As much as Akira misses the countryside, fresh fields ingrained into his memories, hazy and old, he can still see the beauty of Tokyo, though its defining features are different and unfamiliar to the ones he knows. On this particular night, the sky has opened up to a rich, dark purple, peeking out from behind the impossibly tall, crowded buildings of Yongen-Jaya. In the distance, as he looks up, the clouds beyond, tinted lilac, twinkle and shine and Akira musters the courage to walk down the dark alleys, nervously ambling his way to Shibuya.
Ryuji’s worried that he’s late - or early - or he has the wrong time altogether. He checked his phone so much that it’s out of battery, and in his excitement he forgot to wear a watch. Leaning backwards onto the wall, he takes in the scene set out before him, delicately organised, a puzzle for his mind to piece together. Although the night has set in quickly, Shibuya’s bustling more than it ever did in the daytime, full to bursting with people in their own little worlds, living their own little stories. Akira would be able to complete this puzzle, Ryuji bets, for the life of the city has turned himself into just another piece, another story to slot into the millions rushing around him every day.
Akira finds Ryuji quickly, slumped against a wall in one of the quieter alleys near the theatre, but he perks up instantly once he sees Akira, a wide smile spreading across his face. The two of them slink off into the night, chatting and laughing like childhood friends, and Akira realises he’s never felt this close to a person, this understood, this loved. He wonders if Ryuji feels the same.
But Akira doesn’t know that.
Out way past curfew, the two of them slot into a climbing frame in a children’s playpark, encased in hard plastic, swapping breath in the tight space. Akira has a thousand daisies threaded through his hair, his collar, his jacket buttons, weaved by Ryuji by light of the moon. Plucked stems tickle his neck and his wrists but he doesn’t complain - no, Ryuji’s a sunbeam in the nighttime, and he’d never block out Ryuji’s sun. Perched on his hands and knees to secure the flowers, Ryuji stumbles back a little, almost falling off the tiny plastic castle.
At the last second, Akira grabs him, their fingers interlacing as if it were by design, hoisting him back up the ladder. Their faces meet barely an inch from each other, hands clasped between them, Akira’s long, deft, unreasonably soft fingers meeting Ryuji’s lightly scarred, rough palms.
In the silence, Akira whispers something on the wind, winding around Ryuji’s head, tracing it’s way through his soul;
“I should not be seeing you - nor should you be seeing me,” he sighs, the words flowering in the air as he speaks them, “we know that it can never be… you and I together,” hesitating ever-so slightly.
Ryuji is a rose, in bloom at Akira’s touch, and prickles at the words. “No, no, Aki, it….” he stops, surprised at the feelings locked behind his lips, afraid to let them out, afraid of the trouble they’d cause. “It can be. If you’d like it to.” Face redder than the gate to the park, Akira scrunches his eyes shut, “I should not want to be around you…. nor should you want to be around me.”
This time, Ryuji stays quiet and listens, Akira’s words abloom again, a wall of roses growing around them using their hands as support, their bodies a garden obelisk, painted white-gold in the moonlight, basking in it’s rays.
“It’s all because of that feeling, that feeling the first time we met.” He stops, and Ryuji waits, knowing Akira will find his voice again, and continue to let the climbing roses crawl high above them.
At night, alone in Leblanc, Akira thinks about how Ryuji tastes of cinnamon and the city, the sprawling streets of Tokyo. For the first time in a long while, Akira enjoys the prolonged, sleepless nights.