Title: Photobooth
Pairing: Hikaru/Kaoru
Rating: PG
Summary: Growing up doesn't always necessarily mean having to grow apart.
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply.

i remember when the days were long

They are in this commoner photo booth and it is simply hideous, graffiti in blue ballpoint and gum stains on the walls. It is cramped in there, and smells like something Kaoru can't quite put his finger on, it smells like

And then Hikaru laughs. And he says something about commoners or Haruhi and Kaoru feels something heavy settle in the air at the mention of both.

"Ready?" Hikaru asks. He looks so happy. The curve of his arm is warm and familiar and for a brief moment, Kaoru forgets his disappointment. "Sure," he says and his smile makes his teeth hurt in a funny way.

Hikaru rests his chin on his head and his breath smells like expensive candy.

Kaoru's misgivings ebb too and he leans back.

and as the summer's ending

With time they are changing and in time they will change. In some ways, Hikaru is different and in some ways, he is not. There is something that wasn't there before in the way he stands next to Kaoru, the distance between their shoulders rapidly expanding, and how it is Kaoru that holds his hands these days but not vice versa.

He still wears his hair the same way and he still sleeps with legs curled around Kaoru's tight, but something is unsettling. Something is different. Something has changed.

With time he is changing and in time he will change.

Kaoru can feel it sometimes in the center of his bones, quiet like an earthquake's first tremor. Their world is expanding (and the seams are coming undone) and it is near-bursting.

It won't be too long before they fall apart.

cool air will rush your hard heart away

And so the question becomes, what if Kaoru were to be left behind? Because Hikaru is moving forward while Kaoru remains stationary and with Haruhi and the Host Club and growing up, it doesn't seem all that impossible that Hikaru would leave him.

They're in the Third Music Room again and it is sometime after they are released from Host Club duties when Kaoru notices that Hikaru's gaze lingers a second too long on Haruhi. Hikaru's arm is draped casually on his shoulder, something they would soon learn to grow out of, but his eyes wander across the room to where Haruhi is standing.

Kaoru knows. He knows he shouldn't feel threatened. But he is. Because although Haruhi is just a girl and just a commoner, he is also just Hikaru's brother.

but the blatant proof was your lips touching mine

It is some time in December and Kaoru is wrapped up in layers. The scarf around his neck is on too tight, his gloves make his fingers itch, and his boots feel far too heavy for him to be able to walk properly.

But he's sitting next to Hikaru, and their hands are joined and somehow, that takes away some of the discomfort. Snow is draping over rooftops and windowsills, frozen glass, and Kaoru likes how he feels warm despite the weather. How, despite his reluctance to play in the snow, Hikaru never says a thing.

Because he really doesn't want to sit out here in the snow (not when there is a fire and a warm mug of hot chocolate waiting for him back home. not when he can curl up like a little kitten around Hikaru and Hikaru will curl back and they will lie on the rug in front of the fireplace.) but they are in school and school had rules though Kaoru never understood why they should adhere to them. They're supposed to be on lunch break.

Kaoru yawns. In so many ways, the weather makes him feel exhausted. It is the cold and the insistent warmth of Hikaru's hand, and he can't help it but he yawns again just as Hikaru tilts his head to look at him.

"Ne, Kaoru, how do you know no two snowflakes are alike?" But Kaoru is not listening. He has found a place to rest his head.

And Kaoru misses, completely, the way Hikaru's gaze softens.

cup your mouth to compress the sound

Hikaru is lying next to him with his arms crossed behind his head, and Kaoru remembers a time when he could just rest his hand flat against Hikaru's arm and Hikaru will smile at him that smile reserved only for indulging Kaoru.

But that is in the past, just how Hikaru likes it maybe, just like how everything is. It is the first day of summer and the days that will come ahead will be long and heavy, tedious and warm. Thinking about it makes Kaoru feel so exhausted.

He turns to face Hikaru and there is a pillow between them now that Hikaru has propped up unintentionally. Kaoru asks, "Do you want to go out swimming later?"

On his side of the bed, Hikaru is yawning and stretching, and even when it's already noon he says, "You go on ahead Kaoru," He shuts his eyes. "Ne, I'm going to sleep for a few hours."

Hikaru shifts to his side, doesn't even budge when the bed lifts and Kaoru shuts the door behind him noisily.

and this is all that's left, scraping paper to document

There is a memory of Hikaru and Kaoru walking through some nameless path in some nameless park after school. This was back when they were still in middle school, (back when childish fears still haunted them), back when Hikaru will do anything Kaoru asked of him and their world was still very small.

They were walking and the leaves looked like they were floating instead of falling behind them, backlit, and anyway, Kaoru can't remember why they were there, exactly. But there is a memory, of Hikaru picking up a leaf and handing it to him and Hikaru saying, "Okaasan says it's not normal for children our age to sleep in the same bed, anymore."

Kaoru remembers training his gaze towards the path in front of him and he remembers thinking it's like it goes on forever, twisting, veering sharply in every corner — an unsteady path.

"Do you want to sleep in separate rooms?" he asks, and it catches Hikaru off guard because Kaoru remembers his eyes widening briefly, Hikaru reaching out to brush the leaves from his hair and his mouth stretched into a thin line.

"Do you want us to sleep in separate rooms?" Kaoru asks again.

Hikaru doesn't answer.

But later, later Hikaru smiles and says as casually as he can muster, "We'll never be apart."

And much later, Hikaru takes his hand and they take off laughing, running for their lives.