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"Nezumi…" Shion murmurs, from where he lies next to the addressed, sprawled out in the green.


Nezumi hums noncommittedly in reply, eyes initially fixated on the seemingly endless blue above, before gazing down at his serene companion. They'd been counting clouds just a moment ago, but have since fallen into a mostly comfortable silence. Nezumi has taken his hair out of its ponytail, so as to nestle his head more comfortably between the dandelions of the secluded, verdant hill, and Shion has taken off his sandals. His feet are growing, preceding an inevitable growth spurt, Nezumi notes. They sport pale lines where the straps of the sandals have covered them, and are a bit dirty, and still make Nezumi flinch when they brush his bare legs at night, like little icicles. Nezumi wants to freeze forever, in those nights. Or maybe even here, where the clouds move faster than life, and two boys can stretch themselves on carpeted grounds and name and rename the world like children.


Whereas Nezumi's hands absentmindedly tug the unfortunate blade of grass that so happen to lie beneath them, Shion's fingers are still, almost uncharacteristically relaxed, palms facing the sun, open as his expression. They are soft fingers, still, though baby calluses have begun to form on their tips, darkening the skin ever so slightly.


Nezumi once wanted to resent that softness, had tried.


He could not.


He wants to touch them, turn them over beneath his own, roughened digits, hold them between his lips, run over the newly toughened patches of skin with his teeth, until they are new again. The sun gleams off Shion's angles, and Nezumi's airs have never been real, not really, and he wonders how long he's been drowning. He wants to guide those fingers towards the sky so the two of them can go back to counting clouds, so Nezumi doesn't have to count how many scars have made a home on Shion's left thumb since he came to this ugly, ugly corner of the world, how many seconds until this aberrant peace must end.


Shion interrupts his thoughts again. "Nezumi?" He's spoken more loudly this time, taken a more insistent tone.


There is no ignoring that tone. Nezumi dreads the day it coats the word, 'goodbye' more than he will ever let himself admit.


"Yes, Your Majesty?" he manages to drawl out, and internally sighs in relief when he cannot detect any betraying inflection in his voice. He hears Shion huff in response to the nickname. Though his silver orbs are pointedly fixated away from Shion's expressive face, he can already visualize the accompanying pout, how the right corner of his mouth quirks down more than the left, how his nose scrunches up ever so slightly, how his eyes appear to be torn between narrowing or widening, how they shine more brightly than Nezumi ever thought possible.


Nezumi could picture this scene just as vividly in a darkened room; this he has done, alone in their small shared chamber with Shion preoccupied and away—helping Inukashi wash the dogs, or making conversation with Old Woman Madoka helping her make bouquets of wilted flowers next to the pothole on the corner, or committing some other noncompulsory act of kindness—hand fisted around his weeping cock, squeezing almost tight enough to hurt as he imagines the pursed, perfect lips and passionate violet orbs he has committed to memory, carrying them with him through a paroxysmal orgasm.


Or, oh, yesterday, when he had pressed against Shion in their shared bed, after they had shed their clothes in acquiescence to the humid late-summer heat, and Shion had asked, "Nezumi?" not so unlike how he'd just asked now, and Nezumi had surrendered to a different heat, had screwed his eyes shut and kissed Shion, had roughly caressed his soft fingers and the bony ladder of his spine, the indents of his ribs and the rounded curve of his shoulders, his jaw, the hollow of his cheeks. And Shion had whispered, Nezumi, Nezumi, Nezumi, breathless with some sort of feverish awe, and moved his perfect hands down to clutch Nezumi's narrow hips and, with the pads of his fingers, teased the soft skin over the taut muscle of Nezumi's thighs, and Nezumi had parted them, and let Shion wander there with the same earnest wonderment that accompanied him everywhere.


Shion had asked, can I?


And Nezumi had gasped, please, and screwed his eyes shut even tighter, and imagined Shion's lips and nose and eyes all roaming over him and Nezumi has never felt so jealous of his skin. 


"Nezumi?" Shion repeats, with patient persistence. And Nezumi opens his eyes and, oh, he sees blue instead of violet and can't help but hurriedly turn his head until he meets Shion's awaiting eyes. And oh, what a mistake that is because now the urge to hold on to Shion and never let go pulls at him even more insistently than before and people who cling to Nezumi like that burn, and Nezumi can't let that happen, not when can already feel the tendrils of a flame blazing to life within, when he still has the willpower—somewhere, he must have the willpower—to let go.


"Nezumi!" Shion warns, and he looks worried now, why is Shion worried? Nezumi panics, then realizes that he is inhaling before he has time to exhale and it feels like there is something squeezing on his heart and lungs—is that why his heart is racing so fast? He violently wrenches his eyes away from Shion's concerned scrutiny and sits up quickly, feeling the blood drain from his head and towards somewhere lower, adding to a pressure he hadn't noticed before.


Oh. He's hard, Nezumi realizes, has probably been for some time, since his mind decided to conjure up those memories, and he can't help but blush despite himself, when Shion is right there. Because Shion had risen to sit up with Nezumi, and turned his solicitous gaze upon Nezumi's face, even as Nezumi had turned away, and now that same intense stare is focused on a different part of Nezumi, and Nezumi's eyes are not closed right now, even though he's forgotten what it means to be open, even though he knows what boys like him deserve; it has never been this. Shion's lips have parted; the plumper, bottom one is the slightest bit damp, judging by how the sun's rays are reflected from it. Nezumi has expected Shion's eyes to have widened, with curiosity if the fates are being cruel or with confusion if the fates are being crueler, but they haven't, or perhaps they did and he missed it. Now, his lids have descended halfway and his eyes appear hooded, yet Nezumi can still see that they are startlingly violet and there's something else.


"Nezumi." Shion says, and it isn't a question anymore, but a beckoning command, and oh, Nezumi is so tired of this.


Of knowing things do not last forever and knowing Shion.


Of the flames that once destroyed everything he ever loved and the flames that let him hope, torturously, that he will love again.


Of everything and everything that is broken in two. The past and the future. And Shion is calling for him now, and how could he not turn and meet that steadfast, piercing gaze with a shuddering breath and with everything that was/is/will be Nezumi in the forefront of his own returning stare. And for a second, Shion sees him. Nezumi's always been a reader and he can read this part of Shion's expression at the very least, the way purses his lips and his eyes waver for an instant before hardening.


And Nezumi thinks, emptily, this is it, I'm going to have to let him go now.


And Nezumi thinks, bitterly, is this what you wanted?


And Shion is reaching, reaching out and gripping Nezumi's face too hard, and Nezumi can feel the baby calluses agaist the ridges of his cheekbones, and oh, Shion's face is close now, his bangs are tickling Nezumi's forehead, and his eyelashes are catching the sun, and Nezumi's eyes are wide and getting wider with every breath; he thinks they might pop out of his skull, and what a pity that would be, because Nezumi has never seen anything so heartbreakingly beautiful.


Soft hands temper their grasp; a trepidatious thumb wanders to caress Nezumi's cheek.


"Can I?" Shion whispers, eyes boring into Nezumi's silver ones, and Nezumi cannot hold the words back any longer.


Nezumi exhales.





(He is certain Shion can taste his smile.)