One hour past midnight, a new year of many. It’s strange, Saryuu thinks, he had never expected he would live to see many. He wasn’t supposed to.
The night is chilly and quiet outside, the muffled sound of voices and music coming from the lower floor of the former Headquarters. Most of them had stayed together, others had reunited with lost families and were starting over. Fei was one of the later. Saryuu glances at him, leaning against the balcony and looking at the stars, with an expression he can’t quite read. Is this the same sky they saw 200 years ago? Saryuu has been to the past, but he was too caught up in his own affairs to be able to tell, to be able to see. Is this the sky Fei looked at with Tenma and the others? Something clenches in his chest.
“Saru, are you all right?”
When had Fei joined him outside? His heart skips a beat, but his brain is quick to recover.
“Of course. Fei, tell me: what do you think of this?” He opens his arms wide, the night sky behind him, the whole world behind him. “Isn’t it strange that we’re here, celebrating, after having lost everything?”
“Well... It is a bit strange but... isn’t it better? We may have lost, in more than one way, but we also gained something. And we’re still ourselves.”
“Yes. And this way we’ll be able to be even more of ourselves now that we have more time... We’ll grow up and become adults one day.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not in a hurry to get there!” Fei’s laugher is a gentle and light sound. “But I’m glad that someday I will. And, meanwhile, I get to spend that time with you!”
Fei’s smile is so sweet and their hands are so close, Saryuu would only have to move his fingers to reach him. But he doesn’t. As if Fei is part of a dream that will fade away when touched, he just stares at him in awe. He hears Meia’s voice as if coming from distant place and Fei moves away, pulling him to reality.
“We should go back inside. Happy new year, Saryuu.”
“Do you like Saryuu Evan?”
There’s a faint blush to Fei’s cheeks and the room is warm. They had been watching a movie at some point, but ended up sitting on the floor by Saryuu’s bed, the antique vinyl player on repeating itself. Don’t you want somebody to love? Don’t you need somebody to love? it sings, but Saryuu doesn't care about the lyrics, or at least pretends he does not.
“Sometimes I think Saru was a more interesting character.”
“Oh, that.” There seems to be a mix of disappointment and relief in Fei’s voice and Saryuu looks away from the lava lamp, intrigued. The other boy has his knees pulled to his chest and he doesn’t face him. “Do you truly believe that?”
“I always believe what I say.”
“You do, but you’re not always right. Is being Saryuu worse than being Saru? Is that how you truly feel?”
Is there a difference between what he feels and what he thinks? There didn’t use to be. What he thought used to be what he said and what he said used to be what he felt and that was how he had led Feida. But he isn’t the leader of the rebellion anymore, he doesn’t have any powers, he doesn’t have any purpose. He’s renounced everything he was and it is disgusting.
Or at least it should have been.
These past months have been so strange, with so many new sensations and experiences, common to most people but so new to him. He doesn’t like everything – he still doesn’t trust most adults, for one thing – but he doesn’t dislike all that is new either if he has to be honest with himself. Everything is different but everything is also the same. Headquarters isn’t headquarters anymore, but it is still home. Feida is an organization no longer, but it is still his family. Saru... Saru has always been Saryuu. Maybe he hasn’t renounced everything, maybe he has learned to see what had always been there. He has changed, but he has not lost himself.
He hasn’t lost Fei either. Somehow, Fei is still here. Fei, with his bright eyes and gentle smile, Fei, who no longer has his powers, but who has never needed telepathy to understand Saryuu.
“You don’t have to reply.” Fei says in a confident tone, finally facing him. Saryuu can feel his breath on his face, the touch of Fei’s hand on his own. This time Fei doesn’t feel like a dream, he feels real, so real, and Saryuu doesn’t move an inch as Fei closes the space between their lips.
Fei moves back, his cheeks very red now, and clears his throat politely.
“So, to answer your question: I do like you, Saryuu Evan.”
Saryuu can’t move.
“It- It’s okay if you don’t like me this way, though! I’m happy just being your friend.” The confidence is gone from his voice, but he doesn’t regret anything. “Nothing has to change if you don’t want it to.” He adds softly, almost whispering.
Saryuu is feeling so hot, thinking and feeling so many things at the same time, his brain and his heart might explode.
“Yes!!” He finally blurts out.
“Yes?” Fei asks confused, but he has not much time to wonder as Saryuu throws himself forward. The kiss is short and clumsy and doesn’t quite land on Fei’s lips, but Saryuu has never kissed anyone before and he hides his burning face in the other boy’s neck.
“Things can change.” He says against Fei’s soft skin and he feels the gentle but strong grip on his back, holding him close.
He doesn’t know how long they stay like this. He still doesn’t know how feelings and relationships works, he has lost Fei once and doesn’t want to lose him again. He’s afraid. But when he finally looks up, Fei’s happy face is the only thing he cares about.
Time goes by, slowly, time they never expected to exist, not for them.
A kiss stolen here and there, a date in the zoo. Saryuu throwing peanuts at the monkeys, Fei pulling him by the hand as they run away from the guards.
Long hours in each others’ bedrooms, sleepovers where they don’t sleep. Touches underneath the sheets, a muffled moan Asurei can’t hear.
An “I love you” in the morning. An “I love you too” in the night.
“Do you mean it?” Fei asks, his hand on Saryuu’s waist, the faint light from the lava lamp illuminating his wide eyes.
“I always mean what I say.”
He wants to turn around in bed, embarrassed, but Fei doesn’t let him, pulling him into a tight embrace instead.
Little by little, they rebuild what they broke, they heal and they build new things. New experiences, new memories.
Days are not a race against time anymore.