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(i lost myself) in cosmic dust

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on the day that nakamoto yuta was destined to die, the sun shone brighter than it had in months. the streets were packed with children darting between cars, syrup stained on their lips from the ice lollies that they had managed to beg out of their parents; every other car in question had been washed in the late morning, the possibilities that presented themselves on warm days never seeming to disappoint the perfect suburban families that occupied the outskirts of the city. doyoung tightened his grip on the strap of his messenger bag, nails carving crescents into his palms as he followed the achingly familiar path to the cherry blossom tree that he and yuta called their own — numb to the joy that clouded the senses of apparently everyone else in the city.

he wasn’t ignorant, he was well aware that people were contacted to tell them that it was their end day on every day of every year without fail. he was well aware that they in turn had to call their families and friends to tell them that they had less than twenty four hours to live. well aware that some of them would spend the day doing dumb things like indoor skydiving or pulling up a profile on the last friends app or maybe even trying to prevent their own death. he was well aware that the system churned out new deckers every day and that they died on that day.

but that person had never been the boy that he loved.

yuta had called him at seven minutes past eleven, right after he had gotten off the call with death-cast. they had called him at four minutes past eleven. that meant that he only had twelve hours and fifty six minutes left to live. and he hadn’t known. he couldn’t really help the cloying darkness that was festering in his stomach.

doyoung’s feet subconsciously sped up beneath him as the church bells peeled out that it was twelve, the relentless toll of them drawing parallels to the staunch beating of his heart. his steps grew increasingly faster as he cut through the alleyways that he had taken every week for the past four years. the path that he had taken during their honeymoon phase, arguments, and for dates that had gradually eased themselves into normality. he had never registered just how far away the tree was from his flat. when the fourth set of traffic lights turned green at his approach, his path grew steadily more reckless. he cut into the oncoming traffic with abandon. it wasn’t his end day. he couldn’t die. but there was a time limit on how long he had left with the older boy. none of the logic that he usually ran his life by prevailed.

for all he knew, yuta could have already been ripped from the world; his soul forced into the drift between the very concept of time and space. sharp bile filled his mouth at the thought and doyoung broke out into a run along the final few streets, his heart lurching in his throat with every step that he took. he scrambled over the grass verge that separated the road from the cherry blossom tree, his entire body halting in its tracks when he saw a familiar figure lounging under the shade of the ancient trunk. whether it was from relief or shock or something else entirely, he had no idea.

yuta looked almost as vibrant as the day that doyoung had first seen him; red hair pulled out of his face in a small ponytail and piercings glinting in the sun. almost. the dullness in his eyes gave away the fear that must have been eating away at his insides. “am i really that repulsive, darling?” he quirked an eyebrow upwards, a cocky smirk etched onto his lips as he stared up at doyoung. it was a mundane look, one that yuta seemed a little as if he had been born with the ability to pull off. it had infuriated doyoung when they first met, in the period that they now looked upon with laughter with a wonder of how they could ever have disliked one another, now, it was just another of the many things that reminded him of the boy that he loved.

he crossed the distance between them in two long strides, his figure casting a long shadow over the lines of yuta’s body. “yeah,” he deadpanned, the thickness of his tone blurring the sarcastic sentiment that he had been aiming for, “i can hardly stand the sight of you.” on another day, yuta would have tossed back his head and howled excessively over doyoung saying something as clumsy as that. on another day, he would have held up a false pretence of anger until yuta kissed his pour away. on another day, the words wouldn’t have made tears brim in his eyes.

on this day, he just stared down at the boy in question. yuta’s smirk had softened to a gentle smile at the very sign of doyoung’s voice faltering, the soft curve of his lips identical to the edges of the wings of the butterflies that he liked to conjure up in his boyfriend’s stomach. “i can’t believe that you have the audacity to call me snarky when you say shit like that.”

he moved over slightly on the picnic blanket that was laid out beneath him, making just enough room for doyoung to squeeze into. a lump threatened to form in his throat when he caught sight of the row of pastel coloured teddy bears that danced along the border. when they had first started meeting up at the cherry blossom tree, it had been in the early hours of the morning, between yuta coming off of night shifts and doyoung heading to the cafe. the older boy always tucked the blanket into the pocket of the huge hoodie that he liked to wear after too many hours spent in scrubs, having noticed the way that doyoung scrunched up his nose at the feeling of the dew penetrating his painstakingly pressed work trousers on their first meeting there. he had brought it along every time since. apparently this last time was to be no exception.

“you gonna sit down?” yuta’s bemused tone cut through the melancholy tangent of his thoughts with ease, the overwhelming feelings that had been clawing at doyoung’s chest disintegrating into ashes on the breeze. to anyone else, it would probably have seemed as if the older boy was completely relaxed about his impending death. doyoung knew better than that, though.

“yeah,” he said once more, his words catching on the dry column of his throat, “‘course i am.” yuta stared at him for a moment, but when the younger boy made no show of moving, he closed his eyes as if to humour him. doyoung settled himself against the tree, ditching his messenger bag at the foot of the blanket and letting his back press into the rough bark. he wasn’t exactly sure why he had brought his bag with him. he had absolutely no intention of going to work today. he pulled his attention away from the bag before he could space out again, he didn’t want the uncertainty that was clouding his mind to win out over his last few hours with yuta.

doyoung let his head drop back against the tree, rolling his neck so that he could see yuta better. he doubted that he even needed to look at him, practically positive that he could etch out every last detail of the older boy in the stars. regardless, he let his eyes wander over his face: over the shadows that his eyelashes cast across his cheeks, over the smear of highlighter that twinkled over the bridge of his nose and over the soft lips that he had kissed innumerable times.

the quiet that settled between the two of them was wafer thin, a lace brocade of words that they couldn’t bear to voice and ideas that they couldn’t bear to think. yuta tolerated the silent roaming of doyoung’s gaze for a few minutes before his own eyes fluttered open, fixing doyoung with a look that seemed to cut through to the very core of his being. he had always had a knack for making doyoung feel so terribly seen.

and then he couldn’t hold back the torrent of thoughts any longer, “we could stop it,” doyoung started, his voice frantic even to his own ears. “i could bring you home with me and we could just stay there all day, wait it out, there’s only twelve hours and we can move everything that could hurt you—”

he was cut off from the snowball of ideas that was filtering seamlessly from his brain to his mouth by the gentle press of yuta’s finger to his lips. when he met the older boy’s gaze, he could just see the tears that were starting to form. “that’s no use and you know it, doyoung.” he sounded resigned to the truth, as if he had already accepted what the younger boy couldn’t, “that’s never worked and it never will, not in a million years.” doyoung’s hand came up to clasp at yuta’s own, their fingers intertwined against his mouth. he pressed a shaky kiss to the point at which their skin met.

“okay,” the taste of the truth was uncomfortable in doyoung’s mouth, but he swallowed it down as quickly as it arose. yuta’s thumb rubbed soft circles into the back of his hand and the choked sensation returned to his throat once more; there was something that seemed so backwards about the older boy comforting him on his own end day. but they had never been the most conventional of couples. “is there anything you wanna do today then?” he managed to force out, voice considerably quieter than it would usually be.

yuta shook his head, eyes not leaving doyoung’s food for even a split second. “i just want to stay right here, with you.” the admittance sent another sharp burst of heat straight to doyoung’s gut. yuta had always been larger than life, he had always wanted to do and try everything that he possibly could and he had dragged doyoung along with him over the years despite his faux complaints. the very fact that doyoung alone would be enough for him on his final day felt like an impossible promise.

he didn’t voice any of that though, letting silence fall between them as he dropped his forehead to press against yuta’s. his nose bumped against the older boy’s, the movement eliciting the barest whisper of laughter from yuta, which faded in an instant. “i keep thinking about how it’s going to happen,” he mumbled, his lips brushing over doyoung’s, “i think that’s the part that’s scaring me the most.”

a breeze had picked up in the time that they had been sat there, carrying the cherry blossoms and starting to deposit them across the expanse of the picnic blanket. one of the petals fell directly onto their adjoined hands, a mocking imitation of hope. doyoung squeezed yuta’s fingers between his own even more tightly than previously, “i hope it doesn’t hurt too much.”

“how could it not?” he rebuffed, the waver in his breath against doyoung’s skin enough to give away his fears, “it’s taking me away from you.” his own tears were falling now, mixing with doyoung’s in places, the tendrils winding themselves together in a mournful dance. before doyoung could speak, yuta carried on, “we were supposed to grow old together,” his voice was just loud enough to be audible, “i wanted to spend forever with you.”

a sob ripped itself from doyoung’s lips, the noise far too loud for the silence that seemed to surround the tree. “fuck,” was all that he managed to say, his voice cracking at the end of the word. his hands shook as he tugged them away from yuta, cupping the older boy’s face in between them and roughly swiping at the tears that were now crashing down in torrents. his movements were slow, marred by his own crying. for someone who was usually so put together and prepared for every eventuality, he felt for the first time in his life—utterly hopeless.

“doyoung,” yuta murmured, barely louder than the sound of the cherry blossoms descending in the breeze. his name had always sounded so beautiful when it came from his lips, always said with a reverence that felt undeserved. “doyoung,” he repeated, more urgently this time, his voice holding more gravel than usual from his tears, “it hurts.”

the younger boy retracted his hands from his cheeks as if he had been scalded, carefully examining the skin for the signs of where he had pushed too hard. “god, i’m sorry, love,” he said, already rolling over his feet to reach for his messenger bag - he probably had something that would help in there. he cursed himself for his carelessness, conscious that he hadn’t wanted to ruin their final moments together but had somehow managed to achieve that anyway.

yuta grabbed his wrist before he could go any further, “not my face,” his words sounded sluggish; coming in broken sentences that were very unlike him. doyoung looked back over at the older boy, his brow creasing in concern as he watched him push his hand against his stomach, as if trying to soothe some kind of cramp.

“your stomach?” he asked tentatively, leaning over to press his hand against the same spot, not exactly sure what he was feeling for. there was a reason that he had never become a doctor. yuta nodded, his eyes going a little glassy at the movement. he whimpered, the small noise of pain immediately forcing doyoung into a more alert state. “okay,” he mumbled, trying not to let the panic that he was feeling penetrate into his tone, “okay, hold on, i’ll call someone.”

he fumbled for his phone in his pocket, keeping his other hand pressed against the older boy’s stomach as if it would do anything. he had deteriorated from a completely normal state to this unintelligible position in minutes. doyoung was no expert, but that didn’t exactly seem promising. he wasn’t ready to admit what that meant to himself yet. “do,” yuta slurred in a low tone, “darling, there’s no point.” doyoung almost started crying harder at the clarity of the nickname amongst the other, far quieter words.

“don’t be stupid, of course there’s a point.” he responded, but his fingers stilled where they had been flying over the screen of his phone. he felt as if he was barely breathing, despite the fact that his chest was rising and falling at an irregular rate.

yuta smiled at him, a small, sad thing—ridiculously stunted compared to the light that usually radiated from him in moments of happiness. “come here,” his hand was just barely lifted above his chest, extending out for the younger boy, “want a kiss.” doyoung leaned over him, awkwardly hovering over him so as not to press into any part of him. tears flooded his eyes now, but he kept his gaze focused on the older boy. yuta let his hand fall onto the younger boy’s cheek, “i will love you,” he mumbled, “until the planets fucking implode.”

doyoung nodded shakily, “i know,” he whispered, yuta definitely able to feel his breath against his skin, “i love you.” doyoung closed the distance between the two of them and pressed a soft kiss to yuta’s lips - being met with the gentle care that always followed his initiation. it was a kiss full of promises, lost dreams, and unsaid confessions of love that yuta deserved to know. it felt as if it contained everything and nothing all at once, just like the first time. doyoung wasn’t quite sure how long it lasted until yuta was unresponsive against him. he didn’t pull away immediately, keeping his eyes closed as he hovered over the older boy’s body and memorised the feeling of their skin being pressed together.

it could have been seconds or hours before he dragged himself away, shaking uncontrollably as he dropped himself back onto the picnic blanket, his hands coming down to fiddle with the loose threads of some of the teddy bears. the cherry blossoms were still falling, raining in endless shades of pink all around him. his chest felt hollow, the anger and sadness that he expected were not present, instead swallowed by an empty void that threatened to consume him whole. he felt strangely numb.

he could hear the road from where they were sat, the traffic rushing past in the same way that it had been all day. nothing had changed for any of the people out there. maybe small changes, maybe the coffee shop had run out of their usual muffin before they could buy it. and yet, everything had changed for doyoung in a moment that he would never be able to get back.

his hands shook as he swallowed down the lump that was forming in his throat, pointedly not looking towards the boy who had managed to work his way into his life and make forever seem far less terrifying. his phone started ringing in his pocket, the noise far too mundane and piercing, considering the circumstances that he found himself in. he stared at it blankly for a moment, deciding whether it would be worth answering. he just managed to swipe it before it rang out, lifting it to his ear and wiping his eyes roughly. “hello?” his voice was dry, even to his own ears.

“hello, i’m calling from death-cast, is this doyoung?”