Winter evenings in No.6 tended to be a little cold.
Although much more comfortable than their previous residence in West Block, the temperature of the loft style apartment Nezumi and Shion currently lived in dropped a few degrees around six or seven o'clock.
It was absolutely bearable, of course. During the previous three years and four months Nezumi had been travelling he had spent countless nights in the desolate ruins, attempting comfort on the rough ground and frigid night air. West Block was an infinite time worse than this. Quite possibly, even Shion's old home in Lost Town had colder evenings than what they now experienced.
But discomfort was a good excuse. During the evenings, when both Shion and Nezumi were reading, the coldness of the evening was a good excuse to curl up next to each other, closer than two people who had not kissed for more than three years and four months normally did.
These pretenses made for good moments, and during his time back, Nezumi enjoyed these moments with Shion.
Shion had remained the same. He was open, bright, intellectual, and eager to learn. He would talk incessantly, but would immediately hush up when Nezumi spoke. Nezumi could enchant him with just one tale about thriving ancient cities and famous and infamous people who lived during a time before theirs.
It was easy to admit that Shion was pleasant to be around; Nezumi had at least lost that indisposed part of himself. But it wasn't as easy to admit that sometimes Nezumi had to convince himself not to do what he truly craved to do with Shion. That he had to lean away when Shion's smile was a little too beautiful, when his warm breath caressed Nezumi's neck as they slept in the same bed at night.
It was hard to admit that sometimes Nezumi relived the kiss three years and four months ago in his mind, trying to squelch the image and failing miserably. But he desired with all his heart to relive it again, and again, and again.
It was trying his patience, the proximity he maintained with Shion.
But today had been a good day, a good day melting into a good evening. They weren't reading tonight for Nezumi had brought home a bottle of fancy red wine that he received at work. Drinking was an unusual activity for them, but Nezumi didn't mind it tonight. It made the atmosphere feel more intimate.
Shion sat next to him on the couch, sinking into it and sinking into Nezumi. He sipped his concoction of red wine that Nezumi had diluted for him with grape juice. He was sloshing the liquid around his mouth, getting a good taste for it. He explained that it was something about the distribution of flavor on his taste buds that made it the ideal way to taste test.
Nezumi didn't really care about the way he drank his wine, all he knew was that way they were sitting together felt as though Shion was melting into him and that he really liked it. Yet such a position was both desirable and dangerous; it resulted in Nezumi gazing at Shion with hazy intensity. He put his wine glass on the coffee table.
Nezumi felt the urge to push the physical boundary. On any other occasion he would have resisted himself, but today was different. Nezumi hadn't diluted his own drink. He wasn't drunk, but the edges of his mind were getting a little hazy and Shion looked too sultry.
He put an arm around Shion, squeezing him tightly in a pseudo half hug. Shion glanced up at him, a question on the tip of his tongue.
Before he could speak, Nezumi had taken the wine glass out of Shion's hand and placed it atop the coffee table. He wrapped his other arm around Shion's smaller frame, pulling him into himself.
"Nezumi? What are you doing?" Shion asked this time, confused but wrapping his arms around Nezumi anyway.
"Mmn," Nezumi murmured, burying his face in the crook of Shion's neck.
"Nezumi...?" Shion asked again, softer this time.
Nezumi could feel Shion's neck and cheek heat up as his heartbeat accelerated. In contrast his own heartbeat seemed to have slowed down as time ticked slower.
They were like that for an eternity, Shion blushing every so brightly, and Nezumi nuzzling his neck and holding him closer.
But then Nezumi pulled away, his arms still around the smaller male.
Nezumi gazed at Shion, his visage a mask of decisive determination.
"Let me kiss you."
From the look on Shion's face, Nezumi was certain that the smaller male's heart skipped a beat.
Shion's arms slid off of Nezumi's shoulders and hung limp at his sides. His mouth was slightly ajar, as if he was about to say something he knew he shouldn't.
Yet when Shion next spoke, Nezumi immediately understood that he had refrained from speaking his mind.
"I'm a little tired, I think it would be best if I went to bed early," Shion laughed too tensely, "Thank you for the wine, it was wonderful."
As Shion got up to leave, Nezumi got up with him, grabbing a hold of his elbow and holding him back.
"Shion, let me kiss you."
Shion didn't answer, instead facing away from Nezumi, his ears bright red.
Nezumi stepped closer, gathering Shion's smaller frame in his arms, "Shion..."
Shion turned around in Nezumi's arms and for a split second it seemed as though he was going to meet Nezumi's lips with his own.
But then he placed his hands on Nezumi's forearms and weakly attempted to push him away.
Nezumi began to speak again, "I want to kiss-"
"Don't say it!" Shion interrupted, red in the face. For the first time Nezumi realized that droplets of water were coalescing in Shion's eyes.
"Don't say it..." Shion repeated, stepping away from him.
Nezumi remained steadfast, "Why? I kissed you before." Nezumi easily closed the distance that Shion had created, holding Shion firmly in his arms.
"D-don't remind me," Shion said, averting his gaze. He made to turn away from Nezumi.
Nezumi thought he looked like he was trying to escape.
"I won't hurt you," he murmured, trying to keep Shion with him After all, it was too late to let him go. Nezumi couldn't bring himself to do that.
"I don't want to kiss you," Shion said dropping his head, but no longer trying to pull away, "I don't want to kiss you ever again."
Shion's words seemed to have started an unbearable pain in Nezumi's chest. He wanted to assuage it. He brought Shion physically closer to him, holding him to his chest in an embrace, but it did little to help the throbbing pain that Nezumi felt.
"Why...?" Nezumi asked. He wanted to see Shion's face. He placed his hand under Shion's chin and tipped it up.
For a split second they made eye contact, and during that brief span of time Nezumi saw overflowing tears in Shion's sorrowful, ruby eyes. It felt as though an arrow had pierced Nezumi's heart.
Shion immediately looked away, but Nezumi cupped his hand around Shion's cheek, bringing his gaze back to him and wiping away a tear.
"Why are you crying?" Nezumi asked.
He was afraid. Why was Shion crying? Why had he made Shion cry?
"I don't want to kiss you!" Shion exclaimed, trying once again with renewed vigor to push away from Nezumi.
"But why!? Why won't you kiss me?" Even to Nezumi's ears, his voice sounder nearly hysterical.
But he couldn't help it, he had made Shion cry.
Shion looked about to burst. He had his hands on Nezumi's chest, wriggling away in an attempt to escape Nezumi's hold.
"Because I don't want any more goodbye kisses!"
Nezumi stopped, and for a moment everything froze. It was like limbo.
But then Nezumi regained himself.
In an instant he closed all the space that remained between him and Shion and pressed their lips together.
It didn't last long. He pulled away before Shion could push him away, then immediately said what was the only thing that had been on his mind since had returned.
"I'm never going to leave you."
A variety of emotions displayed themselves on Shion's face. First was shock, then despair, then confusion, and at last, as Shion understood Nezumi's words, relief.
"You're not leaving...?" Shion asked, as if to make absolutely certain. His voice was a little shaky.
"Never. I'm never leaving you. No more goodbye kisses."
The Shion's tears, which had stopped in his moment of astonishment, began to flow more freely than ever.
"Nezumi?" he asked, his mouth curving into a bright smile.
"I love you too," Nezumi said, his own mouth mirroring the gesture.
"How did you know?" Shion asked, shuffling closer to Nezumi, sounding a little embarrassed and all too pleased.
"It felt right," Nezumi replied.
They both paused for a moment to reflect on Nezumi's words.
They both deemed it the truth.
Nezumi began to speak once more, "Let's ki-"
Before Nezumi could finish, Shion had reached up on his toes to crash his lips against Nezumi's, passionately and clumsily moving them without rhythm.
Nezumi smiled through the kiss, drawing Shion closer, and indulging in the texture of his blissfully soft lips.
He decided that this would happen more often.
Evenings in their No.6 home tended to be warmer than the ones spent apart. With every touch of their hands, every embrace, and every liplock, came a flush of rare warmth that was more striking than thought possible.