Retsu has a short, sharp argument with his brother. Gou growls at him and Retsu hisses back as he stalks away. If he had a tail he would lash it, pin his ears back and swipe at his brother with unsheathed claws. And Gou's as angry as he is. He can see the way Gou wants to snap at him, bite his neck and make him submit. For a moment Retsu hates his brother and himself and this stupid thing, this stupid stupid way of living and thinking, that makes them act like animals.
He can't even paint to calm himself down, can't do anything but trowel on angry lines of blue and purple and black on the canvas as he stands in the hot sun of the roof. His skin itches. He hears the door open and close, but he doesn't turn around. If it's his brother he can just leave again. He draws a line through the thick paint on the canvas, putting so much pressure on it that the palette knife stabs through the canvas.
"Ah," says a voice behind him, "The canvas is all baribari now!"
Retsu spins around, holding the palette knife like a weapon, and Jan takes a step back, his hands held low and open. Retsu takes a deep breath and reminds himself that he has to work with Jan, so there's no use in being angry with him. "What do you want," he says, turning away to his paint box. He pulls out a paint rag and wipes the palette knife clean, and then begins to clean the palette itself, his movements very careful and deliberate. "If you don't have a reason to be out here, you should just go back inside."
"It's nice out here," says Jan, staying put. "The sun feels all hoyohoyo."
Retsu actually turns around and stares at him. "'Hoyohoyo?" he says.
Jan nods. "Hoyohoyo," he repeats, and mimes treading.
"Warm and comforting?" guesses Retsu.
"Retsu always knows!" says Jan, smiling at him, and Retsu turns away before he flushes.
"I guess," he says, putting his paints back in the box in their own particular order. He slants a look at Jan as he snaps the paint box closed, and sees Jan stretch out his arms above his head, his hands hooked together. It's a full body, long stretch that lifts Jan's jacket enough to allow a glimpse of the t-shirt underneath. Retsu can picture every muscle group moving as Jan stands on his toes for a moment. He looks away again. "If you have enough time to sit in the sun, you could train," he says.
"Cat said 'there is training in sunning oneself'," says Jan.
"...what?" says Retsu helplessly.
Jan shrugs and drops bonelessly to the floor of the roof. "He said to tell you that." He braces himself with his weight on his hands and tilts his head to the sunlight. He's sitting against the door. When Retsu walks over with the ruined canvas and paint box, he squints up with half-closed, lazy eyes, and does not move.
"May I please get past?" says Retsu.
Jan's eyelashes drop for a second, and then lift up. There's a half smile on his mouth, and he looks warm and relaxed. "No," he says.
"Jan," Retsu grits out. "I have things I need to do."
"You're all kushakusha," says Jan disapprovingly. He slumps against the door and closes his eyes. Then he sits up enough to unfasten and remove his jacket and shirt, leaving him bare-chested in the hot sun. His skin shines like warm gold.
Retsu's hand clenches tightly against the handle of his paint box. "I asked you to please move," he says.
"And I said no," says Jan. "Not until you stop being kushakusha!"
"I have no idea what kushakusha even means," says Retsu. He's really irritated now.
"Kushakusha," says Jan. "Your fur is all baribari and your tail is all bashabasha and you don't feel like playing or being quiet or anything."
"I am not out of sorts!" says Retsu, more loudly than he intended. "And I don't have a tail or fur!" he adds, feeling ridiculous for pointing it out, but Jan seems to forget what species he is sometimes. Like he forgets saying please, and being respectful to the masters, and not announcing in the middle of a crowded mall that this was stupid and you didn't want a pair of pajamas. He sets down the paint box and canvas. "If you don't move I'm going to make you."
Jan looks up at him, and he must be rubbing off on Retsu, because Retsu can almost see ears flicking foward and a striped tail beginning to swing back and forth in a lazy dare. Before Retsu can think about it any more, he flings himself at Jan, intending to roll him over and dash into the stairwell, and get his painting things after Jan leaves the roof. Jan rolls agilely to one side, and sticks his foot out, half tripping Retsu.
Retsu's vision goes as red as Jan's jacket.
The next few minutes are a blur of rolling on the floor of the roof and trying to hit or kick or bite Jan, if nothing else will serve. Retsu's too angry to remember his techniques and his rage is just increased by the way that Jan is chuckling as they fight. As if he's having fun, as if it's just a game to him. When they roll to a halt they're on the other end of the roof. Jan's on top of Retsu.
Jan ruffles Retsu's hair and then wraps his arms around Retsu's waist, squeezing tightly. "That was fun!" he says.
Retsu just growls and tries to get away again, but Jan's grip is unbreakable. Jan shifts for a second, long enough for Retsu to tense and get ready to move, but Jan's hands move to the fastenings of Retsu's jacket, and Retsu can do nothing but squawk. "The sun can't make you hoyohoyo through clothes," explains Jan patiently, and pulls off Retsu's undershirt. The heat of the sun hits Retsu's pale skin like a physical blow. Despite himself he finds himself relaxing into the warmth of the sun and Jan's skin, tension draining away.
"This is stupid," he says.
Jan hums beneath his breath in reply. His grip on Retsu shifts so one hand is spread across Retsu's belly and the other slides into Retsu's hair. He doesn't bother replying to Retsu, though, and for five minutes or more, they stay like that.
Gradually, the tightness in Retsu's muscles fades, replaced by a boneless feeling of heat and peace. He really thinks that Jan is asleep, so he lets his hand fall down over Jan's hand on his stomach. He's almost asleep himself, when Jan says, "Don't fight any more, okay?"
Retsu tries to figure out what he's even talking about, and remembers the fight with Gou. He's too drowsy to be really angry at Jan. "It doesn't concern you, though. If Nii-san and I disagree, I mean."
"It does," says Jan, an edge of misery in his voice. Retsu remembers that Jan has no family to quarrel with. "It makes me feel all kushakusha."
Retsu lets out a puff of air. "Fine, then. I'll make up with Nii-san -- when you let me get up."
Jan actually nuzzles Retsu's neck with his nose, an action that leaves Retsu torn between speechless embarrassment and ... speechless not-embarrassment. He just hopes he's not blushing clear to his chest. "You're not hoyohoyo enough yet," he says.
"Whatever," mumbles Retsu, but he closes his eyes and, after a while, dozes off.