A/N: This anime/manga has completely stolen my heart. This pairing is the first pairing I've been this crazy about in a long, long time. And so, without further ado, my first No. 6 fic - just a little drabble. Spoilers for the current episodes of the anime/manga. I just wanted to give the boys a moment of sweetness during their downtime. Written for a friend, in exchange for the icons she made for me!
**I'm sticking with "Shion" rather than "Sion" for the time being as I'm not entirely sure which is official, and "Shion" most closely resembles the phonetic pronunciation of the kanji used in his name.
Hope you enjoy!
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.
Shion mouthed the words as he read silently by the golden glow of a nearby lantern. After a moment, he paused and then repeated them aloud, his voice echoing in the warm, cramped space. He still couldn't quiet his wonder, the joy he took in the sheer act of reading. After a life of dull, dry textbooks the stories felt so beautifully alive, and every word promised new understanding, a freedom that left him dizzy.
…the more I give to thee, the more I have…
He retraced the words with eager eyes. I never really thought of love as something you could give to someone else. Or at least I never read about it like this. But then he thought of his mother, the way she used to offer him loaves of bread and slices of cherry pie with such warmth in her eyes, and of Safu and the sturdy knit of the sweater he'd gotten for his birthday so many years ago. Yes, that's a kind of love. All the small things that we do for others, even the insignificant sacrifices, to make them smile or to bring them joy, that all must be—
The door slammed.
"Hungry?" Nezumi entered with a brown sack cradled in his arms. The scent of the cool evening air clung to his clothes and his eyes gleamed a cool silver in the dimness; he shrugged off his coat and cowl with casual disregard.
Shion's stomach growled embarrassingly in response and Nezumi chuckled; the smaller boy flushed with embarrassment. "A little." Hurriedly he scrambled to his feet, book in hand, to peek curiously into the bag. Root vegetables, half a loaf of bread, chicken…
"This looks amazing," he said earnestly, and hoped the appreciation in his tone hid his lingering guilt. Every day, Nezumi worked. Every day, Nezumi came home with food. Nezumi was the reason they survived, the reason he survived; Shion knew that he owed every day of his new life here in this small, perfect world—a world of books and feelings and ideas—to the taller boy calmly washing vegetables nearby.
How could I ever repay you for everything you've done for me?
"What have you been doing all day?" The rhythmic sounds of chopping accompanied the question; Shion glanced up in surprise to find that he was the focus of Nezumi's inquisitive ash-colored gaze.
He smiled in response. "Reading," he replied, and held the play forward for examination. Cravat squeaked cheerful approval from his shoulder, then hopped down to occupy himself with the carrot stump that Nezumi dropped to the floor.
"Romeo and Juliet?" Nezumi eyed the frayed cover of the book skeptically, then grinned as he dumped vegetables and water into a small pot. "Of course you'd pick a sappy love story."
Accustomed to Nezumi's teasing by now, Shion returned his gaze lovingly to the book and traced the cover with reverent fingers. "I'm reading the balcony scene," he explained. "Juliet and Romeo have to say goodbye to each other, and she tells him that her love is infinite and—"
Nezumi swooped into a crouch; as Shion watched wide-eyed he flung out one hand to the heavens and clutched the other to his heart. Bending his head as though in anguish, he cried: "I hear some noise within; dear love, adieu!"
Shion laughed. "You know this one, too?" But he wasn't surprised to receive a nod; Nezumi knew all these books, most of them seemingly from memory, and could recite them at will. At those moments his nature as a performer asserted itself so strongly Shion couldn't help but be captivated; he found himself fascinated by the passion that transformed the other boy's delicate features and touched them with such radiance. No wonder he's such a good actor.
Even now the memory of Nezumi as Ophelia summoned a blush to Shion's cheeks; he couldn't forget the graceful lines of that gossamer gown on the taller boy's slim frame, the flowers twined into his dark hair, the graceful movements of his hands and the way he glided across the stage. Desperately, Shion sought to distract himself from the recollection; Nezumi grew irritable every time he mentioned the incident. "It's a beautiful love story," he declared aloud, not entirely aware of what he was saying. "And the balcony scene seems so beautiful. I think it's my favorite—"
Nezumi snorted and then turned away from the soup. "You know they both die at the end, right?" Scooping up the simple cup of water nearby, he lifted it dramatically to his lips and took a long draught. "Romeo, thinking Juliet's dead, drinks poison so that he can join her in the tomb." Crumpling immediately into a dramatic heap in the floor nearby, he twitched convincingly in the throes of mock-death for several seconds before announcing, "And as for Juliet…"
He moved quickly, springing to his feet with elegant grace, and in only moments he was right behind Shion, though Shion had barely glimpsed his swift movements. Tenderly, he caught the younger boy by the hand; Shion dropped the book and it fell to the floor, all the pages fanning open. "Juliet," Nezumi murmured, and his breath was warm by Shion's ear and so very distracting, "finds Romeo dead and she's so upset that she stabs herself right…here." He curled Shion's hand helpfully around an invisible dagger, then guided the blade to the smaller boy's heart.
Shion closed his eyes. He felt distinctly aware of Nezumi's warmth pressed against him from behind, could hear his own heart pounding in his ears, and suspected it had very little to do with lovers' suicides and a Shakespearean play. What is it about him that makes me feel this way? He didn't know how to explain it, this fever-flush and longing ache that made his breath quicken and his heartbeat step up.
"I think," he announced with firm honesty as he looked fondly down at Nezumi's hand tangled with his own, both of them still clutching the invisible dagger, "that it would be okay."
Nezumi blinked and then pulled away. "What?"
"If that happened," Shion elaborated, only just now piecing it out for himself. "What happens at the end of that story, I mean." He smiled. "I think that, if you can't be with the one you love, it'd be nice to die with them and—"
Nezumi caught him by the throat and slammed his head into the wall so quickly that, momentarily, the world blurred in front of his eyes. "You're an idiot," Nezumi snapped. The anger in his tone warred with another emotion Shion couldn't identify but that pained him nonetheless. "And that's why you're going to get yourself killed."
I know that look in his eyes.
Shion remembered it from four years ago: that trapped, cornered, hunted look, that angry, needy gaze tempered by sorrow and pain. Remembered the desperate grip of that small, childish hand around his throat and that tumble of unkempt lapis lazuli hair. Remembered the words: Living humans are warm, huh?
It's not just anger. It's…fear. And…sadness, maybe?
"Sorry," he whispered and Nezumi, momentarily startled by the rasp in his tone, immediately loosened his grip. Shion didn't move away, didn't lift a hand to touch his throat and examine the damage; Nezumi always took care not to hurt him. "I'm sorry…" …that I put that look in your eyes again, even if I'm not sorry I said it.
Nezumi maintained the cold silver glare a moment more before he dismissed the situation with a grunt and returned his attention to the pot of soup. Shion crouched and scooped the book up from the floor. He understood Nezumi's moods and didn't take the flares of anger personally; he'd learned, over time, to interpret them as unique evidence of his friend's affection, as a self-defense mechanism triggered by experiences he sometimes wanted very much to ask about, but didn't.
In the background, soup bubbled noisily; his stomach growled again and he sniffed the air. Smells good. Stepping to one of the many bookshelves, he peered at the dizzying array of books and tried to divine Romeo and Juliet's original location. There's the philosophy, and religion, and—oh, there's poetry. …but wait, shouldn't it go with the plays instead? …or poetry. Maybe poetry. Or maybe there's a place for both—
"It goes here."
From beside him, Nezumi gestured with graceful fingers; Shion slid the book back onto the shelf and then—consumed, perhaps, by the sudden recollection of Nezumi's small hand in his four years ago, or by more recent memories of shared gentle touches and nights giddily dancing across the cluttered floor—turned and wrapped his arms tightly around his friend's waist in a fierce hug.
I'm so glad that I know you. I'm so glad that we met.
He fully expected to be caught by the throat again and slammed into the bookshelf in return for the small act of impulse. But when he glanced up from where he'd buried his face against Nezumi's shirt, he found himself looking into vulnerable, bewildered gray eyes. Nezumi's surprised, he realized. Surprised…to be touched like this? Or surprised that I mean it? The revelation somehow saddened him; he tightened his arms around his friend. "Nezumi," he whispered, and searched for words. I won't hurt you. I'll always be here for you. "I—"
Nezumi's gray eyes narrowed. And then he did slam Shion into the bookshelf.
But instead of gripping Shion's throat, Nezumi's hands cupped Shion's face instead. The touch itself was gentle; the bruising kiss that followed was not. Shion heard books hit the floor but spared them only the most fleeting of thoughts as Nezumi claimed his mouth with a fierce possessiveness that stole his breath and made his heart pound wildly.
More of this, Shion thought dazedly. More, please. Fisting the soft fabric of Nezumi's shirt to keep himself upright, he kissed back with shy, awkward uncertainty; Nezumi made a strangled, needy sound in response and only tightened the embrace.
And then he paused.
No, Shion thought desperately, don't go away, because he didn't want this to end ever. The heat of Nezumi's body pressed against his own, the possessive grip that he suspected might leave bruises, the overwhelming intensity of the kiss: he wanted all of it. Everything, I want everything. Everything from you, Nezumi. Anything from you.
To his surprise, though, Nezumi didn't pull away; the taller boy leaned in again, and the kiss gentled into something softer, deeper, all innocent hunger and honest desire. Shion's fingers tangled in lapis lazuli hair that felt like silk under his fingertips. Their tongues touched, teasing and slow; he pressed himself closer and rested his hand against Nezumi's chest to remember the comforting rhythm of his heart. You're beautiful. You're everything important to me, Nezumi.
He'd never felt so much in his life.
"Shion," Nezumi finally managed, and broke the kiss with a lingering softness that meant he didn't want to stop at all. His silver-gray eyes, heavy-lidded now and dark with desire, searched Shion's face for signs of distress or unhappiness; his gaze softened when he saw only joy. "Shion," he murmured again quietly, as though he took pleasure in saying the name.
Why did you stop? Shion wanted to ask but felt that he might not receive an answer, or at the very least not a straightforward one. And that was okay. Nezumi usually had reasons for things, even if he didn't always share them. Still, Shion wanted to be honest. He needed to be honest.
"I liked it so much, Nezumi," he admitted in a whisper.
He thought Nezumi might get up or walk away, or crack a joke or tease as he sometimes did when he felt uncomfortable. Instead, though, the taller boy reached out and stroked his cheek, an uncharacteristically tender caress that reminded him of the first time Nezumi had touched him in such a manner: the day of the cracked mirror, the day of the ivory hair and the snake wrapped around his body. The touch untangled his thoughts and promised that he wasn't alone in his feelings; he could sense the desire in it, the proud possessiveness and protectiveness.
And the love, too.
He flushed deeply and turned his gaze shyly to the floor; Nezumi smiled. "I thought you said you were hungry," he remarked, deftly changing the subject, and Shion stumbled forward as his friend pulled away to tend to the soup. Nearby, a row of mice solemnly observed the proceedings; Shion laughed quietly. You guys don't miss anything, do you?
The bowl that Nezumi thrust into his hands brimmed with vegetables and chicken and deliciously hot broth; Shion wrapped his hands around the warmth of the bowl and perched beside his companion to share the meal. Yes, he decided firmly, and thought of the book now neatly replaced on the shelf, the depth of feeling in the kiss, the thousand small moments of tender affection and loyalty they'd shared and would always share. Love is something you can give to others, sometimes even in the smallest ways. Just like in the story.
But we'll have a happier ending, Nezumi. I promise.