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sadness clouded his features

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He was just mindlessly roaming the village. After a hard day of unstoppable labour, his body was completely drained and his mind was only thinking about going to sleep.

Gen was heading to his comfy bed, ready to enter the hut when something caught his attention. There was a dim light, visible through the observatory door that were slightly ajar. A cold brezze swept his face and added some clarity to his clouded vision. It must be Senkuu checking on some blueprints or projects, Gen thought.

But then he also remembered that he hasn't seen the scientist since today's morning. It wasn't unusual though not to see the leekboy around. Most of the time he was in his laboartory or on some explorations. But he always came to check the work progression and did all the fixes that were needed. So it was strange that he didn't show up even for a second for the whole day. Even though the boy was really tired, he found some strenght to look for his friend. After all he was the mentalist here, so he had to do his job porperly.

The night had already overtaken the blue shiny sky, making the stars visible for the eye. There were no clouds and the moon was shining on his pale features. A cold wind started swaying the flag on top of the obseravtory. Gen took his way to the bulding, slowly climbing up the ladder he was carefully watching for every step. When he finally reached the top, he quietly knocked on the door and after hearing a small voice saying "come in" he entered the room. The moment his eyes reached the sight inside, he noticed tons of paper sheets scattered everywhere. Mostly some notes and calculations. Gen went further into the observatory and then he saw him. Looking through the telescope, Senku seemed not to acknowledge his presence at all. Gen wanted to say something as not to startle the scientist but the other boy had beat him to it.

"What is it, mentalist?" The voice echoed through the room. Gen took a step closer and smiled even though Senku still wasn't facing him.

"Why, hello to you too Senku~chan" He sweetly sing-songed while steadily getting closer to the opposite side of the room where the boy sat. He carefully watched his feet so he wouldn't step on any of the blueprints. Something wasn't adding up there, Gen thought. Senku would never leave such a mess behind. After he finishes his experiments he always puts back everything to its rightful place. It was odd to see him just sitting there and not caring in the slightest of the state of his surroundings.

Well, there will be time to find out. Now he has to focus on keeping the convesation going.

"I just came to check on our dear chief. As the mentalist I have to look after everyone here~" Then after after getting no reaction he looked up at the sky. The view from here was quite a something. "The moon is beautiful tonight, don't you think?"

"Yeah," Senku also looked up "It is."

Then the atmosphere became more serene. Gen let himself stand beside the boy. He took a good look at him. Judging from his tense posture, he must have been sitting here all day. His hair was mushy and stood in more directions than usual. The scientist had dark circles under his eyes, and he looked tired. Gen regretted not bringing any of his lavender tea. It would certainly help the other boy. But then the magican looked into his eyes. Those blood red rubies. He would be lying to himself if he denied the fact that they looked mesmerizing in that light. Like they held the stars. But really, he would never admit it out loud.

Senku still seemed to be deep in thought. His expression was soft and looked almost gentle. The small smirk usually visible on his face was now a flat line. Gen had never seen Senku like this before. Maybe when he heard his father's recording and his shoulders dropped. A difference in his expression. A silent longing.

But never so exposed.

Gen suddenly got a feeling like he disturbed something. Something very personal. He bent down and picked up one of the papers at his feet and examined it for a second.

"Oh, so many calculations in there. Need any help with them Senku-chan?"

The other boy turned to face him, a mild shock on his features quickly repleaced by amusement.

Ah, finally. He got his full attention.

"From whom if I may ask?" Senku teased. "Chrome maybe?"
Gen faced formed into a fake pout.

"Aw so eanmay~, from me of course! I might not be the only other modern men in the science kingdom anymore but I can certainly put two and two together."

"Oh really? Why didn't you tell me earlier, it'd have saved me a lot of time." He then also reached out from his seat and took one of the scribbles. Senku's finger roamed through the drawings when his hand suddenly stopped and pointed out some numbers "Here, I forgot to do this equation. All you have to do is devide it by twenty eight and then you have to calculate the delta-"

"W-whoa, Senku-chan please calm down I was only joking okay?" Gen started waving his hands frantically. "Jeez, you already torture me with physical work and now you want to add mathematic to that list?" The boy brought a hand to his chest and his face took a hurt expression.

"What did I do to deserve your anger, oh dear Senku."

"Stop being so dramatic, mentalist." The other waved his hand dissmisivly but there was a small smile on his lips.

Gen really appresiated the sight

"Ah, but I'm glad it brought a smile to your face."

Senku looked at him with a disapproval, shaking his head. "Only you can say such cringy stuff."

"Riiight~?"

After that, there was a silence. Only interrupted by Senku's hand patting a place beside him. Gen took the invitation immediately and sat next to the other boy. They stared at the sky above them. The telescope before them completely forgotten. At this moment Gen was glad that they had built this observatory for Senku. He really wanted to show how much the scientist's hard work is valued. How his determination to bring back the modern world had infected everyone, even him. It was also a kind of a shelter for Senku. He could always go there and hardly anyone could interrupt him. Much more peaceful than the laboratory. His second home, one would say. An ideal place to think.

"So Senku-chan" Gen's voice suddenly rang through the room. He didn't want to break this calm feeling that surronded them but he could clearly see that something was bothering the other boy. And he couldn't just ignore it.
"What is it?"

"What do you mean?" Senku asked confused, a slight frown between his brows.

"Why are all the blueprints on the floor?"

"Well, where should they be? There's no table in here."

"I mean, why are they in every corner of the room."

He could see that Senku became tense as he hasitated to replay.

"There was much to be done and I didn't have time to put them all togather in one place."

"You and I know that it's bullshit. You were just sitting here doing nothing when I came."

Senku averted his eyes and bore them into the floor. He could no longer hold the mentalist's stare. He saw right through him anyway. The room became quiet again and only from time to time you could hear whistles and gusts of wind.

"If you don't want to talk about it, that's fine. Just tell me if I can help somehow."

The scientist looked up from the ground and glanced at Gen. There wasn't any hint of playfullness in him. He seemed calm but not less serious. Maybe Senku wasn't as good at reading people as Gen but he could say with certainty that the other wasn't joking.

"Help? With what?"

"With making you feel better."

Senku's eyes widened in realisation. Like he didn't expect a response like that.

"Oh."

With that nothing more was said. Now they were just sitting next to each other while looking nowhere particularly. Senku started to pick at his bandages that covered his forearms. He really seemed to struggle with his next words.

Gen stayed where he sat, waiting patiently. He didn't intend to force Senku into doing something he didn't like. If he wanted to talk about it he'd tell him and if Gen has to leave, he will. Even if he'd rather stay.

The other boy returned to the state in which Gen had seen him at the beginning. His jaw was clenched, eyes as if they were behind a fog, the corners of his mouth turned down. His features were dulled and he looked drained. But there was also something else that he hadn't seen before. Something so simple that Gen cursed himself inwardly for not noticing. Maybe it was the light that made it more obvious or position of his head but finally it dawned on him.

Senku was sad.

And now it was clear as day to see.
That made Gen even more concerned. And he wasn't quite sure what to do. What caused it? Did something happen and he had no idea? Did he miss the old world? No, but that wouldn't make him that sad, would it? Or maybe he did something. Yes, he definitely said something wrong and that made him ma-

"I just had a dream today." The other boy suddenly spoke up, ending Gen's chaotic train of thoughts. It took him a while to understand Senku's words but when he eventually grasped them Gen visibly relaxed.

Ah, it was just a dream. Thank God he didn't do anything.

"But it's nothing important, just irked me a little bit." The boy said. "I will be fine by tomorrow so no need to dwell on it."

A moment passed and Gen put the puzzeles togather.

"So you stayed here, pobably told Kohaku not to be disturbed by anyone and drowned yourself in work so you wouldn't think about it?" The mentalist questioned already knowing the answer. It was afterall a really common practice to try to forget about something. Work, read, eat or watch a movie just not to remember. But at the end of the day, when nothing more is to be done those thoughts will crawl back into your head when you're left alone.

"Yeah.., something like that." Senku shifted in his position and put a hand on his forehead, shutting his eyes for a second. There was a smirk on his face but no happiness or slyness in it.
Gen couldn't really bear that sight. To be honest, he hated it. The most generous person he knew looked really lost and unhappy for the first time since they've met. Senku who covered his selfless gesture of kindness behind a cloak of selfish madman's wishes. The one who was the most determinded of them all, who counted every second of being petrified all these years. The one who never gave up on his science and swore to save all seven billion people.

This brilliant man who made him a bottle of cola, although he knew he already had him in his grasp.

So Gen did the only thing he could think of at the moment. He scooted closer to the other boy so there was only an inch apart between them and asked

"Can I hug you?" Senku turned to him. A moment of stillness.
"Please?"

He wasn't sure if he would welcome it. The mentalist was well aware of the fact that the boy was aversed to the idea of being touched. When someone tried to hold him he'd always manage to dodge and get out of the way. Gen didn't want to make him uncomfortable.

Senku just smiled seeing his uncertainty.

"When did you become so cautious, hm?" The other boy teased with a glint in his eye.

"Oh I see, you're feeling better now. I take that back the-"

Gen didn't mange to finish his sentence when a pair of warm hands closed at his waist and clung onto him. Senku buried his face into Gen's neck and stayed like this, immobile.

Gen's pupils dilated and he felt a strange sensation in the pits of his abdomen. He didn't think much about what just transpired and let himself sunk into the heat of his embrace, returning the hug. Every muscle lost its tension as they were silently enjoying the presence of each other. Senku never thought that he'd like being close or affectionate with anyone. But Gen's arms around him.. were so tender. And held him like no one ever did.

He felt his breathing even out and soon he melted into the touch of the other boy. It felt really nice and finally his mind slowed down.

For the fist time Senku didn't start to count the seconds, too distracted he wasn't sure how many minutes passed before he opend his mouth again.

"It was about him." The scientist said, his voice muffled by Gen's clothes. It sounded a little hoarse to his own ears. Like he hadn't been using it for years.

"Hm?" Gen lazily opened his eyes, not being sure when he closed them.

"I had a dream about my dad." He declared, more loudly and steadily.

Gen decided to not disturb the boy and just listened. His eyes softened while looking at Senku. He could only imagine how hard it was to lose such a dear person to your heart. Afterall, his own parents were almost nonexistent in his life.

"I was at a meadow, launching my rocket. I invited him to come and see because I was ten billion percent sure that this time it will reach the sky and go even further. And when he finally appeared on the horizon, I just ran to him. He was just standing there smiling and he was looking at me with something like pride. But I didn't understand why. I haven't shown him anything yet." Senku paused and took a breath.

"He said that he had known I could have done it and then he just walked away.. and vanished."

Gen rested his head on top of Senku's and hugged the boy a little tighter just to remind him that he was still here, listening.
"Then when I woke up I felt frustrated because I couldn't understand those trash feelings that I had. There were only six people who escaped petrification and he was one of them. This old geezer's luck is something on another level."

"But he left you an entire village." The mentalist countered. "So you would never be lonely after you wake up and he is no longer there."

"I know." Senku said, his voice trembles a little with a raw emotion " I know and I'm so greatful for that. The people that live here, I would never change them for anything else."

"But you still question, why him. Seven billion people on this planet and he is the one who can't be brought back to life."

"It was his dream to be an astronaut. I was so happy for him. After all the equipment and support that he gave me to develop and extend my knowledge. It was all I could do to help him. To achieve his goal to go to space."

"Do you regret anything?"

"Not even one millimeter."

Gen smiled "That's good." To live a life without regrets, he adds in his head. Sometimes Gen wished that Senku's dad was here. To tell him how amazing he was. To see what his son had acomplished, all that he did for them and humanity.

"Senku."

"Yes?"

"You aren't alone." Gen said, looking into the other's eyes. "I know you hate seeking comfort but if anything makes you uneasy, know that you have people around who care for you."
He can't stop the flooding feeling that is overtaking his senses. He doesn't think he can form a proper sentence "Okay." So he just lets the warm wash all over him.

And like this, tangled into each other, they welcome the first rays of sun with a steady breaths and closed eyes. Unaware of the fact that there will be much more nights like this to come.