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Disclaimer: Characters are owned by Konomi Takeshi, and whoever did the anime. At any rate, it's not me.


Continuity: 100/100
Prompt: 053 – Earth
Summary: There's still no apology.
Author's Notes: It seemed like a good way to end it.

One Last Breath

"There you are."

Yuushi looked up from the newspaper and smiled. Eiji stood in the doorway, framed by the afternoon sunlight. He looked… fragile, and at times like this Yuushi thought he could see sunlight right through his partner.

Eiji moved and the vision was broken. He hobbled a couple of steps into the room, and then turned to shut the door. It didn't take him long to cross the small room and sit down on the couch next to Yuushi.

They'd moved into a smaller house – one without stairs – right after the first time Yuushi had found Eiji in a heap at the bottom of their staircase; the doctor had said he was all right. Yuushi had told Eiji later – only half-joking – that he'd nearly had a heart attack at the sight. He'd fallen two more times before they'd actually moved.

Eiji nestled closer, and Yuushi put his arm around him before glancing at the clock on the mantle. "You're early," he said softly.

"It's getting cold," Eiji murmured.

His partner smelled of Earth and sun; he'd long given up working in the garden, but in the summer he still preferred to be out there, often dozing the afternoon away.

It shouldn't be cold yet, though; it was mid-June, not even the hottest part of the year. Not that he was going to complain; he rather liked the presence at his side, the slight weight of Eiji's head on his shoulder, his breath a warm gust on his neck and collarbone.

"Yuushi," Eiji said softly after a moment. "Have I told you thank you for all you did?"

Yuushi smiled. He'd asked exactly what Eiji had meant, some years ago, and had gotten a comprehensive list. "Of course," he said fondly. It was an old, worn conversation. "And I've thanked you, haven't I?"

"Mmm," Eiji said. "And you know I love you."

"Yes." Only this time, he added, softly, "I love you, too."

A warm breath ghosted across his neck again, and Eiji settled more comfortably against him. Yuushi waited for the next breath, and it took him a moment to realize it wasn't coming.

Ninety-four years was a good long life, Yuushi mused at the out-door memorial a few days later. It meant, however, that one outlived most of one's friends and acquaintances. Of their circle of friends, very few had come.

Kippei had died ten years ago; Oishi had held on for five years before following. Gakuto had finally gone last year, grumpy and angry that he was stuck in a wheel chair. But Atobe was there, wheel-chair bound with much more aplomb than Gakuto had shown and regal as always. His grandson stood at his side, looking solemn and vaguely confused, even at… what, forty? Kato Keiko had come, on the arm of a granddaughter; Daisuke had died… oh, before Kippei had, Yuushi thought.

But that was it; most of his friends were gone, and most of Eiji's, too. Yuushi realized then just how tired he was, and straightened his stance. He'd already started the process to sell their home, and move to a smaller apartment.

"I was sorry to hear," a light, familiar voice said. Yuushi glanced down, surprised to recognize Fuji Syusuke. He was frailer even than Eiji had been, hair white, eyes just as blue and piercing. "Was he happy?"

Even if he had not been past the anger of the effect the smaller man had had on his partner, the question, honestly asked, would have dimmed it. "Yes," Yuushi answered, and gestured to the picture near the urn.

It was one of Fuji's; the photographer had to recognize it. It was the one he'd taken with Eiji's permission, his eyes not on the camera but beyond, smiling to convey he was okay. "He wore that expression often," Yuushi added.

"Good," Fuji said. "Thank you."

Yuushi watched him go, watched as he met up with an impatient-looking woman in a skirt suit.

Turning back, he realized that everyone had gone. He walked over to the urn and touched the picture gently, saying his last good-bye.