It’s 1988 and they are all sitting in the hideout.
“We should play truth or dare!”
It is Kazu’s suggestion, which comes as no surprise to Satoru, who sighs as Osamu nods his head in excitement; his eyes are wide with interest. Kazu’s grinning, his smile stretching out his cheeks. Hiromi looks horrified; his eyes are wide and encompass half of his face. Kenya is the only one who hadn’t moved at Kazu’s words, his head tilted down in the book he’s been reading since they entered the hideout.
“I don’t know,” Hiromi stutters out, looking uncomfortable but Kazu slaps a hand on his shoulder.
“It’ll be fun! I promise I won’t give you any hard dares!”
“That’s if he decides to choose dare instead of truth.” Osamu points out, with a cheeky smile. Hiromi shuffles a little in his seat and Kazu waves Osamu’s words off.
“Then I won’t ask him any mean questions. Come on, Hiromi!”
“Alright.” Hiromi’s reply is timid but he looks more willing now, sitting up a bit straighter and Kazu flashes him an encouragingly smile. He turns his attention on Satoru, who hadn’t said a word.
“What about you Satoru?”
“Sure.” Satoru smiles at Kazu. He’s been so focused on trying to save Hinazuki that he’s had little time to hang out with the group. Perhaps a moment to relax would help him. He’s been stressed lately, unable to sleep due to his want—need—to discover the murderer’s identity, and to protect Hinazuki from her abusive mother. Satoru can feel the fatigue in his body weighing him down. He’s still not used to his child-like body; he finds that he has boundless energy throughout the day but he crashes more quickly and more easily now than before. It’s been a strain on his physical and mental health.
Satoru turns his gaze from Kazu on Kenya, who is now watching Satoru from the top of his book. The other boy’s brown eyes are trained on him, as if waiting for him to do, or say, something. Satoru tilts his head in Kenya’s direction, “You’ll play too, right Kenya?”
Kenya closes his book. “I don’t see why not.”
“Awesome!” Kazu shouts, “Everyone gather around in a circle!” They shuffle into empty space around each other in a circular pattern. Kenya is on Satoru’s right while Hiromi sits to his left. Kazu claps his hands together with a broad smile. “Who wants to go first?”
“It was your idea, so you go first.” Osamu says, pressing his glasses up his nose triumphantly.
Kazu rolls his eyes but nods, sitting up straight. “Dare!” He says immediately.
Osamu taps his fingers against his thighs, squinting in thought. “I dare you….” He blinks and grins, “to compliment Misato tomorrow in class!”
Kazu winces and Osamu laughs at the other’s expression. Satoru can’t help but think the whole thing is silly from a 29-year old’s point of view. How hard is it to compliment someone? Of course, he knows how off-putting Misato can be… Satoru is reminded of the missing-lunch-money incident. He feels a little bad for snapping the way he had, but Hinazuki hadn’t deserved her bullying. No one did.
Hiromi hides a giggle behind his hand and Kazu sighs, “Fine!” He says, looking determined. “I’ll do it tomorrow, but now,” he grins and turns his gaze on Hiromi. “Hiromiiiiiiii truth or dare?”
Hiromi cuts off his giggle immediately and looks bewildered, “ah, truth.”
“Okay, what’s your favorite memory?”
“Awwww what’s with that?” Osamu whines, disappointed. Hiromi looks relieved and gives Kazu a smile, Kazu beams back. Satoru smiles behind his hand at them. Kazu is just as much a softie as he remembers.
“My favorite memory…” Hiromi looks down, fumbling with his hands before he closes his eyes with a small smile, “meeting and befriending all of you.”
“Oh.” Osamu says, blinking. Kazu reaches for Hiromi and ruffles the other’s hair with a wide grin. Satoru can’t help but feel the tears collecting in his eyes; Kenya gives him an amused look.
“I feel the same way, Hiromi.” Kenya says, smiling at him. Hiromi nods as Osamu begins to rub at his eyes as well, tears on his cheeks.
“Hiromiiii” He cries, launching himself across the circle to wrap his arms around the smaller boy’s side.
Hiromi laughs, hugging him back.
Once Osamu has settled down, Hiromi turns to Satoru with a smile, “truth or dare, Satoru?”
Satoru thinks it over for a bit. He can’t really remember if they played truth or dare before in his past. He wonders briefly what the Satoru of his past would have chosen. But, the Satoru he is now, chooses: “Truth.”
“Aww, I wanted Hiromi to give him a dare.” Osamu whines. Kazu pats his friend on the back consolingly.
“Ask him about Hinazuki!” Kazu calls to Hiromi and Satoru gives his friend an exasperated look.
Hiromi smiles, it’s gentle and Satoru visibly relaxes in a way only Hiromi had ever been able to allow him. “How was your date with Hinazuki?”
Satoru blinks, confused for a moment, “Don’t you already know? You were all there.”
“We showed up at the end, Satoru,” Osamu says, waving his hand in the air as if dismissing Satoru’s question. “For all we know, you guys could have been getting lovey-dovey in the galaxy exhibit.”
Satoru flushes immediately. “We didn’t even go into that exhibit.”
“Well, then what happened?”
Satoru relaxes, he has nothing to be embarrassed about and, frankly, he’s gotten slowly used to Kazu and Osamu’s teasing in regards to Hinazuki over the last few days. “We looked at some exhibits and talked; she told me she really liked the science museum and was glad I brought her there.”
A chorus of “aww” came from Hiromi, Kazu and Osamu. Kenya smiled good-naturedly but distractedly, shaking his head. “Alright everyone, that’s enough teasing.”
“Yes sir, Kenya, sir!” Kazu said, saluting the blonde boy. To Satoru he said, “it’s your turn to pick someone to ask.”
Satoru glanced between Kenya and Osamu and settled for his bespectacled friend. Kazu shot Osamu a smirk. Not wanting to be outdone by his friend, Osamu sits up with a determined gleam to his eye, “Dare!”
Satoru ponders how best he wants to do this. As he thinks, he realizes he misses the easy-going days of fun and play he used to experience with everyone. Back in his present time, they had all lost contact after high school. He wonders how and what they are all doing. Satoru glances in Hiromi’s direction, a sadness seeping into his chest. All but Hiromi… who was a victim of the murderer. He vows once more to save Hinazuki and Hiromi.
“Hurry up, Satoru.”
“Sorry, sorry,” Satoru pauses to think for a second more. All of the dares he’s coming up with are either too mature for them all—once again Satoru is reminded that he is in fact 29-years old—or too silly. He tilts his head, trying to come up with something before it comes to him and he finally lifts his head to eye Osamu’s vibrating form. “I dare you to lend Kazu your Dragon Quest cartridge for a day.”
Osamu’s eyes widen and Kazu leans forward in his seat in excitement, “Really?! That’s awesome! I’ve always wanted to try out Osamu’s hero! He's always out-leveling mine!” Osamu looks crushed for a moment before he tilts his chin up and turns, shifting in his seat to give Kazu a scrutinizing look. “Don’t do anything crazy, okay, like resetting my file.” He says, eyeing Kazu, "And don't reset my characters on purpose either!" Kazu looks offended for a moment but he nods in understanding. Osamu sighs, "I'll bring my cartridge to school tomorrow."
Satoru smiles in amusement. He remembers how much Osamu loves Dragon Quest and how strong a player his character was, as well as Kazu’s continued lamentation when they would compete to see who's hero was the higher level, or has the most experience. After a while, Kazu returns to the circle after hooting and hollering his glee at this turn of events, and Osamu turns his eyes on Kenya, who has yet to be propositioned in the game.
“You’ll want a truth, right Kenya?” Osamu asks, smiling, “you usually pick truth when we play.”
Kenya shrugs, “You won’t know unless you ask me.” Everyone laughs at the typical Kenya response. Satoru is reminded of how level-headed Kenya is.
“Alright, truth or dare, Kenya?”
“Dare.” Satoru blinks, surprised. The others aren’t much better. Osamu’s glasses slide down his nose and he doesn’t bother to fix them. Hiromi is staring and even Kazu stutters in surprise. Kenya looks unfazed, merely waiting for what Osamu would dare him with.
“Uh, okay, hold on, I wasn’t expecting—” He laughs and finally reorients his glasses. He thinks for a minute, gaze moving between Kenya and Satoru and back before his face breaks into a mischievous smile. “Kenya, I dare you to kiss Satoru.”
Kenya blinks, and Satoru splutters. “What!?” His cheeks heat up instantly. I’m 29 years old! Get it together!
Hiromi’s cheeks are on fire as well and Kazu grins alongside Osamu. “Oh good one, Osamu.” They high-five. Hiromi moans in dismay, covering his eyes with his hands.
“You can’t be serious? We can’t!” Satoru protests, glancing at Kenya who still looks way too put-together for having been dared to kiss Satoru. Satoru blushes again when Kenya’s eyes meet his.
“Is it because you’re saving your first kiss for Hinazuki?” Kazu teases.
“That’s not it!”
“He probably already kissed Hinazuki, Kazu.”
“Whaaa, Satoru’s got guts!” Hiromi gasps.
Satoru tries desperately to cool his heated cheeks to no avail. So much for not getting riled up by their antics. Osamu and Kazu share a grin.
“Kenya wanted a dare and that’s the dare.” Kazu points out. Osamu nods in agreement.
Satoru opens his mouth to protest again but Kenya’s calm voice breaks through, “It’s alright, Satoru. I don’t mind doing it.”
When Satoru turns a disbelieving gaze on his friend, Kenya looks back calmly. Kenya’s always had a certain air about him. Satoru always knew he was the smartest of the bunch and the most mature, but looking into his gaze Satoru can see the intelligence in his eyes. The flash of his brown eyes look golden in the lighting and Satoru swallows, feeling suddenly short of breath.
“A-are you sure?” He can’t help but stutter out.
Kenya nods, glancing out of the corner of his eye at the others who are watching with rapt attention. Kenya sighs and mumbles quietly, almost too quiet for Satoru to hear, “I didn’t want our first time to have an audience,” before he leans forward.
Kenya hesitates only a second, Satoru’s breath hitches as he finally leans in all the way and their mouths meet. Satoru’s first thought is, he’s warm before he realizes he should probably kiss Kenya back. He’s not had much experience kissing—he’s 29-years old for heaven’s sake, he should have at least some expertise!—but he can tell he knows much more than Kenya does. Satoru hadn’t realized he’d closed his eyes until he opens them to get a look at Kenya. Kenya’s eyes are closed and his brow is furrowed in deep thought. Satoru almost breaks away from the kiss to chuckle. Kenya looks like he’s trying to figure out what to do next, so Satoru uses the (minimal) knowledge he has and helps him out. Satoru tilts his head a little so their noses don’t bump and presses more insistently against Kenya’s mouth (better to play it safe than introduce Kenya to what is known as “open-mouthed kissing”). Kenya makes a humming noise, surprised, but doesn’t move and Satoru takes control of the kiss, pressing closer.
He realizes, belatedly, that his hand had come up to take Kenya’s wrist in his. His fingers are tight around the other boy’s wrist bone, his thumb rubbing circles into the skin there. When they finally separate, Kenya’s eyes are narrowed slightly and he looks confused—which is a new look, Kenya is rarely confused—but also a little hopeful?
“Oh!” Satoru startles and nearly topples over. He’d forgotten the others were still there. Osamu’s cheeks are flushed, Kazu’s mouth is open in shock and Hiromi looks both embarrassed and elated. He’d been the one to speak. “Satoru you looked so confident!”
Kazu seems to come back to himself, shutting his mouth with a snap and blinking before shaking his head and grinning, “Well that’s because he’s had practice with Hinazuki!”
They all start to tease Satoru, as usual, and the atmosphere dissolves into the usual lightheartedness customary of their antics. Satoru glances out of the corner of his eye at Kenya, who is looking directly at him and not participating in their friends’ fun. When he sees Satoru look at him, he turns his head to the side so all Satoru can see is his profile. Satoru smiles, fond, at the high blush on his cheeks.
In 2010, the hideout has been switched to a bar location.
Kazu, already two beers in, his cheeks distinctly pink, sits up straight in his seat, eyes flashing with interest, “Hey! We should play truth or dare!”
“That’s a child’s game, Kazu.” Aya says, shaking her head fondly. “I decline.”
“No one said you had to play, Aya.” Kazu shoots back, taking a swig of his third beer. She whacks him in the side lightly, enough that he jostles and nearly spills the beer on Hiromi, who is sitting next to him.
Hiromi, wisely sitting as far away from Kazu as he can, smiles. “I can’t remember the last time we played that game.”
Osamu, on Aya’s other side, leans forward, his elbows on the table, “I sure can! It was the last time we were all in the hideout together! Don’t you remember?” Osamu turns to give Satoru, who is nursing a soft drink between his hands instead of alcohol, and Kenya, who is sitting next to him with a beer in his hand which he’s been sipping slowly over the course of the evening, a waggle of his eyebrows. “Kenya was dared to kiss Satoru.”
Satoru startles, nearly knocking over his own drink this time. A lot of his memories had been foggy or nonexistent when he’d woken from his coma seven years ago, but he’d regained most of them when he’d realized who Yashiro was. Along with those important memories, he also had the memory of the soft press of lips against his and a flash of golden-brown eyes.
Kenya smirks at Satoru’s fumble and gives Osamu a raised eyebrow, “You’ve been teasing me about that for years, Osamu, and I’m not falling for the bait.”
“Yeah, but I need to make up for all the time I wasn’t able to tease Satoru.” Osamu says this with a grin but his eyes are sad. Satoru can feel the mood of the room shifting ever so slightly at the reminder that Satoru had lost 15 years of his childhood to a coma.
Hinazuki, who has been sitting next to Hiromi and on Satoru’s other side, nudges Satoru with her shoulder, smiling, before she turns to address the others at the table, and to diffuse the tension. “I don’t mind playing a quick game.”
Aya, who’s been patting Kazu on the cheek over the course of the last few minutes, sighs and shakes her head, “I’m sorry to say but it looks like this one’s passed out.”
Misato, who’d been sitting next to Kenya, rolls her eyes, “Ugh, Kazu, you know you shouldn’t be drinking that much!”
Hiromi leans forward to press a hand to the bigger man’s forehead, raising his eyelids to check his eyes, “He’ll be fine once he gets some rest.”
Aya nods her head, “I’ll take the big lug home. You guys can stay while we go.”
“That’s alright,” Satoru says, getting to his feet and smiling down at all his friends, “it wouldn’t be right to continue without Kazu since this was his idea anyway.”
“True.” Misato nods, standing up too and slinging her bag over her shoulder. “Well I’ll be off then, everyone.” She blows them all a kiss and laughs, turning to help Aya carry Kazu out the door.
“I’ll be off then too.” Osamu says, jumping to his feet and saluting them before he follows after the others.
“We need to get home to Mirai.” Hinazuki says, hugging Satoru goodbye. She waves to Kenya and then slips her hand in Hiromi’s as they head out.
The last two are Kenya and Satoru. Kenya nudges his best friend, inclining his head, “Come on Satoru, we’re headed the same way.”
They walk in the chilly evening air, bundled up in jackets and scarves. Kenya has upgraded from his headphones to a blue scarf which flaps around his neck. Satoru kind of missing them. They’d been a constant in his memories of Kenya and it was a bit of a shame to see that Kenya had outgrown them. Of course, Kenya looks mostly the same. He’s grown taller and he still keeps his hair the same way, and his eyes are still that golden-brown color that Satoru remembers. Satoru unconsciously glances down at Kenya’s lips and remembers how warm he’d been, and how inexperienced. Satoru briefly wonders if he’d react the same way if Satoru kissed him now.
Kenya catches Satoru looking at him and the side of his mouth quirks up in amusement. “You’re staring.”
“And why is that?” Kenya raises an eyebrow but the way he is smiling makes Satoru think he’s very interested in the answer. Kenya’s also become prone to teasing Satoru now, like how the others do. Satoru isn’t sure if he likes this change or misses the way Kenya would always come to his rescue. Not that Kenya stopped coming to his rescue, because Kenya had never stopped.
Satoru inclines his head. He doesn’t want to say that he’s been thinking about what Osamu said. About their first kiss. When he blinks at Kenya, he can see that Kenya looks smug and Satoru realizes he might have said that out loud.
“Well it was our first kiss.” Kenya says, “I had wanted it to be on our terms, but no matter the way it worked out I don’t regret it.”
Satoru blinks, “You had wanted to kiss me?”
Kenya gives Satoru a look, “I thought I was pretty obvious about that.”
Satoru stares, and then shouts, “No! You weren’t obvious at all!”
Kenya laughs, delighted, and then grabs Satoru’s arm to stop him. He turns Satoru towards him so they are facing each other, his eyes are sparkling with mirth but also intent. “Well I’ll make it clearer this time. I want to kiss you, Satoru.”
Satoru shivers, and it’s definitely not the cold. Kenya tilts his head and he looks like his younger self again; there is hesitation in his face, but there is also a glimmer of hope, “Would you let me?”
“Yes.” Satoru breathes. Kenya’s eyes sparkle and he leans in with a surety that his younger self hadn’t shared.
This kiss is completely different from the one they’d shared in 1988. Satoru isn’t nervous, and Kenya isn’t hesitating. He has the movements of one who knows exactly what they’re doing. He’s probably had a lot of practice, Satoru thinks, a little frustrated. But what is the same is the warmth of Kenya’s mouth and the golden-brown gaze he pins Satoru with. Though he moves with purpose now, tilting his head at the right angle without Satoru’s assistance, hands settling on Satoru’s waist and movements sure, he still feels like Kenya. Satoru’s fingers ghost over one of Kenya’s wrists, just like the last time, and Kenya hums again, this time less in surprise and more in pleasure. Satoru’s eyes flutter closed at the insistent way Kenya kisses him.
It’s his second kiss with Kenya, 22 years after the first, and it’s just as perfect.