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Of Fallen Camellias

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The sky is a friend here, closer yet farther than he believes he has ever had the honor of witnessing here on another end of the earth. Above him is a patchwork of cosmic threads that have interwoven gold flecks of celestial orbs that seem all for him to memorize into the backs of his hands.

 

All attempts to capture the grandness of the night sky here on the island have been in vain, the shutter of his camera hesitating before presenting him with a lackluster product that prompts a sigh of aggravation from his throat. Give him the gorgeous burst of gunpowder, of hot streaming fizzles of fireworks that rouse the coldest and sternest of humans into cheers with sporadic pops and fizzles, and the crispness of detail in his shots are jaw dropping. Give him the sun and rolling storm clouds, the thunder claps and the lightning thrums, and nature’s own queen might shift in delight at how intricately he has caught her beautiful quake. Yet, there he is, chewing at the side of his mouth in indignation that he is so sorely missing such a masterpiece due to the lack of the proper equipment.

 

Letting go of a perfect shot is a hard pill to swallow, but Lance does, shuffling away from the spot on the trail to continue on to perhaps another opportunity to challenge his skills and to make his heart race with the invigoration of playing tourist.

 

Lance is far off the beaten path, a few airplane and ferry rides away from his little humble island in the Gulf. Yet, here he is, his feet stepping through locals and tourists alike on this little (or little was a forethought that has evaporated at the sight of carved mountains and roadways bounding to eternity) vibrant island that has opened their arms to the world in a singular embrace of their prized bloom. He didn’t quite believe his old college friend at first, Matt singularly a snarky guy with tastes that sometimes fall spindle drops away from Lance’s, but this little excursion just mentioned on a whim between two piping bowls of ramen truly has him settling his roots temporarily into the soil off the dockside.

 

He felt like he was being welcomed home.

 

Ever since stepping off the ferry, Lance has yet to place a sense of belonging that has grown from the inkwells of calligraphy tables, dark tipped leaves having wrapped around his heart and his ankles to guide him along the island of Oshima. His blue eyes, as wide as the sunlit heavens, have caught the sight of women clothed in checkered black and white offering such kindness with the width of their miles. His hands, a bit shaky from holding his camera for so long to capture images to last forever and more, have taken with such gratitude the street vendors’ offerings of piping hot food.

 

There’s a mystery to this island across the calm seas from where Mount Fuji lays nestled in the horizon, and while he is an outsider armed with his Google Translate app and his broken Japanese, Lance will not say he regrets this at all.

 

On the contrary, his soul is light, free and soaring with the new birds that glide along the upper currents, their shadows playfully roaming against the blues and whites of a vernal afternoon. When a breath fills his lungs, he can exhale with the freshness of the salt-kissed air, and think of how thoughtful this is, this little place, to let him stand on their beaches amongst their festivities and let him be the purest thing that he can be— at peace.

 

Throughout the day, he gets asked a few questions, of course, as per usual in his line of hobbies and careers. Was he a journalist? A blogger? One of those people that the grandchildren watch on the computer? He laughs, and keeps it simple because to be confusing would be to add his spices and his rhythms to a place not his own. He is just an admirer, wanting to keep the memories as crisp as this fancy camera of his allows.

 

It’s a fine enough answer, always met with a hum or a chuckle; Lance is used to it, just as he is used the waving tides of sea currents that always seem to be what washes him shoreline to shoreline.

 

The shore beckons him closer to her rippling ebbs, to let her sea lover lap at his ankles and up his calves, but instead, he watches the evening sun sway into the bed of the horizon across the sea line before Lance admits that he has become enthralled by a particularly pretty grove of camellia shrubs. The golden hour glows upon the blooms of the island’s treasured flower a picturesque ideal that makes his pointer finger itch to press on the focus, then click down the shutter.

 

Time is a lost sentiment on a lost man, and before Lance can even tell when the evening swan croons a nightly aria as its feather wings stitches the stars onto a canvas of dark plums and navies, the moon is rising and the festival is in full swing with beats of drums and cheers and the wafts of meats and pastries.

 

There is a softness, a sigh that warms through the leaves and breathes a comforting sense through him that he is so very welcome here that it draws him to a pursing pause, guiding his attention throughout the shrubs as though he is looking for another person’s warmth.

 

There is no one there, but he declines the thought to investigate further as his stomach rumbles in a grumpy tremble, bidding him to leave the grove in that tell-all journey of a man in search of nourishment.

 

Lance presses himself into the ever-shifting swarm of buzzing crowds, grinning ear to ear at the heart-fluttering excitement of the lively colors and bursting sounds in spite of a little longing thing that has nestled at the bottom of his chest to remind him there has been something he missed along the way.

 

Within an hour or two, again, as time becomes forgotten in adventures of a wandering soul, Lance pertains himself to a bleak realization that his weakness, no matter what corner of the world he has found on a whim, is bread, a piping hot treat that breaks into perfect morsels that scare away his worries with a swirl of homely steam that heats up his fingers and his stomach. His wallet may cry in agony with the repetitive process of his hands offering his meager savings to a merciful vendor that gives him a discount for being so enthused by the art of baking street side, but eventually, the self-made tourist wonders when his sides and his thighs will show his love for baked goods instead.

 

Later on, he will film the plaza events and attempt to take pictures of the sky, and even further into a darkening hour of rousing celebration, he will sit huddle under the draping curtains of a little joint where all the townsfolk has gathered for hot pot so that he can settle in for a look at his camera for a basic update on memory and specs diagnostics with tender care.

 

The camera, in a sense, is his right hand, that extension of himself that he secretly gives to the world where his ‘charisma’ fails him and where a tinier clove of his sense of self lingers. This slightly over-priced electronic is a symbol of his quieter thoughts, of the ones that silently mull over the aesthetics of the world, that quietly hum in agreement to the birds that chirp and the planes that cross the sky. He longs to be one with the life of the Earth, yet a bystander all the same, and this little piece of fascinating technology is a stepping stone down that path that surely allows him to take, yet give.

 

Even now, he can recall the smell of floral epiphany drifting in a zephyr from the sea and the taste of green tea that has settled along the pad of his tongue while he took a moment to catch a moment of swooping dancer’s hands and the rustles of their robes. With the beat of the music throbbing in his joints, how could he not angle down for that hipster flare with a perfectly timed click of his finger along the trigger.

 

There is one, he chuckles inwardly, of an older lady with cheeks as rosy as her apron. Another then of a cat curled up under a little staircase, green eyes peering at the weird spectacle the humans have endeavored to clamor into.

 

All the smiles and laughter is sees on his bright display graciously erases the prickling along the corners of his eyes from that bright LED late that will surely have him needing corrective lenses far before his mother did. Still, this is all worth it, every bit of it, especially when he keeps flipping through picture after picture to see the joy that is his to remember for years to come.

 

Then, he gets to the flowers, the nestling place of ethereal flora that bounces languidly with sea breeze that are even as exuberantly vibrant as he recalls. It’s one of the whole grove, a micro shot, another, and another, and then—.

 

He stops, has to, or else he will not believe what he is seeing with his own eyes while his thumb hovers of the button of his Canon.

 

There's a man there, a man he had not seen at all during his intake of the festivities. He's handsome-- otherworldly so-- with the kindest and fondest grin Lance has ever had the honor to capture with his lens. And, yet, the man is familiar, glowing with an amicable warmth that tells all that he is hardly a foe.

 

No, he’s beautiful, and Lance whispers out a soft yearning thought that this man is a god amongst the camellia petals.

 

Breath is a stolen keepsake for a minute as Lance sits on there by his lonesome while this man burns an emblem into Lance’s heart. God, the stranger is lung-clenchingly subliminal in an achingly ephemeral way amongst the flowers, with hair that drapes like a lover down his shoulders and his back.

 

It's almost humorous how blended the man is in the trees, all black and white with the vibrancy of the pinks and yellows of the flowers making him all the more real. Maybe he is a specter of sorts, a phantom of beauty so firmly lost in time, and yet he has graced Lance with his puzzling, fantastical existence.

 

He should ask around; he should tap on the shoulder of a kind elderly lady and ask upon the myths that have simmered up from the volcano under their feet. She would surely bequeath him with the knowledge of the man amongst the trees, of his loss of life at a ripe age, or she would simply purse her lips and shake her head, confused at such a question.

 

Still, at first, he feels as though his bones are marble, stiff and cold and unresponsive to the synapses that would draw the camera closer to his ocean-hued vision, but then after a second, he instead thinks otherwise. No, his bones are jelly, shaking in the slightest vibration of the earth turning upon her axis as his eyes take in every pour of beauty that is there to indulge.

 

For a minute, he is fully aware that he should be furthering across into a field of questions that he is not ready to prance away in. Where is this man from, and why can he not recall at all encountering him all day? Yet, there he is, heavenly in every manner to elude to a fact that this mysterious gentleman with a jawline as sharp as a knife and eyes as soft as a lazy summer storm is very, very real.

 

Lance, though, thankful for the international plan that he shells out a little too much for on the monthly, pulls out his phone to take a picture of the display showing the radiant man with cheeks kissed by the pink petals of the island’s flower. With a tapping of this thumbs across the keyboard, he sends a message and the photo to his best friends seas away.

 

“What’cha think, dude?”

 

For being on a vacation with his husband of two years, Hunk responds quicker than expected after a prolonged flurry of tapping icons, though the anticipation gauges a rift in Lance’s ribs. He isn’t sure why though, why instead of peaceful contemplation there are jitters coagulating in the pockets of his joints, but with a ping and little blurb of letters, Lance can smile fondly as his friend’s voice is drumming amusedly in his head.

 

“You’re getting even better, man! Great shot of the flowers! Btw, Keith says hi, but I gotta put my phone on vibrate, haha!”

 

With a frown that there is no mention of the man cradled in the LCD of his camera, Lance taps away in another flurry of thumb and stilted exhales of his mouth, “what do you think of ‘mister tall, dark, and oh, so handsome?’ My type? Totally my type, right?”

 

Hunk does not reply as abruptly— but in his stead, Keith does, the little jerk, but it still cracks a grin along his lips at how happy his friends are in holy matrimony.

 

He cannot help but admit that Keith’s text raises the hairs on his arm, elevates his blood pressure.

 

"Hunk and I don’t see any guy. Get your eyes checked, sharpshooter.”

 

The messaging back and forth on the data waves of phone plans that stretch across the sands of the ocean depths ends then, leaving Lance with a diluted sensation of being waterlogged in his soul.

 

Usually, his mind would simply proffer reasonable explanation when his friends downplay his antics. He’s matured over his years of walking and of talking amongst the population of the earth, but there is still that strange offhanded dismissal he sometimes receives. It does not hurt, per se, but reminds him that sometimes, his heart goes fluttering past the rationale he should possess.

 

This man has stumbled him, gently knocked at his knees to tumble across the dirt and grass all common sense.

 

But, all in all, Lance is, in his own right, a hands on research, a purveyor of his own path to understanding this little blue planet he adores so much, this home that he wants to know every nook and cranny of. Urging himself from corner to corner, he strives to know all of his home’s wonders, and this secret ‘not there’ man is one of them, caught in the eye of his camera’s lens.

 

His legs beckon him forth, much like how the neon lights of urban tempo summon his curiosity to the forefront of his priorities, like how the quiet streams of temples lost in the sacred embrace of forests old slip him a little something spiritual for his travels. Lance admits that captivation is his number one enjoyment from life, how something not his own can intertwine him in gossamer threads and lead him on whichever path is just simply the most imperative.

 

So, he goes, because he must meet this man, find him and see with his own two eyes the beauty that must be more euphoric to witness in reality outside of digital screens.

 

Maybe he’s fallen a bit in love, maybe a little more so, with the idea of love rather than the substance, and that scares him because wandering does a little more lovelorn lacerations to a heart than one would care to accept.

 

Weaving through the buildings and the festival adornments, Lance has only moonlight and the soft offward dimness of lazy-drifting lanterns of the island to illuminate his path. His heart beats with steadying anxiety, the same as when he stood in the massive numbers of civilian and tourist alike just nights ago in Shibuya while the cars sped along the grand intersection to their unknown destinations.

 

But, just like that night, the sparks of the end pulses in his blood, and with a grin and a sigh that quakes the foundations before resettling deep down as though ocean water fills the crevices to bob him along to the grove of flowers that nestle in their branches the looming haunt that has possessed Lance’s feet to bring him here.

 

Perhaps the man is a ghost, a sailor or farmer from a lost time that happened to be there in the veil between phases right at the perfect time? Perhaps grislier, and a spirit or a demon looking to play a prank or two on an unsuspecting victim? Or worst, the utter worst, perhaps the gift of this man is nothing more than a hallucination that has stemmed shyly from the loneliness that undoubtedly comes from traveling by oneself?

 

Instead of receiving an answer or a confirmation, there is nothing more than a tepid breeze of spring that drifts the salt and brine of the ocean. For a moment, that loneliness that eats and nicks into Lance’s spine eases down, fangs sheathing into a maw with quiet resignation.

 

A hallucination. How pathetic he is to come back hours after his previous happenstance as if the man (of his dreams, his poor little heart aches) would be standing there, peaceful and approachable and all just for him.

 

A breath— in and then out, lungs emptying out with such woeful wistfulness that almost turns his heel away and back to the festival stalls.

 

"You are so troubled, sweet one."

 

The voice is smooth like warm honey being poured into a tea cup, a simmering fire on a beach while bourbon slips down the back of a throat. It’s heavenly, sumptuous, like a scarf wrapping around his neck during a winter bite, or a hand that trails slow and meaningful down his back with all those sensual purposes laid bare.

 

Regardless of how good that voice sounds in his ears, Lance still gasps, jerking in a motion that tugs him a few steps back by his stomach. Before him, surely, was just a silent perch of camellias that were just playing wordless witness to a silly man with love found on the brain, but now stands a man, still black and white amongst the silver-lit yellows and pinks.

 

Help his poor little heart, the mystery man is even more subliminal, more ethereal than any camera could ever dream to capture.

 

“Tr… troubled?” Lance echoes back with a hollow lilt of his voice, tapering at the ends of the question while his feet feel more like lead, keeping him like a marble statue: immobile. Anxiety is an ugly thing when escape is on the edges of one’s shoulders, and yet, he cannot inch even the slightest away as his eyes are affixed upon that kindling grin.

 

There’s a warm, earthy chuckle, or perhaps it is more like a simper that is lacks any admonishment for a lackluster response. A pause draws a length between them before gently receding as the man speaks to Lance kindly, “yes, troubled. You are seeking something you are unsure of, I believe.”

 

“Well…” Lance starts, then falls short, lips working together as he thinks and thinks as hard as the cognitive gears would permit before falling short on an actuality of denial. He’s been caught, wrapped in a perfectly prepared net after swimming in waters too good to be true, only to be left standing there with such a handsome vision that keeps taking his wit and his breath away.

 

Carefully, a touch glides along his jaw, and he gasps, blue eyes darted up to find the man has inched a little closer to raise his fingers to caress Lance’s jawline,  “I am listening, little bloom. I want to hear you speak.”

 

The proclamation leaves him speechless, and in the back of his mind, echoing in his skull, Lance can hear his mother laugh with such boisterous acclaim as she tells her son, her little baby boy, that he loves to hear the sound of his own voice. He must, she has regaled in her voice of maternal mantle, have a voice meant to be heard, and with a pat of her palm along his cheek, she told him to speak, speak up.

 

Yet, here then on this island miles and miles away from her, he freezes entirely, every molecule that builds him, makes him, unendingly ceasing movement and cause because he is so breathless, all because a handsome as hell man dared to touch his skin.

 

Maybe it isn’t even a man, but suppose he is instead the flowers themselves, an epitome of the island’s festival in a whole being that drips with all those sumptuous details of the physical that just itch at Lance’s attraction. The thought of it makes his mouth dry, parched from the heat that steadily burns at his bones.

 

Lust or love, he can at least admit he’s rather smitten.

 

“Well… I guess,” Lance begins before chewing at the inner pulp of his mouth, “I guess it’s rude of me not to introduce myself, yeah?”

 

“Introductions are a necessary formality, I presume,” the man sighs, sucking his teeth lightly with a shake of his head in humorous wake. “Please, go on; I want to hear your name.”

 

Lance rolls his tongue in attempt to smoothly reply, but blusters out, “Lance— it’s Lance.”

 

Humming with a smoothing of fingers along his chin, there is within those gray storm clouds of eyes a glimmering of amusement that makes Lance’s heart flutter with a twinge.

 

“Lance. Lance, what a peculiar name. It is… particularly new to me. Unheard of, even.”

 

A snort, and a roll of his shoulders, “then tell me yours.”

 

With a shrug, the man slowly leans away to step over to a camellia bush that quietly stands while the ocean sings in bubbling ebbs to touch a petal, delicate and tender. “I have many names, and will throughout the centuries to come, but one I have come to grow fond of is Shiro, so that is my name.”

 

A flitting of humid wind meanders about them lazily, and Lance feels his body drain of any pretense— the name chimes in his head with a million little bells that toll in golden harmony; Shiro, Shiro, Shiro.

 

He could take a picture here, and see if it is all genuine, this encounter written straight from his mother’s romance novel. He could pull out his phone or his camera and see if there is truth to Shiro’s corpulence.

 

‘Get your eyes checked, sharpshooter.’

 

But, that would strip it all away, would wash away the colors that float about like fairies in the silver of moonlight and quell him with lonelier thoughts that smack false lips as the folly he would endure.

 

“Lance?”

 

A caress, profoundly bidding in that gentle drawing of water from a proverbial well, pulls Lance right out of his cluster of thoughts so that he is standing in front of Shiro once more. With his chin taken into the crook of a finger, he realizes that Shiro, for all the woven enigma Lance has strewn along his shoulder, is merely a man that desires undivided attention.

 

A clarity must have swept away the faded distance from his eyes for Shiro chuckles before grinning so vividly, “there you are, little fish— swam right back to me though the currents washed you out.”

 

“Washed me— what?” Perplexity speaks on behalf of Lance as he blinks up, but there is not much time partaken before Shiro shifts with a flow of his robes, dark hair rippling down his shoulders and his back as he turns away towards the ocean. Seemingly, he would be trotting off alone would it not be for an amused huff as Shiro leans to take Lance’s hand in his own.

 

Simply, it is remarked between them, a little explanation of passing times and sneakily made courtships, “come along, dear Lance, for I have been alone for many seasons and you have made my heart bloom in full once more, little flower.”

 

Funny phrases and expressions pressed to the corners of modern rationale, Lance shrugs it off since he is more concerned with his face and how ruby red his cheeks must give away his overzealous heart rate while their fingers intertwine.

 

“A little assertive there, going straight for the second date rule,” jokes the smaller of them as he is guided towards the shoreline as though nature herself has not impeded upon their walking with jagged rocks and steep inclines. It almost feels like magic, something unearthly and far from his mental capacity to grasp the audacity that is Shiro.

 

Still, their journey is short, the soles of his sneakers crunching along the sand as the waves bid them welcome with their foaming arms, the currents lapping such gentle reassurances as the other stares out across the sea, hand still holding Lance’s.

 

A hummingbird’s wing beat of time skips, and with a twitch of his lips, Lance tilts forward to see that face that has threaded a string to his wrists to tug him towards this man hidden in the gardens of the island, “Shiro?”

 

But, for Lance’s beckoning of this other’s attention, the man— god? deity?— is more than content to stare out at the horizon, storm eyes watching the clouds herd themselves like navy-hued sheep along the celestial planes looming too high for Lance to full comprehend. For a second, he chances a suspicion that Shiro is smirking just so, just enough to beg the question, but the palm that presses along his emits an undulating warmth that steadies him.

 

Time stretches, a lapse of movement that flourishes with a movement of a round lunar rabbit and cloudy sheep before Shiro breathes in deep, filling every breadth of his lungs with the coming spring air before sighing out with grace compelled, “I understand now why others such as me have fallen into morality.”

 

“I— what?” Babbles out a reply from his mouth before he can crowd the words back in and keep himself half decently respectable, but he fumbles about like a fish on the deck of a ship anyway, “mortality— what the heck, man?”

 

The touch of a thumb sliding along the ridge of his knuckles bides him a little reprieve from a jarring proclamation, and soon Shiro croons down against his hair in a slow nuzzle, “you’re just as I imagined the moment I saw you in the sun’s glow: beautiful and full of music, just like the ocean that my camellias oversee.”

 

The entire world stops, birds paused in mid-flight, in mid-cry for their flock. The clouds lack a continuation of their travels, as though the wind has ceased to exist, more content to hang low by the seams of the sky rather than go forth to other regions. The moon, too, stills in her cycle, her roll around the earth stunted by a force she cannot fight.

 

Shiro, undoubtedly, is that force, and Lance falls a little more, while he basks in the kisses that are peppered endlessly along his hairline. It should frighten him, how within minutes, he is being doted upon so loyally by a being that is essentially a stranger with a whiskey-smooth tongue that might would have poets of old roll in their grave were he to limber in prose of the poetic.

 

Instead, it is like there is nothing more right in the universe, like he is nothing more than the sea being cradled within the embrace of a sky, an ocean of fathomless depths ever touched and ever loved by the endless space of cosmos. The dusty winds and the salty brine may settle the inches between them, but here, there is nothing but please keep me in the emptiness that parts their chests.

 

Perhaps, Lance supposes, this is merely fate, those instances of winding routes that will always end where it must, carved into the earth by higher processes of thought and authority that he will ever claim. For all the strings of fate, for all the wishes of soul mates and of lovers, maybe it was just coincidence, but it seems too oddly so when there is a brushing of his heartbeat along the sinews of himself, and he knows that this is where he is meant to be.

 

“Might I?” Shiro purrs into the locks of brunet as his left head raises, the sleeve of his robe drifting to his elbow as his wrist rolls in graceful production of a single white camellia with its pink-speckled petals curving together like lost lovers having found one another.

 

Azure eyes glance skyward into the grays that peer down at him, a lump of something more akin to anticipation of a dream ending too fast for him to stop more than the nervousness of receiving such a radiant treasure. Timidly, because Shiro has taken everything from him, his spirit, his exuberance, and even his charisma dipped in harmless flirting, he asks, “what is this?”

 

The softness along the tightness of Shiro’s eyes disarms him, leaves any doubt to disintegrate into the sand beneath the soles of his sneakers. Again, an elegant harboring of meant to be washes through his head, leaving him profoundly taken aback that he cannot— will not— live without Shiro.

 

To leave the island tomorrow will be a knife in his heart, a sharp and dreadful agony that will stay with him until he rests his head on his deathbed.

 

“A memento,” breathes out the confession, adoration clinging to each syllable in rosy hues that curl together with smokey promises, “to remind you of what we will be— together, hand in hand, in blessed union.”

 

Then, before Lance’s eyes, the petals sway away and drift from his fingers, gliding along a windless breeze to fall along the ocean’s paused surface, each petal trailing further and further to form a little trail that tempts his feet to follow. Beside him, Shiro smiles against his forehead before inching back, waving his hand as though to command the foam to effervesce into pearls, a shiny roll of deep riches soon washing away with the petals.

 

Lance’s jaw has surely dropped to the sand for a hand cradles his chin along the length of a palm to turn him towards the face of a man whose wrinkles make his dulcet beauty more prominent.

 

“I don’t…” he tries for the now proven immortal, this god among the island dwellers, this man yet not man, that has made him stutter and lose his very will to speak, “understand, like, at all.”

 

With the notion duly noted, Shiro hums, pursing his lips before he shudders in a breath, making the clouds move behind him with an ever so quaint tremble.

 

“In this life of mine, I could give you everything— but to fall for you is but a folly while also a treasured moment. I want this memory with you, but I want all your sunsets, all your tears, and all your smiles, sweet one. We, as those whose stories have become faint with time, choose to fall the same as these camellias do; whole and happy.”

 

A tick, or two, possibly three, clicks along the connections that might make sense of Shiro’s deeper meaning though for a moment, it’s all muddied over with the incoherency of not believing that love from someone that has apparently outlived him by centuries, probably, could fall in love at what is apparently first sight.

 

“Ah, but I see the doubt in your eyes, my little flower, I see those blues like the summer sky that see the clouds of a thunderstorm that would sully your precious afternoon. Do not fret, for I knew my time would come the moment I laid eyes upon the one I would fall for. It is you, and how grateful I am to fade so that I may know you.”

 

Like a slow waltz, petals of pinks and white come to swirl around them, Lance’s breath gone in an instant before Shiro cups his cheeks, drawing their foreheads together as he smiles so serenely around his dusky murmuring, “but only if you will have me.”

 

And for just a split second, he may have denied Shiro, may have turned away from this because, if he isn’t dreaming and if this isn’t just a game of candid pranks being pulled on silly tourists, he has been given the power to ask a god to give up his life for a lifetime of love. Lance cannot say he loves Shiro due to a lack of longevity of knowing each other, but that tugging of fate’s string around the core of his heart lures him into the touches, and he answers before it all can fracture and leave him stranded all alone.

 

“… Mine?”

 

“Yours.”

 

A tingling along his nerves that feels like magic awakens a childhood wonderment that he thought could only be fulfilled through airplane rides to the pinpoints of cities and temples from across the seas, only be satisfied with the colors of dragons and the whirring of bicycle wheels next to river boats. No, if Shiro’s fingertips that line his jaw to touch the seam of his lips are to be taken for what they are worth, the world is a pearlescent marble to roll back and forth between the god’s fancy; whatever he craves, he shall have.

 

If he wants to fall, he shall.

 

Before can blink, there are petals floating all around them, settling along the sand and the sea in a floral storm that soon there is nothing around them but just the sits of nature’s blooms, the efflorescence of camellias in an eternal field of their union settling vibrant along the shore.

 

Lance feels like he is the only human alive, his heart racing as his eyes cannot tread away from Shiro’s, so enthralled that there is such a feeling of safety weighing his bones down until he is on his back, staring up at a sky that is dyed an ardent pink with the incandescence of Shiro’s garden.

 

Palms cradle the back of his head until he is pillowed by Shiro’s lap before fingers brush wayward symbols along his forehead.

 

Solace in the soul of another is something that Lance has never truly let himself dig deep into his own flesh and keep selfishly. His years seem scant in comparison to the steps he has walked to come to lay in a bed of camellias with a pillow of a man that is now his, same as he is Shiro’s, but the future, daunting in the unpredictability, stretches out further than ever imagined.

 

A sucking of teeth tethers the mortal man back to his resting spot, only to be followed by the low tremors of a melody that drowns Lance into nothing but pure bliss.

 

“This world I walk with you is so breathtakingly beautiful. Even in the middle of the desolate wilds, the one who squeezed my hand back was you.”

 

The fields begin to grow dimmer and dimmer as Shiro sings his lullabies, all exaltations of this bond he has found with this strange too skinny, too curious boy that wants to use his age to go wherever he pleases. A moment of first sight is just a chrysalis for a tomorrow that will be far more beautiful, far more radiant, as Lance’s eyes drift closed with the tones and sharps of a voice he will adore each day on wholly.

 

 “Oh the scent of my skin will change, and this era you were born into is brimming with doubts and vices, but bright enough to shake the lights in the clear, night sky.

 

The one shining is you.”

 

 

There’s a seagulls cry of early morning tune, a shrill call to the others of the flock while their wings parade in circular whimsy above his head. The sun rises in all her golden glory, a sleepy raise of an orb thus ringing in a dawn of a new day.

 

The sleep of his eyes rubs a little too roughly against the back of his hand as he tries to will the anchor of dreams by its chain to muddle through the bleariness that creeps at his bones to keep him in rest. He isn’t sure why, but strangely, he almost cannot recall his own name, his owns sense of existence, as the very fibers of his character have drifted away like bottles carrying love notes bobbing along the caresses of a gentle sea.

 

Lance, though, finally inhales deep for a yawn, sea foam air contracting his lungs, and a moonlit gleam of lullabies hums in his ears. Shooting up, blues eyes scours the world around him, encompassing this little patch of land he has visited, to try and look for Shiro—.

 

The sand beneath his back should stick to his skin and his clothes, should just utterly be a nuance after spending the witching hours asleep on the shore. The sand should be everywhere, clinging to his hair and his bag, but— but there is not one grain that proves to be a hindrance of his comfort, no, rather, he is clean, weirdly so.

 

His eyes slip down the horizon’s view to see a blanket of pink beneath him, a bed of camellias that cradle him like a lover’s embrace.

 

A gift, always, for you, little flower.

 

Fingertips, stilted in the knowledge that reality has shifted on its plane in a skew of events that have led Lance to meet a god of all things, touch along the petals with such enamored hope that his heartbeat drums in steady motion. Perhaps, he worries, he has frightened the somewhat-man away, but that did not seem right to admit. He had, after all, sat there in all matters of moonshine with Lance to whisk the minutes away in an unfathomable date between a deity and a mortal.

 

The tourist is confused, rightly so, still enchanted by each silky touch of petal underneath him.

 

He could lay there for hours more, days more even, if he were honest, if it meant that Shiro would come back, but the heaviness in his gut that rolls and that bounces reminds him though that his time is ever growing short, a ticking away of seconds that will rush him to the airport with his carry on to check in through security with his passport flimsy in his tense grip. May the security gods embark a prayer of speedy procedure upon him when he finally accepts his vacation is through to not only save his nerves the stress, but to flurry him through so he can leave the silver memory of Shiro behind here on this island.

 

Dreams are incredibly awe-inspiring, leaving the unintended victims in the wake of fantastical flourishes of sipping flowery teas with gods that rise and fall with the seasons, that come and go as they please as the skies turns a little too cotton candy magenta and the clouds are minty in sheen.

 

This morning, though, is a resplendent painting of perfection, and Lance feels something prodding yet welcoming press into the pieces of his heart. He has to leave eventually, but there is more to be said for the adventures that will travel with his feet as he continues on with camellias trailing behind.

 

The dock is as he left it the days prior, unsuspecting of the events that the riders have experienced without one forewarning from anyone with the kindness to do so. For all the strangeness that has settled on his shoulders like a spring breeze sweeping away winter’s snow, Lance is all right with that, the memories of thumbs along the corners of his lips drawing a smile from his soul.

 

With dock signs flagrantly proclaiming ‘see you soon,’ he inhales sharp and deep, taking in one last swallow of air that will fill his lungs with the memory of Shiro and their night together.

 

“Little flower?”

 

The reverie is lightly brushed away with the most remarkably timid interruption, but it just lets Lance float down to earth a little less haphazardly than his anchor dropping abruptly to tamper with the thought. With a tilt of his head, his eyes cast upon the source of the voice before his jaw nearly falls open wide with disbelief.

 

Before him could be Shiro’s doppelganger, but younger, more worrisome, with all his hair dark and an almost unnatural smoothness to his skin. The scars of wars and changing times have not eroded their places into this man’s skin, but his firm build, his sharp jaw— those stormy gray eyes that leave Lance so weak in the knees he might as well be a treat of agar jelly.

 

“… May I—?”

 

This man smiles, too big in a way only the wise could decipher, in a way only turtle doves that croon love songs could comprehend, with an age and a hope that are so breathtakingly painful that Lance falls back in love all over, just like he did when he saw Shiro on his camera’s screen.

 

“I’m sorry?” Lance mutters, jaw still threatened to plunge to the dock and maybe even drop clean through it, but Shiro’s twin just smiles still, his cheeks as warmly tinged like the petals Lance woke up on just hours before.

 

He’s beautiful, Lance wants to exhale in a mantra in whatever dead language he can unearth as the modern speak just can’t abide the feelings that engulf his chest, he’s beautiful and, if he can fantasize in all those little happy ways, his.

 

There’s a wrinkle along the other’s eyes that ensnares Lance’s senses, leaves him blind and deaf to all the world but this possible imposter of the deity from his nightly rendezvous. Maybe it is Lance’s pause, or maybe it is Lance’s eyes that brighten with the glimmering ripples of sea waves that reflect gold sunbeams, but this not-Shiro, yet Shiro, chuckles as he leans in with a promising whisper and a fold of their fingers to bound them.  

 

“Yours?” 

 

A chime of a bell tells him that fate is sealed, a union between lovers across a space and a time that, through the dust and the ice, forged between the first glance of their eyes amongst the camellias. A seagull cries and the ferry engine rumbles, and Lance knows that his heart beats in sync with Shiro’s now fallen, mortal one; two pieces forming one. 

 

He does not miss one more breath, does not let another moment steal away in the salty wind that will lead them back to the dock of Tokyo before he whispers with all the trueness of it all—. 

 

“Mine.”