He turns twenty on one of the coldest nights of the year. Snow blankets the streets and the chill creeps everywhere, brushing discomfort around bare necks and hands. His friends throw him a party to celebrate, ply him with sugary drinks until his smiles come unbidden and words flow unfiltered from his lips. He feels warm, light, centre-less. Yuiko throws her arms around his neck as they go their separate ways and he squeezes her back, sentimentality an almost welcome rush of emotion.
They walk home in silence--Soubi with his hands tucked into his long coat, a step or two behind Ritsuka but close enough to reach out and steady him every time the world tilts dangerously. Ritsuka concentrates on putting one foot in front of the other and not moving his head too much and doesn’t even notice arriving at his apartment building until Soubi grabs a fistful of his coat and pulls him to a stop.
Soubi has a key (he’s had one for years) and inside he moves easily in the dark, hands light on Ritsuka’s shoulders as he propels Ritsuka into the kitchen and makes him drink some water. In the bedroom he divests Ritsuka of his coat, jumper and jeans, all fast, gentle movements that Ritsuka barely feels. Ritsuka’s floating, a warm glow all around his edges and he can’t help but laugh, the sound spinning out into the room around them, startling the hush and whisper of breaths and fabric. Soubi’s hands still on his shirt, one finger hooked through a button hole and Ritsuka can feel him looking, though what he sees Ritsuka doesn’t know and can’t imagine. He doesn’t feel like himself, can’t look like himself; not with this sudden newness bursting, bursting through.
Soubi breathes his name and it’s like every other time, tainted with worship and darkness of promise. Ritsuka can’t stand it, hates to hear it even after all the years, loves to know that it’s still there. He’s picking up speed now, his mind blurring and kicking up dust as it goes; catching up, he realises, he has always been catching up to the same, unmoving destination.
Soubi, he thinks he says.
Soubi reaches out and catches his hand before he can race past the mark. And Ritsuka, Ritsuka is finally there.