xi. belonging

"I think you should leave Yomi. You're not suitable."

"And you are, Natsu?"

When Natsu gave a low hiss Ryuto smiled. Was he being protective? Cute. And there was no sarcasm behind it. Natsu was cute to Ryuto. For his awkwardness, for his red ears whenever Ryuto had kissed him, for his glares when Rimi clung and squealed - for everything. His somewhat boyfriend was not open but Ryuto could read his eyes as easily as he read a book. Ryuto knew Natsu was concerned. And how he disapproved of how long his pale hair was getting, judging by the way Natsu stepped from the shadows and into the moonlight to tug at his hair.

"You could always leave. Shirahama's masters could probably do something about your legs. And give you a decent trim."

xii. hide

Rimi was fast. A flash of lightning in the darkness that was Yomi. So of course she was good enough to hide herself from view. But she still had the best view of her darling Ryuto. He was so beautiful. His hair was snow, his skin silk, his eyes like gems, and his manners like a king. Rimi swooned to herself but tensed when she heard Ryuto's voice. What was that tone? It was so light and gentle - like music. And it was...affectionate? Was that a smile on lovely lips?

"I missed this, you know."

"...Tch."

She did have to move at all to know. She had seen the new Yomi recruit. She had heard his grunts. It was not Furinji Miu who had Ryuto's heart. It was the Hermit. Rimi would make sure to make a very angry blog post about him later.

xiii. reminisce

Did she think he was stupid? He was disabled but not a fool. But this could prove to be fun. Ryuto's smile took a devilish edge as he pulled Natsu closer by his cloak. It was amazing he still kept this ratty thing. Ryuto had thrown it at him as a joke one day, telling him it would be his Ragnarok gear. His warrior's armor, so to speak.

"Do you remember all of our fun?"

Natsu's brows furrowed and Ryuto leaned closer. They were in clear view of the corner Rimi was hiding behind now. And Ryuto could practically feel waves of jealousy roll off of her. Natsu, as expected, was oblivious to her hatred. Ah, what a stupid boyfriend.

"You're so mean, Natsu. You mean you don't remember when we had to go to my school at night because I forgot a book? It was pouring and you were pretty bothered by it. Then I just sat you down on a desk and then..."

He went on and on of every moment of 'fun' that Natsu was sure to never forget them. Or this moment if the way he was crushing his lips against Ryuto's was telling him anything.

xiv. heat

This is so stupid. This whole stupid feeling in his stomach is stupid. His nerves are on edge, his stomach tickles, and he feels warm beneath his fighting robes on a cruel winter's day. Why were they initiating the sumo on Christmas Eve? And why in the middle of the night when the snow was falling thick around their ankles? Stupid Odin and his stupid surprises and his stupid violet hair and his stupid smile.

"Thor isn't alone," the snide in Ryuto's voice is obvious. The yakuza before them is pathetic. As if smoking and those disgusting earrings made them look cooler, "Only 100 of you? Freya, Siegfried."

It's not a fair fight. Not even when the yakuza head brings in more of his sniveling friends. Berserker gets bored and jumps in. Loki thinks this is a delightful time to test out his new cheating techniques. That leaves a smiling Ryuto and grimacing Natsu to watch the cartoon unfold. Ryuto is way too close, his breath too hot against Natsu's ear when he looks up at him.

"So how are you spending the holidays?"

His answer is silence. His answer is Natsu turning away. But Ryuto felt the dizzying warmth in the air, the blazing intensity from Natsu's flushed cheeks, "Come to my place tomorrow, Tanimoto-kun."

xv. questions

"...So you dated my old best friend?" it's impossible to become truly irritated with guileless Kenichi. But Natsu feels the needles of annoyance sting his gaze and Kenichi flinches, "S-Sorry. I guess it's still a sensitive topi - "

"Yes."

And then Kenichi relaxes, settling back on the chair as students buzz and Nijima cackles around them. Miu and Renka are arguing but they're high voices quickly warp into something delighted when Miu waves a cat toy around. Natsu stares at his lunch and Kenichi stares at Natsu.

"We broke up when I cut ties with Ragnarok. Not officially but..."

Kenichi lets him turn red, then pink, and turn back his usual pale before continuing, "So do miss him?"

Natsu thinks of silly moments, of passionate moments, of how his heart clenched when Ryuto was taken by Ogata like a sack of flour to the market. Kenichi does not need any more answers and he does not inquire further. Natsu's fists and the new shine to his eyes are all he needs. It gives Kenichi another reason to take down Yami.

xvi. tango

It was a whim. But Siegfried agreed readily and played piece after piece. Natsu remembered their conversation. Their childhoods and the lessons that came with it. They both took dance. Natsu's short lived mother insisted after she married into the Tanimoto family. Yuriko wanted her grandson to be refined and cultured. Ryuto had made the first move, of course. Sweeping him up into the afternoon light pouring through the windows of Siegfried's mansion. Natsu was not going to be defeated this time. A sudden crescendo of notes and Ryuto was dipped low. His eyes are surprised but pleased, his skin flushed with movement and ruby from the sun.

"You're forward today," Ryuto's sentence was swallowed up into a low purr when Natsu's thigh slid between his legs, "Let's do this more often."

xvii. dirty

It had been a challenge. Something issued against the leader of Ragnarok and whoever he chose to bring. So Ryuto, of course, brought Natsu. 60 people against the two of them beneath the highway humming above them with the familiar sounds of engines and the occasional bird run over by churning wheels. They moved well together – fighting well into the night and scaring off the extras that had arrived. In the luminous shafts of light from the moon Natsu could see Ryuto, his cravat falling from his neck into long elegant fingers, a fine sheen of sweat across fair skin dyed silver. And then he felt lips against his – salty with sweat, metallic from the blood of a lucky strike.

They were both soaked with sweat and covered in dirt and even some blood. But compared to what Ryuto was whispering now into his ear Natsu thought this was really quite clean and neat.

xviii. solace

He had nightmares before. Of blood and gunshots and Kaede's breathing coming to a shuddering halt. But when Natsu slept with Ryuto they were gone. Ryuto would have the blankets over his head, arms around Natsu and legs hooked around his own. Sometimes they had clothes and sometimes they didn't. Sometimes Natsu would stay awake to listen to Ryuto's heartbeat and sometimes Ryuto might whisper about anything and everything until he dozed off.

When Ryuto was gone he had nightmares again. Ryuto himself did not sleep well in the great king sized bed Yomi offered. It was empty and it was cold.

xix. flip

It was usually Natsu who blushed. But today it was Ryuto. He had fallen ill because he thought it wouldn't snow anymore on their date yesterday. Hmph. Now he was sneezing all over the place, tissues balled and tossed into the trash with pinpoint accuracy until the mountain threatened to spill from the bin. Natsu felt the bed dip beneath his weight as Ryuto coughed into his blankets.

"You don't have to be my nurse."

The sick flush of his skin intensified when Natsu ruffled his sweaty hair. Ryuto gave a half-hearted push at Natsu's chest when he smirked and kissed his forehead, "Remind me not to be a dick when you're ill again. I don't want this treatment."

"I give what I take."

xx. maybe

"But you promised!" Honoka insisted. Natsu's reply was a shrug as he buttoned up his obviously new and obviously very fancy blue shirt.

"I'm busy."

Honoka's pouts went unnoticed. But his red ears did not. Oh so he had a date, huh? Honoka's shrill whistle was clear as day when Natsu left. In a cloud of dust and glint of metal Shigure and Apachai appeared, looking at her with expectant eyes from the grand oak planted on Natsu's property. Tracking him was easy and he did not seem to notice Apachai's looming figure from his seat on a fountain. Honoka's mind reeled with ideas. It was probably the woman her beloved big brother was so attracted to! Oh, he'll be so heartbroken! If not her than some lady with big boobs and a curvaceous butt. Humph!

"Annoying!" a deep timbre caught her attention. Three yakuza were thrown around like dolls and white hair flashed in the sun.

The snow man warrior (as she so elegantly dubbed him) was handsome. His hair unruly and at his neck, his eyes a pretty blue like hydrangea flowers and his smile winning. When he stepped all over the yakuza Natsu stood and Honoka understood. In one swift movement she scurried off Apachai's shoulders and around Shigure's legs to give the snow man a playful punch on the arm.

"So you're the guy Nachan is dating!"

"I am. Am I worthy of your Nachan?" his smile grew as Natsu went red.

"Yup! Be careful with Nachan, though. He can get really testy!"

Ryuto laughed. Natsu's threats were ignored as Honoka and Ryuto went on and on. What could've been.