Fffff, I love writing for a new fandom for the first time. Feels good, man.

I own nothing. Lyrics are "Into Dust" by Mazzy Star.

168. secret bonding



a round broken in two

'til your eyes shed into dust

like two strangers turning into dust

'til my hand shook the way i fear


Akise Aru makes you feel a number of things.

For one, Akise Aru makes you nervous. He makes you feel something in the pit of your stomach, something both hot and cold at the same time, something that clashes and clangs and then melts away into nothingness as if it had never been there. He makes your palms sweat and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, especially when his eyes happen to flit to the side and look at you with an expression you don't think you've ever seen before – it's soft, and it's curious, curious even in the midst of appearing as if he has a better grasp on your twists and turns of the heart better than anyone else. That thought is what makes you feel ill, you think – the idea of this cryptic, whitewashed boy understanding you better than the wild-eyed Yuno at your side, Yuno whom has made it her life's ambition to learn you inside-out and wear you as a second skin.

But Akise is different. Akise is special, somehow, even when your stomach flips at the thought of ever admitting that to anyone, because it's as if he's already memorized the lines and shapes that create you; it's as if every quiet flash of his eyes or tiny lilt to his smile is a precursor to your own stutters and slips. Sometimes you get the vague, foreboding feeling of him being able to see you in ultraviolet light, in which everything is exposed and heightened and surreal. It's like he can sense you, and in ways that Yuno could never rival despite her glinting knives and a love lethal enough to burn down the universe.

That scares you. It scares you that Akise doesn't have to try to get inside your head, and yet your nerves shudder in strange ways at the thought of him, at the crisp, clear presence of him that cuts through everyone else's in the quietest of ways. When he happens to lean in close – and always with that look in his eye, what does it mean – the air smells of soft powder, white pear, and sweet violet, all pale, pretty things better suited on a girl in a white dress. You should find it strange, really, that a boy should smell so pure and quaint, and perhaps you do, just a little; but it's stranger yet that you notice at all, isn't it? That scares you, too. Or not so much scares you as…unsettles you. This boy's softness puts you on edge. It makes you think, and with thought comes doubt, and with doubt comes…

You never let yourself think that far. You figure it's for the best.

But even as he is right now, sitting by the window with his chin propped on his fist, you can't help but notice just how quiet things get when he's around and Yuno isn't. There's no blade searing through flesh, no blood spattering the floor, no sense of being caught like a bird in an aviary with only so much room to fly before being held back from the sky; there's simply Akise, the window, and his dreamy gaze that drifts to the side to find yours. There's at least three feet separating the two of you, and yet you feel as if you're being pulled in by some crystal rope, dragging you closer and closer until it's like you're sitting right atop the windowsill with him. You never could, of course, not without fear of Yuno spinning in like a kamikaze and wreaking havoc on all that is living.

It's with this thought in mind that you hear Akise speak your name, soft and unassuming. You lift your head and straighten slightly in your chair. "Yes?"

Akise stares at you for a moment as if mulling something over, then hops off the windowsill and approaches you. His footfalls are as light as air, his stride avian and graceful. Is he even human? "Want to go for a walk with me while the sun is still out?"

You blink up at him. The sunlight blooms behind him in a rich wash of gold and bronze, giving him color where he has none. His eyes are bright and lucid, and the look in them makes you, once more, nervous. Not frightened, not alarmed – simply nervous. "I…I shouldn't."

"Why not?"

It's a simple enough question, but it makes your breath catch in your throat all the same. You shift in your chair, averting his gaze and choosing to look at the floor instead, where it's flat and safe instead of unnervingly gentle and far, far too kind. "W-Well, because…Yuno should be getting back any time now and – "

You're cut off when Akise lets out a quiet, breathy laugh. "Gasai Yuno has nothing to do with us taking a walk together, Yukiteru."

"No, no, she does, that's the thing…" You sigh, well aware of just how stupid you sound; on top of all the other strange things that Akise Aru makes you feel, embarrassed is at the top of the list during moments like these. "I-I should just stay here. Just in case."

Akise's eyes are still on you. You can feel them searing into you, not akin to a knife or drill, but more like a gauzy mist of fog that penetrates and obscures before dissipating and revealing all that's truly there. "Well," he murmurs, "since she isn't here right now, how about…" He reaches down and lightly cups your cheek, which flushes an abashed, heated pink immediately on contact. Akise's palm is cool and smooth as his long, slender fingers curl along your cheekbone. You freeze and hold your breath as he strokes deftly along your eyelashes, staring at you intently enough to appear as if he's counting each one and tallying them off in his mind. "How about we just sit together, then? We don't even have to speak."

Your lungs are burning with suspended breath, and it's with a shaky exhale that you finally let out a meek, winded answer: "I-I can sit with you, yeah. Guess that'd be okay…"

"Good." Akise's fingertips drift lazily down your cheek and along the soft line of your jaw. "I'm glad for that, Yukiteru. Very glad…"

You pretend not to shiver when the pad of his thumb ghosts over your bottom lip, or how your knees have turned to water as he takes your hand and guides you to your feet, leading you to the window. His fingers are interlaced with yours – or as interlaced as they can be, what with your limp wrist and general uncertainty that doesn't allow you to hold that white, feminine hand as he holds your own. Your legs wobble and give out just in time for him to sit you down atop the windowsill before hopping up himself, gazing at you for a wordless moment until turning his head and looking out the window, smiling. Maybe he's sitting just a tad too close to you, and maybe he really is too fair and fine of a creature to ever be spared by this sick game against time and obsession, just maybe, but you turn your dizzy thoughts to less consequential things as you occupy yourself with the sunset beyond the glass, all magenta and indigo and golden rose.

It's with a quick sideways glance at the boy that something inside of you clicks: Akise Aru, above all else, makes you feel doubt, and that's the feeling that scares you the most.