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When Soft Voices Die

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Despite Kazuhiko's jokes about housewives, Ran does laundry for the company. The washer and dryer hum under his fingers, and he ensures that no socks go missing. He closes his eyes, in some strange way feeling the clothes tumbling through machine, the soft glug of water. The dryer chimes and then comes the tasks of sorting, folding, ironing. The sunlight streams through the windows, careless in its loveliness. Ran is content, and the radio clicks on of its own accord in response.

He sings along under his breath, just enough to get a vague impression of the melody across; Ran can barely carry a tune. Still, singing with the radio is almost like having a conversation: he has to wait for the right time to come in, has to balance his voice with others', has to be careful not to disrupt the harmony. It's a good metaphor for the conversations he keeps having with Gingetsu, where he considers his words so long that they never seem to make any music at all anymore. Perhaps not the best metaphor, then.

The light falling on the floor has gone red-gold with sunset. He will not be home tonight. The click of the radio turning off coincides with the brief squeeze around Ran's heart. He picks up the laundry basket, begins his final task. Somewhere between putting away the last pair of pants and the third shirt, Ran no longer feels quite so lonely. Perhaps the answer is in this last shirt in his arms: it's long-sleeved, white, soft. Gingetsu's. He stares down at it, as though it holds the answer to some sort of question he does not remember asking. He remembers the shape of the clouds he saw while outside, how the white provided safe anchor in the infinite stretch of blue.

Ran buries his face in Gingetsu's shirt. The smell of detergent is comforting as a hand in his hair, but this is not the gentler bliss of losing himself in a chore. This is--complicated, multilayered as a piece of music.

He is not sure when he looks up from the shirt, or why; perhaps some nebulous change in the atmosphere, one complication multiplying. He only knows that Gingetsu is there where he was not before, and he is looking at him. Ran is conscious of his own heartbeat, accelerating beyond all reason. It is time for another conversation about nothing, a way of talking that is more like silence, silence in a cold room with no one home. Ran's hands tremble, but he does not let go of the shirt.

"I missed you. When you were gone." His voice catches on the last word.

Gingetsu crosses the room, and Ran suppresses a wild urge to flee. Gingetsu is only taking the shirt from him, re-folding it, setting it in the open drawer. Nothing. It is nothing, nothing, more silence. He does not know if he is relieved or disappointed, but suspects it is more of the latter.

Then Gingetsu catches his hands, laces his fingers through Ran's. Heartbeats and heartbeats. Gingetsu kisses him, the scent of laundry still lingering in the air, the last light of day outlining their forms. This is an eloquent silence: I missed you, too.