-second decision.”

“I know, but-”

“If you know, then just hurry up and do it already,” Izumi huffed, briefly considering letting go of his lover’s hand before thinking the better of it. Ritsu seemed genuinely distressed though they’d gone over this a hundred times already, making the best course of action to tug him down by the collar with Izumi’s other hand and kiss him hard enough to shut his mind up for a moment. There came a soft noise from pliant lips, shoulders jumping in surprise- and then Ritsu’s body was rapidly relaxing within seconds, tension completely melted away by the time they slowly pulled apart in something a little less frantic, a little more calm. “Better?”

“...yeah, I guess.” Measured breathing, oxygen moving in and out of a chest that wasn’t his. “Okay. If you’re really, really sure-”

“I am sure-”

“Then let’s get to it,” Ritsu finished, as Izumi was the one who’d been delaying all this time, and the silver haired shot him a half-hearted glare in response. He was given a grin that was just the slightest bit sheepish, but nearly back to its usual, teasing self as well- which was a relief, really. “C’mere, Secchan. It won’t hurt a bit, so-”

Izumi raised his eyebrows with no small amount of cynicism. “You only ever say that when it will hurt.”

“Guilty,” Ritsu shrugged, physically lifting his companion onto his lap when Izumi didn’t move himself. The sensation of a cool nose nuzzling at the hollow of his throat made Izumi shiver, arms wrapping around Ritsu’s shoulders for support- he’d definitely be needing it soon. “For whatever it’s worth, you’ll only feel pain from the initial bite, then it’s smooth sailing from there.”

“Not reassuring,” Izumi muttered, feeling his breaths pick up as if to match. He was truly sure about his leap into vampirism, but now that the process was actually happening, his nerves were making their return. If something went wrong, if his body fought back-

“Shh.” The instruction was paired with a chaste kiss to skin, the exact place he was meant to be bitten- and he felt his apprehension recede, just a little. “No more thinking. Gonna do it in three, two…”

One.

There was a sharp sting in the side of his neck, the pain making his entire body jolt and his nails dig hard into Ritsu’s clothing. Squeezing his eyes tightly shut, he gritted his teeth to keep himself from hissing in pain, trying his damndest to remember whatever the hell Ritsu had said would happen next, because the world was suddenly spinning and swirling and morphing rapidly into pitch black, and-

Oh.

(You’ll die, for just a few seconds. Think of it as falling asleep, Secchan.)

(-and maybe after that, I’ll wake you with a kiss.)

•••

His body was hot. Too hot.

It felt as if he was running a fever in a barren desert, yet the sickening dryness in his tongue and the ache in his gums as he lurched stark upright in bed told him that a fever wasn’t what was ailing him. The insides of his throat felt like they were raw and bleeding, drawing out a ragged cough from his lips as his mind whirled and his breaths came in broken gasps, legs frantically kicking off the sheets that clung repulsively to skin. Something curled slyly, venomously in the pit of his stomach, thirsting for something he didn’t know how to give-

Blood.

He felt himself flinch at the very realisation, bile leaping treacherously to his throat though the rest of him roared its approval. Everything hurt, his entire body trembling and withering, his brain fracturing and coming further apart with every passing second. He felt fragile, as if his thirst was pulling the threads of his existence apart and threatening to dissolve him into nothing if he didn’t give it what it wanted, senses spiralling and lips so dry they’d crumble straight to dust with the rest of him. There was a faint thump from somewhere to the side, and his senses jumped, body following suit as his arms blindly flew out to wrench at the source of the sound, the smell-  

“Catch,” came a murmured order, and his body obeyed before he had the time to think.

The plastic was cool and smooth beneath his quivering fingers, and he found a deliberate slit in its thickness to tear a wider hole open immediately. Doing so made a certain something spill over his hands with a fragrance that made his head spin, hands forcing the blood bag up to his lips so he could swallow down that lovely liquid without a second thought. Richness flooded over his tongue and coated his throat like a balm, every inch what his body was meant to be craving, but-

Cold.

Why is it cold?

Hurriedly shoving the bag away and nearly retching through the leftovers in his mouth, he forced himself to choke that last gulp down before going right back to coughing. The blood tasted stale, devoid of the life it was meant to hold, everything about it so disgustingly artificial though he craved something real. His thirst that had only been sated for a matter of seconds was coming back a hundredfold in revenge, heart beating so quickly and frantically he’d surely drop dead on the spot-

There was a soft huff of laughter, and words that drifted closer with the subtle sound of footsteps. “So you aren’t a fan of bagged blood either, huh.”

Strike.

He was pouncing onto the person before his mind even registered it, hands fisting into collar and slamming a warm body straight to the ground. His knees ached from the impact against the hard floor, but white-hot need overruled it- he could feel his lips pulling back for his fangs to show, senses alight with thoughtless fire, yet his head was still dizzy and his arms were weak and he felt like he’d pass out of sheer desperation any second now-

The hand that lifted to cup at his cheek was impossibly gentle, nearly freezing with its temperature yet not something to flinch away from. “Easy,” was the whisper that met his ears, and surely a person wasn’t meant to speak so calmly when being pinned down by a newborn, starving vampire, but maybe this wasn’t just a person, either. The hand slowly moved over skin to touch the back of his neck, coaxing his head downwards to match the way a throat was being bared to him so deliberately, so vulnerably, an open invitation that his instincts knew the meaning of. “Just like that, Secchan. You know what to do, don’t you?”

He didn’t stop, didn’t think- just surged straight down and sank his teeth sharply into the offering he’d been given, the delectable sweetness of blood filling his mouth like the finest slice of heaven. Ritsu, to his credit, didn’t even wince- the only change in demeanour Izumi caught in this half-conscious state of his was a slight hitch in breath, and even that faded in an instant. The tanginess of liquid scarlet made his veins buzz and froth with energy, yet the fingers carefully stroking his hair as he drank kept him at bay, grounding him to reality though his body told him to take this to the extremes. Dizzying satisfaction thrummed beneath his skin like a form of life itself, and before long, the frantic gulps of blood mellowed into slow, lingering sucks, his heartbeat calming rather than sprinting a never-ending race. Drinking from Ritsu was peaceful, almost, a soothing practice he could surely get used to in due time, and-

-drinking.

From Ritsu?

He blinked once. Twice. Jerked abruptly backwards as if he’d been struck with a burning-hot brand, yet those blood-red eyes still fixed curiously on his, his lover innocently tilting his head to the side as if Izumi had done something trivial and odd rather than just left two perfect puncture holes in his pale, smooth neck. The wounds were still bleeding, scarlet slowly oozing and dripping from the bite as Izumi watched completely frozen. He’d drank from a person, drank from Ritsu, someone so loving and precious and-

Monster.

The word came completely unbidden in his frantic head, making him immediately drop his hold on Ritsu and clamp a hand over his lips instead, body torn between scrambling away and going numb. Horrid, horrid. He’d asked for this, gotten Ritsu to turn him into a creature who found its sustenance in the lifeblood of another, and now he’d quite literally bitten the hand that fed him, tearing into Ritsu with his inexperienced fangs and making him bleed. The very first thing he’d done as an inhuman was hurt someone, and someone so deathly important no less-

“Secchan. Calm down, it's fine.”

It isn't, he tried to say, but then Ritsu was wrapping his arms around his shoulders and pulling him straight down onto himself, their bodies colliding and pressing close, close, close. Any words Izumi meant to say evolved into a quiet gasp, his palms immediately pressing against the floor to push himself back up lest he hurt Ritsu again, lest he lose control again-

“I’m serious. You aren’t starving anymore, so you won’t lose your mind and maul me again.” Ritsu spoke amusedly, and lighthearted as he tried to make the situation, his word choice of maul wasn't exactly soothing Izumi’s nerves. The sensation of cool fingers stroking slowly down his spine did make things a little better, though, as did the familiar, unhurried cadence of Ritsu’s voice as Izumi found himself gradually relaxing against his will. “It’s probably a little scary at first, I know.”

The scent of blood was growing fainter, and when Izumi chanced a peek, he saw that the wound on Ritsu’s neck was already beginning to close itself up, the healing properties of a vampire ever so tenacious. “‘Probably?’”

“I mean, I was born like this, so I’m just guessing,” Ritsu laughed, pressing an idle kiss to silver hair. “Jumping people and biting them’s pretty normal to me. I was getting my teeth on humans before I even learned to walk.”

…one day, Izumi was going to sit his boyfriend down and get the full story on how baby vampires were raised without becoming absolute terrors to the local population, but today was not that day. A precious sense of normalcy was returning to the space once more, Ritsu’s calmness slowly diffusing and taking others for its gentle own- it felt, for the moment, like all this really wasn’t a big deal, freshly turned vampire or not. “It’ll get easier as time goes on,” Ritsu said softly, nudging at Izumi with his nose in a profoundly cute gesture. “And bagged blood actually isn’t all that bad when you aren’t starving. Newborn vampires are way more sensitive to that kind of thing, so you aren’t supposed to introduce bagged stuff to them until they’re mature, but I wanted to see how you’d react.”

Izumi smacked him. Hard. That was all it took to send his lover straight into a fit of laughter, every huff and giggle travelling through Izumi’s own body where they were lying together. “Kuma-kun.”

“Love you,” Ritsu said smugly, and there wasn’t much else for Izumi to do but roll his eyes and kiss him in response.

•••

“...you have got to be fucking with me.”

Ritsu looked like he was trying his very best not to laugh, but unfortunately, his very best wasn’t any good at all. “I’m not, Secchan. You know me, I’d never lie to or tease my one true love-”

“Cut the crap,” Izumi groaned, staring unbelievingly at the object Ritsu had brought him to one of Yumenosaki’s spare practice rooms to see- the object that was, apparently, now Izumi’s by ownership, even if he didn’t want it at all. Smooth, sleek edges, substantial depth, tastefully done in the darkest of obsidian and complete with a lid that was currently leaning against a nearby wall- “I don’t care if I’m a vampire, you’ll have to kill me before you put me in a coffin.”

“I mean, you technically are an undead now,” Ritsu said cheekily, snickering at the eyeroll he got in response to only half his statement. “So in a sense, you’ve already been killed-”

“You know what I mean, Kuma-kun.” A coffin. Ritsu had gotten him a coffin, and hell if Izumi knew what to do with that, because- “Seriously? You could’ve gotten me flowers or a note, but you went for something that foreshadows a funeral? I’m literally immortal now, at least make it make sense-”

There was a loud snort, and then Ritsu was doubling over in definite laughter, one hand clutching at his stomach as the other hid his smile oh-so poorly what with how impossibly wide it was. Sunlight haloing dark hair from where it streamed through the windows, eyes crinkled slightly shut with mirth, something so endearingly warm in his gaze as he looked at Izumi, amused as he was- everything about Sakuma Ritsu brought the word cute to mind at this very moment, taking every ounce of willpower Izumi had in his body to maintain his focus. “Vampires loooove sleeping in coffins, Secchan, haven’t you heard? It’s the latest trend, everyone’s into it-”

“I already have a bed.”

“No, you don’t. Listen,” Ritsu chortled, stumbling straight into Izumi and nearly tripping over his own feet in his merriment before hurriedly grabbing onto his boyfriend’s arm to keep himself steady. “Secchan. It’s about the aesthetic. Every vampire’s got to have their own coffin, whether they actually use it or not.”

For better or for worse, Ritsu’s amusement was infectious, and the model found himself fighting back a smile of his own as he pulled the boy in his arms firmly upright, the urge to either flick his forehead or press a kiss to it highly overpowering. “You’re not allowed to lecture me about aesthetics, Kuma-kun. If you want me to have a stereotypical coffin so badly, we could just share yours-”

“Or, we could share this one.” That was all of a warning he got before Ritsu grabbed him by the hand and pulled him sharply downwards, Izumi only managing a startled yelp before the two of them were tumbling straight into the soft lining of the coffin, miraculously without breaking a single bone. His glare was responded to with the smuggest expression known to man, as well as arms wrapping warmly around his waist to hold him close, and this was probably what Leo always meant when he said he felt like licking people’s noses out of spite. “Y’know, your heart’s beating really fast, Secchan.”

“It is not.” (They were in too close proximity for him to bluff his way out of this one, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t try.) “Just- shut up and hold me.”

“Done and done,” came the singsong reply, and… all things considered, this coffin was pretty comfy. Maybe it was the velvet lining, maybe it was the soft, grey sweater he could press his face into and inhale, and maybe it was the person he was in this fancy, morbid container with, the person with a natural knack for making things comfortable- there were no exceptions, not even for the undead.

•••

The sensation of a calming breeze against his skin, usually so light and ticklish and a cooling relief against the heat of the day, now only made him physically flinch.

The lightest brushes of collar over his neck were suffocating, and the thickness of his blazer chafed where sleeves met wrists. He could see every individual stroke of paint that’d been made on a freshly-coated wall, eyes instinctively zeroing in on the tiniest slants and speckles and making him dizzy from just how many there were. The entire world was vivid in colour, every object and detail so overwhelmingly crisp and clear Izumi felt nauseous just keeping his eyes open. Breaths of air came strikingly cold in his lungs, and having to consciously sense oxygen travel through his nose or down the empty column of his throat every second made him lightheaded, feet stumbling and palms quickly pressing at walls for support.

A soft, barely-there whisper drifted over from the opposite end of the long, sunlit hallway, and subtle as it was, it dug straight into his ears and made them feel as if they were bleeding, being torn into with sharpened knives and made to echo and ring. Hands flying up to cover the sides of his head with a wince did next to nothing, no matter how hard he gripped in a fit to draw scarlet droplets from fair skin. He could feel his legs trembling, knees close to buckling from the weight of every minuscule sound that seeped into his ears at pitches he’d never known, and it just wouldn’t stop. The recurring clicks of shoe soles, the chittering of insects, the footfalls of a person getting closer, closer-

A hand landed on his shoulder, and he flinched so badly his head jerked back into the concrete wall. The heat from the person’s touch was scalding, as if liquid fire had been poured over his paper-thin skin and was now burning holes straight through it, and he couldn’t keep his breath from catching tight in his throat as he immediately recoiled, part of him wanting to smack the hand away though the rest of him knew that that would burn him, too. “Izumi-chan?” came the questioning call that should have been quiet but was somehow louder than the shout of a giant instead, reverberating through the corridor and his ruptured ear canals. “What’s- is something wrong? You’re acting a little-”

Shut up. He could only hope those words hadn't bubbled out of his mouth and been spoken aloud as well- or maybe it'd be a good thing if they were, because then this person might finally stop talking and leave and keep Izumi from getting crushed under the weight of every individual piece of stimuli to ever exist. His clothes were too tight, his skin was too tight, flesh and organs being constricted as tiny pinpricks of air assaulted his arms and neck relentlessly. The scent of his friend's perfume was something flowery, usually soothing, but all it did now was clog up the oxygen he could hardly breathe and spread a poisonous gas through his lungs. He could feel her taking a breath, no doubt preparing to say something else that would send all his senses into further disarray, and-

"Sorry," he choked out, his own words strikingly loud and making him wince. Need to leave, I need to- (don’t say it aloud.) Quickly ducking his head to avoid the stark sunlight making its way into the space, he turned heel and hurried away.

You probably know this already, but vampires have enhanced senses, Ritsu had said to him a few days back, while they’d been ignoring homework and practice in favour of rolling around in bed and kissing periodically. It might take a while for them to set in, but when they finally do, things might get a little…

Too much. (The murmurs of students, the cracks of tennis rackets, the grating feeling of cloth against skin.) Everything was just too much, and there was only one person in the world who’d understand that, one person who’d be able to offer any help at all-

The studio doors were thankfully already ajar, saving him the agony of having to handle the cold, lifeless touch of a finger-marked doorknob. Scarlet eyes immediately blinked to life from the other side of the room (he could see them, brighter than they’d ever been), and lips parted but didn’t speak. Secchan, they mouthed instead as he crossed the room in shaky strides and let himself be tugged into an embrace, the sensations of Ritsu’s body somehow calming and muted rather than harsh and gritting. (Maybe it was a vampire thing.) Somewhere outside, a group of people tramped by, loudly laughing and bickering and sending jolts of mind-numbing pain through Izumi’s skull-

“Closer,” Ritsu whispered, no doubt knowing just how oversensitive every one of his lover's senses were- from experience, perhaps. There was some shifting, the dark haired boy quickly shrugging his blazer off before pulling Izumi flush to his chest and tossing the hemmed blue fabric over both their heads. This isn’t going to work, Izumi tried to protest, except the blinding lights were finally receding and the noise was fading and…

…quiet. It was quiet.

Izumi shivered, feeling the once-crippling burdens lift off his body all at once, at a speed that was just quick enough to be unnerving. Blinking away the ache in his eyes and head, he glanced up at Ritsu, who was attentively looking right back at him. “What did you…”

There was a hint of tease in his boyfriend’s voice as he replied, wiggling his eyebrows like his words were going to be a total joke- except they probably weren’t at all. “The usual black magic. Just needs some kind of enclosed space, so even a blanket or jacket works. I’ll teach you sometime.”

Effective as this… so-called magic seemed, Izumi didn’t trust it enough to raise his voice above a murmur quite yet. “You can just- get rid of all the sensory stuff, easy as that?”

“I wouldn’t call it easy,” Ritsu said mildly, giving his lover's cheek a small lick and making him jump. "Mm, back to normal. Vampire senses are pretty pumped up, so what I'm doing is… kind of dampening yours, and absorbing external stimuli into the blazer so they can’t get to you as easily."

A slightly clinical explanation, but it did get the point across. “Please don’t tell me I’ll have to do this to myself all the time,” Izumi muttered, thunking his head lightly against Ritsu’s chest. “I am not walking around with a blanket over my head full-time just so I can meet the ‘enclosed space’ requirement.”

“It only takes a day or two to get used to the sensitivity, so you’ll be fine,” Ritsu said with a laugh, and a day or two of this madness most certainly did not sound fine, but that was just part and parcel of the whole lifestyle, Izumi supposed. An idle kiss was planted to the top of his head like an afterthought, or maybe the precursor to another tease. “Now you get why I’m always so cranky when people are too loud, huh.”

“You just said I’d get used to it.”

“Still, nobody likes foghorns tooting in their ears,” Ritsu lamented with an exaggerated sigh, and Izumi lovingly shushed him by nudging his nose with his for a kiss. Trading slow, lazy presses of lips under the warmth and privacy of the blazer was its own level of calming, but after a few minutes… it was easy to tell that Ritsu was oddly tense, as if danger were still lurking around the corner. Breaking a kiss and frowning up at his boyfriend posed an unspoken question, to which Ritsu huffed, fingers curling into silver hair. “Just… didn’t like seeing you all hurt and overwhelmed, is all.”

Unnatural as it was, Izumi got the urge to pinch those pale, pretty cheeks with pure affection, then soothe them in a similar sentiment. (He settled for rolling his eyes, lightly nudging Ritsu’s cheekbone with a knuckle instead.) “I’m fine, Kuma-kun. You made sure of that, so just… relax.”

(Secchan telling me to relax- never thought I’d see the day, was what was definitely going through Ritsu’s head right about now, but for once, he didn’t voice it. The very next week, they locked themselves in a bedroom to fool around with blood and magic and all those things Ritsu found delightful while Izumi found questionable at best, and finding out that Izumi was actually better at sensory tips and tricks than his boyfriend was quite the show. Eternal youth and endless beauty aside, maybe this was where the real fun as a vampire was at.)

•••

Days turned into months, months turned into years, and years turned into decades that were eventually surpassed by the century. It became a natural thing to watch thousands of people rise and fall with the pull of the sun and moon, landmarks getting renamed and eras being overturned, and even then…

…he still thought of the exact same person whenever he passed by a confectioner who specialised in Western chocolate and parfaits, pudding and gateau. He still turned to speak to someone who no longer existed when he came across pieces of clothing or jewellery he knew weren’t just to his own tastes, but to someone else’s as well- or rather, were to her tastes, even to the very end. He still found himself thinking of a certain boy whenever he caught sight of a child reaching for a conductor's staff with a sparkle in their eye, found himself visualising that same visage whenever he heard a particular kind of tune being played on the streets, or saw a note scribbled in handwriting that was so close to being familiar, yet somehow wasn’t.

There was no running from reminders of people who no longer walked the earth, for the marks they left behind made homes in his mind rather than the changing world around him. Earnest words and indignant rebuttals made in either perfect Japanese or occasional English, prettily lined lashes that dropped smooth winks and glossy lips that mouthed cheeky remarks…

…bright hair pulled into low ponytails and striking green eyes, smiles filled with sunshine and a constant touch of music. What was it he’d said all those years ago, when they’d still been just a pair of ordinary teenagers, shining with youth and the lightest of hearts that would never, ever burn away…?

What? You should live long! Let's be friends even when we're old men- pinky swear!

(It's a promise.)

…that wouldn’t be happening now. Leo was long gone, as was everyone else Izumi had ever had the privilege of knowing and loving in this ample lifetime of his. The life of a mortal was dismally fleeting- he’d just never known how fleeting until he’d stopped being a mortal himself. So many of the people he’d found a home in were nothing but ashes in the wind and crystallised sand under the sea, now, and time wasn’t something that could be wound back and forth to change that. Loneliness dug its claws into him like a fearsome beast from time to time, making his heart curl into itself and threaten to weep as he sat huddled up on the edge of a private roof, the place he'd long made his spot for comfort. (Even if he fell, he'd survive the forty-storey drop anyway- the real challenge would be trying to explain how he'd survived to unfortunate passersby.)

"Hey."

Someone plopped themself down onto the space right next to him, and he didn't have to turn his head to know who it was- only one person in the world knew where to find him when he chose to disappear, after all. The ache in his heart receded just a little, but he didn’t look up, keeping his gaze fixed on the tranquil blue of the sky and its cotton companions instead. “Didn’t ask for company, Kuma-kun.”

“Maybe not, but you’re getting it anyway,” Ritsu shrugged, sneaking a kiss onto his lover’s cheek and giving Izumi just enough strength to sigh in faux opposition. Warmth nestled against his side as their shoulders bumped and Ritsu leaned comfortably against him, careful not to put too much weight on the other vampire- choosing now to be considerate, of all times. (Izumi supposed he appreciated it.) “Thinking about them again?”

Shifting to rest his head more securely against Ritsu, his eyelids fluttered shut in a moment of pleasure as a palm slowly pet him as if he were a cat. “...is it so bad to miss people once in a while?”

“I didn’t say it was,” Ritsu murmured, and maybe he hadn’t. A nudge to the forehead, a kiss to the very same place- “I get it, though.”

…he definitely did. Ritsu had been alive for hundreds, maybe even thousands more years than Izumi had, and this wasn’t his first time losing a group of people he’d cared for like family. Everyone knew the grievances that came with being an immortal, but to actually experience the sting in his chest when he remembered that only two people were left to love songs meant for more, the hollowness in that small, broken cavity when he passed a group of teenagers joking and laughing in ways he never would again…

It felt empty. Not completely, for love could never be drained away in all of its entirety like that, but the places in his heart that had once been full to overflowing had now shrunk into smaller, more painful pieces, and-

“Secchan.”

He blinked, tilting his head upwards to catch Ritsu’s warm, familiar gaze. There was a fond sort of smile on those cherry lips, and then two simple, predictable words that were nearly, but not quite snatched away by a tender breeze- “Love you.”

(...he recalled the very same words being spoken to him on the day he’d been turned, and somehow, even after all these years, they hadn’t lost their meaning at all.)

Countless things had never really changed about Ritsu, it seemed- not the things he said, not the ways he meant them. There was always love in the little things he did, from initiating handholds to creating horrific desserts to whispering things in Izumi’s ear that made him shiver though his heart leapt in equal measure. In a world that morphed and changed with every passing second, Ritsu was an affectionate constant, someone who’d stayed by his side all this time- and always would stay by his side, a special form of moonlight amidst gentle, swirling shadows.

(And just like that, those small, empty spaces in his heart would be filled again- every second of every day, in a world that was continuously changing yet so lovingly, wholeheartedly theirs.)