When Raguna woke up the first thing he noticed was the sandy-coloured hair tickling his nose as he breathed. He groaned as the shattered memories of the previous night pieced themselves back together in his mind. He had done it again, he realised. Quickly, he propped up the upper half of his body with his elbows and carefully moved Zavier's sleeping body from being draped over him to lying by his side.
In his sleep, Zavier wriggled and murmured something under his breath. As he stretched out his neck, Raguna saw that his throat, chest and collarbone were mottled with dark purple marks. Raguna reached out with trembling fingers and touched a predominant one that lurked on the side of Zavier's neck, just under his ear. Zavier flinched and Raguna winced as if he'd slapped him. Had he hurt Zavier when he'd made those marks?
Raguna sat up properly and rubbed his eyes. He realised that he was still shirtless from the night before, and picked his T-shirt up from beside him. As he put it on, he saw that Zavier wasn't the only one with rings of red teeth marks on his body. He felt his face begin to burn.
He contemplated getting up and washing, but just couldn't bring himself to. Despite the fact that he'd had a full night's sleep (plus much of the previous day) he still felt drained. He supposed it was the sickness. So, he flopped back down in his sleeping bag and sighed.
Almost immediately he heard a rustle as Zavier turned in his sleeping bag, and a moment later a tanned, skinny arm wrapped around his middle. Zavier snuggled up to him and nuzzled his face into his shoulder.
Raguna almost laughed. He had no doubt that Zavier was asleep. He would never be so bold as to do that knowingly. Raguna turned onto his side so that he was facing him. He had never noticed how young Zavier looked when he was asleep. The defensive frown that permanently creased his brow was gone, and his lower lip was pushed out slightly further than his upper lip, making his look like he was pouting. Raguna cupped his face in his hands and ran his thumbs over Zavier's freckled cheeks and the bridge of his nose.
Raguna smiled. He knew how much Zavier hated his freckles, but he liked them. He hadn't met anyone else with so many before. He studied Zavier's face, and absent-mindedly counted his freckles.
Then Zavier opened his eyes. After a few seconds pause, he woke up properly and a furious blush took over his face, masking his freckles and making Raguna lose count. He pulled his arms back from around Raguna's waist and jumped away from him, the frown back on his face.
"Wh-What do you think you're-"
"Zavier." Raguna grabbed the wrist of the hand that was pushing against him and pulled Zavier against him. He gripped his chin between his thumb and forefinger and raised his head to face him, and to his surprise, Zavier didn't try to fight him off. Raguna leaned in towards him, making sure to keep his eyes open.
He could see that Zavier already knew what was coming, because he squeezed his eyes tight shut and tented his eyebrows and bit his lips together and wrinkled his nose in anticipation. Raguna stopped. He couldn't kiss Zavier. Not when he was making a face like that.
But slowly, Zavier began to relax against him. The crinkles faded from his face and he pushed his lips out slightly, offering them to Raguna. Waiting to be kissed.
Raguna was sure he felt his heart stop, just for a second. Because as soon as he saw Zavier leaning into him like that, waiting for his lips to meet his, he realised something. It wasn't just his own feelings he was messing around with his stupid, forced fantasies about Mist. In the end, it was Zavier who would end up getting hurt.
Zavier began to frown, and Raguna realised that he had stupidly held onto his chin the whole time he had been thinking. Zavier opened his eyes, saw Raguna staring at him. His face turned bright red.
"You!" He snatched his chin away, drew back his fist and punched Raguna in the chest. Raguna doubled over, coughing. Zavier flung open the tent and stormed out, humiliated. Raguna didn't tell him to wait. Instead, he flopped back down on his sleeping bag and rubbed over his face with the palms of his hands.
"Why did you do that, Zavier..." he murmured to himself. It didn't make any sense. Raguna regretted kissing him because he was betraying Mist and nothing else. It didn't matter to him that he and Zavier were both men. But it did matter to Zavier. The very idea of two men in that sort of relationship frightened Zavier, and Raguna knew it. Why, then, was he willing to let Raguna do those things to him?
Raguna rolled onto his stomach and wriggled his way out of the tent. Zavier was drinking from his flask. He was still smouldering, and Raguna decided not to approach him until the chance of getting burned was significantly lower. He pushed himself out of his sleeping bag and sat down properly on the ground. Zavier stomped over to him and slammed the flask into his chest.
"Th-Thanks," Raguna coughed. He took a swig from the flask and rubbed his stomach ruefully, wishing the constant aching would cease, only for a second. He heard a quick, vicious thud as Zavier kicked the ground. Raguna sighed. It looked like Zavier was really angry.
"Sorry," Raguna said. He didn't just want to leave it at that. He wanted to say sorry for using him, for holding him against his will, and for holding him with his will. But he didn't.
Zavier glared down at him from where he stood. Then he sat down, and Raguna looked a him, really looked at him. It seemed forever since he had looked at Zavier and actually seen him. No matter how hard it was to hold on to the image of Mist while he was kissing him, Raguna had always managed, somehow, to do it. Now, looking at Zavier, Raguna found it incredibly easy to forget his loyalty to Mist. It didn't make any sense.
"What are you staring at?" Zavier demanded suddenly, whipping round so he was face-to-face with Raguna, his lips tightened into a thin white line or irritation.
Raguna laughed, reached out and rubbed his forehead, pretending to smooth out the wrinkles. Zavier's frown only strengthened and he slapped Raguna's hand away. So Raguna leaned over and kissed his forehead instead. Zavier's eyes widened and he hide his face on Raguna's shoulder.
"Hey, hey, what's up?" Raguna said, laughing and playing with Zavier's hair. Zavier's nails were digging into his arms from where he gripped his shirt.
"You," Zavier mumbled, refusing to look up.
Raguna knew exactly how he felt with that one. He wrapped his arms around Zavier's hunched shoulders. He wished he knew how to stop. Maybe if he knew, he would fight it. He pushed gently in Zavier's shoulders, trying to ease him away, but to his surprise Zavier clung to him, refusing to show his face. At that, Raguna felt the last of his resolve disintegrate, and he put his hands on either side of Zavier's face and tilted his head up and kissed him.
"Bastard," Zavier hissed when he pulled away. He didn't sound angry, just frustrated. This time, it was Raguna who had to push Zavier away. He didn't understand. This was Zavier. He had kissed Zavier. And he had done it perfectly aware, without the image of Mist in his mind.
He got up quickly, tipping Zavier back as he did so. "We should go," he said emotionlessly. "We still have a few days walk ahead of us." He quickly began to un-pitch the tent. Behind him he heard Zavier scrambling to his feet.
"You can't do that!" he shouted suddenly.
"Do what," Raguna stated, not looking at him. For some reason, his chest was hurting.
"That!" Zavier said furiously. "You can't... k-kiss someone and then act like... like you..."
Raguna sighed. "Zavier, please stop shouting," he begged, rubbing his temples, a pained frown on his face.
"I will not stop shouting!" Zavier shrieked. "Raguna! If you do this-! If you do this... then I'm going to..."
I'm going to fall in love with you.
The words were never said, but somehow both knew that the other was thinking exactly that. Raguna stood up straight and turned to look Zavier in the eyes. He didn't know what to think any more. Everything was so confusing. So damn confusing, and he couldn't stand it. A small smile took over his face; the saddest smile Zavier had ever seen.
"Let's stop this, okay Zavier?" he whispered. "Zavier?" Raguna reached out to touch his arm, but he flinched away and Raguna let his hand fall back to his side.
"You bastard," Zavier said quietly. His fists clenched and unclenched at his sides. "Don't start what you can't finish." He turned suddenly. "Hurry up," he ordered loudly. "We'd better set off soon."
As Raguna folded the tent away, he remembered something Lady Ann used to say like it was going out of fashion. 'Don't stick your head where your behind can't follow!'. But that was exactly what Raguna had done. He had gone half-way with Zavier. And now he was stuck. There was no way he could resolve this with just a few words. He didn't want to forget Mist and to make sure of that he had to use Zavier. He didn't want to use Zavier, but if he didn't he ran the risk of forgetting Mist. He was in a no-win situation, but there was one thing he was sure of. Zavier didn't need him forcing his fantasies on him. Mist was dead, and she couldn't feel Raguna's betrayal; but Zavier, Zavier was very much alive and every little thing Raguna did was affecting him more than he would ever let on.
So Raguna decided that under no circumstances would he kiss or touch Zavier again. He would remember Mist by his own will.
"I'm sorry, Zav," Raguna said. "I'm sorry."
"I know," Zavier replied. He slung the rucksack over his shoulder, wincing as he did so. He rubbed his side. There was an awkward pause.
"Excuse me?" Raguna looked up as he stuffed the rest of the tent into it's bag.
"Why did you kiss me?" Zavier turned his back on Raguna as he asked.
Raguna felt his face heat up. "Why did you kiss me back?" he asked pointedly. He saw the tips of Zavier's ears turn crimson.
A smile spread across Raguna's face and he had to bite his lip to stop himself laughing because he knew he shouldn't, not at a time like this, and especially as Zavier was being so serious. He didn't even know why he was laughing. He wasn't happy, far from it. But there was just something about Zavier that made him want to smile, despite it all.
He walked over to him and slid the rucksack form his shoulder. Zavier tried to snatch it back.
"I know," Raguna interrupted, raising a hand in his defence. "I just thought I'd carry it today."
Zavier scowled. "You always carry it," he muttered sulkily. "I could carry it..."
Raguna smiled and shook his head. Why was Zavier so keen to give himself extra work? Did he really feel so useless when he wasn't directly helping out? Zavier had never shown any great need to prove himself up until Raguna and Mist had married. His stubbornness had grown even more after Mist had died and they had joined the Resistance.
Raguna slung the rucksack over his shoulders and then picked up the bag containing the tent, too.
"I'll get that," Zavier said quickly, holding his hand out for it.
"I'm fine," Raguna said. He set off walking, a slow, steady stroll. "It's not that heavy, so it doesn't make much of a difference."
"H-Hey!" Zavier stumbled along next to him. "Quit acting like I can't do anything, because I can! I'm not a little kid."
Raguna raised his eyebrows. Zavier was pouting, and he had puffed his cheeks out with annoyance. He really did look every part the little kid. Raguna stopped walking. Zavier almost tripped himself up trying to stop in time.
"Okay," Raguna said. A smile spread over his face. He couldn't help it. He wasn't a mean person, but Zavier just made it too easy. He held the bag over his head. "Jump for it."
Zavier's eyes widened to the size of saucers. "I... I... No!" he barked angrily, sounding as if he couldn't quite believe what he was hearing.
"You can't have it then," Raguna said plainly, a perfectly innocent smile on his face.
"I'm not going to jump, you sick bastard!" Zavier yelled, glaring up at Raguna. Raguna had to stifle a laugh when he noticed Zavier was raising onto his tiptoes to seem taller anyway. He couldn't resist lifting his hand to ruffle Zavier's hair, making it droop down and cover his eyes. The action was bound to infuriate him even more, and admittedly, that was part of the reason Raguna did it.
Zavier jabbed him in the stomach. Raguna doubled over, coughing and choking on his own saliva. Zavier swiped the bag from his unresisting hands, turned on his heel and marched away. Raguna couldn't stop coughing. He stayed there, hands on his knees, gagging and struggling to breathe. He could feel his head growing light. The pain in his stomach was dizzying. Bile rose in his throat and he vomited all over the ground.
Suddenly Zavier was back and his arms were around him, forcing him to keep standing.
"I..." Zavier looked away, ashamed. "Sorry, I..."
"It's okay," Raguna gasped, composing himself. He wiped his forehead of the sweat that had coated his skin. He smiled weakly at Zavier. "I was sort of asking for that, wasn't I?"
"Yeah, you were."
Without thinking, Raguna reached out to touch Zavier's face. But then he remembered. Stopped. His fingers froze mid-air, just a few centimetres from Zavier's freckled cheek. Zavier's eyes flickered, glancing towards the hand so close to his face. He didn't say anything.
Slowly, Raguna let his hand drop back to his side. Zavier helped him to straighten up and get back on his feet. And they carried on walking in silence.
I'm a little upset at the moment, and writing this hasn't really cheered me up! Long story short, I'm a very closed person when it comes to love, despite the fact that I write romance all the time, and I can't trust people easily at all. Whenever people tell me 'I love (insertnamehere)' I say 'You think you love them, but after a while you'll have forgotten about them'. But recently this one guy showed some interest in me. He seemed really nice and didn't try to push me into doing anything I was uncomfortable with, although I knew he wanted a 'proper' relationship, and stupidly, I let myself believe all the things he was saying to me. One day he was all 'I love you', but then suddenly, a few days later, he tells me 'I've been seeing another girl and I love her now'. And all that trust I had put in him, and the slight belief that young love can be more than just infatuation, completely shattered. I didn't like him, not in that way, so maybe it's a good thing. But the fact that he was so quick to forget me as soon as a more open girl came along really does nothing for my 'trusting people' issues.
Well, I'll stop angsting over nothing now! I'm just glad I didn't fall in love with him- if I had, I'd have been even more shook up. I put a brave face on everything, so he thought I wouldn't care. I suppose it is partly my fault. He needed companionship and I couldn't give him it, not now. And that's basically all there is to it.
Read and review if you want to! Thanks.