Must Be Prepared.
"Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Welcome back," Ran says, turning his eyes away from the window to offer him a small, hesitant smile.

Gingetsu nods, trying to see if he can get any immediate differences from the Ran of yesterday to the Ran of today. It's barely been two months since he started living with him, and already his hair has gotten longer, curling softly below his shoulder blades when he's not tying it. His face is already starting to lose some of its child softness, cheekbones slowly starting to get more defined. His ankles are starting to show from the pants that, two weeks ago, still dragged on the floor.

"Are you hungry? I made dinner," Ran offers, walking closer, looking up to him, eyes silver gray, like the sky before a storm. Ran's eyes betray him: he might look thirteen, but the eyes that look back at him are older than the earth itself.

"Yes, thank you. Don't bother, I'll get it myself," Gingetsu says, turning around from the truth those eyes want to show him, the truth he's afraid to face.

The mirror shows him someone he doesn't recognize. It's almost familiar, the set of the mouth, the way the hair falls over the eyes.

But it's not A and Ran wonders if that's truly him.

"Hey, A, I wonder..." but he falters, just pressing a hand with fingers that are getting to be long and elegant to the mirror.

Even his body is different, birdlike bones growing sometimes painfully fast. Ran thinks that he could feel it happen, if he closed his eyes then he would feel the snap and grind of bones and muscles shifting too fast, trying to do in minutes what was forbidden to them in years.

"... I wonder if I'm going mad..." Ran murmurs, but only to the stranger in the mirror, not to A.

Gingetsu doesn't tell Ran about the moaning. It happens when Ran is running a fever, when his temperature is high and the painkillers do nothing but mute the pain of his body shifting, when he lives what would be months or years in mere hours, Gingetsu stays there.

It's dangerous, with Ran's abilities out of his control, with Ran's glassy eyes not looking at him but at siblings that are no longer there, but Gingetsu stays there. Ran has yet to hurt him, even when his power makes his flat tremble or when his electronics go wild.

But then Ran moans as well and it's not just pain. His body is growing, slowly but surely reaching his denied adolescent years. Ran reacts even to the tiniest touch: fingers on his throat to check his pulse makes him shiver, the coolness of a cloth on his forehead makes him gasp, Gingetsu touching his hand when Ran reaches for someone not there makes him moan and tighten that hand on his, still trembling, Ran breaths hard and fast, a flush to his face that could easily be something else.

When he wakes up, Ran picks up the sheets and his clothes to wash them without a word. Gingetsu pretends not to notice and he does his best to forget the sounds and the forgotten memory of salt on skin and how it'd taste on Ran's lips.

There is no surprising Gingetsu, Ran had discovered early on. Not unless he used his abilities, but Ran tries to use them as little as he can unless he's been asked to do so.

So when he reaches Gingetsu's room, he was expecting him to be sitting on his bed, glasses already back on his face, light on to wash white over the spartan room.

"Is everything alright?" Gingetsu asks, ready to stand up if Ran was to say the word.

But Ran makes himself take another step, and then another, and then another and all the way from the door to Gingetsu's bed.

"I..." he starts, but then he doesn't know how to carry on, what to say. He can feel Gingetsu looking at him despite the glasses, but he wishes, oh how he wishes that he could look at Gingetsu's eyes to get an actual idea of what he's thinking.


He puts a knee to the mattress, and then the other, and Gingetsu lets him put his hands on his shoulders, ready to assist him, and Ran lets that knowledge ground him to what he's about to request.

"I'd like it if... if you could, I mean, if we could..." he starts, hating the way he sounds, hesitant and young: he's older than this, beyond the way his body still looks.

He tries again.

"... I'd like it if you would have sex with me."

Gingetsu says nothing, and Ran wonders if it's him imagining he feels his surprise. He keeps his hands on Gingetsu's shoulders, and he speaks before he can say no.

"I know what I want, and this is something I want to understand," Ran says, but his voice still sounds hesitant and dubious. "But if you don't want to... if I'm imposing..."

His hands bunch on the shirt Gingetsu uses to sleep, and Ran thinks that in a moment, he'll move. He'll apologize and he'll go back to his room, because Gingetsu has already done more than enough for him, and he can't – he won't – ask for more than the kindness he's already offered on a daily basis.

But before he can do anything else, Gingetsu's hand moves to touch his, rough, scarred fingers whisper soft on his face, tilting his chin upwards.

"I'm no expert on this," Gingetsu offers, and Ran, who can barely believe what he hears, feels himself nodding before Gingetsu leans forward, lips brushing hiss.

Gingetsu had said the truth: it's been years, perhaps, since the last time he did this, before the war, before he even met Kazuhiko, and even then it had been an exception whenever he did it. As a Clover, he has always been heavily monitored, ad it would have reflected wrongly to become involved with someone else.

But Ran remains the exception to every single truth within Gingetsu's life: Ran still trembles when Gingetsu kisses him, gasping when he touches the skin of his waist below his shirt, and then again when he kisses the knobbly knot of his wrist, and he can feel the way Ran shivers when he moves to straddle one of his thighs.

And perhaps he shouldn't encourage this: there are five years left for Ran to live, and was he to want this later then Gingetsu would-- he takes a deep breath at the feel of Ran's fingers on the back of his neck, and Gingetsu knows it's pointless to delay this. Today or tomorrow, a month or a year later, it makes no difference: he still wouldn't refuse Ran's request.

So when Ran kisses him he accepts it, and returns it, paying attention at how Ran moans now, the way his voice breaks, and he keeps on looking at the way Ran shifts and moves, his body slight but solid and so very warm, at the way Ran keeps on changing, so fast that Gingetsu is sure that if he stops looking, he'll lose a moment and he'll never get it back.