The first few weeks are a flurry of growth and adjustment. Ran seems to grow inches per day, stretching out uncomfortably, his ligaments and tendons aflame with the sudden stretch of bone. He is tensed and uncomfortable, unable to move comfortably, his footsteps heavy with the flinching of puberty. Gingetsu is working most days, and Ran is alone, sitting at the window, or doing the dishes when he can manage to ignore the pain, or reading, or sleeping.
But each moment is something he cherishes. Through the pain, he is living.
Their conversations are never lengthy. Sometimes Ran fears that he is bothering Gingetsu, that he is nothing but a nuisance. Perhaps he regrets his decision. Ran can hear the sleeping hum of the bomb in his head – not loud enough that Gingetsu himself could ever hear it and be disturbed, not when the weight of the thing is disturbing enough. But Ran is acutely aware of its presence, knows it’ll always be there – always weighing down on him, too.
But he isn’t guilty enough to regret being out of the cage. Although, perhaps, this is a different cage of another sort – it is a shorter prison sentence. He will die. His days are perfectly numbered. He is aware, perfectly, of when he will die – the trajectory of his rapid aging coinciding with the years he’s already lived, parsed with the environmental factors. He knows the exact day, practically the exact minute, he will die.
Perhaps Gingetsu knows it, too. Perhaps this is why they repel one another now – two magnets. Unable to properly meet. Perhaps there is no point to speak of unnecessary things, when time is running down. Perhaps it is a form of resistance.
Ran hears the hum of the bomb. He feels the trickle of time. He feels his bones stretching out.
Perhaps it’s better for Gingetsu to remain unconnected to him.
He’s watching the rain fall at the windows, but he feels Gingetsu behind him, watching him. He is always watching him, it seems, and yet so much is left unsaid. Magnets.
He turns from the window, looks over at him. He’s watching him silently.
Ran offers him a little smile. There is a humming in his veins – somehow, seeing him sends a wave of happiness through him. He thinks he’s always felt that way about Gingetsu, even when he first saw him. There is something warm and safe about him, although Gingetsu hardly looks it.
Gingetsu doesn’t smile, but something shifts in his face. It’s hard to tell when he wears the glasses like that. Ran imagines that his eyes have warmed a little.
Ran tries to damp it down. Ran tries to ignore it—
It is better this way. If they remain as unconnected as possible. He knows what the future holds. It will only hurt more, in the end.
“Did you need something?” Ran asks, still smiling.
“… No,” Gingetsu says after a moment of stilled silence, and Ran wonders if that was what he wanted to say. Gingetsu looks away and walks to the kitchen, his back to Ran.
Ran watches him go.
“Are you unhappy? That I’m here?”
“Why would I be?”
Ran isn’t sure how to answer. He stops smiling, laughing a little. “I don’t know, really. I just… have the feeling.”
Gingetsu looks at him and Ran looks back, his entire body tensed not from the uncomfortable muscles, but because he thinks that Gingetsu wants to say something – something he hasn’t said yet.
“I want you here.”
Ran nods mutely. “I know, otherwise you wouldn’t—”
“No,” Gingetsu interrupts, calm as always. Ran stares up at him. Gingetsu is quiet for a moment, and then he seems to look away, just the slightest shift of his face. “I want… you here. So you’ll stay, and that’s that.”
Ran forgets to breathe. He feels his entire body thrum to life and it is terrifying – A will feel it, he needs to clamp it down. If anyone else knew, it would be bad, wrong – if the Wizards knew. Knew that the swelling his heart is the kind of gratefulness and happiness that does not come with regular companionship. He hears his own heartbeat. He hears.
Ran breathes out. “I want to be here.”
“So then there’s no problem.”
Ran nods mutely, looking up at Gingetsu with wide eyes. He tries to school his breathing, attempts normalcy. But everything inside him is alive, humming like live wires. He wants to reach out – wants to touch him – wants to have everything. Everything.
There is weight to the words there. Such a simple request – demand – wish – desire – and yet it’s so weighted. It’s heavy on his mind, on his shoulders. The meaning was different from what can be heard. Ran knows it’s there.
He takes a step towards Gingetsu, almost reaches up and touches.
Instead, they both look away. The air hums around them. It’d be better to clamp down on these emotions – if not for the dated time, but for the way the Wizards would react. But there is the bomb to consider.
The weeks pass in silence. Ran feels as if he is being stretched out, and then gutted from the inside. His eyes follow Gingetsu without his accord and it hurts for him to be so close and yet far away.
He wonders if Gingetsu feels that way, too.
Perhaps he shouldn’t encourage this. Anything. There’s nothing to encourage, but imagine if he did. Perhaps he shouldn’t. It’d be no good. He has five years left. Perhaps things would change. He will grow old. He will grow. Perhaps he will change too much. Perhaps it is all too much.
He tries to damp it down.
Today or tomorrow. A day or a month or a year. He’s a fool. It will not go away. It didn’t matter when, in these five years, Ran knows this will remain.
Gingetsu stands to leave for the night, to sleep, and Ran stands, walks the short distance, clamps down on his wrist.
And kisses him with everything he has, solid and body and warmth. He will keep changing. So he shouldn’t stop looking for anything. Gingetsu kisses him back, Just as desperately as Ran feels. And that’s it. He accepts. He knows.
He would never be able to refuse this.