Midnight hair stirs as he tucks stray locks behind his ear with a distracted finger, the others occupied by a well-chewed gray pushpoint. Ichijouji Ken sighs and leans back in his chair, staring at the ceiling. He lets his head fall back with a wince as his neck cracks, sore from hours of bending over paperwork.
Usually, math isn't such a bad subject at all, though he knows all this stuff, having grasped these concepts years ago. Math is habitually something he can lose himself in, a methodical right-or-wrong-black-and-white world where nothing deviates from the known. It's practically hypnotic in its repetitiveness. A world with virtually no unexpecteds.
He sighs again. Suffice it to say, Ken doesn't think he's on the subject of just math, anymore.
A little lump of almost-iridescent green, shimmering ever so slightly in the grey of early morning, catches his eye. A stray antenna twitches, a charcoal crayon tip of an eyebrow jumps crazily like a random fly caught in a glass box.
"Sweet dreams, Wormmon."
For a moment the work and the pain and all the dull, dull cottony-thickness in his head don't matter at all. For a moment it's like the air after a storm, fresh and sweet, stealing over him as he rocks back and forth there, hanging backward over his creaky chair.
Wormmon stays still now (sleeping in his sleep, perhaps?), and Ken can feel the dullness coming back, smothering that sharp, fleeting clarity.
Righting himself, he stares blankly at the pages strewn about the desk, the only spot of even remote messiness in the immaculate room. They lie drenched in the cold light coming harsh-bright through the large window leading to the balcony. It's times like these Ken wishes he had a smaller window. It's so very difficult to concentrate with that light constantly washing across his papers, recalling the snow world outside.
With another heartfelt sigh, the boy genius is about to get back to work when…
His head whips around so fast he feels slightly dizzy, the world's corners falling out of their frame for a brief moment. Tilted indigo eyes flicker all over the room, before widening as they settle on the large sliding glass door.
A misshapen lump of white – darkened to gray where it's plastered against the glass – slides slowly but steadily down the windowpane. A slender dark brow arches for a brief moment before a soft chuckle escapes.
"Now who could be knocking at my window this time o' day?" Ken queries the air softly as he gets to his feet and strides to the window, though in his heart he already knows the answer.
"Yo, Ken!" the eager voice that greets him from below confirms his suspicions.
Ken shakes his head as he steps out into the frosty November morning, unheeding of the snow burying his bare feet up to his ankles, seeping icy rivulets between his toes. He leans over the railing and his eyes widen considerably as he does so. "Daisuke! What are you– you fool– you–"
The other lowers his spiky head and rubs it sheepishly, dark eyes never wavering, however, from their almost defiant lock on Ken's. Motomiya Daisuke is wearing only a monochromatic striped T-shirt that clashes almost painfully with the flimsy neon green vest hastily thrown over it, and a pair of rather damp, wrinkled khaki shorts. Other than that, he has only the trademark goggles and his well-worn running shoes to keep him warm.
He is an almost ridiculously vivid splash of color against the virginal whiteness of the world around him.
"Uhhh… Nice to see you too?"
Ken frowns down at him, the shadow thrown over his face by the overhanging balcony hiding a somewhat wry grin. Trust Daisuke to do something like this. "I'll be right there. Stay."
Even as he turns away, he hears Daisuke unable to stop himself from sputtering, "Yeah? Well, um, good!" at the unexpected reaction, and can't repress a smile. Joy he hadn't even known was brimming in his heart threatens suddenly to overflow, surging forth in a geyser of irrepressible feeling.
An unconscious little smile lingers on the quiet lips all the time he's in the elevator.
When Ken emerges from the faceless doors swinging at the apartment building entrance several minutes later, he finds himself immediately treated to the spectacle of Daisuke hopping up and down in the freezing air, arms wrapped around himself in a futile effort to keep warm. Nevertheless, the honeydrop eyes give him a warm welcome, the wide, happy grin firmly in place.
"H-Hiya, K-K-Ken! W-What have you b-been up to?" Daisuke chatters, literally. The slender boy merely shakes his head and comes over in silence, stopping directly before him. "W-What? What?!"
Ken can't help but crack yet another smile at this typically Daisuke outburst. He can't remember ever smiling this much in a day, a week even, before he met the chestnut-haired boy now mock-glaring at him with a sort-of pout on his dark face.
Daisuke's uncontrollable shivering is difficult to hide, however, even under all the layers of enthusiasm wreathing that glowing face, and warm concern floods his friend's eyes. The boy can barely stand by now, he's shaking so hard, as the chill wind bites through his thin clothing. "You shouldn't have come like this. You're going to catch a cold."
Somehow, Daisuke finds the stubbornness to widen his smile. "Y-Yeah, well, so what? It's t-the f-first snow of the season, Ken! W-Who cares about a little cold?" He unclasps himself for a moment to fling out his arm in a grand gesture toward the valley of gently sloping dunes and perfect planes scintillating all around them.
His dark-haired friend frowns, expressive eyebrows drawing downward sharply in a fiercely unhappy expression. "I do." Ken's well-ensconced in a bulky, yet cozy dark sweater with pale geometry tinkling across the front, and that under an old, sturdy brown leather jacket.
"Aww, Ken. You're no fun." Daisuke is definitely pouting now. He has completely missed the point of Ken's statement, as he so often does. Repressing a sigh, of relief or regret, Ken slides his father's old jacket off and gingerly drapes it over the other's shoulders. His heart hammers out a ringing tattoo, seeming barely muffled under all his thick clothing.
"There. Now what are you doing here?" he asks lightly, even as Daisuke fingers the warm material, bemusement written all over his face. The rich earthy brown of those eyes combined with the inquisitive poke of the upper lip make Daisuke look very much like a curious mouse peeping about. Adorable.
Ken feels his cheeks warm and has to fight the urge to duck his head.
The chestnut-haired boy proceeds to pull the jacket on and hug himself ecstatically before replying, "Waaall… I kinda figured since it was first snow, ya know, we could like do somethin' together. What were you doin'? Something important?"
"Just studying." The other's voice is quiet, deep dark eyes shifting down and away, half-hidden by the curtain of silken hair that suddenly sweeps down over his cheek. Thus he's considerably startled when a moment later a warm arm is slung about his shoulders, giving a rough, friendly squeeze before subsiding.
"I knew it!" Daisuke proclaims triumphantly, to his friend's bewilderment. He waggles a finger in half-serious reproach. "Jeez, Ken, lighten up, will ya? Have some fun! It's almost Christmas!"
Ken's cheeks are definitely red by now, though whether from cold or something else entirely it's hard to tell. Sapphire eyes gape at his friend in sheer astonishment as he quickly, gracefully slips out of Daisuke's grip. "Daisuke… Christmas is still a month away," he informs the exuberant boy, shaking his head.
"Well, so?" Chocolate eyes gleam wicked mischief as Daisuke chuckles a little. "Who cares about that stuff, anyway? C'mon, Ken. I'm gonna show ya what holiday is all about."
"All right… I guess," comes the resigned mumble. Ken knows his best friend well enough to know that when Daisuke has that odd brightness in his eyes, there's just no stopping him. And he couldn't bear to see the happiness in those eyes falter even just a little bit, like it did too many times before.
That strengthens Ken's resolve as he walks past Daisuke, leading the way to the park. After all, that's where they usually go when Daisuke is on one of his mysterious missions that Ken can never fathom the meaning of. Nevertheless they are certainly missions, and it's Daisuke's call when they are over. Not that Ken minds, because he always, always enjoys being with his best friend, and he'd rather not have a time limit imposed on it. That's how Ken's mind works. He's always running away, but Daisuke usually manages to call him back.
It all feeds into one resolution and that's to cherish the bright smile offered him, as another never truly did.
Granted, Ken supposes he's being a bit unfair. It began somewhat before his time, in a sense, the binding of Yagami Hikari and Takaishi Takeru…
But still, he refuses to let go to waste the sunny gifts that the Child of Light brushes away without a second thought.
He stands momentarily stunned as a glop of wet coldness trickles icy fingers down his back. Slowly, slowly, the deep blue eyes come round to rest on a semi-guilty-looking Daisuke, the tiny smile tugging at his lips and the shapeless beginnings of another snowball in his fingers betraying him.
And slowly, ever so slowly, a sly smile blossoms on Ken's lips.
They collapse in the sea of white, covered in snow, every inch of clothing soaked through and through, laughing. They laugh in friendship and in fun. Most of all, they laugh out of the sheer joy of being alive on this beautiful, snowy day.
A hush seems to have fallen over the entire world as Daisuke and Ken lie side by side in the snow, letting the soft, endless flakes fall from a cloud-laden sky into gentle oblivion on their warm-frozen skin and lips.
"Mmm?" comes the dreamy response.
"Have you ever had a snowball fight before? 'Cuz I totally wiped the floor with ya!" Daisuke's teasing is all good nature, laughter in his voice.
"No," Ken admits quietly. "I've never had a chance to play in snow before."
"Le's do this again sometime," murmurs the irrepressible Daisuke. "After all, practice makes perfect, ne?"
A quiet chuckle caresses the silence.
Silence. Comfortable, sleepy silence as they both lie snug in their snowy nests and grow slowly numb and don't really care.
"Yes, Daisuke?" Ken sounds a bit more awake, but the ever-so-slight slur in his voice lets slip just how far away from reality he really is in that moment.
"That was the funnest snowball fight I ever had!" Daisuke shouts to the sky, quite suddenly throwing himself up and into a sitting position. Snow piles in his hair and on his shoulders, clings to his lashes and eyebrows, and he grins out from underneath it all like a brown-eyed, goggle-toting snowman.
"Let's make snow angels."
"What?" Daisuke hears his friend rise beside him and flinches reflexively, looking away. "… What is it, Daisuke?" Silence. A different, leaden silence. "Please, tell me what's wrong." The mildly distressed request is so gently posed it manages to coax a reluctant answer out of the stubborn boy's pride.
"I-I know it's childish. But me'n Jun used to make snow angels when we were real little, an'…" The usually loud voice drops to a whisper. "An' I haven't had somebody t' do it with in a long time." Daisuke has curled in on himself, not looking at Ken, rocking back and forth in the snow.
"It's not childish," comes the low, thoughtful reply. The quiet sadness lacing the next words makes Daisuke look up. Ken is half sitting up, leaning on one elbow with a shadow in his eyes. "My brother and I used to blow bubbles. Sometimes I really wish I could blow bubbles again, too. With somebody."
Deep, rich brown meets and melts into the cool depths of twilight. Ken's eyes dance with something strange and just beyond reach, at the same time dark and achingly beautiful. Snowy plumes fall softly, twined in his dark hair as if the stars themselves have cascaded from the heavens to crown him their king.
And to Ken, Daisuke has never seemed so tender, nor so warm. The stubborn set has dissipated from his jawline, leaving lips uncertain of what they should be trembling in its wake. Uneasiness dances hand-in-hand with a naked vulnerability, at long last stripped of its oaken fortress of pride and solid will.
Daisuke is the first to fall out of the moment, sputtering in his shock, "F-Forget snow angels, Ken, you're an angel!"
Ken coughs in startled embarrassment, lowering his eyes as a hot blush definitely makes its presence known this time, burning in rosy contrast to his pale cheeks.
A moment later Daisuke blinks, realizing what he has just blurted in a typically impulsive moment. Slowly, he goes from darkly tanned to cherry red, keeping his eyes down and fiddling with his – rather, Ken's – jacket.
"Um…" They both look up at the same time, the embarrassment in both their faces on a surefire collision course.
And they burst out laughing. They laugh so hard they collapse against each other in fits of giggles, happy tears running down their cheeks. For how can anyone not laugh, when their heart's soaring so high it's almost too near the sun; feeling the beginnings of a delicious burn?
Laughing and crying, they hold on to each other for all they are worth.
Because, even though Ken runs away and Daisuke laughs it off, they know.
They both know that this may be all they can ever have.
A/N: There. My first Kensuke/Daiken/whatever… Ahh, the joys of plotless fluff. ^-^
Well, this is a one-shot, and thank God, 'cuz it was totally screwed up when I first wrote it, but thanks to some timely inspiration from Sunfreak's beautifully simple fics (go read them! They're the best for inspiration! ^-^v), and also diamond dew who was kind enough to go over it for me, I have rewritten it, and feel much better about it now, and can finally bring myself to post it.
Reviewing is good for everybody! It's symbiosis, people! ^-~