Rating: Teens and Up
Genre: Romance, slice of life
Word Count: 30, 941
Summary: University AU.
The request was basically University AU, slow build, and Yuto in the photography club. This was subtitled “Horikoshi clusterfuck fic of doom” when me and my beta looked through it. It’s that bad. I hope recipient-sama likes it anyway? My brain interpreted “slow-build” as “long ass fic”, and interpreted “Horikoshi students could appear too” as “everyone should be here”. The title is from the song If.
Continued from Part 3
[Ryosuke sent you a message!]
Ryosuke Yuto kissed me
Ryosuke no actually
Ryosuke he was drunk
Ryosuke he’s on my couch right now, maybe
Ryosuke I’m not sure
Ryosuke I just locked myself in
Yuri good for you!!! \o/
Ryosuke you’re not helping
Yuri you do know I’m always going to be in Yuto’s side?
Yuri I’m glad for him
Ryosuke I thought you were in Suzuka’s side
Ryosuke also did you miss the part where he was drunk
Yuri If he was drunk, he probably won’t remember it
Ryosuke So I’ll just have to forget it!
Ryosuke fair enough
Ryosuke wait, you didn’t say anything about Suzuka
Yuri well I talked to her already
Yuri She’s an adult so she can handle herself just fine
Ryosuke you know, your plan didn’t work, right?
Yuri yeah, she didn’t need it anyway
Yuri great inventions are made through intuitive accidents
Yuri so I’m still brilliant
Ryosuke I have no idea what that means
Yamada decided to forget it ever happened. It was an accident. Yuto was drunk and it was just a kiss. After numerous compliments and seemingly heart-felt confessions. It was just that. Yeah. Maybe if he continued thinking like that, he would end up believing it.
As how it always goes with him though, the thought stayed lodge inside his head. It was like a small rock stuck inside his shoes, so small and yet so annoying.
“You’re really gonna get make us lose if you continue that.” Ryutaro pouted as he threw a towel at Yamada’s face. “I don’t care what your issue is, but please focus on the games.”
“I was fine!” Yamada said, indignant. “I scored just fine!”
“Fine isn’t the reason why you’re going to be the MVP, shorty.” Ryutaro sat beside him and sighed. “Don’t get me wrong, I would love to replace you in the first line, but I’m not stupid. We do need you, even if you’re just a shorty.”
“Can’t you comfort me without putting me down? It’s giving me whiplash.” Yamada rolled his eyes and thumped the back of his head lightly. “I’m going to be great. Happy?”
Ryutaro just shrugged, his usual smug smirk on.
After his surprisingly life-altering conversation with Kamiki, Yuto had woken up in Yamada’s couch, his pants strewn on the floor of the kitchen for some reason. Not wanting to be seen like this, he hastily wore his clothes and ran off. The hangover was bad enough. He couldn’t possibly meet with Yamada in that situation. He had things to do, too, after all. He had to choose, had to prioritize, had to remember what he wanted to do the most. He would talk to Yamada after that, definitely.
As soon as he was in the diner near the university, he phoned Shougo and Chielu.
“Shou-chan, Chielu, I have something to say.” Yuto knew there wasn’t any point in dragging this longer. “I think you should find a new drummer.” He looked them both in the eye, wanting them to see how serious he was. “I would still play with you guys until you find a replacement, but… yeah, I’m quitting the band.”
Chielu sipped her juice quietly, raising an eyebrow. “Finally, huh…” She nodded. She raised her hand, palm-side up, and then faced Shougo. “1000 yen.” She said.
“Damn it,” Shougo clicked his tongue and glared at Yuto as he placed the bill on her hand. “I wanted to buy something with that!” He groaned.
“Wait, what?” Yuto leaned forward, eyeing the two.
“It was just a matter of time before you would have to choose between your precious photoshoot and the band, you know?” Chielu smirked. “And rather than worrying about it, I thought we should have a bet instead.”
“You were betting about my- you thought I had to-” He gaped at them.
“Yuto, baby,” Chielu patted his arm as if he was a little pitiful puppy. “Our band is awesome, I know that. I made this band. That’s why, I know that only people who really chose this place would get to stay here.” She shrugged. “Half-assing your way into the music scene isn’t gonna cut it.”
Yuto sighed dejectedly. “Why does it seem like everyone already knows what they want to do? Am I abnormal?” He pouted. “Life sucks.”
Shougo peeked at his face and shook his head, looking like the young kid that he really was underneath it all. “You’re quitting the band, so you’ve chosen, right? That means you’ve taken a step forward.” He grinned. “Let’s do our best?”
A smile blossomed on his lips. “Yes!”
The reality of the situation dawned on him after the end of their fourth game this season. He has not contacted Yuto, and in turn, Yuto has not sent him any message either. There was complete radio silence, it seemed. And he was fine with that. They were friends. Friends didn’t need to always talk with their friends. Yamada didn’t have many experience when it came to having friends outside of his little circle, but he knew there were times when life just doesn’t let you communicate with the people you treasure.
He was fine. Yuto could get distracted with whatever he wanted to be distracted with.
Yamada had his own life to live.
Though, watching Suzuka talk in front of the whole team, Yamada felt the lines blurring. Yuto was intertwined with his life now, in a way that he couldn’t just ignore.
“And with that said, I’ll pass the managerial position to Sakurako-chan. Please don’t worry about anything.”
Suzuka ended her speech with a smile. But no one else smiled back. Suzuka was going away. The months of secrets, the pictures Yuto took, it was all for this. She had been selected for a scholarship in Los Angeles and she was leaving in a week. Their princess, their beloved manager, was going to leave them.
She looked at all of them fondly, shaking her head. “Come on, don’t make me cry.” She laughed softly and took a scrapbook from her bag, the front cover filled with pictures of the team. “It’s a bit early, but I thought I could just give it here right now.” She placed it down on the table beside her. “I want everyone to sign this, okay?”
She’s an adult who can take care of herself, Chinen had said. So this was what he meant.
“Suzu-chan,” Yamada walked over to Suzuka once the whole crowd of crying soccer team boys dispersed out of the clubroom. “Can we talk?”
She looked up, no surprise written in her face, as if she knew this was going to happen. “What is it?”
“Why did you ask Yuto-kun to take the pictures?” He asked, eyebrows furrowing. That was the part he was stuck on, now that he thought about it. Yuto ran around the university greeting everyone, but Suzuka was the one who approached him and gave him a job here. “I mean, I don’t want to be impolite but someone…”
She giggled, shaking her head. “Chii?” She asked, looking amused. “He told you, didn’t he?”
He blinked. “About… uh, yeah. Pretty much everything.” He shrugged. “I’m not sure which part of it he was just saying to use me, but… It was true, right? You were Yuto-kun’s girlfriend?”
“Yeah.” She easily confirmed. “We used to date. I was his first model, and we fell in love.” Her smile turned small and nostalgic as she asked, “Did you know how we broke up?”
“No. He broke up with you, didn’t he?” That was what Yamada got, anyway. If Yuto has moved on so well, and Suzuka still had feelings.
She shook her head. “I broke up with him.” She said. “He just didn’t have time for someone that close in his life. We were so young, then. Fresh into college, wanting to see everything. Especially Yuto. He bounced around from club to club. And, he forgets easily.” She exhaled a breath, looking down. “I didn’t want to be treated like that by my boyfriend.”
“But you still loved him.” He couldn’t understand why she would be the one to let go, and why would they go back to being friends. If anything, he would have guessed she would just ignore Yuto forever instead of what they’ve been doing. “You still love him…” He paused. “That’s why you asked him to take the pictures. As a line of communications before you went to LA.” Oh. A project could hold Yuto’s attention. Suzuka knew that.
“Yes. That’s why.” She laughed quietly. “I love him, and that won’t disappear, I think. Just change. I don’t want to be in a relationship with him anymore, but I would love for him to always be part of my life.”
“So you don’t regret it?”
“Breaking up with him?” She looked surprised of the question. “No. I don’t. When I broke up with him, I realized he won’t run after me.” Her smile was sharper, stronger, when she stared right into his eyes. “And I deserved more than that.”
“Yeah, you do.”
[Ryosuke sent you a message!]
Ryosuke I don’t care what you’re doing. I need you to talk to Suzuka and properly say goodbye. That’s all.
Facing his runaway muse was the next action he needed to do, Yuto knew that. He was going to do it. He was just psyching himself up properly. Or something. It was not like he was afraid to open that can of worms. He just did not know what went wrong, could not explain to anyone how his first relationship in college fizzled out. He had too much in his mind back then to figure that one out.
After receiving a fairly curt message from Yamada though, the first communication they’ve had in more than a week, he had no other choice but to face it head on.
So, of course, that’s when he found out about her flight.
It felt oddly right to do this in the Museum Cafe. The atmosphere was perfect for talking about delicate things like this. He lead her into his usual table and signaled Yabu to make them their lattes. She was comfortable, free in a way that he has not seen her in a while. Maybe being able to talk about her scholarship made her feel more at ease now. Perhaps, saying goodbye was a good idea for her.
He cleared his throat, looking at her in the eye. Just like with Shougo and Chielu, he had to go through this in a quick way. Prolonging the agony was just stupid. “I’m sorry.” He said, bowing his head quickly before facing her again. “I never said sorry, and I think that was the worst thing I’ve ever done. When we broke up, I didn’t even ask you why or asked to be given a chance. That was-” He bit his lip, eyes darting down.
“I’m sorry for not running after you.” He continued. “I’m sorry I didn’t realize what I did and continued to look at you for help. I was insensitive.”
In response, she laughed, soft and amused. “You’re two years late.” She said lightly. “But that’s just like you.” She smiled honestly, and he knew she was always going to be a part of his life, that she was always going to be someone he’d go to for help, and he was glad that she did not want to cut him off from her life. “At least you’ve learned. Now, you can treat your new muse better, right?”
He returned the smile, returned the feelings of thank you and I’m never going to regret falling in love with you, and promised, “I will.”
[Yuto sent you a message!]
Yuto I talked to her
Yuto I said I’m sorry
Yuto and that I was insensitive
Ryosuke why are you telling me this
Ryosuke do you want an award
Yuto You’ve been talking too much to Chinen.
Ryosuke I have not
Yuto you sounded just like him
Ryosuke I told you. Micchan is very much like Chinen
Yuto Oh yeah. Tell her I said hi. She’s cool.
Ryosuke She also has a boyfriend she loves so much
Yuto See! This is why I thought you were dating!
Yuto You never mentioned Kamiki-kun as her boyfriend!
Yuto I thought it was you!
Ryosuke to be fair, you always miss the point
Ryosuke so maybe it’s just really your fault
Yuto -_-” don’t make this my fault, Yama-chan
Ryosuke You could have just asked
Yuto I haven’t been good with communicating, huh
Yuto I’m so sorry for being like this.
Ryosuke you should be
Yuto I’m really sorry
Ryosuke It’s not really my right to complain tho
Ryosuke I’m not a clingy friend, I promise
Yuto you live with Mirai and Kamiki-kun
Ryosuke economical reasons, excuse you
Ryosuke you wouldn’t know about that, rich brat
“We made up!” Yuto bounced into the Museum Cafe, smiling widely as he sat on the chair beside Chinen. “We talked and he forgave me~” He couldn’t stop grinning. The floaty, careless feeling he always had was starting to change into a more grounded feeling. There was a certainty in his plans where there used to be none, and he was so thankful because of that. It was all falling into place.
“So you should probably talk to him tomorrow.” Chinen said absently. “Seeing as it’s the soccer season finals.”
Yuto froze. “It is?!”
Chinen snickered turning his attention from the counter to Yuto’s face. “You’ve got a long way to go, Yutti. A long, long way to go.”
“I’m trying.” Yuto argued, pouting.
“That, you are.” Chinen smiled and patted his arm. “I’m very proud.” He took a deep breath and whispered, “Though, I would love to help quicken this pace.” He ducked to the right, retrieving his phone from his bag on the floor. A triumphant grin settled on his face. “I found something.”
Yuto made a curious sound, moving closer and peeking at the screen. “What is it?”
On the screen was a photo. An out-of-focus and slightly blurry photo. Of Yamada and Yuto.
“Wha-” His eyes widened, recognition kicking in. “That was- I was- That happened?!”
Chinen passed the phone over for easier perusal. “Micchan sent the pictures to me.”
There were so many things he could point out about that sentence, but Yuto was learning to focus on one thing at a time so… “Yama-chan never told me.”
“You didn’t remember and it would be awkward, right? It’s not like you’re ever told him you like him or anything, right?” His eyebrows were doing this wriggly dance that meant he was waiting for Yuto to realize something.
Yuto frowned. “Are you asking me to…” He narrowed his eyes. “Really?”
Chinen’s face positively lit up. “You’re improving so much!” He exclaimed, punching his shoulder lightly. “You’re going to tell him how you feel?”
“I don’t think that’s good.” Yuto sighed, slumping down. “There’s still the photoshoot.”
“So…” Chinen leaned towards him, staring at his face. “You do realize you like him.”
Yuto leaned back, away from Chinen’s penetrating gaze. “I’ve… figured that out, yeah. A bit.” He puffed his cheeks up, looking at the paintings on the wall instead. “It was easy to see, after everything.”
“Mikki’s been good for you, huh?” Chinen nodded knowingly.
“How do you even know them?” Yuto decided it was time to jump topics. “Micchan? When did you become that close?”
Chinen rolled his eyes. “You kept getting jealous of her so I wanted to meet her to see. Though, I guess you figured out you were wrong before we met.” He shrugged. “She’s my twin from another mother, and you were hiding her from me.” He placed a hand on his chest, faking a hurt expression. “You wound me, Yutti,”
“I’m already afraid what you two would do.” Yuto shuddered.
He grinned devilishly. “Me with my BS Math, Micchan with her BA Lit, and Mikki with his photos. Taking over the world.” He chuckled at Yuto’s horrified expression. “Hey, you two were the ones who brought us together. This is fated.”
Yuto pouted. But his newfound view in life has also made a few things clear to him. Like how to make Chinen stop: show him the next target. “Takaki-kun looks like he’s not doing his job again.” He pointed towards the older boy who was innocently folding napkins into cranes. (Yuto would never understand why he was employed in the first place.)
Chinen raised an eyebrow, looking like he knew exactly what Yuto was doing. But after some intense staring, he sighed and rolled his eyes. “You know what, you’re right.” He nodded. “Yuuyan is more interesting.” He sent one last ‘we will talk about more things soon’ look before sauntering over to Takaki’s personal space, sitting on his lap like it was nothing. Takaki just grinned and put an arm around his waist, placing him properly so he could prop his chin on Chinen’s shoulder and continue what he was doing.
[Yuto sent you a message!]
Yuto I have extremely bad news
Ryosuke never start a chat with that again
Yuto Chii and Mirai are friends now
Ryosuke oh wow that is extremely bad news
Ryosuke I don’t even want to imagine what they do when they talk
Yuto Chii said they’re planning world domination
Ryosuke oh no
Ryosuke that’s always been Micchan’s dream
Yuto they have Kamiki-kun to stop them though?
Ryosuke oh Yuto-kun
Ryosuke do you really think he can do that
Yuto Kamiki-kun is awesome
Ryosuke you’re attached
Ryosuke that’s cute
Yuto I’m going to your game tomorrow
Yuto good luck \o/
Yamada was not counting on Yuto actually appearing. Since they haven’t seen each other since the incident, it felt weird to think of him being there in the flesh.
He was there though, walking into the bleachers a few minutes before the game. Front row and center, waving an actual banner saying “Yama-chan! Fight!”. Yamada was torn between being embarrassed or being pleased. He felt a weird mix of the two, especially when Ryutaro smirked at him and said “I told you, he was flirting with you”.
Yuto caught his eyes and smiled widely, waving his silly red banner around and then motioning for Yamada to come closer. Faced with that expression, Yamada had no choice but to go. “Yama-chan!” He greeted happily.
“Thanks for coming.” Yamada said, returning the smile.
“I’m going to give you something now.” Yuto’s expression turned determined as he leaned closer. “Are you ready?”
Blinking in confusion, Yamada nodded slowly. “What-”
With a large smile, Yuto exaggeratedly made a ‘mwah’ sound, kissing him on the forehead. “Good luck kiss!” He looked so proud of himself.
“Oh.” Yamada’s whole face felt like it was burning. “L-like with Micchan, right?”
Instead of answering, Yuto raised the camera from around his neck and snapped a picture of his face.
That was probably both the best and the worst way to start a Finals game. Luckily, Ryutaro was there to hit him on the head the moment he walked back to his team. Rubbing his head, he decided to let that go for now. The soccer game was the most important thing for him right now.
Chinen and Shida were giving him twin looks of amusement when they sat back down on the bleachers as the game started. Yuto knew they were hiding off somewhere earlier, watching him embarrass himself in front of Yamada. “You did well.” Chinen placed an arm around his shoulders. “Now you just have to pretend not to like him while doing a photoshoot! Great!”
Yuto glared at him. “You are enjoying this.”
“Yes.” Chinen nodded, widening his eyes in mock-innocence. “I am enjoying this.”
“Sshhh!” Shida waved her hands in front of them to get their attention. “We’re here to watch, not talk. Shut up.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Chinen saluted.
Yuto spent the next hour and a half taking pictures of the game. Well, of Yamada, mostly. He could reason out that it was for his photo exhibit, since he was slowly planning out his theme for it, but then he really just wanted to take pictures of this moment. He just wanted to keep these memories and make physical copies of it. Fragments of reality.
He took a picture of Yamada’s frown when the ball was taken from him. Of his huge grin as he ran through everyone and goaled. Of his smug smirk when he shrugged at the other team’s ace. And of the way his eyes lit up, the way his whole face brightened, when the clock stopped and the crowd cheered.
With the spotlight surrounding him, Yuto thought Yamada was the brightest light in the middle of it all.
Winning this season felt so fulfilling for Yamada that he kind of just drifted around for the whole week, having no afternoon practice. And since Kamiki was having a week-long break as well, they shared a common goal of finishing at least three dramas this season. They vegged out on the couch every after class, enjoying the freedom while the loom of Finals and Project Deadlines were still in the distant future.
Because of this, and because Mirai was busy doing various stuff for her Lit org, they were also prone to talking about things while the opening and closing credits rolled.
“You know you’re Yuto’s muse now, right?”
Yamada chewed on his chips, glancing at him with a frown. “Muse?”
“The one who inspires him to take pictures.” Kamiki explained, waving a hand vaguely to encompass everything that meant.
“That sounds like a big thing, but I’m sure it’s really not.” Yamada lazily said, munching on his snack.
Kamiki stopped eating and turned towards Yamada with an incredulous expression. “Have you seen his pictures of you?”
“Nope.” Yamada answered immediately, swatting Kamiki’s hand when they got suspiciously near his bowl of chips. “He said I would have to wait until the photo exhibit.”
“Oh.” Kamiki made a tiny sound of understanding. “So that’s his plan.”
Yamada turned his attention away from the TV for once. “What’s his plan?”
Kamiki looked away. “Just wait until the exhibit.”
The exhibit was three weeks away, and Yuto had asked him to go to the Museum Cafe for one photoshoot session, and then they’d be finished. Just that. It seemed like such a small thing, when he thought about how many things Yuto has done for him just because of this exhibit. Yamada had no idea what Yuto had planned though, so maybe he was thinking of something grand. Something that would wow everyone.
“What am I supposed to do?” Yamada asked as soon as he arrived in front of the café. Yuto had been waiting for him outside, which should have been the first clue, really.
“I’ll go in first. Just walk in naturally, okay? Then order something. Act completely normal.” Yuto’s smile was confident as he explained. Yamada had no idea what it meant. “I’ll stop you when I need you to do something else, but you could do anything you want as soon as you come in.”
Yamada simply nodded.
He came in, trying hard not to be conscious, and then he ordered his usual coffee and chatted with Yabu. Having Yabu completely at ease calmed Yamada as well, so he was able to narrate his soccer game enthusiastically without the worry of the camera catching images of him doing weird expressions. He just immersed himself in talking about how he passed the ball that became their winning goal.
Yuto knew it was anti-climatic, his photoshoot. It lacked order, was not done in any specific artsy way, and was just overall seemingly unreliable. He liked it though. It felt like the kind of thing he should do. Spontaneous in a way.
Besides, he still had one thing he wanted to do.
“Maou?” Yamada wrinkled his nose, at the DVD case. “We’re going to watch this?”
“Hey!” Yuto pouted, snatching the case and dropping to the floor beside him. They were at Yamada’s apartment, having had finished their photoshoot successfully an hour ago. “It’s a great drama.”
Yamada sighed. “It does sound cool.”
“Right?” Yuto grinned and placed his camera down in front of them, angling it properly to make sure Yamada was properly framed. “It is really cool.”
“...Yuto-kun?” Yamada stared at him. “Why are you-” He blinked. “Oh! Is this part of your weird photoshoot still?”
“Maybe.” Yuto stuck out his tongue.
Yamada stuck his tongue out as well, and Yuto clicked the shutter with a large smile.
[Yuri sent you a message!]
Yuri hey traitor
Ryosuke what did I do?
Yuri That Maou DVD box is MINE
Ryosuke this is not my fault
Yuri Yuto that asshole
Ryosuke I like it though, so I can’t give it back
Yuri well at least you have good taste
Yuri I approve of you
Yuri you can now go bang my best friend
Ryosuke this is not how I thought this conversation would go
[Ryosuke sent you a message!]
Ryosuke you are still alive, aren’t you?
Ryosuke we’ve talked about disappearing and forgetting people!
Ryosuke I’m gonna tell Mikki
Ryosuke he’ll be disappointed
[Ryosuke sent you a message!]
Ryousuke It’s finals week soon so I understand you’re busy
Ryosuke But you have to tell us if you’re alive
Ryosuke PLEASE TELL ME YOU’RE NOT DEAD IN A DARKROOM SOMEWHERE
[Yuto sent you a message!]
Yuto I’m alive
Yuto and uh
Yuto good luck on your finals!
Yuto and your English paper! I’m sure Aya-sensei would love it.
Unsurprisingly, Finals week was the worst ever. While it was definitely less eventful than his midterms, Yamada still felt the frustration and tiredness in his bones. Luckily, he was not alone this time either. Yuto was busy doing something that not even Chinen knew, but Mirai and Chinen were now best buddies who wanted what was best for Yamada. They tag-teamed it out, filling the space that was Yuto’s a month ago. It helped greatly that they were so Spartan that Yamada had no time to think about it.
In the blink of an eye, a week has passed.
He took all of his exams and now, he had only one thing to do. With a small, peaceful smile, he looked through his essay and remembered fondly about how Yuto helped him make the first draft. It felt like ages ago.
Satisfied, he attached it to an e-mail and sent it to Oomasa-sensei.
He did not expect her to reply immediately. Just five minutes later, he received an e-mail reply. What could it possibly say? Was his file corrupted? Was his topic all wrong? Was Oomasa-sensei in the mood to fail students without looking?
Hands shaking, he clicked on open.
[Mr. Ryosuke Yamada,
Come meet me in Yokan Hall tomorrow at 12.]
And that was it. Ohgod. What did he ever do to deserve this?
[Ryosuke sent you a message!]
Ryosuke If I die tomorrow
Ryosuke that’s because Oomasa-sensei killed me
Ryosuke on one hand, that is the worst way to die
Ryosuke on the other, at least I could prove to you that she’s evil
Ryosuke small victories
Yamada nervously walked to the Yokan Hall, scared out of his wits and ready to bolt at anytime. Maybe he should have brought ginger, or salt, or anything that would disperse the evil spirit that resides in Oomasa-sensei’s body. Should he pray to the gods? Bring a rosary? Make an offering?
His mind was filled with these thoughts that it took him a full minute to realize what was happening.
There was a stand on the side of the large door, a poster that said [3rd Year MMA exhibit].
Oh. Of course. Yuto just had to go and do that, didn’t he? Jerk.
His previous nerves easily disappeared at the realization that he won’t be eaten for dinner by his professor, but a new fear took over. What was Yuto’s theme? Was it any good? Did Yamada look weird in the pictures? Is Yuto going to be okay? If not, would it be Yamada’s fault?
He walked inside, looking around with only faint interest. He was too scared to actually appreciate art right now. Every student seemed to have one portion of the wall for their exhibit. There were photos of the sky, of trains, of children. Some walls had written words in big blocky letters. Some walls had videos played by projectors. It was a collection of multimedia art, and it would probably be interesting to look at later. For now though, he looked around without much interest.
And then Yamada turned the corner and saw it.
They were his pictures, different moments printed in different sizes. From afar, he could not see much of it, could not see what was so special about it. The pictures formed a swirl, the biggest photos huddles in a circle in the bottom with the smaller ones forming a wavy line up.
At the sides, where the white spaces are, there was a haiku, of all things.
Waiting for someone to hold
You hit me like a lightning bolt
You were something to behold
Yamada wanted to laugh at how corny it sounded, but instead, he couldn’t help but smile like an idiot and walk closer. This was for him. It was made with him in mind. This was why Yuto has been holed up without even talking to Chinen. This was how Yuto saw him.
It hit him harder when he was close enough.
The pictures were beautiful. And there were a lot of them, definitely. Not just from the cafe. From the matches, from that time they were in the library, from the time they played soccer in the field. The picture of Ryutaro poking Yamada’s tired face was in the bottom, amongst the largest.
It was not just pictures of Yamada. It was a collection of events in the past months. With each capturing different emotions from different times, it felt like the comprehensive summary of their friendship.
The last picture, at the top right, was a small picture, barely understandable to anyone who has not seen it. To others, it probably looked like an ambiance photo, too small and blurry and insignificant.
Yamada knew what it was though. He recognized the redness of the couch, the pale white walls, and the long hands on his cheek as Yuto kissed him on the lips.
He stopped in front of the piece and stared, not quite able to suppress the smile on his face. He looked down at the card at the side, the one with the title of the piece. It said:
[Anchor: You gave me the freedom to fly]
“Like it?” Yuto appeared beside him, obviously twitchy with nervousness.
Yamada laughed, turning towards him. “You are very cheesy.” He said. “Very.” He was still smiling wide, warmth spreading in his chest.
“I-” Yuto rubbed the back of his neck, worrying on his lower lip. “Is that positive or negative?”
“Neutral.” Yamada shrugged, then stepped one step closer. They were just a few inches away from each other now. “But I have an important critique.” He said, leaning close. “Maybe you should retake that top photo?”
With a grin, Yuto leaned closer as well, a mere inch in between their lips. “I’d like that.”
And there, in front of his piece, in the middle of the exhibit, they shared their first real kiss.