Originally written for a prompt on the LiveJournal community temps_mort.
"Oishi, you're not watching!"
Oishi coughed as he turned his eyes upward, hoping the sting of the wind would camouflage the heat in his cheeks. He had been watching. Just not the kite. His attention had been transfixed on Eiji's face, flushed with youthful energy and fresh air and the first really good day of spring, turned towards the sky as it so often was, blue mirroring blue.
The kite was shaped like a fish, brilliant crimson and large enough to be considered family-sized even for a family as big as Eiji's. Several multicolored scales flashed as the fish coursed its way through the air. One hand-painted scale for each member of the Kikumaru household, because of course no ordinary kite would do for that family. Oishi still remembered with perfect detail the day that Eiji's mother had handed him the paintbrush. He'd reached for a good, sensible green, but Eiji had said, "No, Oishi; gold, like mine! See?" And now Oishi smiled as he watched the two golden scales glitter on the scarlet banner high above them.
But mostly he watched Eiji, whose sneakered feet seemed ready to leave the ground at any moment. Air had always seemed to be Eiji's natural habitat. His feet never touched the sidewalk if there was a wall or railing to walk along. Even on the two blocks from the pet store to the burger shop, Eiji would more often than not have his arms outstretched, as if he couldn't stand to submit to gravity any more than absolutely necessary. Eiji was perpetually ready to take flight.
Like a snowflake, Oishi thought, completely unique, or a bright autumn leaf that rode unpredictably on the wind. Or like the petals of the spring trees with their dance of fleeting, dazzling beauty. If you were lucky, you might catch one in your hand as it swirled by with the breeze; if you weren't, it would disappear into the bright sky as you squinted against the sun and tried to watch it go.
Except Eiji hadn't flown away.
Oishi was what adults, when they wanted to comment on what a respectable and mature young man he was, called "grounded". Sensible. Realistic. Dependable. He was the one who made sure the rope didn't get tangled. "Anchored", they would also say when extolling his virtues. Oishi thought of anchors as big and heavy and dull, found on boats and lighter-than-air- ships, back when people still used those. The anchor kept the ship attached to the ground. Kept it from flying free.
Eiji had let out too much string, and the kite was faltering. It swooped dangerously, and Eiji's blue eyes grew wide and frantic. "Stay up, stay up...." he muttered. Anyone could see how much damage could be caused by a fall from that height. But Oishi didn't think anyone understood the pain of falling as acutely as Eiji did. "Nya, Oishi!"
"You've got too much slack," Oishi said. "You need to take it in." He caught the sagging string and wrapped it around his hand, wincing a bit as the kite regained its altitude and pulled the line taut. Eiji quickly wound the excess around the spool.
"Here, Oishi, you take the string. You're better at it than I am."
Oishi didn't know why he was surprised by Eiji's smile, or by the lingering touch of his partner's fingertips as the spool was pressed into his hand. And he couldn't help but return the smile when Eiji flopped down in the grass, but still reached with both hands towards the sky.
After all, the kite couldn't fly without the string.