Snow had been a rare occurrence in the more southern prefectures of Japan; so much so that the idols had believed an evening performance of their Christmas best on Christmas Eve would be uninterrupted by any such extreme weather. It was even weirder that it was only after all the fans had left the premises, when the idols were beginning to settle down after their long performances, that the snowy weather had picked up; what began as small snowflakes turned themselves into large clumps of sticky snow, swirling ominously through the air as the wind picked up to an unbelievable speed. One idol had noticed first, and after a shocked proclamation, the other idols quickly realized the severity of their situation. There would be no heading home for the holidays until it passed, no time spent with loved ones and family members in a nice, familiar home.
This worked in favour for some (the twins were happy to get the chance to fling snowballs) and not for others (Tsukasa would have to miss out on an important family dinner). If you were to ask Ritsu, he'd say this is the opportunity he didn't think he'd ever get.
"... Bad, isn't it?" His voice piped up beside Izumi as he joined him at the window, the model's hand pressed against the glass to feel the severity of the wind outside. The glass shook an almost alarming amount, as if any stronger gust could cause it to break. Eichi's voice could be heard in the background, giving directions and offering hope to the situation.
"Haahh," Izumi sighed, shoulders slumping. "My flight was supposed to leave in the morning. Doubt that's happening now."
"Mm... Wonder when it'll pass. It can't last that long." Ritsu could hear the voice of Arashi in his head as he recalled what the other had said to him just before their performance rehearsal this morning.
'If you don't tell him before he leaves again, you're going to regret never telling him!'
Tell him, huh... Just say the words aloud. The idols and staff around them had been distracted by following directions, gossiping amongst themselves, gaping at their own views out the windows, and venting their frustrations- giving him the perfect opportunity to tell Izumi how he felt about him.
The sound of generators powering down all at once had muffled his moment, and with it, all the electricity in the building had shut down. Stranded in darkness, there's a beat of surprise before exclamations and fear begin again, Eichi's voice once more calming the masses. Izumi steps away from the dull glow of white through the windows, glances once at Ritsu, who stands as if the wind had been knocked out of him, then begins his walk towards Eichi and the others. Without electricity, everyone would need to do their part to keep warm and safe until the power could be reset. Leo's laughter, Niki's crying, Wataru's Amazings, and Ibara's own barks of command filled the room as the dominant forces, forcing all to pay attention to them. Ritsu's opportunity was ruined, but surely, he'd be given another one soon.
They had back up power sources, according to the management team; setting them up would take time, and until then, each unit would need to stay close. Flashlights were in limited supply and blankets could be secured from the dorms. All the idols had to do was hang in there, securing the resources they were advised to find, and huddling close for warmth.
Leo had rambunctiously began to run ahead from the flashlight Tsukasa was tasked with holding, taunting the aliens hiding in wait to snatch them. Arashi had kept up behind Tsukasa, arm linked with his to keep herself safe and close to a heat source; also to keep her leader safe, of course.
Ritsu and Izumi had, as always, stuck to the back, Izumi shouting pointlessly at Leo to stop his running around before he crashes into something, and Ritsu, complaining about how all he wanted was to sleep somewhere warm. Knights hadn't changed that much, after all. It was comforting all on its own.
The next goal Ritsu had was to find another opportunity to get Izumi alone.
"Blankets.. Narukami-senpai, your dorm is down this hallway, yes?"
"That's right. Leo-kun, yours is this way too, isn't it?"
"Hmm? Is it? Probably!"
Ritsu's arm snuck its way around Izumi's, looping him into a hold as he pressed his side to his in order to stop him from moving.
"Secchan's is down this way, so we'll meet you back here, 'kay~?"
"Wh- Hold on, don't go deciding things! We don't have a light!"
"Vampires can see in the dark, you know? Come on, let's go." Vampires could not, in fact, see in the dark. Regardless of this, and ignoring Izumi's continued complaints (they never stopped, really), the two fumbled their way down the dark hallways towards Izumi's dorm room. Luckily for them, his roommates had yet to visit- Ritsu's second chance was granted.
Walking into the dark room, Izumi walked cautiously towards his bed and, once found, began to strip it of its blankets.
"I just made it this morning, too," he sighs, struggling to tug out what he'd folded under the mattress so nicely. To his right, a smaller vampire takes a seat on the comfortable surface, halting the pulling of any blankets as he takes up room. "Kuma-kun, off, off!"
"But I'm sleeepy.." Ritsu drawls, earning another exasperated sigh from the other.
"Sleep once we're all together again! Up."
Stubbornly, Ritsu continues to sit. He peers up at Izumi, who he can just make out after adjusting to the darkness. He's clearly unimpressed with his attitude, but something- that predictable something- doesn't push him to continue nagging. After all this time together as idols, Izumi had picked up on Ritsu's needs, and understood his condition just as well as Mao might. When Ritsu was sleepy, he was sleepy, and given the amount of time he'd been awake today, he had a feeling Izumi could tell he might really need the rest.
Sitting in silence for another moment, Izumi staring with unthreatening contempt, Ritsu staring back with a hint of fondness, the model finally gives. Lifted blankets drape over Ritsu's shoulders, bundling him into a cocoon. Despite the darkness of the room, he could tell the other was wearing the look of worry often reserved for serious instances only.
"If you need to sleep, we should at least tell the others first. Think you can make it?"
Ritsu had heard the question, but rather than thinking of an answer, his mind was filled with the kind side of Secchan that he only got in unique moments like these. Since when did being spoken to by his crush affect him this badly? After a beat too long, he opened his mouth.
"Mm, I can. Give me a minute, though. We've got some time."
Izumi nodded in understanding, and took his own seat on the mattress, gaze lingering on the vampire as if he could visibly see how he was doing. When he realizes he's staring just to stare at this point, he turns his attention to the floor, thinking.
"... You'd called my name earlier," he begins, letting it hang in the air a moment. "What did you want to say?"
Ritsu's cold body began to heat itself up, starting with his cheeks. Thankfully, colour couldn't really be seen here.
"That's..." His voice a tad quieter than usual, he fiddles with the idea of being vulnerable enough to tell him. Just say it. "Well, I wanted to wait for the right time to say this, but.... Secchan, I-"
A flashlight to the face causes both of them to recoil, the sudden bright light being accompanied by a gasp and an apology from no one other than Mao.
"I thought this room was empty," he states sheepishly, lowering the flashlight to the ground to rub the back of his head.
"O-Oh, Izumi-san! I also hadn't expected..." Makoto had piped up next, adjusting and squinting through his glasses to attempt at finding the outline of their faces. Predictably, Izumi's eyes grow hearts, and the reunion is sweet.
By the time all five Knights find each other again, chaos is back to normal. Still wrapped ridiculously in Izumi's blankets (which smell just like him), Ritsu shuffles along beside them until the group find themselves a comfy spot to sit. Niki, with the help of a few extra hands, had used what was perishable in the fridge to whip up a meal without the use of electricity. Helpings were being passed around by those who volunteered, and with food and warmth came cheer. Despite the fact they were all locked inside a cold, dark building for Christmas Eve, they each had enough family around them to enjoy the evening anyway. Karaoke was being sung in one corner, another had taken to telling ghost stories, others had been gossiping and playing games, and some, like Ritsu and Izumi, had taken a moment to relax- Izumi, not by choice.
The two sat atop cushions near a quiet corner, the blanket now wrapped around both of them (as per Ritsu's insisting he needed the extra body heat), Izumi idly scrolling through his social media as Ritsu lay with his head against his shoulder, eyes closed as he drifted in and out of sleep. He wasn't sure when something like this had become natural for them, his own persistence and Izumi's inability to say no to him leading to a compromise that allowed (despite complaints) the two of them to be intimately close. If this was how their evening together played out, before Izumi had left for Italy again, Ritsu wouldn't mind it; even if he didn't get to tell him how he felt.
How he felt...
He had to just say it.
This would be his last chance.
Red hues peeked at their surroundings as he woke himself up, noticing that, indeed, the two of them were practically alone. Under the cover of darkness, no one around them could see what they were up to- it was his perfect chance.
Stirring against his shoulder, Izumi glanced down at the silhouette of Ritsu, putting down his phone to give him his attention.
"Awake already, huh? That wasn't even an hour. You're always out for at least three."
"Have something important..." Ritsu yawns mid-sentence, bringing his hand to his face to rub at his eye. There's another moment of silence as his brain restarts itself, and then he's up, sitting upright to properly look for Izumi's face. The light from the phone screen illuminates his features just enough to show he's attentively listening, and curious. It's now or never, he reminds himself, before he opens his mouth to speak.
"Secchan, before you go back to Italy, I... I need to tell you--"
Successive clicks and buzzing interrupts yet again as the lights turn themselves back on. The two of them look around each other, watching the re-illumination of lights and other electronics, the sounds of rejoicing quickly filling the room.
Ritsu's had enough of his bravery being interrupted; before Izumi can even react, the blanket is tossed over the both of them, engulfing them in absolute darkness away from the rest of the world as Ritsu's lips clumsily collide with Izumi's. It's the least impressive kiss he could've given, awkwardly missing half his lips as he'd taken a guess on where they'd be, their noses bumping in the process, but it was generous- generous, and full of the emotion of a first kiss that had waited too long to happen. Despite there being no light, the two of them can feel the heat on each other's cheeks.
In the next moment, the kiss is broken with a gasp, the blanket dropped to reveal the truth they both had known about each other- faces red, embarrassment apparent, they locked eyes, Izumi in disbelief over how sure Ritsu looked.
"I'm glad I got to spend Christmas Eve with you, Secchan." Ritsu admits through a breath, still not quite over the excitement. "I.. love you. I love being with you."
Ritsu had finally seized his golden opportunity to let it out, even if he had to create it himself. And his love seemed to be reciprocated- or so he liked to believe, by the dumbfounded and embarrassed reaction the other was giving him.
"S— Stupid!" Ah, no? Maybe he was wrong? Was that Secchan-speak for 'I love you too'?
Unfortunately for him, he wouldn't find out just yet, as Izumi shoved at him, untangled from the blankets, and ran into another room.
He spent a moment to himself, wondering what to do now and what this meant and how to explain this to Arashi, before his cell phone had begun to ring. Glancing at it, he sees the familiar name of the one he'd just confessed to.
Picking it up silently, he hears a very embarrassed,
"I-I love you too."