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Stay By My Side (For the Rest of Our Lives)

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Aira smiled widely as he prepared for ALKALOID’s latest Live. It had been a long 7 years since they had been thrown together as a unit. The “Underachievers”, complete strangers, told to make it work or they’d be fired.

It was hard at first. But despite the hardships, they rose up higher than anyone, even themselves, thought they could go. ALKALOID was one of the most popular idol units within ES now, with two SS wins and dozens of other competition awards. And tonight, they were having what they were calling a “throwback” performance.

As a longstanding unit, they had quite the repertoire of songs and dances to their name now. However, it had been Hiiro’s idea do a Live featuring their first few songs, from all the way back when they’d just started. Namely  Kiss of Life, Believe 4 Leaves, Moratorium Wings, Hysteric Humanoid,   and finishing with Distorted Heart. It had taken a few practices to remember all the choreography, but they’d soon been laughing and joking as they fell back into the routine and memories.

‘Hiiro-kun really can have good ideas every once in a while.’ Aira thought with a wry grin. His boyfriend may still be clueless from time-to-time, but he always pulled through for them. He’d really grown as both a person and as their leader. Aira was proud to be the one standing at his side.

They’d taken quite a while to confess their developing feelings for each other. Mayoi-senpai had literally locked them in a closet together until they talked, much to Tatsumi-senpai’s chagrin. But Aira was glad for it. Hiiro was the most dedicated boyfriend he could ask for, and he never doubted the red-head’s feelings nor his genuine desire to simply want him to smile every day. Though it did take some time to get used to Hiiro’s spontaneous nature, he couldn’t help falling in love with him more with every gesture, big or small, public or private (no matter how embarrassed he was during the moment.)

Aira shook himself out of his thoughts when a knock sounded on his dressing room door. “Shiratori-san, it’s time for sound tests.” One of the stagehands called through the door.

“I’ll be out in just a moment.” He replied, putting the last touches to his outfit, a replica of their first unit uniform.

The final preparations before they took the stage was as hectic as every other time. Mics had to be fit and tested. Outfits checked over for any discrepancies. The four of them had to be put into the positions they would rise onto the stage from.

And then the rush of the actual performances. Aira still got a thrill every time he was in front of a crowd. Lives tended to go by in a blur and all he could truly focus on was the lyrics, the dancing, and the movements of his team. Every note sent a thrill through his body, every cheer spurring him on.

And everything went perfectly… until the very end.

However crooked these thoughts may be
Blossom in my heart for eternity

The four of them held out the last note of the song, moving into the finishing choreography as flawless as the rest of the Live had been. However, as the final notes approached, Aira was taken off guard when Tatsumi moved out of step, reaching out and grasping his own arm. The blonde’s steps were thrown off as his Senpai spun him around a few times, tossing him away with a flourish only for him to be caught by Mayoi and brought to a stop in the center of the stage, facing towards the left rather than out towards the crowd.

A silence had descended on the entire venue. Not a single person was cheering. It was almost eerie, in a sense. Aira had to blink a few times to clear away the dizziness, but then he saw what, or rather who, was in front of him.

Hiiro, his amazing boyfriend, was knelt down on one knee, holding an open ring box up towards him. Aira brought his hands up to his mouth, face already turning a light pink. “H-Hiiro?”

The redhead smiled that bright genuine smile that Aira loved. “Aira, I know I’m not always the best when it comes to romance. I’m clueless and spontaneous. Sometimes I make you angry or upset, which is never my intention. But you’ve stuck with me through it all. Being with you brings a smile to my face every day. And I want you to be by my side for the rest of our lives. Will you marry me?”

Aira had tears in his eyes, not trying to fight back the smile that had spread across his lips. “Hiiro, you idiot! Yes! A million times, yes!” He cried out, throwing his arms out to embrace him. Hiiro was quick to steady them both, rising to his feet as he slipped the ring on Aira’s finger.

The sudden, loud roar of applause made Aira jump. And it was only then that he realized they were still on stage and their microphones had still been on, broadcasting their words. Aira’s blush deepened. He looked behind them to see Tatsumi and Mayoi standing off to the side with smiles on their faces.

Aira looked over the crowd, still wild with cheers, before refocusing on his boyf- no, his fiancé. “You planned this.”

Hiiro had a goofy grin on his face. “Of course I did. I love you, Aira. I had to make my proposal as special as possible.”

Aira snorted a quick laugh. “You really are an idiot, Hiiro-kun. But I love you too.” And not caring that they were under spotlights, in front of thousands of people, Aira brought their lips together in a sweet kiss.

Several hours later found Hiiro and Aira back at the apartment they shared. They’d moved in together after two years of dating. Sitting down on the sofa, Aira cuddled into Hiiro’s arms.

Aira hummed, admiring his ring. It was fairly simple, a silver band with a single blue gem on top. Rather than being large and protruding out, the gem was on the smaller side and more-so merged in with the metal. But what stood out the most was that the stone was the same shade of blue as Hiiro’s eyes. Hiiro’s ring was an exact copy, except his gem was green like Aira’s eyes. It was incredibly romantic, and the blonde loved them.

He leaned back against Hiiro, turning his head up to look at his love’s face. “Okay, how did you pull off such an amazing proposal? There’s no way you thought of that yourself.”

Hiiro chuckled, kissing the top of his head. “You’re right. I’ve had the rings for months now, but there never seemed to be a right time or place. I know I’m typically spontaneous, but I wanted this to be special, ya know? So, I went and asked advice from Tatsumi-senpai and Mayoi-senpai. Tatsu-senpai suggested proposing with a song, and I immediately thought of Distorted Heart But it was Mayoi-senpai who said I should do it as a surprise at the end of a Live.” Hiiro smiled brightly, holding him just a bit tighter. “So, we started planning. We hadn’t performed Distorted Heart for a while, so I thought up the whole “Throwback” theme, purposely placing that song at the end of our set. Then Tatsu-senpai, Mayoi-senpai, and I practiced the change to the end of the dance. The spinning was to cause you a little confusion, so that I could get into position without you noticing immediately. And before the Live started, while you were still getting ready, I went out on stage and explained my plan to the crowd, asking them to remain silent after the last song until the proposal was finished. Was it too much? Did you like it?”

Aira turned and kissed him soundly. “I loved it, Hiiro-kun. And I love you so much. Thank you.”

Hiiro reached out and cupped Aira’s cheek. “I’m glad you liked it. I love you too, Aira. More than anything.”