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Lethe

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It’s somewhere in the burn of satin between fingers. In the moment where you pull back to breathe, and the whole room shimmers and spins. Issay drinks down every one of Atsushi’s breaths, submerged totally and yet anything but drowned.

On the floor are four bottles of wine, drained to the last drop, tilted onto their sides. After all that, what will Issay remember tomorrow? He has some idea.

There is no forgetting Atsushi. No forgetting the dark intensity of his eyes, praising and scolding, loving and harsh. The outstretched curve of his back, moonlight glittering off of the notches of his spine like stones skipped across water. He tosses his head and the brightness is swallowed by the black of his hair. Issay buries his fingers into it, closes his fist and feels the shifting of silk.

-

Love is being hit one too many times. That moment when the ground comes up to meet you, and you shut your mind off to the pain, because it’s easier to endure. Issay learned that truth long ago, and now he barely flinches.

-

They always act like they’ve forgotten. I didn’t know you’d be here tonight. I forgot you were playing. Really, you go to this bar too? It’s a carefully crafted artifice. They are the sort of people who can choose what to remember.

Later, when they’re done playing pretend, Issay will gasp against Atsushi’s lips, I love you, like it was intended.

Fate always works in their favor, it seems. But then… does it?

-

Issay goes on tour and he sends postcards home to Atsushi. Atsushi who is in love with so much and yet attached to so little. That is something they share. Issay keeps every gift he’s ever been given, thinks fondly on the people they’re from each time he sees them. And yet, when he moves apartments for the tenth time, or ignores the ringing of the phone, he thinks nothing of them.

Atsushi is the only one who’s different. Atsushi who he can’t forget no matter how hard he tries. If he’s even trying.

-

There is no one else, he tells Atsushi once. There is no one like you.

Atsushi’s hair drops in front of his face like a curtain closing on a stage, behind which a shy smile is no doubt playing. How much of the shyness is Atsushi, and how much of it is his fear of being struck? Issay will never know.

-

Bent over, Atsushi’s hand a vice grip in his hair, is one of the few times when the choice to remember is no longer there. Issay has been at the mercy of others, blocked each one of them out, hidden in some dark space, hands over his ears. Atsushi is not like them.

Atsushi’s mercy is one that he willingly lies at the feet of. A benevolent demon that sucks the poison from each of his wounds, praising him softly as he endures it. For the things that can’t be so easily forgotten, Atsushi is there to intoxicate him until they are.

-

It’s somewhere between the years that have already passed, and the mysterious veil of the future, that they meet again. They’re surrounded by other people, friends and bandmates and strangers alike, and Atsushi’s eyes find Issay’s from across the table.

This time it’s Issay’s turn to smile shyly from behind his hair, almost looking away, and yet never daring.

Without speaking a word, Atsushi says, don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten.