There have been many theories about how Rintarou might have died. Some speculate he got dragged away by fangirls into a dark and dreary forest never to be seen again; some envision that his death came about as a byproduct of skimping his gym exercises, later kicking the bucket via a hundred pound bar crashing down on his neck.
But all those theories are cheap shots in the dark. They set a grand expectation of him. Like he’s some all-mighty celebrity with the pinkie finger of God and the unfortunate following of crazed individuals who should know better than to break into his apartment twice a week regularly.
(Too many times he’s dialed the police box near his home. Too many times he’s gone out to have ramen with them. Nice gents.)
What people don’t suspect, however, is that Rintarou could possibly die of embarrassment. Not just any embarrassment, but hot, heavy, and downright scandy embarrassment spurred by the zealous enthusiasm of his long-time boyfriend, as well as the instigator for Rintarou’s early death.
“I can’t,” Rintarou moans, hands hiding his mortification.
“Yes,” Osamu growls, tugging Rintarou close by the waist. His breath is a puff on Rintarou’s neck as he crowds in. “Ya can.”
“I did what ya wanted last week in bed, so now ya gotta give back. Stop dawdling, and pick up the pace.”
“But that was different. I’m telling you, this is impossible.”
Osamu’s eyes glint dangerously. In a deep, low voice, he says, “ Oh ? Are ya breaking yer promise, Rin?”
The salacious voice shoots directly south.
This isn’t fair , Rintarou thinks as Osamu takes his hand in his and they start sprinting.
They’re heading to an anime convention. A fucking anime convention.
Sure, he got caught up in the moment on Saturday when he and Osamu suddenly found themselves with ample time together during Golden Week, and sure, maybe Osamu looked crazy good with a small metal ball between his lips as his voice muffled into the walls of their bedroom, but that was all a set-up. Because in Rintarou’s endorphin-hazed mind following their cooldown, Osamu deliberately cornered him into an oath he had no chance of processing properly while his mind was as high as the sky, and now he’s stuck in this goddamn situation.
They just barely make it to the early-morning 4am crowded train.
Rintarou had complained all the way since last week, when he finally registered the ridiculous promise he made, up until they left the door of their apartment early this morning, when it began to dawn on him that Osamu was totally going to fulfill the promise he coerced out of Rintarou.
Because of course Osamu would go through with it. He’s the twin to Atsumu, the closet-fudanshi and full-time pervert who made Rintarou and Sakusa pose for puri-puris as if each twin weren’t dating one of them, so of course that means Osamu has his own messed-up eccentricities.
The line for the convention is already a kilometer long by the time they get there. Rintarou can barely tell where the event is even supposed to be, perhaps somewhere stuffed inside that stinky and humid convention center in the blurry distance.
He hears a flash behind him, and instantly he whips his head around, unconsciously draping his leather tailcoat to cover himself. But then he realizes the coat doesn’t have much of a collar, and his shirt doesn’t even have a collar to begin with, so really, there is no point in trying to salvage what dignity he has left.
Osamu takes care of yelling at and ordering whatever poor fellow stole a sneak pic of Rintarou to delete it. Just for today, Rintarou allows Osamu to be his prissy bodyguard, uptight and prone to snapping due to staying up all night completing Rintarou’s look.
“Stop touching yer face,” Osamu gripes at him when the line starts moving.
It’s 6 am. He’s exhausted. They’ve been here for almost two hours. The line impossibly stretches another 2 kilometers behind them.
“I hate this,” mutters Rintarou, slowly removing his hand and saving what remnants are left of the paint job Osamu did to his face.
“What was that?”
“I said I fucking love this. Is that what you want to hear?”
When they first started dating, Rintarou had entertained Osamu’s unexpected pastimes. He knew the man liked to cook, but he didn’t know his household skills extended to sewing, nor did his dexterity lend itself well to prosthetic makeup. But hey, he was trying to win brownie points, so he let Osamu dress him up however he liked.
For a year.
For a year he entertained Osamu’s creative license and let him do whatever he wanted, but then one day Osamu sweetly asked Rintarou to join him at his annual convention— in costume . At the time, he figured, why not , sounds fun . If they’re anything like what happens when they do role-playing in bed, it’s bound to be good.
Oh, but after that singular harrowing experience, Rintarou swore off that side of the fence forever. “Anicon,” or any of its tangential brethren, is a word taboo to the Suna-Miya household. If Rintarou hears so much as a lick of the word “convention,” he takes off.
They get their ID tags at the gate, and once they step inside, it’s a hellscape.
Cosplayers take up the front. It’s a freak fest of Miyazaki characters. He counts at least five Levi Ackermans in the crowd, and maybe seven fucking Narutos posing for pictures or shouting Believe It! like they’d die without repeating the line every five seconds at volumes louder than an airhorn.
Beyond that to the sliced-off left are kiosks for the poor blokes who haven’t registered for today’s scheduled events, and there’s already a twenty minute wait line for those. And to the right, there’s a general Help Desk staffed by normal-looking humans with ID tags, who hand out maps of stalls and stages.
Osamu snatches one before he has to wait an extra two minutes for the employee to grab more, his mind singularly focused on making it to as many of his favorite authors’ booths as possible.
Then in the open arena, for all to see, is the fuck train of Lucifer descended.
Osamu grabs Rintarou’s hand and careens him through the thick globs of humans.
It isn’t long before some people stop him, or more specifically, Rintarou:
“Oh my god, is that Dabi ? Can I take a picture?”
“Hey, that’s a cool costume! Mind if we pose together?”
“ Todoroki! I swear he’s a Todoroki! Where is the confirmation, Horikoshi?!?”
“Wow, you really encapsulate the dead look he has. Got any tips on method acting?”
Because of this, it takes about twenty minutes longer to wade through the first fifty feet of the convention center—which, given it should have only taken them two seconds to walk through, is about twenty minutes too long for Rintarou’s weary mind to stand.
To Osamu’s credit, he swats away anybody who gets uncomfortably close to Rintarou, and actively shuts down anybody seeking an up-close-and-personal photo session with him. He did this last time, too, so it’s only fair he gives the same treatment again.
But that doesn’t make up for shit when Rintarou still feels way out of his comfort zone wearing a shirt whose collar dips almost all the way to his navel, tight fitting pants whose breathability is questionable (but does wonders for his legs), and a hot, heavy leather jacket that hangs below his knees like gym weights.
Don’t forget the makeup. It’s industrial.
He’s stiff, he’s uncomfortable, he’s tired, and he feels downright embarrassed at how much skin he has exposed despite what was supposed to be a rather conservative outfit.
And when the fuck did Osamu even find the time to stitch this costume up? He swears last week was a premeditated attack. Otherwise, how else could Osamu have this home-crafted outfit ready and set within less than a week?
Now don’t get Rintarou wrong. He understands what it’s like to be somewhat a part of this community . Well, mostly he knows games. Action games, role-playing games, simulation games, strategy games—he has his fair share of MMORPG downloaded to a personalized computer he totes with him between Hiroshima and Osaka. He’s quite honestly considering just purchasing one to remain permanently in Osamu’s cluttered apartment.
He’s on discord, and he picks fights with eight-year-olds on Minecraft—so he knows . He recognizes a Neloth when he sees one.
But that doesn’t mean he has to love the in-person experience. Or even enjoy it.
People stare at him. People’s jaws drop while he stands in line behind his boyfriend, holding his tote of spoils from the latest conquest at his favorite shoujo author’s booth two booths over. People can’t take their eyes off of him and karmically run straight into cement poles.
And throughout all of this, he prays to the high heavens for his watch to tick faster and for this day to just be over.
Osamu swivels and offers Rintarou a churro when they’re standing in line at a food truck. He himself already has five stuffed in his mouth.
Rintarou takes the sugary dough and stares at it grimly.
What the fuck is he doing here?
Why does he exist?
How come his fingers itch to grab his phone out of Osamu’s drawstring bag so he can take a picture of his boyfriend sporting adorable chipmunk-puffed cheeks?
He has no answer to any of these questions, so he takes a reluctant small bite of the diabetes dough before Osamu changes his mind and determines that if Rintarou rejects this food, that means he wants other and more food. Which is complete bullshit. And also just an excuse for Osamu to make them stand in more food stall lines.
“Hey,” Osamu says as they’re strolling through the second floor of the convention center. That’s right, this place has layers . About five, regrettably.
Rintarou is too distracted by the people gawking at them. He wishes he were shorter. That way, he could at least hide behind Osamu.
Or better yet, make him invisible. And give him a flying feature while you’re at it.
Osamu looks more refreshed after eating. Good thing, too, because he’d been snippier without food. And also exhausted. That happens when you stay up all night applying makeup to your boyfriend while the model snoozes like a pampered prince in your comfy recliner.
“Ya like World of Witchcraft , right?”
“Warcraft,” Rintarou corrects, but otherwise lets it alone. He hasn’t played the game in years, but that’s not something that Osamu would really know. Osamu doesn’t have any ventured interest in the world of games, and Rintarou generally stays clear of shoujo manga and the arts and crafts store.
“Yeah, yeah, that one. There’s an event starting around two that I signed us up for. Ya wanna go?”
Rintarou startles. He can’t control the grimace that sneaks up on him. “What? No .”
Osamu, who had been cheery and peppy earlier, instantly deflates. He looks like a deer making its peace right before the semi chases it down.
By the time they enter the third floor, it’s nearly three, and Rintarou’s arms are heavy with totes upon totes of charms, posters, doujins, and whatever other memorabilia Osamu figures is worth dropping cash on.
But it’s also here where Rintarou experiences the exact thing he so loathed during his last visit to the convention.
It’s almost comical the way it mirrors last time: Osamu goes to the bathroom, Rintarou takes up an immobile post of guarding his mountain of spoils, people stop to stare, people stop and whisper, people point and with reddening cheeks, click the shutter before Rintarou even has time to process who has taken a sneak pic because there’s too many happening at once.
But this isn’t last time. This time, Rintarou isn’t trying to hold out on impressing Osamu with his perfect convention etiquette. This time, he’s run out of patience.
So to whoever the fuck is standing right next to him, with their Snapchat open and gawking in plainsight at Rintarou, he’s not sorry. He takes their phone straight out of their red hands and pitches it across the venue into some Tanjiro-cosplayer’s weave basket, bonking fake-Nezuko-chan before sliding into the depths of demon fetish and cotton linen forever.
“Whoops. Sorry lady, my grip slipped.”
He gives her no time to process, because as soon as Osamu emerges from the toilets, Rintarou is already speed-walking away with his half of the totes, not giving even a second for Osamu to catch up.
It’s just his luck that in his quick haste, he bumps directly into two girls simply trying to have a nice photo session with Aki and Angel.
“Sorry, excuse me—”
“ Oh my god, are you Suna Rintarou-senshu ?”
Oh, for the loving fuck— How ?
“No,” he says all too quickly. It sounds like a lie, and it is a lie, but the girls don’t need to know that. Yet, they do anyway, because girls always know. It’s like a sixth sense. He knows. He has a sister.
The girl he bumped into clasps her hands in blooming delight. “You are ! Oh my gosh, you cosplay , Suna-senshu?”
She steps in close, cheeks reddening, and her friend parrots her motions, until he’s nearly suffocated by the stench of flowery perfume and teenage desperation.
“I never would have thought we’d run into you here. You’re so much more handsome in person! Please , can we take a photo?”
Rintarou backs up. He hits the wall. He’s cornered. Fuck.
He suddenly remembers a nature documentary he once watched at Atsumu’s place because Sakusa was over, and to hell if the clean man doesn’t get his way with the remote.
Predators hunt their prey in groups. They circle them until there’s no space left to breathe, and once the last bits of hope fade from the prey’s eyes, they attack.
These teenage girls (who are the same age as his sister, mind you) are the predators, and he is the prey.
Solemnly, he closes his eyes and waits for the specter of death to seize him.
Large hands tear between the sliver of space between the two girls. Osamu’s tone is rigid, mean, and downright nasty as he gives them both kill-cut eyes.
“This one’s mine .”
His boyfriend leaves no room for discussion as the girls stutter “but” and “wait.” Osamu takes Rintarou with a bruising grip, yanks him out of there, and pushes him through the giant ebbing crowd.
It’s great that Rintarou found an escape; it’s great that he doesn’t have to put up with any of their bullshit anymore.
What’s not so great is the fact that Osamu’s knuckles are digging into the meat of his back.
“Ow, ow, ow , hold on! ‘Samu, stop shoving me—”
All of a sudden, his boyfriend collapses into a ball of shaking sighs and messy memorabilia as his totes spill out on the floor.
Rintarou freezes dumbly.
Why is Osamu shivering like a wet chihuahua? What’s he doing down there, losing the spoiled purchases they’d fought tooth and nail for? Is there something between Point A and Point Z that Rintarou accidentally bonked his head and clocked out on?
They’re smack-dab in front of the entrance to a Love Live! stage performance, and people are starting to whisper. In a different way this time.
Rintarou stumbles like a zoologist taken straight out of his undergrad program and is suddenly told to save the whales.
Oasmu mumbles something, his head buried in his knees as he’s weighted to the floor like a sack of rice.
Rintarou exhales, long and hard, like he’s dying, and whispers, “What the fuc—”
“I said, why do ya gotta be so hot?!” Osamu shrills, not even sarcastically distraught.
“ What .”
He can’t be serious. What the hell is Osamu on? Who the fuck transformed his boyfriend from a cool, slightly-miffed slightly-deadpan, foodie entrepreneur, into a whiny, desperate, and existentially questioning toddler while he was in the bathroom for all of five minutes as Rintarou was getting mauled by anime-incognito fangirls?
Bending over, he shakes Osamu’s shoulder dumbly. “If you, uh, want to talk about it, we could go outside?”
Because first things first, they gotta stop drawing a crowd.
The only problem is, apparently Osamu’s brain has completely malfunctioned—even more than Rintarou’s—because all that comes out of his mouth as he’s punching Rintarou’s chest weakly is “dummy,” “harlot,” “pretty boy with no brains.”
Ouch. That last one stings.
Eventually, as the insults devolve more and more until he’s like a print machine out of ink, Osamu wears out, because he stops punching Rintarou. He’s dazed like he’s seeing stars, and he huffs. Unceremoniously, he says, “Fuck, if only ya were uglier.”
“I’m sorry?” is all Rintarou says, eyes wide, because he has no clue what’s happening.
“Me too,” Osamu says gravely as he gawks at Rintarou’s bare toned chest, courtesy of Osamu’s skimpy costume design skills. “Picked one of the crustiest characters I could think of, and ya still manage to make him look hot. I shoulda known better than to go with the skinny jeans.”
Rintarou doesn’t think it’s just because of the skinny jeans. Maybe if it were the collarless shirt, but not the skinny jeans.
“You know you didn’t have to dress me up.”
Osamu laughs drily. “And waste some good man-meat? Ha. As if.”
In the fervent stress of escaping one predatory situation, he forgets sometimes that he’s already staked by someone else who can’t seem to stop seeing everybody as food.
Rintarou sighs. He picks Osamu up by the elbow.
Sheepishly, Osamu follows Rintarou as he leads them through the crowd.
There’s a reason why Rintarou didn’t enjoy going to the last anime convention with Osamu all dressed up. It’s not that he doesn’t like spending time with Osamu, or wasting the day away doing something he honestly could care less for while beautifully soaking in the moments where Osamu’s face light up as he receives a handcrafted message from one of his favorite artists—he’s honestly fine with all of that.
What he doesn’t enjoy is people gawking at him like he’s some shiny new exhibit that everybody crowds closer to see. He’s used to the audience cheers, the fiery call-and-response, the admiration in people’s eyes after a match. But that’s it. Limited to games only. Not at his home, not at the grocery store, and certainly not cutting into his time with his boyfriend.
So the attention he receives from the audience at conventions—which is honestly more than double what he gets as a professional volleyball player on the court—is one that he cringes away from.
He let Osamu dress him up because it was for Osamu, not some horny girls ranging from their early teens to mid-forties to dollop and grab wallpapers of. He’s not blind to the way they look at him. But sometimes he wishes he were blind to the way Osamu looks when he’s like this.
“Sorry,” Osamu mutters as they pass by the sports anime section. His shoulders sag with the weight of his totes.
Rintarou hates it when Osamu’s put-out. Even more so when he feels actually dejected.
“Same,” Rintarou replies, lazily, hoping to lighten the sour mood. “I’m sorry for the fact that these jeans are cutting off my circulation.”
Osamu snorts. Oh, that’s a good sign.
“Asshole,” says Osamu.
“Prick,” Rintarou nicks back.
“I’m your bitch.”
“ Anyways ,” Osamu says, because he’s losing this petty argument, “ya should stop being so pretty. I hate it when people look at ya.”
Rintarou scoffs, rolling his eyes. “Then stop dressing me up for these things. Ever think that maybe that’s why people look?”
“They look cause yer hot no matter what ya do. If I’d known dating you was gonna be a nonstop battle to hold my claim, I woulda dumped yer ass in our first month.”
“Haha, right.” What a funny joke. As if Osamu would ever dump Rintarou.
“I’m serious.” And the look on Osamu’s face stifles the laugh on Rintarou’s tongue and buckles him down for some deep sobriety.
He clears his throat awkwardly.
“I’m sorry I was born this way…?”
Osamu looks vindicated as he says, “Thank you.”
They pass by a reenactment from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
“Ya know,” Osamu says, quietly this time. Rintarou turns to look at him. “I registered us for the Zelda event at four if ya wanna go.” It’s a soft admission, an olive branch, but also something more.
And then it hits Rintarou.
Osamu, who loves his conventions to death; Osamu, who demolishes anybody and anything standing in his way for a fucking wall scroll; Osamu, who prizes his time preciously and sparingly during the unique 1-day experience that really only comes around once a year for him—that Osamu thought about Rintarou. What he might enjoy— if he might enjoy this.
Because it doesn’t matter to Osamu what they do, just as long as Rintarou is there with him at his side.
Feelings of warmth and love overwhelm him, and in an uncharacteristic move, Rintarou stops and wraps his arms around Osamu, the totes falling with a heavy thunk to the ground. He plants a big fat kiss on Osamu’s lips and hears the illegal camera shutters go off, but he could care less.
Osamu looks perplexed but also kissed-out when Rintarou pulls back.
Rintarou’s breathless as he says, “I love you, but I fucking hate Legend of Zelda.”
Osamu’s face falls comically. “Oh.”
But despite it all, it’s accompanied by grins and silent laughs.
“Screw it,” Rintarou says, as he’s picking up the totes he had tossed aside. “I don’t care what we do anymore. Whatever you want. It’s your day.”
“Huh? But I thought ya—”
“I know,” Rintarou cuts him off. “But I figured, you like this stuff, right? It just makes me a bad boyfriend when I put you down just because it’s not my favorite.”
Osamu whizzes out, because that’s not the reply he was expecting from Rintarou, who for years, has resisted these conventions. And Rintarou enjoys the look of Osamu whizzing out.
Because in the end, it’s not about the skimpy outfit Osamu dresses him up in, or the exhausting lines he makes him wait in, or the people that lurk in every corner waiting to snatch a piece of Rintarou (thank god Osamu’s there to shoot them down)—it’s the simple fact that he likes seeing Osamu smile. And if that isn’t the prettiest thing he’s ever seen, then surely, he must be blind.
Osamu tugs the hem of Rintarou’s ripped shirt, the one whose collar is dipped way too low, and whose collar dips lower with each tug.
“Ya mean that?” he asks softly.
“Does that mean next year—”
Okay, now that’s stoking a fire that’s just barely there. Rintarou quickly cuts him off.
But Osamu lights up regardless.
Oh, Rintarou thinks. Yeah , Rintarou melts. Rintarou wants to capture this picture forever, and as he kisses him, he thinks vaguely how nice it would be to have a camera.
And as if to kill the good mood, somewhere in the distance, he hears, “ Oh my god, did Dabi just kiss V. League player Miya-senshu ?”
He and Osamu groan simultaneously, but then they laugh when they realize it doesn’t even matter. Not to them.
Then he kisses Osamu again for the cameras, uncaring to the eyes around them, because the only person whose attention matters is right here, right in front of him.