pairing: Satonaka Yuuki/Jinbo Makoto (Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou)
word count: 4,330
author's note: 1) Some of the basis for this fic can be found in an article from the July 2012 issue of Potato, which is translated in full here! It also relies on what was written in the original Bakaleya character bios, which were released in various magazines last April, in which it was said that Yuuki studied abroad in America, and on Yuuki and Makoto's interactions in the movie, in particular. 2) This fic might be a little confusing if the reader isn't familiar with Japanese Christmas pastimes, a description of which can be found here, though it doesn't mention illuminations, which in recent years have been a popular date spot among couples on Christmas
3) This was written for je_holiday and posted here as a gift for talisa_ahn!
summary: The lights are beautiful, Makoto has to admit, but more beautiful than the display is the way Yuuki's face lights up in their reflected radiance.
Yuuki and Makoto have been together almost a full year by the time their first Christmas rolls around. Not that it really matters one way or another, because Christmas is stupid and girly, they think, something for people who say gross things like I love you and call one another stupid pet names and go on dates, but it feels like much longer, seeing as essentially since the moment they met on the first day of school (not counting the times their middle school groups clashed in previous years, when they'd been intrigued by one another but not known much more), they've been inseparable. Despite the fact that they'd been essentially strangers on day one, driven to a fist-fight by their previous alliances in the schoolyard before their high school careers had even begun, somehow, they'd both come out of that fight a winner, their fighting styles meshing in a way that had clearly meant to both of them that there was no choice but to join forces… and to make out in the school entryway despite the fact that the mandatory Opening Ceremony was beginning in the gym.
And since then they've been inseparable, for nine months now they've been inseparable, and while they can tell the others think it's weird, they don't really care. It's not like they're some girly mushy couple, giggling and holding hands and exchanging chaste kisses at every moment of privacy in even the vaguest sense. In fact, couple isn't even the right word, they think, partners, they're partners in every sense, in a fight and blowing off the teacher to play cards in the back of the classroom and making out (and more) whenever they damn feel like it, privacy or no. They can tell the others don't really get it; Maya wrinkles his nose and call them gross when they make lewd comments about one another in reference to what they do with their spare time in the school bathrooms, and Satoshi clearly seems to think he's hallucinating every time he sees them kiss. Shouhei has remarked many times how he can't understand why they'd want to do that with other guys, and Tatsuya turns a bright shade of red every time they disappear from class as a pair, and Tetsuya sulks when they get particularly intimate, though because of something from his past or because he clearly is obsessed with Tatsuya, who's clueless, has yet to become apparent. But they don't care, they've never cared what anyone else has thought because first and foremost, what matters is one another.
And so as the end of December approaches in their first year of high school, neither of them have Christmas on the mind. Really, neither of them ever have much on the mind besides one another; fighting and eating and hanging with pals are somehow all secondary to the essential existence of the partner with whom they've become inseparable over the past nine months. But when every advertisement on TV and every billboard on every street corner reminds them that they should be ordering their KFC and eating cake with their special someones, they can't exactly ignore it forever. But Christmas is dumb and girly and weak, and so once school is done for the semester and they have no more obligations to anyone, they end up spending the evening of the 25th at a little run-down ramen place by the river, which has way better food than any chain chicken restaurant could ever offer, anyway.
"Christmas in Japan is super lame," Yuuki comments as they make their way through extra-large bowls of miso ramen with double portions of pork, "In America it's not some stupid girly date holiday… and we don't even eat KFC on Christmas."
"What, no way," Makoto responds, never sure if Yuuki is trolling him when it comes to America trivia. Makoto, who's never left the Kanto region before in his life, can hardly conceptualize that Hokkaido and Okinawa exist, not to mention a whole different continent with a whole different country filled with beautiful, tall, pale people with blue eyes and blonde hair. But Yuuki's been there, he's lived there, he can speak English and tell stories about every aspect of American life, and it makes him all the more transfixing to Makoto. Someday, I'll take you to America, Yuuki's said to him a couple times now, and despite the fact that Makoto's never been on an airplane before and doesn't speak a word of English, he knows that if it's with Yuuki, he wants to go, more than anything.
"Yes way," Yuuki responds, nodding authoritatively, "Because in America we eat home-cooked food on Christmas, or whatever."
The idea is strange, but Makoto nods along, slurping his noodles thoughtfully. "That sounds pretty awesome," he replies, not sure what he should be envisioning, not sure what home-cooked food is even like in America when all he can picture is burgers and french fries. "Bet you wish you were back in America right now, huh?"
He'd said the comment jokingly and without much thought, but Yuuki pauses in his eating, looking at Makoto with an expression that Makoto hasn't seen before and doesn't quite know how to read. He looks at Makoto for a long moment, just looks, and while Makoto can usually practically feel exactly what Yuuki is feeling without a second thought, even after only nine months, he doesn't know what's up now, and it feels wrong, somehow.
He's beginning to worry he's said something wrong, when all of a sudden, Yuuki shrugs, turning back to his food. "I'd rather be here than anywhere else," he responds, mumbling into his ramen as a faint pink colours his cheeks and begins to migrate to his ears, and then suddenly, Makoto understands. He doesn't respond, doesn't think it needs a response, but he bumps shoulders pointedly with Yuuki as he turns back to his bowl as well, feeling that despite the fact that maybe this is a little mushy, it might be a little nice, too. And besides, they end up going to karaoke afterwards, where they sing for a few hours and them make use of the darkness and privacy of the karaoke room in another way altogether for another hour or so, and Makoto thinks drowsily as he leans on Yuuki's shoulder on the grimy booth bench, aglow with the flashing lights on the monitor in front of them, that their Christmas has totally been way better than anything he'd seen advertised on TV and totally not lame or girly at all.
Yuuki and Makoto are almost at the two year mark by the time their second Christmas together rolls around. A lot has changed in the past year, a lot has changed both around them and between them and inside them, all of them, them and their friends. A year ago they'd never have been able to picture themselves breaking from the group, or spending a month at a fancy Catholic school, or becoming friends with girls, but now they have, they've been through hell and back, have made the worst and the best decisions of their now more-than-halfway-through Makada careers, and even if it's a little surreal to look back on it, they know they're all the stronger for it. Because before, they'd been stupid, before, they'd thought that strength was measured in how hard you could hit or how fast you could kick or how many guys you could take down at once, and maybe that's part of it, but now they know that, whether they want to admit it or not, there's a lot more to the issue than that. Now they know that Tatsuya's vigor and Tetsuya's undying loyalty and Satoshi's will and Maya's tears and Shouhei-san's words of encouragement count for a lot more than a few lousy fights here or there, and while they wouldn't be caught dead saying it aloud, it feels good, to understand that, somehow. They may be Makada's strongest pair, but without the group, without their friends, they're nothing.
And so as Christmas rolls closer (and somehow harder to ignore in their second year of being them-- they refuse to call themselves something girly and stupid like dating or a couple, but they can't deny that somehow, impossible as it may have seemed a year ago, they've grown even closer, even more codependent in their second year), they slowly begin talking about maybe doing something this year, casually and evasively at first, testing the waters between one another even now, in maybe the only area where they're not sure how much the other will agree, but as both take to the the idea of doing something cool, something distinctly not lame or romantic or girly, the way they discuss it slowly becomes more open and honest until they're clearly both excited at the prospect of doing something fun and new.
What to do is a whole different story; of course, they're delinquents and about the farthest thing from event planners, and so while ideas like taking a trip to a ski resort after school seem awesome in theory, they quickly fall through on the execution front. But Makoto hasn't forgotten what Yuuki said last year about American Christmas, and so it seems only natural, a few weeks before the 25th, to suggest a home party, just for them and their friends. Of course, neither Yuuki nor Makoto can make home-cooked food, nor will they probably be able to find a way to bring a live tree into Yuuki's parents' fancy penthouse apartment, but Yuuki's eyes light up at Makoto's suggestion anyway, and so they run with it. They don't need to worry about Yuuki's parents, after all; they're always away on some business trip to America or China or someplace in Europe, and they'll never have to know what's gone on in their apartment while they're gone. Yuuki seems a little lonely when he confirms the fact that they won't even need to ask permission, but he perks up again when Makoto mentions that perhaps he can bring some sort of food cooked by his mom, lame as it sounds. While Makoto's home situation is about the farthest thing from Yuuki's, while his mother, who had been a delinquent in her own day, wasn't exactly the best at cooking, while Makoto's family's kitchen, small and cramped like everything else in their little 1-and-a-half bedroom apartment, isn't exactly the best facility for preparing holiday meals, Yuuki has always seemed taken with Makoto's little family, and embarrassed as he is when his parents try to greet his friends with gangster slang from the early 90s, he can't say he really blames Yuuki. He knows his mom won't mind when he asks about the food, anyway; even after only two years, she thinks of Yuuki as part of the family. Sort of like, stupid and girly as it may be, the guys at Makada (and maybe, just a little bit, the girls too) are like Yuuki and Makoto's family, and so it only seems right to have them all together for an American Christmas party, right?
Of course, the other guys are skeptical at first; and a Christmas party does sort of sound lame, really, when Makoto thinks too hard about it, but he tries not to, tries to remember the important points as he insists that it's not like that. Unsurprisingly, Maya is the first to concede, adding that if it's them, it's not like it's going to be lame anyway, right? And then Satoshi breaks too, at the mention of food, and Shouhei-soon follows suit when Yuuki and Makoto reluctantly admit that they've been thinking of inviting the girls, too. And then it's easy to get Tatsuya to agree, because Tatsuya has never been able to say no to something if it's what all his pals want, and then Tetsuya's in, because Tetsuya's never been able to say no to Tatsuya. It feels pretty good, actually, Makoto thinks, to be pulling this sort of thing together. For his family.
The party itself might have sounded lame in theory, but in practice, it's pretty badass, in Makoto's personal opinion. Yuuki makes an awesome mix of American music, and Maya and Satoshi bring a wide variety of snacks, and Tetsuya and Tatsuya bring the Makada flag as decoration, which, while not exactly being seasonal, is awesome nonetheless. And even the girls bring something, the biggest, fanciest Christmas cake Makoto has ever seen, with bright smiles on all their faces as they hand it off to Makoto, and Makoto can't help but think that maybe, really, they have become part of the Makada family, too. And they join in the conversation, too, listening to Yuuki's explanations about American Christmas and sharing their own stories, too, and they all eat and talk and laugh until they're exhausted and can't possibly eat or talk or laugh anymore but somehow keep going, because they don't want this to end, because they want to keep going on this way, together.
But before they get too exhausted, Makoto feels Yuuki's broad palm wrapping around his wrist and catches Yuuki's grin out of the corner of his eye, and so it's with a curious smile that he lets Yuuki pull him off to the side of the room, just out of sight of the others. "Look," says Yuuki, pointing up, and Makoto dutifully looks up to see some odd-looking plant that Yuuki appears to have taped to the ceiling.
"It's mistletoe," Yuuki explains when Makoto blinks at him in confusion, but when he's still met with no reaction, even in the darkened room, Makoto can see his cheeks colouring. "It must be an American thing," he mumbles, but before Makoto can ask exactly what sort of "thing" it is, Yuuki kisses him, and Makoto certainly isn't complaining about that.
As much as Makoto thinks it's lame to talk about feelings and all that stuff, Yuuki's always been even worse about it, and so in times like these, Makoto takes great pleasure in experiencing physically what Yuuki is too shy to put into words. Maybe Makoto will never hear Yuuki say the word love in his whole entire life, but if Yuuki keeps holding Makoto close and pressing their mouths together as if tomorrow will never come the way that he's doing now, Makoto doesn't think he'll much care.
"Merry Christmas," Makoto pants against Yuuki's lips when they break apart for air a few moments later, doing his best American accent, hard Rs and nasal As and all.
"Shut up," Yuuki replies, cheeks lighting up pink, and kisses him again, but Makoto knows he's thinking the same thing, thinking that this has been the best Christmas yet.
Yuuki and Makoto have practically made it to their third anniversary by the time their third Christmas together rolls around. They wouldn't have called it an anniversary the two years previous, and maybe they still wouldn't, not out loud, not to their friends, but they both know they're thinking it, even if they haven't ever admitted it. It's just that after three years together, after three years worth of fights and pinches and scrapes and losses and victories and smiles together, it feels a little silly to posture about the whole thing. Sure, they're not like the girls, they won't ever feel the need to plan special dates or write one another love letters or (heaven forbid) do something romantic to celebrate the day they first met, but that doesn't mean they can't acknowledge it for what it is, either. After all, the fact of the matter is that, delinquents that they might be, tough guys that they might be, gang members that they might be… they care for one another more than they could ever put into words (but if they ever did want to put it in words, love would probably be close enough).
But maybe the change in emotional stance is somewhat tied to the fact that they're all starting to get a little emotional, a little nostalgic as their time at Makada slowly but ever so surely draws to a close. A week or so before Christmas, their second-to-last semester as high school students finishes without any to-do or commotion, and while none of them want to say it, they've all gotten a little quieter, a little more introspective as everything they've fought for and defended with the fiercest passion as well as everything they've taken for granted for the past three years begins to show signs of fading away. They can all tell they're feeling it, but no one wants to comment; they joke that it's a wonder that Shouhei-san is probably actually going to graduate, that they're going to have to choose incoming underclassmen to pass along their desks to, that soon, Tatsuya will have to choose a successor… but really, they all know that in each and every one of their hearts, they don't want to let go.
But it isn't all sadness and longing; as Tatsuya says almost every single day, they have to go out with a bang, and so as a group, they draw even closer together than before, if that's even possible, going all out in their last attempt to prove that Makada is, in fact, the strongest school in their little city in the suburbs. And those are the best moments, in the heat of a battle, surrounded by people that they trust more than anyone else in the world, pulling all together towards one common goal, one common, glorious victory. In fact, perhaps victory is only part of it, perhaps the real prize, the real goal is binding them all together one last time in memories that they forged together, the seven of them.
But when it comes to Christmas, things are a little different, because after three years, they've all developed other attachments, other priorities, and so, when, one by one, they begin to say they have plans for Christmas (but want to do New Year's temple visits together?), Yuuki and Makoto are neither surprised nor offended. In fact, they've been dancing around the issue for a while, but when everyone else has plans for the evening, it's enough of a push that finally, Yuuki asks, effecting an overly nonchalant air, if Makoto maybe wants to do something, just the two of them, to which Makoto grins and purposefully bumps shoulders with him and replies that he thought Yuuki would never ask.
Then end up going to see the illuminations in their local park. It sounds lame as hell, but what else do they usually do besides hang out outside, anyway, Yuuki points out, and Makoto only laughs, because by now, he honestly doesn't really care if it sounds lame or not. He and Yuuki have always been a little different, have always understood one another better than anyone else, and it's not like Makoto is going to think any less of Yuuki for wanting to do something a little bit ordinary. He thinks Yuuki knows it, knows that Makoto will follow Yuuki to the ends of the earth and back no matter what Yuuki decides, for better or for worse (because isn't that what these sorts of things are supposed to be about?), but just in case he's unsure, Makoto sticks a hand into Yuuki's jacket pocket and entangles their fingers as they step out of the little izakaya where they've gotten a quick dinner and into the chill of the night.
The lights are beautiful, Makoto has to admit, simple and plain as their little city council's tight budget could afford, but more beautiful than the display is the way Yuuki's face lights up in their reflected radiance. Yuuki, who's had every advantage money could buy and yet who's had to face the world alone, Yuuki, who's impulsive and boisterous and strong-willed to hide the fact that he's still a little bit small and alone on the inside, Yuuki, who somehow, Makoto has come to love with all of his heart and then some… more than any Christmas display, Makoto just wants to look at him, and so he does, watches as in the most unexpected way, Yuuki finally gets a little bit of the feeling of American Christmas he'd never had as a child.
Eventually, Yuuki looks away from the lights and notices Makoto staring, and "What?" he asks, his cheeks flushing pinker than they had been from the cold alone. "Nothing," Makoto replies with a grin, bumping into Yuuki a little affectionately and tightening his fingers around Yuuki's in Yuuki's pocket, because this has always been how they've shown affection towards one another, and by now, it's easy, it's comfortable, and they both understand. They pretty much understand everything about one another these days, after three years of perfecting their abilities to read one another's body language and expression, but it's easiest to keep it comfortable, anyway. Maybe one day, Makoto thinks, he'll say something like I love you, but for now, he thinks, there's really no point in taking things there when he knows Yuuki already knows.
"You're weird," Yuuki responds, still a twelve year old inside sometimes (something Makoto has learned to love about him), but he squeezes Makoto's hand back and doesn't argue when Makoto leads them towards another cluster of lights. They make the round of the park twice, once with laughter on their breaths, making fun of the various lopsided light figures and lackluster trees in their little city, and then a second time in comfortable silence as neither of them seems to want to stop just yet. The park isn't very big, but after the hour it takes to see the whole thing twice, Makoto is beginning to feel a bit chilly, and knows that, while Yuuki won't admit weakness, he probably is, too, and so he tugs Yuuki aside, pulling him back into the place from earlier and grabbing them a booth by the window, where they can still see lights.
They order hot drinks and then send the waiter away, grinning at one another with the shining promise of the bathroom just out of their line of sight (but this place has a nice bathroom, they know, they're familiar with just about every public restroom in the city by now), but before that, Makoto has something else that he hopes, mushy as it may be, will light up Yuuki's night a little bit more. They're never really done presents before-- it seemed too girly, too superficial-- but this year, somehow, it feels empty not to, and so Makoto withdraws an envelope from his pocket and sets it on the table in front of Yuuki, grinning at him and raising his eyebrows, waiting for a response.
Yuuki blinks at him, seemingly surprised by the gesture, before grinning as well, his cheeks colouring again as he reaches for the envelope. "You didn't have to get anything," he says even as he's pulling open the flap, and Makoto only shrugs. He knows Yuuki doesn't really want for anything; can use his parents' credit cards to buy things Makoto could never dream of affording, but he hopes that his little gesture will make Yuuki smile, anyway.
He looks confused for a moment as he withdraws a thousand-yen-off coupon for a local ramen shop and a gift card to the one real karaoke place in their little city, but after a moment, his eyes light up, and he grins back at Makoto in a way that makes it impossible for Makoto not to grin back. "You said you'd rather be there than anywhere else," Makoto points out, reminiscing back to their first Christmas together, and "You're a freak, how can you even remember that?" Yuuki responds, but he's laughing now, and Makoto's laughing, too, and Makoto thinks that that's the best Christmas gift of all.
But then unexpectedly, Yuuki's cheeks grow pinker as he looks off the the side nervously and withdraws a folded piece of paper from his own pocket, setting it on the table in front of Makoto. "For me?" Makoto asks, his lips still curling up at the corners in surprise and delight; he loves teasing Yuuki for things like this, but its makes his heart swell in his chest to know that Yuuki will overcome his own embarrassment and difficulty with emotions to do something for Makoto. Yuuki nods and shrugs, peering at Makoto out of the corner of his eye and saying nothing but, "Well, open it!" and so, with another teasing grin, Makoto does.
All teasing falls out of his mind, however, when he looks at what's written on the paper, and he can feel his mouth falling open in shock. The paper is a printout from a website-- a reservation for two plane tickets to New York. Usually, Makoto is the collected one, Makoto is the one in control of himself between the two of them, but he can practically feel his hands shaking as he looks up at Yuuki in pure surprise.
"I told you I'd take you to America," Yuuki responds, his cheeks still pink but a smile beginning to spread across his face, and in that moment, a grin spreading wide across his features, Makoto feels as if his heart is going to burst. He knows that later, they'll make a visit to the bathroom, and then maybe go out again once the crowds have dispersed a little and kick around the park some more, but for right now, stupid (and maybe a little romantic) as it may be, more than the white fluorescent lights of the bathroom or the twinkling illuminations in the park, Makoto thinks that this Christmas, Yuuki's brilliant smile is all he needs.