Kurogane sat up in bed. There was a light under the door – someone else was awake. He thought about it for a minute, listened, but heard nothing so he got up and went to investigate. The light was coming from the kitchen; maybe it was just Mokona up for a midnight snack, but there was no one in there. He went to the light switch to turn it out, but first glanced into the living room just in case.
"What are you doing still awake?"
Fai – who didn't seem to have noticed him until then – turned and then smiled at him.
Kurogane wasn't sure he understood the question. "What?"
Fai stood up and came over to stand in front of him. "Are we awake? Or are we asleep? Is this a dream, or reality?"
Confused, Kurogane looked around. Nothing had changed – it was the place they were currently staying, their apartment in Infinity where they'd been for the last month at least. He remembered going to sleep, and waking back up. There was nothing wrong here, except for Fai's questions.
"Of course I'm awake, this is real," he replied.
"How can you tell?"
"Because..." he replied, but he stopped there because the more he wondered about it, the more uncertain he became. There had been dreams that had taken place in worlds they'd been through before, just not any in the world they'd been in currently – not yet, at any rate. He supposed it was possible. And there had been the dreams with the tower and the cavern with the crystals where Fai had clearly known it was a dream and told him to wake up; why couldn't he say that now? If this was not a dream that meant Fai knew, but if it was a dream he had no way of knowing if it was Fai or not.
But nothing was happening here – which meant, if it was a dream, then it was one of the good dreams.
"Which is this, Kurogane? Is it a dream or reality? How can you tell one from the other?"
"I... I'll know. If you let me do this," he replied, and reached up to touch Fai's cheek, then leaned forward to kiss him on the lips as he slid his other arm around Fai's waist. "This is a dream," he said after it ended, and Fai smiled.
"Because... the real Fai would never let me do that," he said with conviction. "So this must be a dream – one of the good ones."
"All right," Fai said with a smile.
"Let's go to bed," Kurogane suggested, but of course what he really meant by that was "to my bedroom, together, you and me between the sheets." His arm still around Fai's waist, they went, but Fai stopped outside the door and turned to him.
"I have another question for you," Fai said quietly.
"What do you want this to be?"
"What do you want this to be?" Fai repeated. "A dream, or real?"
"I..." Kurogane tried to reply, but at least in his confusion he realized he shouldn't answer so hastily and shut his mouth to think. "Wait... then is this really real, or is it a dream?"
Fai smiled at him. "It doesn't matter either way. Which do you want it to be?"
Kurogane thought, turning each option over in his mind, weighing them against each other. If he said "dream," nothing would change. He would go back to bed – with Fai, presumably – and in the morning nothing would be different. It would just be another good dream, and he would be no closer to knowing anything unless he asked Fai directly when he was damn good and sure that he was properly awake and in reality.
But if he said "reality"... then having kissed Fai would be real. Real was a lot different than in a dream. Real meant things would change between them – maybe by a lot. Whether or not that was a good thing... well, with Fai it was difficult to tell, but it was certainly good for him. And if it meant that maybe Fai had forgiven him after all...
Just to be sure he wasn't giving up a good chance, he kissed Fai again. And, as he pulled away, he whispered: "Real. I want this to be real."
Fai smiled at him, and closed his eyes. "You're sure?"
"Then... goodnight," Fai replied, and slipped out of his embrace. Kurogane watched him go down the hall into his own room and disappear. He stood there for a while wondering what, exactly, had just happened, then, finally, went back into his room and back to sleep.
Another morning. Another day. Kurogane lay in bed for a long while, thinking about last night's conversation with Fai. Had it been a dream, or real? And had Fai meant it when he'd asked him to chose which it would be? He'd chosen real... and he hoped that it was.
Kurogane got out of bed, showered, got dressed – thinking and wondering about these things all the while – and finally left his room drawn out by the scent of breakfast and Fai's cooking.
As he entered the kitchen, Fai turned; their eyes met. Fai smiled – gentler, knowing.
This was reality.