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Let It Snow

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The first time Izuminokami wakes up from his rest (it was a kinda tiring morning, okay?) is when the saniwa sweeps the snow off the engawa, the piles being pushed one by one onto the ground with a whump-whump-whump. Eventually, the clunky footsteps and the knock on the shoji frame rouse him into full consciousness and, combing his hair into a somewhat-presentable state, he stumbles over pillows and covers and a sprawled-out Yoshiyuki.

When he finally slides the shoji open, bracing for prickling winds and snow, he finds instead this…figure, covered in coats and scarves and a thick woollen hat. The only thing that might indicate that the figure is human is their eyes, wide and owlish.

Izuminokami bends down, squinting at the figure. “…Is that you, aruji?”

The two wide eyes blink rapidly, and a pair of gloved hands reach up to clumsily pull the mask down. “Am I that unrecognisable, Izuminokami?”

His eyes widen in slight panic. “Well, uh, to be honest, you’re quite-”—he gestures to her clothes—“covered up, and those clothes look kinda foreign. For a moment I was wondering if it was Shishiou pulling some kind of joke again.”

The saniwa takes a moment to examine her clothes. “Ah, I suppose that’s true. I must look quite puffy, don’t I? In my time, we wore such clothing to keep us warm.” She sniffs and pulls at her beanie. “Anyway, if you haven’t noticed, we’re a little snowed in for the afternoon, so I’m afraid you won’t be able to go outdoors. But I’m sure the two of you will be able to find something to pass the time.” Leaning forward, she braces herself against the shoji and pokes her head in. “I guess sleeping counts,” she concedes, wrinkling her nose. “Anyway, Kasen and Shokudaikiri made lunch, so when you step out do take care not to slip.” She steps back, pulling her mask back up. “I’ll go notify the others then.”

Izuminokami nods, shivers starting to wrack his body. “Thanks for the heads-up, aruji.”

Closing the shoji brings Izuminokami blessed, tingly warmth and he yawns, trudging back to his spot beneath the kotatsu. Yoshiyuki is still fast asleep as expected, and Izuminokami is still groggy and more than ready for more shut-eye, so he lays down, wrapping an arm around Yoshiyuki, and falls back asleep in minutes, breath evening out and deepening in the hush of their room.

……

The second time Izuminokami wakes up, it’s when Kunihiro knocks on the shoji. “Kane-san?” he calls out, voice muffled out by what probably is his scarf.

Grumbling, Izuminokami pries Yoshiyuki’s arm off his side (for someone with a smaller frame than him, his limbs sure are heavy) and gets up.

“Were you sleeping, Kane-san?” is the first thing Kunihiro asks.

“’S so like you to know,” Izuminokami mumbles, combing back his hair.

Kunihiro smiles, eyes crinkling even though his mouth hides behind that fluffy white scarf of his. “As much as I’d like to say it’s because I’m your partner and companion, it’s really not that hard to tell, Kane-san.”

Izuminokami groans in response. “Screw off,” he drones, tapping a finger against Kunihiro’s forehead. “What did you come here for?”

“I was wondering if you were going for lunch, actually, but-”

A wall of red slams into Kunihiro and he yelps, arms bracing around the sudden addition. “Kashuu-san, it’s dangerous!”

Kashuu peers at Izuminokami from above his own scarf and makes a contemplative sound. “Not being disgusting for once? I thought you’d be making full use of the bedding. Or did your morning…starters satisfy you?”

What the fuck? Izuminokami’s lips peel back from his teeth. “None of your business, asshole.”

Kashuu whips out an accusing finger. “I didn’t ask to listen, okay? It was Shokudaikiri who sent me to your fucking room! And what do I get? A free audio sample of you two getting down that I didn’t fucking need! The walls are thin, okay? Do you get me?”

Izuminokami shoves an offending finger in Kashuu’s face in response and turns back to Kunihiro, who looks slightly pained. “I think I’ll wait for Y- Mutsunokami to wake up before we go for lunch. You can go ahead first.”

“Okay! Don’t eat your lunch too late, Kane-san!” Kunihiro reminds, politely ignoring Kashuu’s gagging at the back.

Izuminokami hums, deliberately looking away from Kashuu. “Be careful. See you around then, Kunihiro.”

Izuminokami slides the shoji shut with a heavy sigh, casting his gaze towards Yoshiyuki—still fast asleep, as if nothing had happened.

He can’t say the same for himself. He still feels a little foggy, he’ll admit, but he’s definitely more awake from bickering with Kashuu. Grunting, Izuminokami seats himself at the kotatsu. It’s barely past noon; perhaps he could wake Yoshiyuki when he’s done perfecting the art of tying a Dutch braid, just like Kunihiro taught him how to. Just divide the top section of his hair into three sub-sections, use his thumb to hook a section of hair from the side, cross that section under this one…

Bang!

And that’s how Izuminokami wakes up for the third and last time—forehead throbbing red-hot and fingers stiff and sore. Beside him, Yoshiyuki stirs, groaning. “Wassat…”

It takes a moment for the pain to actually register within Izuminokami’s brain, and when it does, it hits hard and all at once. He chokes out an expletive-filled groan. “Fucking hell…”

Beyond the wave of pain, he faintly registers Yoshiyuki mumbling. “Can’t believe I kiss ‘at mouth.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Izuminokami grits out. “My head hurts so fucking bad.” Carefully, he wrings his fingers out, cringing at the stiffness in his knuckles and wrists.

The sheets shuffle and fold, and a wall of heat materialises behind Izuminokami. “Kanesada,” Yoshiyuki begins, staring at his not-braided-at-all hair, “did you fall asleep tying your own hair?”

Izuminokami clicks his tongue. “No.”

Yoshiyuki hums gleefully in answer, picking the not-braid apart. “Liar,” he sings gleefully, starting to braid Izuminokami’s hair himself. “For someone who has such long hair,” he continues, threading nimble fingers through his hair, “you sure don’t know how to use it to your own advantage.”

A sigh of satisfaction escapes Izuminokami. “It’s not like I’ve been here long,” he mumbles, eyes closed in contentment. “And a ponytail is just easier and more practical.”

Yoshiyuki hums contemplatively, ending the braid, and reaches for a rubber band.

"Wait a second."

Izuminokami turns his head (or as much as he is capable of while having his braid being pulled by Yoshiyuki). "What? Can't find the hairtie?"

Yoshiyuki shakes his head, hair falling in front of his face. "What time is it? Is there lunch?"

Izuminokami blinks once.

"Oh my god, Nosada is going to slaughter us."

"What? So is there lunch? Do we have to go out in this snow or something?"

Izuminokami shakes his head fervently, braid dislodging from Yoshiyuki's fingers. "Aruji said that we could go have lunch whenever we wanted as long as it wasn't too late, but..." He stares forlornly at the clock. "It's three—Nosada's coming for my ass, Yoshiyuki. Oh my god, I'm so screwed-"

The shoji door opens with a bang, to the horror of one pale-faced, wide-eyes Izuminokami Kanesada.

Nosada casts a disdainful glare at the mess of scattered blankets and pillows before turning his steely gaze on Izuminokami. "Do you not need lunch?" he rants, shoving an accusing finger in Izuminokami's face. "Do you need me to bring your tray in just for you? Are you that spoilt and inelegant?"

Izuminokami cringes away, gaze slowly drifting to the mats. "Hey, hey," Yoshiyuki interrupts. "'M sure there's no need to scold- okay, okay, I won't say anything! Jeez," he mutters, raising his hands in surrender. "Don't gotta be so riled up, y'know!"

Kasen turns his glare onto the both of them. "Kitchen. Now. I don't particularly care what you're wearing or whether you're warm enough," he orders, shoving them out the room. 

"Nosadaaa," Izuminokami whines, already hugging his body. "It's cold, can we at least take a coat or something?"

Nosada's lips threaten to curl as he turns back with a tut and retrieves their haori from the mats, tossing them at the two shivering men. "There. Kitchen, now."

With a sullen pout, Izuminokami follows Yoshiyuki to the kitchen. "You're so petty, Nosada."

The glare Nosada sends him in answer makes him feel so, so young, even though he's way taller and way broader. "Say one more word and I'm taking your lunch away."

Izuminokami, now very much awake and intimidated, grabs Yoshiyuki's hand and turns away, footsteps quickening on the engawa.