The sun was setting on the first day of Simon's quest for Kamina when he first noticed the heat and the itching. It had been an exciting day, but an exhausting one, meeting Kittan and his sisters and fighting off more Ganmen, so even though it wasn't even dark yet, Simon felt that he was well and truly ready to go to sleep. But as hard as he tried – and even though he felt warm despite the cold of the desert's nights – the itchiness that covered his face and neck, and even his chest, just wouldn't let him rest.
Just as he had managed to get into a sort of sleepless doze, he was jerked awake again by a loud yell from the campfire behind him.
"YAAAAH! I'm burning up! Simon, where are you? Your aniki is…"
Kamina's voice was cut off by the sound of a scuffle, and Simon heard Yoko hissing at him.
"Simon's asleep! Don't you dare wake him up! He's too tired."
Kamina lowered his voice, but he didn't stop his stream of complaints. "Yoko, my skin is burning! All over! And it's itching like crazy!"
"Sunburn," she said, her voice softer and kinder. That annoyed Simon, for a reason he didn't understand, and he curled his body more tightly under his blanket. He was wide awake again now, and he couldn't help but overhear every word.
"I forgot about that. No, just stay there. It'll only itch more if you move," she said to Kamina, and the sound of his fidgeting stopped. "It's okay, I've got something to fix it. This happens all the time."
"What is it? It hurts," Kamina grumbled.
"What happens when you put your clothes too close to a fire?" Yoko asked.
"They get hot? They smell like smoke?"
"They burn. The sun gives us light, but it also makes heat, and you've never been in the sunlight before. What happened is that the sun burned your skin, because your skin isn't used to that much heat. That's why it feels hot. And it itches because all the burned skin is dying and you need to get rid of it. In a few days it'll start to peel off."
Kamina grunted, but didn't say anything more for a few moments. Simon wondered what they were doing. He noticed that he'd started to scratch the sunburnt skin on his own neck, and that it hurt. He stopped.
"So this smelly stuff you're putting all over me," Kamina said, at last. "Will that make it go away?"
"Not really. It takes a few days to disappear, and this doesn't make it much faster. But if you rub this over your skin, it will itch less. It feels better already, doesn't it?"
Kamina didn't say anything, but he groaned quietly, and Yoko gave a soft chuckle in response.
Simon felt as though his skin were burning so much that even his blanket was too hot, despite the cold that fell over the plain at night. He didn't dare move, though.
"Simon!" he heard Kamina say, quietly. "He's never been in the sun either, so he must be burned, too! Yoko, we'd better help him!"
"But he's already asleep," Yoko protested.
She sounded like she didn't want to help him at all, but Kamina pestered her until Simon could hear footsteps coming towards him. Suddenly he felt embarrassed, and he pulled the blanket over his head. He didn't want Yoko to see him like this, burned and scratched, and there was a heat in his cheeks that had nothing to do with the sun.
"Simon," her voice called to him, gently, "Are you awake?"
"No," he murmured.
"If you're awake, why are you talking to me?" She chuckled, but Simon thought she sounded annoyed, too. "You must be sunburned, just like Kamina."
"I'm…" Simon couldn't lie, but he didn't want to show his face, so he settled for silence.
"Please let me put some lotion on you. It will help you sleep better, I promise."
When Simon only clung to his blanket more tightly, she stood up, and he could hear her exchanging heated whispers with Kamina. For a long, awful moment, he feared that Yoko was going to tear the blanket off and smother smelly ointments on him by force. But the hand that fell on his shoulder next was a familiar one, and the voice that called his name was Kamina's. When he finally showed his face, there was only one other smiling back at him, and it was his brother's.
"You too, eh, Simon?" Kamina said, with a smile. "Looks like the sun doesn't want us to live above the surface either."
"Maybe we don't belong here," Simon muttered. He closed his eyes as Kamina's fingers daubed the cool salve onto his neck. "Maybe we should have stayed underground."
"No, Simon. We are meant to live here. No matter how many people try to push us back down, we will always fight them, until there's nobody left to stop us. And if the sun doesn't want us to live here, we'll keep fighting until we can reach up into the sky and fight the sun, too!"
There were other questions buzzing around in Simon's head. He wanted to know what Kamina thought about Yoko, and why she seemed annoyed whenever Kamina mentioned Simon. He wanted to ask why listening to them had made him feel so embarrassed. He wanted to know why he was scared to show his reddened face to Yoko, but he wasn't scared of Kamina seeing him at all.
But Kamina's words soothed the questions in his mind just as his hands soothed his burning skin, and Simon drifted off to sleep before he could say a word.