The box sits like stones at the bottom of Rin's pocket. The weight of it keeps him rooted where he is, leaning against the wall inside of a small family restaurant opposite his loud and excited teammates.
Samezuka's swim team had all pitched in for celebrating Nitori's birthday; being one of the favorite underclassmen had its advantages. A third year had talked his parents into letting the team host the party in their restaurant. Others chipped in with decorations or presents. A second year member, whose family ran a bakery, supplied the cake, big enough to feed them all, that the team was currently gathered around.
Rin watches them dote on Nitori, exaggeratedly and loudly, exclaiming that their sweetest son was growing up too quickly. Part of Rin wants to close the short distance between them, joke and play with Nitori too. But the part of him that wants to stay put wins and he doesn't move.
He finds it more comfortable to hang back and watch; It gives him an opportunity to observe Nitori as much as he wants.
"Time to sing!" Seijuuro announces, clapping Nitori on the back with enough force to almost send him face first into the cake.
The lights in the restaurant are dimmed and the candles on the cake are lit. Nitori's face lights up, not only with the glow of the tall candles, but also with unabashed delight as they sing raucously around him. The smile that stretches across his face spreads infectiously to the other guys as well.
It makes Rin's chest tighten and he shifts his gaze to the floor. Sometimes, he is taken aback by Nitori's openness, his honesty, both to himself and others, is endearing and refreshing.
A smile tugs at the corner of Rin's mouth as he recalls Nitori tearfully trying to coax him back from a suicide that was never happening. The sincerity in his eyes, the desperate way Nitori clung to his ankles, solidified an idea Rin had been pondering on; the shorty liked him as more than a friend and senpai.
And Rin found he didn't mind Nitori having a crush on him in fact, the more he thought about it and the more he noticed how Nitori reacted towards him, the more Rin was drawn to Nitori.
After the culture festival—after Nitori constantly telling him he was beautiful—Rin, in return, crowded the shorter boy against their dorm room door and slowly coaxed a confession out of Nitori using even slower kisses to encourage him.
They've been dating ever since.
Rin reaches his hand into his pocket, running his fingers over the velveteen wrapping covering Nitori's present. He wonders if Nitori realized how serious he would get about their relationship. The lights are turned back on and Rin looks over at the boy in question, their eyes meeting.
Nitori gives him soft look and Rin returns it with a wink, making Nitori blush.
His reactions are just too honest.
The cake starts getting doled out and Rin decides to push off the wall then, making his way to the tables that had been pushed together to accommodate the team. He stands over Nitori's shoulder, and reaching forward, swipes his finger into the icing of Nitori's slice of cake. Rin smirks, wiping his finger on Nitori's cheek.
"Senpai!" Nitori whines, but he's smiling as he rubs the icing off with a napkin.
Rin's teasing somehow becomes a signal for the others to start throwing their food, handfuls of cake splattering everywhere. Before either of them can get hit with any of the sweet confection, Rin grabs Nitori by the hand and they escape outside.
"My presents…" Nitori mumbles pitifully, staring through the restaurant's window forlornly.
Rin rolls his eyes. "They'll bring them back to the dorm later." Just in case though, Rin reaches for his phone and sends Seijuuro an e-mail to remind him.
The evening sun sits heavy in the sky, and Rin guesses they have an hour or two before it sets—before they have to be back in the dorms.
He jerks his head toward the direction of the beach.
Nitori bites his bottom lip in that unsure way of his that makes Rin want to push him down and redden the pink of Nitori's lip himself. He holds himself in check though; their relationship hasn't become that physical and Rin doesn't plan on rushing it. Nitori looks back at the restaurant.
"Is it really okay to leave?"
Rin shrugs, starting for the beach. After a few steps, the gray haired boy is a warm presence at his side.
The beach is a ten-minute walk from where they are and they trek along in a comfortable silence. Rin puts one hand in his pocket with the box, and the other hand he threads with Nitori's. From the corner of his eye, he watches Nitori's face turn a soft pink, even the tips of his ears flush with color. But what Rin is really waiting for is a demand for a gift, or even the slightest pout.
Nitori does neither; he walks beside Rin quietly, his thumb occasionally drawing circles against the back of Rin's hand. Nitori demands nothing of Rin; accepts and likes him as he is. And Rin really couldn't ask for more.
He grips the box hidden inside his pocket until the corners start biting into his skin.
"I got you something. A present." Rin tries, and just barely passes, for nonchalant. To be honest, his heart is beating wildly in his throat.
Nitori's grip on his hand tightens. "You didn't have to, Matsuoka-senpai." He says, looking down at his feet. "I got to spend the day with you. That's all I wanted."
Rin's insides do a stupid little flop. He pulls Nitori into his arms, crushing him against his chest in a tight hug.
"When you say cute things like that," Rin murmurs, dropping his his head to talk into Nitori's ear. "It makes me want to push you down."
The shorter boy goes rigid with embarrassment, mouth opening and closing but nothing comes out. Rin chuckles.
"Well, I guess you don't really need what I got you. Huh, Aii-chan?"
Nitori throws his hands around Rin's neck. "N-no! I need it!"
Rin pulls the box from his pocket, watching Nitori's blue eyes widen. No matter how one looks at it, the present was clearly wrapped by Rin's sister; cute and neat. Nitori gingerly unties the bow and peels away the velveteen wrapping (which he shoves into Rin's hands). Rin keeps his eyes on Nitori's face when he opens the box, revealing a silvering ring hanging from a matching a chain.
Red darkens Nitori's cheeks and he goes a little slack-jawed. A stunned silence settles between them for a long moment until Nitori stutters out a thank you. There's a catch to his voice, like he's on the verge of tears, but for his pride, Rin ignores it. Instead, he offers to put the necklace on for Nitori.
"You know," Rin says softly, taking the chain in his hand. "I had the hardest time trying to pick something out for you. I know your favorite foods, favorite colors, favorite brands of clothes, and what manga and books you like. But every time I went shopping, I couldn't decide on anything."
Nitori drops his head against Rin's chest, letting him do up the clasp while also hiding his reddened face.
"Then I saw this, and I didn't know you'd like it, but I bought it anyway. Do you like it?" Rin, for his own pride, ignores the unsure tinge in his voice.
Nitori nods emphatically. "I really like it."
"Good, I'd feel like an idiot for wearing this if you didn't." He pulls out a matching black necklace and ring from beneath his shirt.
Rin gives Nitori a noogie, ruffling his hair. "Happy birthday."