"I want to dress you up," he says as he strokes circles on Yoite's bare hand with his thumb, like it's normal, like it's right, and Yoite is not sure what to say. Miharu continues: "Like a girl."

It does not occur to him that he should protest, or why he might protest at all, but it is, to his dry-paper dead world, something alien.

So much of this is alien to him. He's been getting a lot of living done, all crammed into the past few weeks. It tires him out. Every day someone wants to speak to him, feed him, give him something, weave him into their lives with tiny chains of kindness. And in the background of this sunset world, looming and real, Miharu's shadow lingers.

They are sitting on a park bench in the sunlight, on a fair-weather day in spring, and Miharu is holding his hand. Maybe it's a Sunday. Yoite doesn't know or care. Today, Miharu took him by the elbow, wrapped a scarf around his neck, gently pulled his arms into the sleeves of a soft cardigan, and took him away from everyone, away from everything, away to be alone with him. Possibly Miharu skipped school. They travelled by train, and walked together at a gentle pace, and now they are sitting, and Miharu has taken one of Yoite's gloves off and is caressing his fingers, his palm, his black bony wrist. Yoite lets him.

"Why?" Yoite asks. Miharu gives him a sunny look, one that brings some warmth to his insides, one that makes him want something he doesn't have words for. Miharu's eyes are green, and his teeth are so white when he smiles, and he's got a gleam in his eyes that means he won't give Yoite a straight answer - not unless it amuses him.

"Because you're the pretty one," he whispers, like he is is letting Yoite in on a secret. Yoite doesn't understand 'pretty' (the word, he is certain, does not apply to him) but he knows he is being teased, and a faint heat rises to his cheeks.

With the self-assured confidence of a king, Miharu presses a long kiss to Yoite's jawbone, retreating a half inch to breathe, warmly, on Yoite's waxen skin. It makes Yoite dizzy with feelings he shouldn't have and he wonders, while pieces of himself flutter obediently at Miharu's touches, if it's wrong to let Miharu indulge him like this.

After all, a thing like Yoite was never meant to be kissed.

"I don't get it," Yoite says, tugging his ash-colored hand away from Miharu, cradling it against his own fluttering heart. The park is a blur of green and sepia light; his vision has been blurring over a lot, lately. "Miharu, I don't understand."

Miharu catches his hand and cradles it again, even though Yoite is too afraid of the blurring in his eyes to look at him. "Because it's something I want, Yoite," he says, firmly, and those are words that Yoite can understand, words that have meaning.

If Miharu wants it, Yoite supposes that's reason enough.

"Okay," he says. He knows about wanting things, even though something like Yoite is not supposed to have any wants. His wants flutter inside him like birds in a cramped cage. He wants to give Miharu -

Everything. But Miharu is the king of Nabari and the bearer of the Shinrabansho, and Yoite is not sure there's anything he could give that Miharu doesn't already have, except his consent.

"Right now," Miharu says, tugging Yoite's glove back onto his hand, and Yoite blinks at him. "Tonight. Let's go back to my house, it's not far. I can carry you up the stairs if you get tired."

"Now?" Yoite asks, wondering how long Miharu has been thinking about this, and also noticing, slightly startled, that Miharu probably could carry him up the stairs. Miharu has been getting taller, his shoulders higher and wider, and Yoite has only been getting skinnier, and skinnier - and his hair is longer, almost to his shoulders.

"Now," Miharu assures him, solemnly taking him by the elbow again and lifting him, insistently, to his feet. "I told Granny and everyone to scram for the night. Just you and me, okay? And I'll bring you home tomorrow."

That last part is nonsensical. "No, you should take me back to Hana's house," Yoite corrects. "Or she'll worry."

Miharu pauses for a few moments, playing back their last few words, and smiles at him. He stands on his toes to press a kiss to Yoite's forehead, briefly touching his face. The caress is only for half a moment, but for that half-moment Yoite thinks it must be what love feels like.

"Of course, Yoite," he agrees. The sky is insatiably blue through the budding trees behind him, hungry enough to swallow the world. "Let's go."

"Okay, Miharu," Yoite says, and they begin to walk, slow and steady, back to the train station.

Yoite doesn't have to explain that home means with you. Miharu, like a good king, is kind enough to understand.

The sunset is harsh reds and burned oranges through halfhearted pink shreds of cloud by the time they have climbed the stairs to Miharu's house. They bring light inside with them, flicking on the electricity with cold fingertips; there is no one else home.

"Sit on my bed for a minute," Miharu orders him, and Yoite realizes that he is shaking with exhaustion, legs aching dully from his exertions. No one needs something this weak, he thinks, and then pushes the thought away. "I'll get you some lemon cider."

"Thank you," Yoite says, a little too late, as Miharu shuts the door behind him. Miharu's room is well-lit, and littered with tiny clues about him - how-to books, mostly ninjutsu; a few cookbooks; a picture of Raikou and Kouichi, a digital camera. Everything seems deliberately arranged, even the clutter - Miharu is making a calculated effort to be carefree, but leopards do not change their spots so easily.

Yoite tries not to stare at anything too closely. He tries to keep himself uninvolved, like a neat, orderly blank page.

Miharu is back soon, sitting him down on the precisely-made bed and pressing the hot drink into his hands. "Here, drink this." He turns his desk light on, and then sits in the room's lone chair, watching Yoite sip. "Is it too hot?"

"No, it's fine. You shouldn't worry so much," Yoite says, leaving out the about me.

"I'll worry about you as much as I want," Miharu tells him, very matter-of-fact. "You're dying."

"Yes," Yoite agrees, unsure why Miharu is talking about it, here and now. It makes something in him feel a little bit guilty. He doesn't know what a regular person would say right now, so he doesn't say a word, but quietly continues to drink. He can feel Miharu's eyes on him, even when he looks into his mug or at the floor or anywhere away.

Yoite is a dying thing, a paper doll. Miharu shouldn't be so concerned over something that's only going to vanish. "I'm sorry."

He's sorry that he's dying, but he's sorrier that it's happening now, now that Miharu wants him to stay.

"It's okay," Miharu says, in a very calm voice, interrupting his thoughts - he looks up to meet Miharu's wide, unreadable green eyes, still watching him, following his every move, like an unrelenting searchlight. "You don't have to be sorry for dying, even if - even if I don't want you to. I just want to you to stay a while. Here. With me, right now. Is that what you want?"

The way he asks it makes it clear to Yoite that what he says next is going to be the deciding factor. "Yes," Yoite says, feeling a little lightheaded, the hot lemon cider warming him from inside, and he means it. "I want to be with you." Something hurts inside his chest, as he says those words aloud.

Miharu is suddenly inches away from him, taking his half-empty mug and placing it on the nightstand, returning to look at him, like a painter studying his subject. "I want to take pictures," he says, slowly, reaching out a hand and tracing the painfully sharp edge of Yoite's cheekbone. "I want to dress you up and take pictures. I won't show them to anyone. Is that okay?"

Yoite isn't sure why it hurts to hear that. His eyes blur and he tangles his fingers with the ends of his scarf.

"Your eyes are red," Miharu says, wonderingly. "Yoite? What did I say?"

Gentle hands press to Yoite's chin, cradling his face, thumbs pressed tenderly to his lips. They force him, in a coaxing way, to look back up, look into Miharu's eyes. "If that's what you want," he says, voice laced with a quiet hurt, "then I want to give it to you." And that's true. However.

(It is only when they are alone, like this, that Yoite is subjected to the full force of Miharu's undivided attention. Yoite remembers, with a certain sense of nostalgia, a time when Miharu would avoid talking about dangerous subjects - but there is no longer any possibility that Yoite might run away.)

"Tell me why you're upset," he says, like he already has a pretty good idea. It is not a question or a request; it is an order, and Yoite's begrudging compliance is inevitable. It does not occur to him to lie.

"I don't know. I didn't know that you wanted something like that, not until you told me," he says, blinking back the tears before they can fall, forcing himself to calm down. He doesn't say I'm still so far away from you, getting farther all the time. These days, without his despair to numb him, things jolt him and shock him in strange, unpredictable ways - the cats make him laugh, Gau makes him feel half-melted, Hana flusters him, his eyes water all the time. Around Miharu, everything is raw, and it is a struggle to keep himself collected.

"Oh," Miharu sighs, and seems relieved, a tension vanishing. "That's okay. If you had been expecting me to ask for this, I'd have been kinda freaked out."

"Why is it something you want?" Yoite asks, having regained his composure. "To... to dress me up. I want to understand."

Miharu's eyes darken, hooded with a familiar intensity that both excites Yoite and makes him want to bolt. "Everyone has you in your sweaters and trench coat, everyone has you in your hat and your black pants," he says, his voice dropping to a lower octave, gripping Yoite's wrists. "But only I will ever have you like this. Just for me. Understand?"

Yoite feels like he's beginning to catch on. "You can keep the pictures after I die," he says, "and remember what I looked like when it was just for you."

"Forever," Miharu promises, his eyes impossibly dark.

Yoite has half-formed pictures in his mind of how this is supposed to work - sometimes Yukimi had left porn lying around, and he'd leafed through it with clinical interest before ripping it up, page by page, and spilling ink over the remains, because it seemed like the right thing to do - giving those blank-eyed women some dignity.

Black fishnets. Skimpy, impractical, too-tight uniforms. Garishly bright colors, cheap sequins, frightening makeup. He does not understand the appeal, but he decides, since Miharu's will is inevitable, that he will not feel ashamed or cheapened. Yoite has trouble being human, anyway; and things don't have feelings.

When Miharu takes out a few simple cardboard boxes, he has already steeled himself, tensely, for something he does not expect to enjoy.

"What's the matter?" Miharu asks, pausing as he shuts the closet door.

Awkwardly, Yoite tries to explain about the porn and Yukimi and the magazines, and how Yoite is the sort of person who spills ink, not the sort of person who stares out of those pictures, but Miharu cuts him off with an amused snort.

"I wouldn't do that to you, Yoite. I'm not trying to humiliate you," he says, something warm and buttery in his voice as he looks at Yoite - Yoite is only half convinced. "Come here," he says, like Yoite belongs to him but he's playing nice anyway. Yoite obeys.

He slowly strips away Yoite's hat and gloves, his sweater, his shirt, his socks and trousers, folding them in a neat pile. The methodical way that he moves has Yoite's head spinning - it's like the other times Miharu has coaxed him into having sex. His hands are deft and reassuring, his eyes fixed on Yoite's face, until Yoite is standing in only his briefs, slightly cold, and wondering if Miharu will kiss him, not sure if he wants him to.

"Open the boxes and put the clothes on," Miharu tells him, laying a hand chastely on Yoite's shoulder. "I'm going to run a bath and heat up dinner." He pauses, and grins on his way out the door. "Lose the briefs."

Yoite wonders what this means is going to happen, as the door closes and Yoite is left alone with a stack of ominous cardboard boxes. Mentally, he shrugs, and decides to go along with whatever Miharu has planned. He doesn't really have plans for himself, lately, apart from 'die peacefully'.

He crouches down next to the boxes, and opens the closest with trepidation.

It is nothing like he had imagined at all.

There's an achingly pure, faded white sundress with wide, modest straps and a single soft bow at the right shoulder. It is simply cut, hanging halfway down his thighs to end in a demure, unobtrusive hem, the skirt flowing downwards from a wide waistband just below his chest. It is pretty like wildflowers are, soft like petals. It fits him precisely.

In the next box there is a pair of sensible white thigh-highs, and a thin white silk underskirt. These rub against his legs like smoke. The final box contains long white opera gloves, and, in a bundle of thin paper, a pair of white panties. He puts those on without hesitating, but falters, flushing, at the soft feel of them against his skin.

Everything fits him. It fits him like it was made to fit him, and it seems different from anything he's ever worn, because it lays against his skin like Miharu's hands.

He shudders, deeply.

Miharu walks back into the room a moment or an hour later, and looks at him without saying anything for a while. "You don't need any makeup," he says, suddenly, walking to his desk and picking up his camera. "I thought you might, but you don't."

Yoite doesn't know how to speak anymore. He's gripping the back of the chair so hard it hurts. He wishes Miharu had a mirror in his room, so he could see what he looks like.

"I would've gotten you shoes, too," Miharu says, "but why bother. I'm not letting you out of the house - Yoite?"

Yoite looks at Miharu, plaintively. "I don't know what I should do," he says.

Miharu pauses, and, as casually as if he were photographing a landscape, takes a picture of him. "Just wear the clothes, that's all. Do you hate this?" he asks. He is calm like a still lake, giving nothing away.

"No," Yoite says, the palest of pink blushes creeping over his face. He doesn't dislike these sensations, however alien they are. "I just -"

"How do you feel?" Miharu asks, neutrally curious, eyebrows raised at him.

"Like you've given me something," Yoite says, all in a rush. "Like you're spoiling me. Like - like -"

Miharu takes another picture of him while he is talking, and then sets the camera down, pacing slowly closer. It's as if he doesn't want to startle Yoite into running. Which is a reasonable enough fear - Yoite is a hurricane of mixed feelings, right now. And the fact that Miharu knows enough to deal with that tumult, knows him well enough not to frighten him, only makes Yoite more anxious.

"Yoite," Miharu says, calmly, reaching out to Yoite's waist and resting his hand ever-so-lightly on Yoite's hip. Not light enough to unsettle, not heavy enough to be threatening - Miharu's hand is just there. "Does it feel good to you, or bad?"

"... Good," he says, almost surprised. And it does. The rush of terror is more adrenaline than fear - it has his pulse racing, and he feels very here and now, which, he supposes, is precisely what Miharu wanted. "I... "

"Do you like feeling this way?" Miharu continues, slowly letting his other hand mirror its twin. He's inching closer with painstaking care, bringing their faces nearer and nearer. His eyes are so green Yoite could forget to breathe.

"Yes," Yoite exhales, the urge to flee fading. "I don't think I deserve it, but... I like it."

"That makes me happy, Yoite," Miharu says, telling Yoite what Yoite cannot automatically comprehend. "Because I like it too." Very, very gently, he begins to rock them back and forth, in a soothing rhythm. "So don't worry about giving, right now, or worry because you feel like I'm overindulging you." He gives Yoite another one of his summer smiles, warm and precious. "You know I like to ... uh," he says, pausing to choose his words, "screw around with people's heads."

Yoite thinks that that's kind of an understatement, and Miharu both reads and is pleased by his half-smile. "Yeah," he says, letting Miharu rock him like a child, like they're dancing. "You're a jerk."

"Sometimes, yeah," Miharu says, giving him a very earnest stare. "Sometimes the games I play with people get nasty."

"Is this a game?" Yoite asks, without thinking.

"In a way," Miharu concedes, leaning just a hair's breadth closer. "Most people would call it intimacy."

Yoite is still absorbing that when Miharu kisses him.

It's a real kiss, on the lips, and it catches Yoite by surprise, because Miharu does this very rarely, and usually to say goodbye. In the shock of it he almost doesn't notice the fact that they are now standing flush with each other, Miharu still gently holding Yoite at the hip with one hand while the other rubs Yoite's shoulder blades through lace. He's too startled to put up much of a fight.

They aren't rocking back and forth anymore - the body-awareness that the rocking cultivated now has nowhere to focus but Miharu, the way Miharu's hands and lips are moving against him.

It feels nice. It's like honey soothing a burned tongue. Sometimes, in his more pathetic moments, Yoite thinks of himself as nothing more than a wound, a list of pains. If Miharu keeps treating him like this, keeps soothing the burn, he doesn't know what will happen.

He forgets to be afraid of that.

Miharu keeps kissing him. Twice, three times, seven times, twenty, until Yoite gives up counting and, tentative and shy, raises his own arms to wrap them around Miharu's shoulders. At that, Miharu stills for a brief, appreciative moment, and nuzzles against Yoite's face. "Thank you," he murmurs.

For what, Yoite wants to ask, but Miharu is kissing him again, this time with his whole mouth, and that has never happened to Yoite before.

It's strange and unpleasant at first, like most new things in Yoite's life. But after a while - after a while it becomes meaningful, becomes a way that Miharu is trying to communicate with him. Warmth, heat, tender movement that teases him and asks him to open up, asks him to let Miharu inside of him, and when he does - when he relaxes enough -

His legs shake, helplessly, when Miharu licks the back of his front teeth and then retreats to bite his lower lip - a tender, painless thing, but it sends shocks through his entire body. To his surprise, he whimpers; Miharu seems surprised, too, because he stops, his hands stilling on Yoite's back.

"Are you feeling okay?" he murmurs, pressing a kiss to Yoite's flushed cheek.

"Yes," Yoite says, but his voice is shaking as badly as his legs.

"Hana will murder me if I don't make sure you eat," Miharu says under his breath, talking to himself. "Come downstairs," he says to Yoite, taking him by the hand, and stepping backwards so that Yoite follows him instinctively. "Let me feed you," he says, and then trails off. He picks up the camera and takes another quick shot of Yoite before setting the camera down.

"Okay," Yoite agrees, too overwhelmed to feel hungry. Miharu keeps watching him, a tender, possessive jealousy in his eyes. Yoite thinks that if this wasn't the Rokujou's house, Miharu would probably trip over something, and says so.

"It'd be wasteful to look away," Miharu says, and his arm around Yoite's waist keeps Yoite standing as they walk downstairs to the kitchen.

"You eat too quickly," Miharu informs him, stroking his hair. "It's bad for you."

Miharu is sitting on a sturdy western chair, and has pulled Yoite sideways onto one of his jutting legs. Yoite wonders what Miharu is doing - he can guess. He guesses that Miharu doesn't want to let Yoite go, because then Yoite might remember that he doesn't like being touched.

Miharu cuts everything up into little bite-sized pieces with a knife, first, and then uses his chopsticks to feed them both. "Chew before swallowing," he chides, and, obediently, Yoite chews the food he can only half-taste. It smells good, though. Miharu is a good cook, and is also careful not to spill any food on Yoite's white clothing.

"You've been spoiling me all day," Yoite says. "You don't have to feed me."

"I know," Miharu says, and takes another bite for himself.

"So why?" Yoite asks.

Miharu fills Yoite's mouth with another load of food. "Because it's something lovers do," he says.

A tingling sensation runs down Yoite's spine. He swallows.

"Lovers," he says.

"Lovers," Miharu agrees.

"I can't," Yoite says, his hands shaking in his lap, as Miharu chews. "Miharu, I can't."

"Why not?" Miharu sets down the chopsticks, and gives Yoite another neutral, unreadable look, frank with curiosity. "We have sex, you love me, I love you. So. Lovers."

And as if to remind Yoite precisely why not, his heart flutters, and for a moment he's dizzy, his veins screaming. He leans abruptly against Miharu's shoulder to keep from toppling over. Miharu, calm, holds Yoite with supportive arms, resting one tender hand at the place where his head meets the back of his neck.

Slowly, the fit passes.

The question still hangs in the air, insistent, until Yoite tries to answer it.

"Because I'll be gone soon," Yoite whispers, letting the pain recede, his eyes fading in and out of focus like flickering lamps. "You can't need me that much."

Miharu uses the hand at the nape of Yoite's neck to make Yoite look at him, fingers pressing against Yoite's skull. "It's much too late in the game," he says, "to tell me I can't do anything."

So it is a game, Yoite thinks. "But I'm no good," he tells Miharu. "There's so much wrong with me -"

"There's nothing wrong with you," Miharu interrupts.

"Yes there is," Yoite argues, annoyed, the urge to shove away from Miharu, to run, growing. "I'm sick, and I'm dying -"

"But that's not wrong," Miharu says, holding him tighter. His smile has been replaced by a thin, frightening line that neither comforts nor condemns - unreadable. "It's just what's happening to you."

Yoite's face flushes with agitation. "And," he says, "Where the important - the important parts are. I - I'm not - they don't -"

He doesn't know how to say it - they haven't talked about it. All of their liaisons have been brief, wordless affairs that are all mouths and hands. Yoite is not correctly a boy or a girl; his parts are strange, not enough one way or another, and thinking about the area between his legs makes him dizzily aware, again, of the fact that he's wearing - all of the clothes Miharu has dressed him in but especially -

Miharu deliberately shifts his leg and repositions Yoite's hips in one vicious jerk, and even though he has dressed Yoite in gloves - probably because Yoite is shy about the creeping blackness consuming his limbs - Yoite's fingernails still dig into his palms as he shudders.

Yoite makes a tiny, muffled sob, and Miharu presses insistent kisses to the back of his neck, paying close attention to the scar.

"I don't care about that," he says, breath hot, directly on Yoite's skin, and as if to prove his point he runs a hand up the inside of Yoite's thigh and -

Yoite makes one of those noises again, a reluctant, quiet cry, and presses back against Miharu's chest, because pushing him away is not an option. He doubts it was ever an option; Miharu has spent the entire day slowly pulling Yoite closer.

"It's not wrong," Miharu continues, cradling and stroking him through soft fabric. His touches are just as firm-gentle-easy as ever, just as confident. "It's just the way you are."

Like caged birds with no voices in Yoite's chest, he can't find the words to tell Miharu how he feels - cannot even in his own mind describe how raw and tender his nerves are, leaping at every little thing Miharu does to him. He doesn't know if there are words at all to describe this wet ache.

"Do you like what I'm doing, right now?" Miharu asks him.

Yoite nods, clinging to Miharu, his face damp with sweat and, somehow, tears. He likes it very much. He wishes - he doesn't know what he wishes, but he wants something. More of this, probably - it is overwhelming, really, how much he needs Miharu to keep touching him.

"Does it feel good?" Miharu breathes, and tastes the salt on Yoite's skin.

"Yes," Yoite says, and it comes out a moan. Miharu smiles against Yoite's neck, and kisses him in sync with the rhythm his hand is setting below.

"I'm glad," Miharu tells him, over and over so that Yoite can hear him.

Miharu is smart enough to know there is a very important difference between whether something feels good and whether Yoite likes it.

Miharu's hands are everything, all of a sudden, encompassing Yoite completely and drowning out everything else. How can you be so tender to me? he wonders, as all the blood in his body is slowly set on fire, coiling around his hips. How do you do this?

He hears himself panting and gasping softly, hears his own heartbeat thudding through him, hears the tiny soft noises of Miharu breathing, kissing, stroking. He doesn't know whether the searing feelings are pain or pleasure or both. The fabric of the dress is seamless, soft wherever it touches Yoite's skin - where Miharu touches his skin - it doesn't matter, it's all Miharu, everywhere, it's all he can sense, all he smells.

"You sound pretty," Miharu murmurs, hiking Yoite's skirt up and slipping his fingers below the waistband of his panties, exploring first the aching hardness - it throbs, like a wound, at the feeling of cool fingertips, and Yoite's mewling turns into a yelp of shock - and then the aching emptiness, wet and tender. Yoite moans, his legs trembling helplessly, toes curling in their stockings.

"Miharu," he begs, trying to remember words. "Miharu -"

"Yes?" Miharu asks, dipping a single finger inside of Yoite and moving it, kissing his shoulder as he shakes.

Yoite can't answer, because everything inside of him is tightening, all at once - his mouth is open, lips swollen pink with Miharu's kisses, but all that escapes him is a thin, surprised gasp. It tightens and tightens, and Miharu's fingers move faster and then -

Over the edge. Some tiny wall of resistance shatters, letting the floodgates open, and all of Yoite's feelings rush through him in waves. He falls, limply, into Miharu's waiting embrace, his hair sticking to his forehead, trying to catch his breath in the aftershocks.

"I love you," he tells Miharu, plaintively.

"I know," Miharu says, and for some reason - probably Yoite's failing hearing - it sounds like I win. "Come on, lover. The bath's waiting."

Miharu strips off his own clothing like it's easy, and gives Yoite a sidelong smile that turns into a pensive look. "Hey," he says, softly.

"What?" Yoite asks, pressed against the bathroom door, staring at his feet. Miharu isn't even half-hard - his self-control is like a rebuke.

"Look at me?" he asks.

Yoite consents to look at him, staring hopelessly into his face, looking for something - he doesn't even know what he's looking for.

"Are you okay? Do you want me to leave while you -"

"No," Yoite says, hiding his face in his hands. "No, stay."

Miharu pauses, steps forward with a soft footfall, and pulls Yoite's hands away from his face. "Please tell me what you want me to do," he says, and for some reason - probably Yoite's failing ears again - he sounds sincere.

"I don't really know what to ask for," Yoite says. "You usually finish having sex with me a lot faster, but you're going really slow today."

Miharu makes a disgruntled face, like he's just choked on something; he re-schools his expression, and sighs. "That's true," he murmurs, pensively. "Okay. I apologize."

"Why are you sorry?" Yoite asks, fingering the hem of his skirt and tilting his head.

"Because I never wanted to rush things with you," Miharu says. "We just - we don't have a lot of time."

He seems genuinely regretful - Yoite dislikes it when Miharu is upset, and tries to change the subject. "You wanted it to be more like this?" he asks.

"Yeah," Miharu says, "more like this."

He peels the thigh-highs off of Yoite's legs, pressing kisses as he goes, and it ignites feeling in the dying flesh, like a gasp, an inhalation after holding one's breath. Yoite blinks, dizzy with emotion.

"Can I... can I touch you, Miharu?" he asks.

" 'Course," Miharu mumbles, pressing a kiss to Yoite's kneecap.

"I mean - uhn," Yoite trails off, breath hitching as Miharu stands, the look in his eyes a mixture of love and lust and impossible amounts of need. "Miharu?"

"Go ahead," Miharu says, reaching behind him and slowly unzipping the dress. A strap falls, languidly, off of Yoite's shoulder, and Miharu kisses it, firmly, nuzzling at Yoite's prominent clavicle. The long, slow sound of the zipper makes Yoite's heart skip a few beats - and isn't it funny that Miharu dressed him up just to strip him bare again.

Abandoning all thoughts of reservation or restraint, Yoite begins to take off his gloves, and, eyes dark and wide with wonderment, Miharu watches him, watches his mottled fingers emerge. "Oh," he says. "You meant -"

Carefully, hoping so fiercely for tactile sensation that he nearly cuts his own lip between his teeth, Yoite settles his bare hands in Miharu's hair. He pauses. Miharu waits, unnaturally still.

"Your hair is soft," Yoite says at last, and smiles.

Miharu laughs at that, like it's the best thing he's ever heard. "Yeah. Yours too, Yoite." And he goes back to slowly undressing him, pressing fierce, damp kisses all over his shoulders and neck, and Yoite thinks that maybe he's crying a little.

Miharu, ever practical, catches the dress before it drops to the damp tiled floor and hangs it on a towel peg. Then he takes his time staring, like a starved wolf, at Yoite's thin chest. Yoite doesn't really grasp Miharu's fascination with his body - he doesn't understand why it's appealing, why it's something to gaze at so hungrily - but he feels the weight of Miharu's attention all over his bare skin. It makes him shiver.

"It's like you want to eat me," Yoite says, half-amused half-timid, and he runs a finger down Miharu's nose purely for the sake of feeling, knowing, memorizing its shape.

Miharu gives him a steely look, and bites at Yoite's fingertip.

"Ouch," Yoite says. It doesn't hurt that much - he's only teasing - but Miharu looks stricken for a moment, and presses apologetic kisses all over Yoite's hand.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he murmurs, distractedly.

"It's okay, I'm fine," Yoite tells him. "I liked it." He did like it - likes it when Miharu bends enough to mock-fight with him, likes it when Miharu is impulsive, and it was a pleasant shock, anyway.

"I don't care if you like it, I'm not going to hurt you," Miharu says, his eyes narrowing in irritation. Yoite feels naked - he's practically naked, apart from the underskirt and the panties, but now he feels naked.

"It didn't hurt," he argues, his face growing hot. "I meant I - I liked it."

Miharu glances downwards at Yoite's skirt, eyebrow firmly raised. "You... hn," he says, tilting his head as if conceding a point. Carefully, he ducks his head down, and presses a long, slow kiss to one of Yoite's nipples - they're both flushed pink, Yoite realizes, because the bathroom is so warm and his blood is racing through his veins. It feels like being kissed anywhere else, until Miharu opens his mouth a little wider and caresses Yoite with the hot tip of his tongue. Then it feels very different.

"You moaned," Miharu says. Did he? Yoite can't recall - his fingers have found their way to Miharu's shoulders and are clutching at them like a drowning man clings to driftwood.

"Miharu," he starts to say. "I -"

"Does it feel good?" Miharu asks, teasing again, and Yoite opens his mouth to answer but instead yelps, because instead of kissing his nipple, Miharu bites.

"Ah-!" He squirms, shuddering, at the sheer intensity of the feeling - Miharu kisses, soothes, and then bites him again, and ache - pleasure pain pleasure - washes through him in amplifying waves. "Y-yes-" he answers, panting, his legs shaking, his long hair sticking to his skin. "It feels good -"

"I know," Miharu says, bringing their hips together with an insistent pull at Yoite's waist. He kisses him again, apologetically, on the lips, and then pulls a half-inch away to breathe. "I just like hearing you say it."

Yoite wants to protest that, somehow, but Miharu nips his lower lip, making his knees shake, and kisses him speechless.

This kiss is different because Yoite can taste it. He realizes, with a sense of joy similar to the delayed understanding of a joke, that Miharu fed him something with lemons in it. That must have been dessert; the flavor lingers on Miharu's teeth and gums, a bitter-sweet tang, and Yoite's tongue is awkwardly eager, fumbling against Miharu's with all the grace of a lame sparrow.

Miharu giggles into his mouth. "Cute," he says.

"mmm- lemon," Yoite murmurs, breathless-delighted.

Miharu pauses for a moment, and then kisses him especially hard, sucking on Yoite's open mouth so hard it feels like his tongue might bruise. He's literally taking Yoite's breath away; when he breaks off, panting, Yoite is momentarily dizzy.

Miharu pulls away from him for a moment, pressing lingering kisses and gentle bites to his flushed skin. "Lemme get my clothes off -"

"I can help," Yoite whispers; his eyes are wide, dark pools. He reaches out with delicate fingertips the color of permanent bruises, and tries to unbutton from the bottom of Miharu's shirt while Miharu works from the top. He doesn't really notice when Miharu stops unbuttoning to watch him fumble with the buttonholes.

Carefully, like peeling away a husk, Yoite removes Miharu's shirt, at once admiring and envious of the smooth, healthy skin, dusted on the forearms with fine hair, barely scarred at all. He thinks it'll be okay if he touches Miharu's skin - if he's careful - so he gently runs his hands down the front of Miharu's chest, ghosting over his nipples, rubbing circles around his jutting hipbones. Soft, nice. He could do this for hours. The lemony aftertaste in his mouth, the ache of Miharu's bites, the feeling of Miharu's skin, the panties - hypnotic drugs, lulling him into a stupor of pleasure. He wets his lips.

Miharu groans, arching like a cat under Yoite's ministrations, and grabs him by the hands. His breath is hot, and visible in the steam of the bathroom, and his expression - he looks so pleased with Yoite, so indulgent. "That's enough for now," he says. His half-lidded eyes make promises that Yoite's body understands, deep in its bones, though his mind doesn't speak the language. "I want to take it slow, remember?"

At that point Yoite is so lost in the pink-red-lustful heat of the moment he very nearly argues now, faster, more. He catches himself, abashed.

"Don't look so crestfallen," Miharu chides him, pressing a quick kiss to the slight cleft in Yoite's chest. "We have all night."

Miharu takes off his trousers and underwear so quickly Yoite almost wants to tease him - now who's going too fast? - but he keeps his mouth shut because, all of a sudden, Miharu is naked, and very visibly aroused. The king of Nabari is as unflustered and self-assured when nude as he is when fully dressed - not trying to hide anything, not trying to protect himself, like he luxuriates in his own skin.

"You really like being alive, huh, Miharu," Yoite says, and immediately regrets it - stupid to talk about life, it'll make Miharu think about death, too.

The smile Miharu gives him is thin, painful, almost regretful. "It's your fault, you know," he says, kneeling at Yoite's feet on the cool tiles. "I never used to."

"Should I apologize?"

"Never for that," Miharu says. His eyes are dark, wide and serious. "In fact, I should thank you for it."

Miharu is so controlled, so perfectly attuned with his body now, that even his hard-on seems like a part of his expression, like a deliberately raised eyebrow or a calculated smirk. Yoite finds it endearing, and strangely a relief: having Miharu be so at ease with it makes everything else easier, too.

He's never gotten a good look at it in strong light before, either, so he permits himself to stare. Miharu laughs at him in a good-natured way, murmuring something under his breath about greedy eyes, and then, with fluid grace, strips Yoite of his thin underskirt.

He's only wearing the panties, now - already damp from the first orgasm, slightly sticky, and slightly tented with Yoite's ugly arousal. Yoite is nowhere near as comfortable with his own body as Miharu is, can barely stand to see himself naked - he could never imagine doing this with anyone else.

"Pretty," Miharu sighs, staring unabashedly at Yoite's crotch. "Kind of like... Did you know flowers can present both male and female sex organs at the same time?"

"No, I didn't," Yoite says, a pale pink nervous blush dusting his cheekbones, hands gathered protectively over his chest. "That's weird."

"Flower petals bruise easily," Miharu says, looking up at Yoite's black-and-blue arms. "Flowers," he says, in an uncharacteristic bout of poeticism, "are beautiful."

"I'm not a flower, Miharu," Yoite tells him.

"You're not ugly, either," Miharu says, and tongues him through the cloth.

The fabric suddenly seems rough against the wet heat of Miharu's tongue, and Yoite is gasping for breath, hands buried in Miharu's soft hair, eyes wide. The friction - oh, the friction -

The noises he's making are obscene - moan-sigh-whimpers, needy and pleading and loud in the bathroom, echoing off the tiles. "Mi- uh- ah! - um -"

"Fuck," Miharu says, panting hot breath against Yoite's skin. He stops the slow torture, resting his head against Yoite's inner thigh. "I don't want the bath to get too cold. Take those off?"

Yoite is panting, delirious. "Huh?"

"Take them off," Miharu says, staring at the now thoroughly wet panties, reaching down to pump, slowly, at his own red erection, and Yoite's breath catches in his throat. His eyes - Yoite could get lost in them - are nearly black, his face and lips flushed, a smile lingering somewhere in the set of his jaw. Although he is kneeling, he seems almost ready to lunge. "You heard me, pretty boy."

"... Okay," he agrees, his heart beating a million times a second, his breathing hitched around the lump in his throat. He hopes, as he slides his fingertips under the waistband of the panties and begins to pull, that the water on his face is sweat and not tears, because it seems silly to cry when every part of him is so, so happy.

There is a massive rush of adrenaline the moment he's completely exposed, but it soon melts like butter into the crackling electric pulses of his arousal, and Yoite is left feeling oddly serene and light headed. Miharu's breathing takes an abrupt turn for the harsher. "Yoite," he says hoarsely, licking his lips, the hand on his cock shaking. "Let me -"

"Whatever you want," Yoite murmurs, peacefully. "Go ahead."

Miharu slips two fingers inside of him easily, exploring the place where Yoite feels most wet and pressing against the internal walls - Yoite gasps without making a sound, and then nearly chokes as Miharu's mouth envelops him, all tongue and lips and the flat planes of his teeth. "Miharu," he moans, fingers laced into Miharu's hair. "Mi- Miharu -?"

The sweet alteration between unbearable pressure and soothing caresses from Miharu's tongue to the most sensitive part of his body has Yoite shuddering, gooseflesh rising on his arms. "Oh," he murmurs, sighing almost mournfully, and then, "oh -" as Miharu switches to a faster tempo.

Everything is warm - hot - and burning, burning like lightning, like his blood itself is boiling, tickling the inside of his veins. He can't see straight, can't stay balanced, his knees are trembling - he thinks he might be drooling with pleasure, but he is past the point of caring. Orgasm, when it comes, is wrenched out of him with a high-pitched, helpless wail of surrender, and still Miharu's hands and mouth anchor him to the world.

When he comes to a state resembling coherence Yoite finds himself curled, almost protectively, over Miharu's shoulders, clinging to him and breathing in soft mewls. "Miharu," he says, and then can't think of anything else to say, observing the world around him in a pink daze. There's a wetness between his legs, languid and sticky, slipping down his tender inner thighs, and Yoite thinks that maybe he should clean up but he can't seem to move.

Because Miharu's arms are around him, pinning him in place with a fierce, tender desperation, and Miharu is breathing softly against Yoite's neck while he runs long white fingers through Yoite's hair, murmuring words too softly for Yoite to make out in a tone of voice that causes something in Yoite's heart to ache.

"Shh," Miharu murmurs, and then, sweat dripping from his straining thighs, he stands, lifting Yoite with him. Balanced over Miharu's shoulder - Miharu catching his legs at the knee and cradling him closer, slowly walking them both to the bathtub - Yoite feels like he's like floating in zero gravity.

"We'll get the water dirty," Yoite murmurs, nonsensically, and Miharu's mouth smiles against his skin, presses reassurances into his flesh.

It's only after Miharu lowers him into the water that Yoite notices Miharu - somehow - is still hard. "Miharu, you didn't -" he begins.

"I'm fine," Miharu tells him, his whole face flushed, his cock just as red but more swollen and oozing pearly liquid from the tip. He stares, unblinking, into Yoite's eyes, as he slowly clambers into the other side of the bath, weaving their legs together and hissing, slightly, as his erection sinks into the water. "Don't - don't worry."

"I'll worry as much as I want to," Yoite tells him, sticking hit tongue out, and doesn't need to add because I love you. Miharu hears it anyway, and smiles at him, oddly melancholy, in thanks.

"...What do you want?" Yoite asks, his voice hoarse, flexing his toes underwater.

"What do you want?" Miharu counters, finally looking away, as if there's something to be discovered in the floor tiles.

Yoite leans forward, and calmly holds on to Miharu's hands. "I want to understand you, Miharu," he says, the honesty stripping all of the inflection from his voice, all the pretense. "That's it. Tell me what you want."

Miharu stares at him once more, his eyes narrowed defensively, as if he didn't expect to have to answer questions, and Yoite rubs his knuckles with his thumbs. "I - it might hurt you, though," he says. "If I were a little less selfish I'd be okay with - with having it the other way around, but -"

"What are you talking about?"

"Sex," Miharu says, very gravely. Yoite pauses.

"We've been having sex."

"I meant penetrative sex," Miharu clarifies. (He uses long words when he's feeling defensive.)

Yoite pauses again, brow wrinkling in confusion as he tries to imagine it, glancing at Miharu's length. "But I'm not... you won't fit."

Miharu's jaw clenches in that particular manner it does when he's both embarrassed and irritated. "Penetrative anal sex, Yoite."

"... Oh," Yoite says, and has to think about it for a few moments - Yukimi certainly never left that sort of porn lying around. In agitation, Miharu starts to scrub his face and arms clean, scowling at the water, only to slow down and look back at Yoite's face with growing anxiety in his eyes.

Yoite shrugs. "All right, then."

"You're sure?" Miharu asks, tripping over his words. "I promise I'll take it really, really slow - I know what I'm doing – at least, in theory -"

"I said all right," Yoite reminds him, rolling his eyes, and then he leans forwards, settling between Miharu's legs, and kisses him.

For a few thrilling moments, Yoite is the one tangling their tongues together, wrapping their limbs together, setting the pace; but Miharu is, after all, a king, and a notorious control freak, so Yoite isn't surprised at all when Miharu takes over, establishing an in-out rhythm with his tongue. He holds Yoite's head still, fingertips delicately pressed to Yoite's spine and skull. Whatever feeling Miharu is trying to communicate is different, this time around - slower, more careful, more precise.

He presses their lips together, explains between kisses what Yoite will need to do, how everything will work, and Yoite nods and murmurs and stares, fondly, at the vulnerability in Miharu's seldom-disturbed expression.

They walk back to Miharu's bedroom, and sprawl, quite untidily, on the bed. Miharu stretches out over Yoite's body like a warm blanket, pushing Yoite's knees up to his chest, murmuring gentle instructions - "just relax as much as you can, and tell me if it hurts, okay?"

It goes smoothly, as far as Yoite can discern with his bewildered senses. Miharu's thin fingers, warm and coated with lubricant, stretch and tease, while Miharu presses light kisses to Yoite's collarbone. The blunt pressure stings, a little, but not enough to cross the line between discomfort and unpleasantness. It's a tender burning: the pain is mixed with pleasurable, thrumming anticipation. All sensations are amplified, sending ripples of feeling whenever Miharu's hair so much as brushes Yoite's skin – the sheer intensity makes Yoite bite his lip and writhe.

"Hey," kiss, "remember to breathe," Miharu says. Yoite stares up at him, almost delirious.

"H-hey, Miharu?"

"Yeah?" Miharu responds, his fingers never stopping, pressing delicately against something inside of Yoite that makes his hips jerk, violently. (This, Yoite remembers from Miharu's quick explanation, is his prostate.) Grinning, Miharu does it again, and Yoite's struggles to remember his question.

"Why did you want to – uhhnnnn – have this kind of sex?"

Miharu pauses; after a moment, however, his trepidation vanishes. He sits up, leaning back on his heels, and with his clean hand brushes a few strands of damp hair out of Yoite's face. "I want to be inside of you," he says, soberly. "Inescapably. Like – like an imprint that never goes away. Because you – well, you're already," he continues with a painful, honest half-smile, gesturing helplessly at the crown of his head, the ribs over his heart, "inside of me."

"I understand," Yoite whispers, his heart fluttering.

Miharu leans forward again, pressing their mouths together and sliding his tongue over Yoite's, hungrily, while he eases his fingers back in again, resuming the slow, unbearable scissoring – he swallows Yoite's moans, pins him at the hips to keep him from thrashing. "Do you want this?" he whispers.

"I want it," Yoite promises him. "I think I'm – ah – think I'm ready, Miharu."

Miharu's eyes darken; he withdraws his fingers, leaving Yoite feeling strangely empty, and holds Yoite's hips with both hands (alternately sticky with lube and sweat). With the single-minded concentration of a man facing his own death, he slicks his erection with the rest of the lubricant, positions himself, and slowly, one millimeter at a time, he presses in.

Despite the reminders, Yoite forgets to breathe.

If Miharu's hands were hot, this – this pressure, this hardness – is burning, and Yoite can only manage to breathe in noisy, strained gasps. It stretches him much more than the fingers, throbbing in time with Miharu's heart, so that his body changes to accommodate Miharu's shape – words like imprint and inside you flicker like sparks through Yoite's mind, and Miharu's shoulders are shaking.

Finally, Miharu stops, and lets go of the breath he was holding. "That's it," he mumbles, smiling, and Yoite's heart aches to see it. "Does it feel good?"

This feeling of fullness, of completeness, is so poignant that Yoite almost cries. "Yes," he says, breath hitching in his throat. "It – it feels -"

Miharu leans forward, hooking one of Yoite's knees over his shoulder, kissing him. The tiny changes in angle and pressure within him are at once strange and oddly familiar; Yoite wraps his arms around Miharu's shoulders and neck, clinging, wanting only to press him closer. The addition of another vivid sensation – nipples, hard-soft and trapped between their chests – is inches away from being too much to bear.

"Do – do you feel good?" Yoite asks, breathing in the faint scents of sweat, arousal, Miharu's shampoo.

"Yes," Miharu says, softly, tracing a finger along the line of Yoite's jaw, brushing his lips. The kiss he gives him is unbelievably tender.

And then Miharu starts to move, and Yoite thinks they must be alone at the center of the world.

Breathing, in and out, in gasps and moans. Eyes – windows to the soul – wide open, legs splayed wide, wider, aching to accept. Hands, finding each other; fingers lacing together tightly (white and black like swans' necks), palms glued with sweat. The friction of their chests against each other as Miharu's hips cant forward and back, forward and back, sends an electric storm through Yoite's entire body, racing to his kiss-bruised neck, his curling toes.

Sweat drips from Miharu's forehead. Hands, slipping apart – Miharu wraps an arm around Yoite's waist, kissing him feverishly, shaking so hard Yoite thinks he might fall apart, moving so slowly, so slowly, until Yoite thinks there's no way he'll ever forget this.

"More," he whimpers. "Faster."

He can hear the gasp as it is strangled in Miharu's throat.

Miharu thrusts into him harder, deeper, more desperately, and Yoite wonders if it's sweat or tears dripping down – tries to drink in the blissful-tormented expression on Miharu's face, commit it to memory – but Miharu keeps brushing, hard, against the spot that makes Yoite's eyes roll back in his head.

"The noises you make," Miharu sighs, his voice thicker and deeper than Yoite has ever heard it. Yoite isn't really aware that he's making noise – is focused completely on the rolling snap of Miharu's hips, the slide of Miharu inside him, the way that his skin has become so raw-alive that he thinks he can feel every individual line in Miharu's fingerprints.

"I love you I love you," Yoite babbles. "Miharu -"

Still smiling (beautifully), Miharu reaches down between their legs and begins to touch him – Yoite is somewhat shocked to realize that he's achingly hard, almost painfully responsive to Miharu's touches. His brain melts; he can't understand anything, anymore, except the pain-flavored pleasure, the press of their bodies together.

When Miharu ducks his head down, spine arched, to swirl his tongue around Yoite's nipples, Yoite goes over the edge.

It isn't like the other orgasms – like any he's ever had. It's different because all of the shaking, the shuddering convulsion of his muscles, the quivering of his thighs and shoulders, the wail that escapes him – the few startled tears that leak from his eyes, the fire racing through his flesh, the crash of endorphins, igniting every cell in his body with a violent ecstasy – all of this centers around Miharu, around the length buried inside of him, an epicenter that grounds him as he falls to pieces.

Dimly, through a thick smog of pleasure, still twitching in the aftershock, Yoite feels Miharu let go.

The last, thin barrier between them crumbles into nothingness – Miharu's teeth sink, with a groan, into the spot where Yoite's neck meets his shoulder. The pain does not register; Yoite is drunk on the way Miharu's spine is arching, the way his fingers clench, and especially the way it feels inside – burning hot liquid splashing.

Yoite wraps his legs around Miharu's waist, his arms more firmly around Miharu's shoulders, and presses sweet kisses to the top of his head until he falls, exhausted, into contented unconsciousness.

He wakes, briefly, when Miharu disentangles them – observes, sleepily, as Miharu grabs a towel and gingerly mops up the tender, sticky wet area between Yoite's legs.

He falls asleep again when Miharu climbs back into bed, curling up beside him, and does not wake again until morning.

In the last picture Miharu ever takes of Yoite, he is still sleeping in Miharu's bed, the sunlight slowly creeping over him. His torso is littered, here and there, with visible reminders – the darkest is a bite-bruise at the junction between neck and shoulder, one Miharu only half remembers making. His face is serene, a small smile curling the edges of his mouth.

He looks as if at any moment he might yawn, rub his eyes, and sit up.

Miharu showers with him the next morning, washing and drying him off with clinical precision as he inspects every small bruise, asking him again and again - "Does anything hurt? Are you sure?"

"I'm sure," Yoite assures him once again, as Miharu towels his hair dry. They are dressed normally, now – he is sitting on Miharu's chair, so that Miharu can reach, and in an hour or so Miharu's grandmother will be coming home, and Yoite will go eat breakfast at Hana's house. He feels different – he can't look at Miharu without a surge of warmth rising to his cheeks, making him giddy. "A little sore, but I'm really happy, Miharu. How are you?"

"Good," Miharu says, kissing him on the forehead. He pauses, lingering, staring into Yoite's blue eyes. "... I love you," he says, quiet and gravely serious. "I'll love you for the rest of my life."

Yoite's heart sings, for a moment defying death completely. "I know," he replies, grinning like an idiot.

He doesn't know what the date it is – perhaps it's a Monday, perhaps not - but it is a beautiful day to be alive.