It all began with a game. Later, nobody remembered quite what it was that they were playing. According to Lance, it was a reenactment of their latest battle with Doom--except that since Keith was Doom, Arus suffered a spectacular loss culminating in Sven being buried beneath a snow bank and Lance almost having frostbite in unmentionable places. According to Keith (who always went a bit loopy when it snowed), it was "Revenge of the Son of the Cousin of the Friend of Godzilla! Part Seven!"
Well, whatever the game was actually called, the reality of it was that this was the first day in a month when it hadn't been cold enough to freeze a person's snot in his sinus cavities. A very uncomfortable situation, that. And even Keith realized that his borderline cabin-feverish crew needed a day out in the open; a realization which resulted in the grand free-for-all of snowballs and sneak attacks, and the time honored tradition of dumping a shovel full of snow on the unsuspecting face of a snow-angel maker. It was a welcome break, as this long, cold Arusian winter had been particularly bad, seeming to consist only of endless nights and dreary days and howling winds that cut through metal walls and enough snow to bury the castle up to its fifth floor windows. Even robeasts couldn't stand this winter, which was fortunate indeed because there was about six-feet of hard ice in the middle of the Lake, and even a Lion would have trouble with that.
When a break came, even the cold-abhorring Pidge jumped at the chance to sled down snow banks, and dump snow down the pants of his nearest victim.
He particularly liked doing the latter when it was Hunk's broad backside that was turned toward him, because then Hunk would chase him, floundering in the snow and cursing like the solider that he was, laughing and glaring and flushed red with cold and anger and exertion. Pidge, being the sneak little devil that he was, would sometimes let Hunk get close enough to touch the ends of his jacket before leaping away. Sometimes he even let Hunk catch him, tackling him to the ground in a warm, solid mass.
And then he'd do it again.
Only on this particular occasion, Pidge led Hunk away from the others and to the edge of the bare forest where he ducked behind a tree. And when Hunk followed, it was Pidge doing the grabbing.
Hunk's laughter trailed off, and the sounds of Sven cursing resoundingly in Swedish faded into a muffled world of panting breaths and pounding blood. Pidge licked his lips and Hunk stepped closer and all they could do was stare because this was outside the normal boundaries of their game. Pidge hadn't intended for this to happen now, hadn't consciously meant to lure Hunk into the silence of the a skeletal forest; nor had he intended to pull Hunk so close that the white vapor of their breath mingled together and left a damp mist on their cheeks and eyelashes.
Then Pidge realized that the dampness he felt wasn't from their breath, but from the melting of white, soft snowflakes that drifted silently down from the darkening sky. He looked up and it was almost like looking into a sky speckled with falling stars, and he had to take a deep breath because as familiar as the stars were this was something else. This was something . . . magical.
Hunk had followed Pidge's gaze, and when their eyes met again they knew that their moment was passing. The snowflakes meant an end to freedom and if they didn't do something now the opportunity to say what they really felt would be lost once more.
Pidge stepped forward and pulled Hunk closer until their cold noses touched and his chapped lips caressed Hunk's.
"Kiss me," he said, "it's beginning to snow."