Title: Winter Roses
Author: Hawk Clowd
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I want nothing. That's... really about it.
Blood Type: Two-second snow.
Warnings: Few. Excessive sap, perhaps, and some mild girl-itude that I tried to get rid of but simply could not eradicate.
Author's Note: This story is dedicated to several people, including Leilla, who is always thrilled when it snows, Joan, who encourages my whims even when she thinks they're stupid, and J-chan, who is willing to indulge my need for Boy Time. This story is also for Aja, who makes bad fan fiction fun, and Midnight, who always inspires the wrong stories. And, of course, many other people as well. Thanks for everything, you guys. I really appreciate everything!
He decided to wake me up that morning via telephone, which I thought was stupid since he had been sleeping just down the hall, in the living room, for the past seven months. It could have been worse, I reasoned later on, as he jabbered at me (still over the phone) as I tried to make coffee for the both of us. Shuichi had a terrible habit of sleeping in on the days when he had to go to work, but on the weekends, when he had nowhere to be, he seemed to make a point of waking up bright and early. Since he hated to have the apartment to himself, he would always wake me up shortly after. Last Sunday he had decided to jump on the bed while I was still in it, and the day before that he had dumped cold water on my head. All things considered, the telephone was not the worst of options. I gave up complaining about his methods a long time ago, and so I didn't grouch too much as I rolled out of bed and went to the kitchen to start the day. I found it was easier to tune him out when I had the telephone pressed to my ear and was forced to concentrate on making coffee one-handedly, and he was too busy blathering into his cell phone to notice that I wasn't bothering to reply.
The coffee maker had finally finished trying my patience and I was pouring myself a cup of coffee when Shuichi finally ended the telephone conversation.
"And," he said happily into his cell phone, "it snowed last night!"
I glanced out the window in order to verify this fact and discovered that it had, in fact, snowed while I was not paying attention. I grunted my agreement and he laughed.
"Okay," he said, "I've got to go now. Bye, Yuki!" He made a kissing noise at the phone and then hung up. I had just enough time to set my coffee mug down on the counter before he pounced and attached himself to my waist.
I made a half-hearted and mostly unsuccessful attempt to peel him off of me and then, confident that it would be safe to try to hold a hot object again without the risk of it being knocked out of my hand, picked up my coffee mug again and made my way to the couch. Shuichi, who remained glued to me, dragged along behind.
"Don't you love it when it snows?" he asked, rubbing his face into my hip. "It makes everything so quiet and peaceful and clean-looking!"
I set the coffee mug down again and took a moment to re-position Shuichi before I sat down. He would have made a very lumpy chair. The coffee cup returned to my hand and I sipped it carefully. I burnt my tongue in spite of my efforts.
"So...?" Shuichi asked in a voice that implied that he had just asked me a question. I had not been paying much attention, really, so I simply shot him a scathing 'you-expect-me-to-be-listening?' look and left it at that. He laughed. "What do you think we should do today?" he asked, possibly for the second time.
I frowned. My coffee needed something... Cream? Sugar? Both? "Nothing," I answered.
He blinked at me. "Nothing?" he repeated.
His hold on my waist loosened and then dissipated as he sat up. "But..."
"You may do whatever you'd like," I told him irritably, "but I am not going out." Ah, nicotine. My coffee needed nicotine. I wondered whether or not my cigarettes were worth the effort of finding them.
"Why not?" he asked. If I was not mistaken, there was a slight waver in his voice. I ignored it as best I could.
I decided against finding my cigarettes and gulped the coffee again. It was still hot and it still tasted as though it was missing something. "It snowed last night," I said, as if that were all the explanation I needed.
Shuichi almost seemed to accept it. He actually began to turn and settle back against the sofa before his brain caught up with his obedience and he jerked back to stare at me. "What does that have to do with anything?" he cried.
"The snow means it's cold," I pointed out, "and there will be stupid people on the roads, getting into car accidents. Not to mention the bratty children, the slush, and the fact my car is very comfortable down in its parking space right by the elevator." That specific parking space was a hot thing in the apartment building; everyone competed for it. It was a fact Shuichi knew very well and he had celebrated with me three days before, when I had managed to grab it. And now that I had it, I had no intention of giving it up. My car could stay where it was for the next ten years for all I cared.
"Those are stupid excuses, Yuki," Shuichi pointed out, frowning at me.
I had thought they were very good excuses, myself. I looked around. The television remote was on my left. I switched my coffee cup to my other hand and reached for it... just as Shuichi latched onto my arm. Hot coffee spilled everywhere -- on the couch, on the floor, and, worst of all, on me. I dropped the cup onto the floor, cursed, and stood up, pulling the burning fabric of my pants away from my skin.
Shuichi, having realized his mistake almost immediately, was trying to curl into a mass of nothing on the far end of the couch. I glared at him.
"If things keep going like this," I pointed out coldly, "I'm going to have to put my coffee in one of those sippy cups parents give three-year-olds. And then I will refuse to talk to you for a year."
He made an 'eep' noise.
Somewhat satisfied by my threat, I stalked back into my bedroom to change my pants and, hopefully, wash the coffee out of the spoiled pair. Shuichi, I knew, would clean the living room without being told. I had him well trained.
It was at least half an hour before I left my bedroom and by that time the living room was as close to clean as it was going to get while Shuichi lived there. I managed to get a good look at the snowfall was blanketing Tokyo and had found, hardly to my surprise, that it was a rather pathetic one. The ground was barely dusted with it; I could see the tips of brown grass poking up through the snow and the roads were perfectly clear. No one was even trying to pretend it was a snowfall worth anything; it was as though everyone had given up on the first snowfall of the winter, even so soon. That, really, only served to strengthen my resolve; I would not be going out in the pathetic dusting Shuichi seemed to consider a blizzard.
Shuichi, of course, spent the entire day nagging me about it. He wanted to go out and make snowmen. He wanted to try to pack snowballs together. He wanted to fall back on the snow and make snow angels. When I pointed out that he would only end up cold and muddy, he grew angry with me. The nagging only increased, of course. I spent the entire day in front of the television. He spent his entire day at my side, practically begging me to go outside with him.
The snow was gone by the time night fell. I did not tell Shuichi, who would only have tried to guilt me. Instead, I went to bed.
I woke up, unassisted, in the early afternoon, and I was surprised by the lack of badgering. It was Sunday, after all, which meant Shuichi had nowhere to be. I was always awakened early on Sundays because of him; to wake up so late, without any help from Shuichi, struck a very odd chord with me. I assuaged the feeling by telling myself that Shuichi had, no doubt, simply slept in and would be in the room at any moment in order to try to rouse me. I picked up a book from my nightstand and read.
When three o'clock came around with no wake up call from Shuichi, I finally realized that, for once, he did not intend to wake me up. This, of course, could mean only one of two things: either I had kicked him out the night before and forgotten about it (which I had not) or he was trying to be mad at me. Either way, I knew I would be forced to deal with his pouting lips and tearful eyes all day long. I was very tempted to simply stay in bed all day but knew doing so would only prolong the lips and eyes, so, after I took a moment to resign myself to my fate, I got out of bed.
It was too late in the afternoon for coffee, so I made tea instead. Shuichi sat in the living room, the television playing at a low volume while he scowled at it. Whenever he saw me glancing his way, his scowl would pull into a pout.
I swear that man can be such a child at times.
He gave me the silent treatment for most of the day. While I normally would have welcomed the quiet, this sort of hush was eerie and intrusive. I could feel it loom over me as I bathed. When I sat down to write, the silence stilled my fingers. Eating with him was a terse, awkward affair littered with coughs and the sound of chewing. He dropped his chopsticks once and I picked them up for him. He left the table when I offered them to him, and that was the extent of our exchange.
Of course, with this silence looming over my head, I had to do something to alleviate it. In an attempt to assuage the feeling of the smothering quiet, I smoked pack after pack of cigarettes, letting my usual cloud of smoke shield me from the small scowls and glares Shuichi threw my way. This plan, however, was not foolproof; before the night was over, I had run out of cigarettes. As I located my shoes and coat, he finally broke the silence.
"Where are you going?"
"Out," I answered simply. "For cigarettes."
"But it's cold out there," he said, clearly in an attempt to mimic my protests from the day before. "And there's slush and people getting in accidents... And you could lose your parking space!" He feigned horror.
Instead of snapping that I was obviously planning to walk there, I ignored him. The task became increasingly difficult as he got off the floor and went to get his jacket and put on socks. He forced his feet into his shoes just as I finished putting my own on.
"Where do you think you're going, then?" I asked.
I frowned at him. "Why?"
He pretended not to have heard me and opened the door. I frowned as I pushed past him into the hallway. Given that he had spent most of the day giving me the cold shoulder, I felt justified in questioning his motives. I said nothing of it, however, as he closed and locked the door behind him and then started to follow me down the hall, to the elevator.
Shuichi did not say a word as we walked to the market and back, except to excuse himself when he bumped into someone on the street, and we made it back to the apartment without event.
I went to bed early that night at approximately ten-thirty. Shuichi was still doing his best not to speak to me, although it seemed he was failing remarkably well, and I trusted the whole thing would blow over within a day or so. As it turned out, I was shaken awake in the middle of the night instead.
"What the hell do you want now?" I hissed at Shuichi. "It's the middle of the night!"
"Two-thirty," he corrected. "I couldn't sleep, so I went out for a walk and... and..."
He was a touch out of breath, his hands were cold, and, I noticed slightly belatedly, he had snow in his hair. The snow was falling from his hair onto my chest and bed, so I pushed him away and swiped at the quickly melting wetness. Damn weather; it was acting up again.
"And it's snowing again! Come look!"
I started to protest but changed my mind; it was not as though I had anything else to do, after all. I sighed and eased out of bed, following him to the window. It was snowing, as he had told me, and it looked as though it was a heavy snowfall at that. Figured.
"Lovely," I muttered as I stared out at the blur of white. "Good night."
I ignored him.
Monday ended up being a snow day, as the roads were considered too dangerous for travel and the plows would not be going through until later in the day. Shuichi, of course, woke up at his usual time -- five in the morning -- and was almost out the door before I awakened and reminded him to check his email for a cancellation message before he left. Apparently thinking I wouldn't notice, he stripped down to the waist and then crept into my bed with me. I didn't mind overly much; if a few hours of putting up with him meant I would have more time in the bed, I was not about to complain.
The snow did not stop falling until late in the morning, not long before noon, but Shuichi and I were up by then. It was business as usual, really. I decided to get to work on the chapter I had been putting off for a good week and a half and Shuichi played video games in the other room. He eventually got bored of them, however, and came into the office to try to alleviate the headache I always seemed to develop while staring at a computer screen. Once that grew tiresome, he started to walk around the room, singing snatches of songs I almost recognized. He stopped, however, in the middle of the chorus that went to the song where he was required to practically orgasm in the middle, and stared out the window.
"Yuki, look! Roses!"
My fingers stilled on my keyboard. "What?"
"Outside! There are roses!"
It was far too cold -- and late in the season -- for roses and I started to tell him just that, but I stopped myself, perhaps at the memory of the silent day before. Instead, I got out of my chair to see what he was looking at. At first I saw nothing, but, as I stopped looking out on the balcony and started looking closer to the window, I realized it.
His 'roses' were simply the patterns of frost on the window.
I frowned. "It's just..." frost, I started to say, but he gave me a look that quite clearly said 'don't you dare ruin them for me' and so I stayed quiet.
He trailed a finger over the glass of the window, pretending to trace the patterns. "Winter roses," he breathed. "It sounds like a song."
Everything sounded like a song to him, but I did not bother to point it out. Instead, I nodded my head.
"Exactly like a song," I agreed. Simply looking at the winter landscape outside my window made me feel chilled and forced me to imagine the cool snap of the wind against my skin. I set my hands on his waist and pulled him slightly closer -- for warmth, I told myself, even though I knew better. He tilted his head back and smiled at me.
It was a good day.