two-part one-shot


Eyes, Nose, Lips

I

He's had enough of all the shit life has to offer:

Seven days ago, his dog died; four days ago, he lost his job; and seven hours ago, he found his one-year live-in partner cheating on him. He's had enough of them. So much so he thought he would never be able to pull through.

"Bastards..."

All of them may seem nothing to some. In fact, it may seem to be dubious to sink so low just because of these. But he has always been hoping and imagining that even someone like him could fully entrust himself to someone who'd to the same for him. Unfortunately, nothing worked out. It just got to the point where the pain was something he could no longer take. So there he was facing the midnight sea in the freezing cold of the winter season.

The calmness of the waves masking the deadly coldness of the waters was inviting. It was as darkblue as the sky above. The huge moon a jewel.

"This is fine..." he whispered while nodding to himself. "Nothing more I could ask for..."

He laughed a humorless laugh as he took a few more steps into the water. His feet sinking into the powdery sand. His jeans soaking almost all his lower half. It was so cold to the point that it felt like there were blades surrounding his waist.

Emerald eyes the color of dark wild grass in that night scanned the endless horizon. Wide, quiet and beautiful. Such a pretty grave indeed.

"I guess this it..."

Onodera Ritsu was about to commit suicide.


Where the hell did he ever read that drowning was the most romantic kind of death? As he circled round and round under the biting sea, holding out his hands only to grasp nothing but the water itself, he cried. Although nothing came out but bubbles carrying the last of his breath.

"Screw life..." he thought, his body falling deeper into the unknown. "Screw death...screw everything..."

His eyes were wide open, staring back at the dark color of death. Somehow, he got used to the cold, or perhaps had gone numb he couldn't feel it anymore. He just let the current take him, the waves bury him even more.

However he saw a small light. So small he thought it was his illusion. A blinking gold in the midst of the dark sea he could laugh.

"Are you...the door to heaven?" he thought, trying to reach out, trying to capture the faint light that was falling deeper into the core of the sea. "Hey...wait..."

Onodera Ritsu was so very focused on the tiny blinking light that he unconsciously swam towards it. He reached out, extended his heavy arms to touch the light. Instead, he touched something firm yet soft. He felt fabric against his palms. He felt freezing cold skin against his own skin. And when he further groped his way up, he felt hair strands, tangling against his fingers. Felt what seemed like the eyes, the nose, the lips.

"Oh my god...a person? A dead body!"

The thought rendered Ritsu suddenly very much awake. What a way really. He thought how cursed he was. He was trying to commit suicide but someone got ahead of him.

When Ritsu was about to let go, he felt something grabbing on to his arms. Hands. They were squeezing very tightly to Ritsu's flesh that it was painful. But as fast as it happened was as fast as it vanished. Ritsu was sure with one thing though, whoever was before him, or whatever was before him, it was alive. Well, barely.

"..."

Blinding darkness and biting cold, Ritsu had no time to think. He grabbed on to what seemed like the shoulders and pulled it closer to him, hugging it. And then it struck him. It was a bony and small frame of someone not probably older by seven years old.

"A kid...?" Ritsu thought. "A kid...!"

Ritsu really wanted to end it all. But with a live kid right in his arms, with his breath coming to a close, a tear mingling with the sea water escaped his eyes. And with all his strenght, kicked into the surface of the sea.

"Damn it...as if I could do suicide and let this kid die like this!"

That night, Ritsu's suicide attempt failed. He chose to save the unknown child.


He opened his eyes and saw dancing shadows against the ceiling. In his ears, a faint sound of waves and the crackling of fire mingled with the silent night. He slowly turned his head towards the sound of wood hitting wood, and his dark golden eyes landed at the small back of a man crouching before what seemed like a fireplace.

"Huh? It's 2015 right? What the hell is this primitive kind of warming in winter?"

The full of mystery's expression of that face in the dark continued to watch the squatting man. He noticed the brown hair taking the color of red and gold as the chunk of wood was engulfed by the fire. Somehow, he felt calm. He knew someone with exactly the same hair color, and same body built. It gave him the sense that he wasn't far from home.

"Don't worry Kinyo...I'll get it for you..." he thought. When he exhaled, his throat suddenly itched that he started coughing. It called the brunette's attention right away.

"O-oi...you're awake!" Ritsu turned to look towards his bed and exclaimed, hurriedly going to the form burried under thick blankets. "Thank goodness..."

The faint hazel eyes watched in silence the worried face coming closer to him with an extended hand. In no time, Ritsu's hand was on the silent person's forehead, checking the temperature.

"Hmm...you still got a fever...but it's lower compared to last night."

Abruptly, the hazel eyes grew wide, he sat right up. "What? How long was I asleep?"

Ritsu withdrew and frowned a bit. "Two nights..."

"Huh? Two nights?! That can't be..."

"You're pretty much burning a few hours ago so if I were you I wouldn't be moving too much," Ritsu said, eyeing the stranger as he sat on a wooden stool. "Anyway...who are you? Where are your parents? Why are you even wearing a suit so much bigger for you? That made the swimming more difficult for me you know?"

The stranger frowned himself. "What the hell is this guy talking about? Talking to me like I were a kid..."

Ritsu dragged his chair a bit closer to the bed and sighed. "Do you know your parents' number? Where do you live? How did you end up in the sea in the first place? Is anything hurting?"

"Oi punk..." the stranger started, taking the kool-aid off his forehead, throwing it to the dusty floor. "Stop talking to me like I am a seven-year old will you? You're annoying."

Ritsu was taken aback. His jaw hanging low. "'Punk'? You called me 'punk'? Oi little big mister...you're a freaking seven-year old in my eyes!" the brunette crossed his arms. "What an ingrate you are...do you know I carried you from the middle of nowhere up to the beach and even let you in my house?! Watch that mouth."

"..."

The one on the bed grew silent. His eyes darted from the annoyed young man's face towards the fireplace.

Right. He forgot. He was in the imperial air vessel called Ageha along with four of his crew. The sudden turbulence thousands of feet from the sea level caused damage to the vessel. With the machine useless, everyone in it injured, they had abandoned their only way back home.

He lost his men. And he just kept on falling endlessly feeling his blood and soul leaving his body. When he felt for his abdomen, a large shard of glass was there, peircing his flesh all the way to his liver. He'd be dead before he reach the sea if he just let it be. So he used that.

Regeneration. Only a few elite knew how, was the last resort he had if he didn't want to die. It took great pains to focus his mind. But it was all worth it. His wounds closed, his cells regenerated. But he had to heal and save his energy at the same time. And so there he was, in a small body of a seven-year old boy, the temporary effect of forced regenerating.

"What now boy? Got back a bit of sense in that big head of yours?" Ritsu leered. "Tell me your name. I'll call the nearest police station tomorrow morning to report this..."

The male on the bed swallowed his irritation at being called a 'boy'. He was a full grown adult of twenty-seven years old. To be called in such a way was already an insult. However, humans on Earth would never believe that he was just under the temporary effect of his self-preservation. To humans, this would sound like a sci-fi movie or flick. What was more, he had no patience to explain it to the seemingly airheaded earthling before him.

"Takano...Masamune."

"Takano Masamune," Ritsu said imitating the boyish voice. "What on Earth are you being grumpy for and acting so cool there?"

Ritsu stood and headed for the old looking door. "Well...I guess you're hungry. I'll got get something to eat. In the meantime...ponder becoming nicer to me alright? I'm Onodera Ritsu. You can call me Ritsu-niichan if you want."

Takano Masamune scowled.

"Aww...what a grumpy child you are..."

"...!"

When the door closed, the brunette's laughter could still be heard. He seemed to be enjoying teasing and annoying the kid he just met. No one would know that two nights ago, he was actually set to committing suicide.


"What?! You ran away from home?!" Onodera Ritsu shrieked. The sushi he was holding falling back on his plate. "You're to young to be involved in those kind of life dramas don't you think?!"

The adult in the seven-year old body just shrugged, feigning weakness as he ate his own portion of the food. In the middle of them on top of that wooden table was a candle, soflty flickering on and off like they went back to the past.

"My father's in a coma...and I am the only heir," Takano Masamume said, his eyes in a downcast manner. "My uncle who seem to be eyeing the company wants me dead. I can't trust anybody in the family..." the boy looked up, his eyes glistening. "I don't expect you to believe me...but staying alive is what I have to do...I value my father's hardwork...I don't expect you to help me either...just a couple of days is all I ask until I can get through with my trusted guards..."

Of course, that was all a big fat lie. Takano's mission was still very far from being accomplished. They'd sacrificed so much to get to Earth. He couldn't give up. Not now. Not in the future either.

Ritsu pursed his lips. He may be a simple person but he wasn't that of an idiot to fall for such stories.

"What a cheap story Kid."

The boy grew silent. Then with serious eyes, locked gazes with the still eating brunette.

"I am a soldier. In search of something to extend my King's life, was sent here on Earth."

Ritsu chowed a huge portion of his food and smiled understandably.

"Stay with me for now..." Ritsu mumbled tiredly. "You seem to be still out of your wits to become this delusional."

The young boy shook his head mockingly. "Whatever I say is useless to an airhead..."

"What? I just told you to watch that mouth didn't I?"

"Hftmt."

"Ingrate brat..."

The two ate in silence. Both their taste buds seemingly not working properly that time. As Takano Masamune continued to chew his food, he darted his gaze around the room he was in. Falling off wall papers, creaky wooden floor, smelled of old fabrics and papers. The place looked so ancient it might collapse any minute.

"Hey...I'm wondering...what's with your house? You don't even have electricity here...it's...so...primitive and inconvenient."

Ritsu, though taught with all the good table manners from childhood threw them all away and pointed his chopsticks at the kid.

"Stop complaining alright? As long as you have a roof over your head, what does it matter?"

"It matters. Look at the broken windows...the cold could get in easier."

"Are you my mom or something?" Ritsu gritted. "You sound like a freaking annoying, bossy tyrant who couldn't shut up with every little thing. You're so warped for your age."

The boy just snorted, making Ritsu all the more annoyed. If only hitting kids was not against the law, he had long ago smacked the boy with the plate before him.

"You see, it's not like I wanted to live here either," the brunette hissed as he pushed in more of the cheap sushi into his mouth. "I lost my apartment and well...It's just that I lost everything due to my stupidity and now...all I have is this ragged-looking family rest house that's so away from the rest of the village..."

Hazel eyes looked away and just silently continued eating. He may be a jerk, but he knew when to stop when the person before him was seemingly about to cry.


He had so many things in mind; his lost comrades, their wrecked air vessesl, their mission. Takano Masamune closed his eyes as he exhaled. He could not allow time to drag unfruitfully like this. Someone was waiting for him. Someone so precious to him he'd no anything for that person. But there he was, under the after-effects of his regeneration. He figured that being in a child's body would not allow him to do much either.

"Kinyo...hold on for me...alright?"

Time was slipping fastly like water in his palms. He had no idea where to begin or to what even do. On top of that, his necklace, a device made to search for something they need was missing. Talk about one misfortune after another.

And then his eyes shot wide open. Slowly, he turned over to the other side. Staring wide eyed at the brunette that was trying to lay beside him.

"What are you doing?" the boy asked.

"Getting ready for sleep, what else?" Ritsu replied, wriggling his way inside the same thick blanket covering the boy. "Can you move a bit...it's too cramped here..."

"Huh?" the boy lifted his body slightly up, resting his weight on one of his elbows. "Are you out of your head? I don't like sleeping beside someone who isn't my type."

The brunette looked at the kid's small face looking so serious. And unable to contain it, cackled like stupid.

"'Type'? What are you talking about?" Ritsu closed his eyes the moment his head touched the pillows. The shadow from the fireplace highlighting his profile. "For a brat your age, you sure know weird words huh..."

"You don't get it do you?" Takano asked with a scowl. "Do you just sleep carelessly with someone you don't know?"

Ritsu turned to the boy's direction, his eyes sleepy. "I've been sleeping here beside you since the day I found you almost dead alright? This is the only warm place in the house. Now go sleep."

"Oi..."

The brunette opened one eye and in one abrupt movement, tugged the boy towards him. Hugging the small darkhaired boy tightly, locking the boy into his embrace.

"What are you so worried about?" Ritsu asked, burrying his face against the boy's hair. "It's been a while since I felt this warmth you know? Be my warm pillow for now..." Ritsu inhaled contentedly. "...you smell like the sea...tomorrow...tomorrow...let's try thinking of a way to defeat your devil uncle..."

Takano Masamune, crushed in the brunette's chest remained still as a rock.

"Why act so nice? You don't believe that story anyway. You know I was lying. There must be something wrong with your head."

"I know..." Ritsu whispered. "That's why I'm easily deceived..."

"..."

"Masamune?"

"Oi...don't just go on calling an adult on a first name basis..."

Ritsu giggled a bit. "Where's this adult you're talking about?"

"..." Shit. I hate being this small.

"Anyway, Takano-san," Ritsu whispered, humoring the obviously irritated kid in his embrace. "Who's Kinyo?"

The boy grew silent.

"You were sleep talking...you miss that person so much don't you? Is he your dad? Your brother...?"

A long silence passed. The low hum of the wind rattling the broken windows, the sound of the waves, the steady breathing and rise and fall of the chest where his cheek lay made Takano realize that Ritsu had fallen asleep already. He then inhaled and exhaled trying to relax.

"Kinyo..."

Takano Masamune was a chief imperial soldier from a distant and small planet not so much different from Earth. The fact that they exist was something they've tried to hide, not even trying to mingle with Earth's beings as well. However, they had no choice this time.

Kinyo, the crown prince, who was about to ascened the throne has always been very ill. He needed a heart. A matching heart from the same bloodline. He needed something to replace his. A heart related to him, an equally matching one that didn't exist in their planet. He had no relatives left. Only one rumor remained that Kinyo's great uncle, in search of thrill in life decided to settle to a planet called Earth. Since then, no one has heard of him. Just that one belief that perhaps, that great uncle had a few sons or daughters.

"But...if we found a perfect match...doesn't that mean we have to kill him? That means killing the crown prince's relative!" one of Takano's men had asked the imperial physician once.

"Don't you care about Crown Prince Kinyo?" the old man threw back, sighing. He walked away looking at the prosperous kingdom below. "It's the only choice we have. The future king's life is much more important than anybody else's."

"But...we're not even sure that the royal relatives are even aware of this...they've lived in Earth for a long time...and from what I heard, the crown prince's uncle is the type who would keep this as a secret even from his children...if we do this...we're killing an innocent-"

"Kise..."

"Don't we have other options...?"

"We have exausted all those 'options' ..."

"But...it's unfair..."

"Stop it Kise..." Takano Masamune sternly warned. "The Crown Prince is our priority. They're no longer considered royalties since they chose to stay on Earth. The last thing they could do to serve the Crown Prince is to give him their lives."

The darkhaired man walked out of the physician's office and headed to the room where the most important person for him was. Kinyo's room. The crown prince's room located at the highest part of the modern palace. That person may be the crown prince but he's always been funny, lively and kind. He's always humble and a hardworker. There's nothing more important in the universe than him.

Kinyo wasn't just Takano's crown prince. Kinyo was so much more than that.


When he opened his eyes, Takano saw nothing but white outside the windows. So pure white, shining in the sun's rays. From somewhere, he could hear a sound of chopping, and a sizzling of oil in a pan. The boy slowly sat, having hard time to tug the blankets off. It seemed like Ritsu rolled him in there like a shushi before leaving the bed.

"I've always been an early riser...did I really used up so much of energy...?"

The boy stood then and washed his face with the freezing water in the bathroom. He brushed his hair with his fingers and looked at the mirror briefly. He really looked like the him twenty years ago. How long will he stay like this?

With no answer at hand, the man in his young body trodged his way down the old rest house.

"I just sure hope those guys are alright..."

Right after entering what seemed like the meager kitchen, he saw a brownhaired young man tossing weiners into the pan with his profile looking very frightened. He looked the person to be not at all used to frying much less cooking complicted stuff.

"Why don't you lower the heat?" Takano Masamune said, walking over the chair to sit like he was the owner of the house.

"Huh? Oh yeah..." Ritsu did as what suggested and glanced at the boy. "I found my old wool sweaters and placed them on the bed. Why didn't you wear it?"

"Like I could wear something that stinks?"

Ritsu's brows started twitching. "Y-you...I can't wash them or they'll never dry..."

"Well I'm fine with this borrowed clothes."

"..."

The emerald eyes looked him up and down. For a brief moment, Ritsu looked like he was hesitating. However, he just turned the fire off, headed out of the kitchen and came back with a rather huge trench coat.

"Wear that," Ritsu ordered throwing the coat over Takano's head.

Almost immediately, Takano smelled something off. It somehow smelled of smoke and a woman's perfume all at the same time. Completely different from the scent he gathered from being hugged by Ritsu all night which was more natural like soap and shampoo.

"This isn't yours, is it?" Takano asked, watching Ritsu setting up the plates one by one.

"Don't be choosy brat."

"Eh...sounds like a bad memory?"

Ritsu settled down before the table too and started drinking his coffee. "You know what? For a small kid like you...you do know how to annoy me big time."

"Eh...so I am right," the boy concluded nodding with a smirk.

"Hai hai...the owner of that coat is a jerk...which makes it more proper for you to wear it. Happy? Now eat!"

"Why? What did he do?"

Ritsu paused for a moment and sighed. "Kids are better off not knowing some things. Please be quiet and eat. We'll go to the police station and see if someone's already looking for you."

"I'm not a kid."

"Yeah...sometimes I want to believe that too. You irk me soooo much and act too mature for your age."

"I'm older than you."

"Pfft."


At the doorstep, Ritsu was kneeling before the boy. Warm hands tugging here and there, gentle eyes checking if every buttons were in place. And patting the boy on the head with a small smile, he said, "You're all set."

"Don't pat me like I am your pet," Takano complained, slapping the hand away.

Ritsu didn't seem at all bothered and instead just took Takano's small hand in his. "Don't be shy. Now hold on to Nii-chan."

"Oi...you're really enjoying this, aren't you?"

Ritsu exhaled, a puff of faint smoke appearing and disappearing in the air. His brown hair was softly dancing in with the cold breeze, his cheeks a bit rosy from the cold.

"Yup. I never had a younger brother like this...and well...my partner never held hands with me...so be good and hold on to me tight or you'll get lost."

"Like I could get lost in a straight path." Takano gazed up, feeling the warm hand wrapped in his and out of nowhere said, "Your partner was a guy."

Ritsu almost choked with his own breath. "HUUUH? What made you say that?! Brat, do you know what you're talking about?!"

"Your very reaction says it all. You're an adult, learn not to be easy to read."

"Arghh...you're so cheeky..."

Ritsu sighed and started walking, dragging the little boy along. "Just keep it a secret...that ugly side of me. Alright?"

The only thing Takano could see was the small, somehow fragile back of the person holding his hand. They walked for a long time, along a deserted street with no other house to see. With all those snow, with all the quiet, it was them alone. It wouldn't hurt if he tried to be a little more considerate, would it? So Takano, squeezed the hand holding his.

"You're not ugly," Takano whispered.

Ritsu glanced on the side, smiling at the boy. The kind that for a brief moment, could drown everything else.


At the station, no report has been made. Even the news in the television or radio did not involve any missing boy at all. Confused and somehow relieved, Onodera Ritsu started gathering candles for another cold and dark night with his cheeky guest.

The sun was yet to set. A purplish hint of color was on the snow, the sky an abstract painting of nature. Ritsu looked at it for a long while before pushing the door open. His interesting guest had been outside all day since they came from the police station. He had no idea what that brat was doing.

"Hmm?" Ritsu crossed his arms while silently walking towards the crouched boy beside the wall. His steps sent a crunching sound which was somehow calming. "Hey...what are you doing? You'll catch a cold."

The darkhaired boy did not bother answering and just continued with whatever he was doing.

"Oi...are you crying that no one's looking for you?"

"Like hell I would. Just shut up for a minute will you?"

"Annoying kid you are..." Ritsu sighed, leaning a bit to see clearer what the boy was doing. He appeared to be trying to connect a few complicated wires with such focus. "Oi...are you playing electrician or something? That's dangerous..."

"I'm not playing," Takano mumbled. A few minutes later, he looked up surprising Ritsu. "Try switching on the lights inside the house."

"Huh?" Ritsu was dumbfounded.

"The solar panels could still work, there were just wires that got cut..." the boy showed it to Ritsu. "Look, I've connected them already."

"...eh..."

Emerald eyes blinked at the wires wrapped in electrical tapes and at the serious hazel eyes full with confidence. Somehow, Ritsu just stepped back and then hurriedly went inside the house. He was somehow convinced too that that particular night wouldn't be as dark as it always been the past days.

"Okay..."

Slowly, Ritsu raised a hand, his fingers ready touching the switch. He darted his eyes at the sparse living area. It was full of shadows and lonely silence. He bit his lower lip and with an excited and nervous heart, pressed on the white button. Everything in the old house was flooded with new brightness that he had to close his eyes. He didn't want to open them so soon for fear that that brightness might be just an illusion. But when he opened them again, his eyes became cloudy.

"Oi? Is it working?" a voice shouted from the outside. But Ritsu was too overwhelmed to reply, he just stood like a statue.

The boy, not getting any reply decided to get in himself, ready running his mouth off. However, he saw Ritsu silently looking in that dirty living area with reddish eyes. He thought that Ritsu's awestruck face was worth seeing. The young boy haughtily crossed his arms.

"Can you be any simpler? You're crying over solar electricity?"

Ritsu sniffed and turned at the boy. "You're a genius...should I bring you to NASA? I can get millions out of you..."

"Yeah right. This is a simple task anybody should be able to do."

The brunette laughed, falling down on the floor with a relieved breath at the same time not being able to hold embarassing tears.

"Why are you crying really?" Takano asked, crouching beside the young man.

"Nothing..." Ritsu mumbled, reaching out to Takano's head, ruffling the silky darkhair messily. "I just thought I'd be real sad when you go back home."

Takano Masamune who was so against having someone touch his hair just allowed the time to stretch before him. Listening to Ritsu's sniffling. Listening to the faraway sound of the sea, reminding him of why he was there. Feeling a bit of discomfort inside his chest.


It's been two weeks. And finally, Ritsu was able to charge all the heavy duty batteries that could somehow support the warming of the bath even for just a short while. And he would not let this pass at all. No matter what it would take.

"Why are you so against it?!" Ritsu yelled at the kid who was ignoring him like he was air. "It'll save up energy if we do it together!"

The boy on the bed turned to his other side, comfy under the blankets. "You sleep with me, you pet me, now you want to take a bath with me?"

"What is so wrong with that?" Ritsu growled, pulling the blanket off the boy. "It's going to save up energy and time. Now come on!"

"Don't wanna!" Takano growled back. "I'd rather bathe cold water than sneak in the tub with you."

"Huh? And have you catching a cold and me looking after you? No thanks!"

"I said I don't want!"

The brunette stared long at the kid before letting go of the blanket. "I thought we're already close. Is something wrong with me? I don't carry any disease..."

Hazel eyes looked at to where Ritsu was standing. He looked somehow conflicted. "Oi...why do you have to put it that way...?"

"..."

Takano Masamune, shook his head in resignation before jumping off the bed. He walked towards the bathroom, unbottoning his shirt.

"The water will get cold."

After all the fuss, the kid gave in. Though it was just really bathing, Takano couldn't help but feel like he was doing something he shouldn't. Ritsu was being all too comfortable and open to him. Of course, they'd be no malice inside that Ritsu's thick skull about this. Get bathed, get naked, laugh with the bubbles and sigh with the relief of warm water. But it was getting bad, really for Ritsu and more for himself.

"Onodera, shouldn't you be drying your hair first?"

Ritsu who was busy pushing in some buttons of an old recorder he found in the attic earlier that day, frowned a bit. "You are really too rude. Use keigo will you?!"

"Don't wanna."

Being a bit happy that night himself, Ritsu decided to let it pass and just focused his attention at trying to run the recorder on. It was an old device that was there ever since he was young. It seemed like a precious thing for his grandfather. Being away from that place for too long, not sure if it would still work, he finally pressed on 'play'. For the first time in a long while, the whole house became filled with a mellow music. An oldies song that his favorite grandfather used to always play before.

"What's that?"

"My grandpa's favorite song that I've grown to like myself."

Takano Masamune threw a towel at his childish guardian and stretched onto the bed, closing his eyes. He could hear the brunette humming along the song that was foreign to him. A few minutes later, Ritsu was already beside him, cuddling in comfortably under the blanket.

"You're choking me..." Takano complained but made no move to stop the brunette.

"There's an event tomorrow at the center of the village. Their fireworks set in the sea is amazing. Let's go see it?"

"Fine," Masamune opened his eyes and looked at the close emerald eyes looking at him. "But are you so alone you don't have anyone else to go with?"

"I grew up in Tokyo," Ritsu said, his breath warm and minty. "...I didn't even expect in going back here."

"Then why?"

"To commit suicide."

"..." Takano frowned. "That's not funny. That's not something you should be telling a seven year old."

"And now you're telling me that?" Ritsu grumbled. "...I am not joking...Everything in my life was a failure one after another...the night I found you, I was on the verge of drowning too. It just occured to me that you can't die with me."

"..."

Ritsu raised a hand. Takano was wondering what it was for. It surprised him when Ritsu pinched his cheek. He was too dumbstruck to even react.

"You're not running that big mouth of yours to annoy me now huh?" Ritsu smiled. "In a way you could say that the one who saved someone here is you."

Takano could only stare at his reflection in those emerald eyes, breathing deeply. "Your partner must have been crazy leaving you behind."

A smile crept into Ritsu's lips, pinching Takano's cheek all the more. "Aww...brat...you are twenty years early to be saying that. But thanks anyway..."

For a few minutes, they just listened to the song. Ritsu tugged the blanket further up their necks.

"Later in life, you'll be in more pain...you'll get obsessed and become an idiot. But that's where you could say you've lived...just stay true to yourself alright? Something that was hard for me...like holding hands, hugging, bathing..." Ritsu exhaled. "Well you're a child so it's fine..."

"What's all this all so suddenly?"

"Because...that Kinyo...is your puppy love right...?"

"..."

That was a blow for Takano Masamune. There never was a time he had never thought of Kinyo in a day. But there he was, completely thrown off the loop at how he was all day watching what Ritsu was doing the entire time.

"When you grow older..." Ritsu whispered, closing his eyes as tiredness took over. "...make a story different from mine."

The song that was playing was of piano and other calming instruments. Such a sentimental song in winter with an equally warming voice. Somehow, Takano could understand why Ritsu who was a simple minded person, took a liking of the song.

"..."

"Wise men say...only fools rush in..."

Hazel eyes wandered from the brunette's closed eyes to the slightly parted lips. He could feel the weight of Ritsu's arm over him where a certain comfort was building. Sleep seemed to never be coming to him that night. He just watched Onodera Ritsu sleep along with the music Ritsu chose in the background softly playing.

"But I can't help, falling in love with you..."

At the ticking time, the silhoutte of the boy beside Ritsu became bigger. The arms and legs got longer. The youthful face, slowly, precisely turning in a form of a mature man.

"Shall I stay? Would it be a sin...if I can't help falling in love with you...?"

The man on the bed slowly sat, looking into his hands that he was very familiar with. He cautiously reached out to the soft brown hair, staying like that for a long time, stroking the gentle face.

"Ritsu...thanks..." said the much deeper voice that was barely a whisper. "...about the fireworks...I'm sorry..."

By the time the song ended, there was only Ritsu on the bed.


The sun was yet to rise. The sky was a bleak scenery of thick clouds blocking the usual stars he was able to appreciate recently. Amidst the darkness and its gloom, a faint blinking light was visible; golden and very familiar.

"They're here..."

Takano Masamune watched the blinking light as if he couldn't believe how fast they were. It was to be expected though. Before their ship crashed, they were able to send a distress warning. And now, there was a sure back-up to continue the search and a sure way to go back home. It was just he wasn't that enthusiastic this time.

He looked back at the house that he used to mock every time he had the chance. He could hear clumsy running down the steep and wooden stairs. And slowly, a sound of a panicked voice, calling and searching was becoming clearer and more distinct.

"..."

Behind a tree, Takano watched a pale brunette dash out of the house. His hair was a mess and he was dressed very lighty. Left and right, turning around as if he was lost, Ritsu looked from how much his eyes could see.

"Oi..." Ritsu started shakily, gasping huge amount of cold air into his lungs. "B-brat? Stop this hide and seek this isn't funny..."

Heavy steps from Ritsu left a trail of unsteady prints on the snow. They were directionless and aimless.

A small sound of chime filled the air. A sound of crunching snow accompanied it. In no time, an old man riding his bicycle to the market passed the brunette by. Ritus ran to the center of the narrow road and blocked the old man.

"Oh...Ritsu-chan? Aren't you early today?"

"Ojii-san...have you seen a boy this tall?" Ritsu asked, raising his hand just a little above his waist. "He's darkhaired...and uhm...he's...he's probably got no coat on him..."

The oldman wearing a straw hat tipped it to the side while shaking his head thoughtfully.

"Gomen ne? I didn't notice anyone like that on my way here..."

Looking extremely dejected, Ritsu stepped back, allowing the old man a way.

Ritsu looked up for a short while and then decided to continue walking far up ahead. He hadn't made a lot of progress though when he stopped altogether. The brunette sat on the side of the road silently. Staring hard at the fallen snow as if he could melt it with just his gaze.

"Just go home already..." Takano thought.

Takano's thought received the opposite. Ritsu stood a few minutes later, rubbed something on his eyes and continued the obviously useless search.

Silent in his spot, the man just clenched his fists. He had managed to see a lively glint in those emerald eyes the past days. Yet, he was the one who was putting that miserable glint back.

"I only intended to annoy you and tease you because it's fun..."

Takano started walking away. Lightly as if he's never been there. It was high time he turn back to his task and leave the unnecessary guilt.

"...I didn't mean to be one of those people who'd make him cry..." he gritted his teeth. "...just think of it as picking up a stray cat...and the cat going away on its own..."


chapter end notes:

you guessed it right! ahaha...i am totally inlove with eyes, nose, lipsby Taeyang and even the cover version of Tablo! this story somehow came while listening to this song...

*can't help falling in love by Michael Buble

Keigo* the honorific terms used for showing respect like -kun,-san, etc.

this is like my new year special, since the idea came around the holidays but i was too lazy to type and now that classes are back, i am even becoming more lazy! i can't go on like this!

THANKS FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT AND GIVING ME THE CHANCE TO SHOW THE WORLD THESE STORIES OF MINE AND TO THOSE WHO SHOWED KINDNESS AND SUPPORT. AND THIS YEAR, I HOPE WE COULD MAKE FANFICTIONS BETTER! XD

-SHUUSETSU