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Not Perfect

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Shion was so tired. So exhausted that he felt like he was walking in a fog. It blurred his vision and made him unaware of the surroundings.
It was so hard to move.
But he had to.
In the next few minutes, when one of No.3 politics finish his speech, Shion would have to get up from his chair, smile and talk about all things that he and the rest of Restuctual Committee had done for the last four years.
He would force himself to try even harder for all people he had promised. For Safu, for every person that had died from NO.6's hands, for all people he knew and for Nezumi.

'No.
He had to stop right here.
He couldn't think about him, he didn't want to remember, he didn't want to feel.
That was easier. Thinking about Nezumi he would make him crazy, or perhaps he had already gone mad?
Today's meeting was recorded in TV and showed globally. It wasn't time to be weak. Shion decided to push himself once more and not let his feelings to break him down.
Shion's mind returned to reality after he heard claps of the people and man who had been making a speech walked away from the microphone.
NO.3 was going to assist the committee with a new education programs and services. NO.6 needed a new program after the wall fell because city was now open for people from West Block and the other metropolises. NO.6 finally started to calm down after all chaos that had occurred four years ago. Everything had to be started over, in order to to not repeat the mistakes from the past, to build a future where something like human hunt would never take place again.
That was Shion's job.
Even if it would kill him in the end, Shion still had to do it. That was his responsible and the only way to atone for his sins.
Shion heard his name called. Slowly getting up, he put a smile on his face and walked towards the microphone. That was going to be long two days.
***
Weather in NO.2 was beautiful. Warm, summer sun was slowly hiding behind the mountains which guarded the harbored city .
It was a natural wall that protected city from winds and the other part of land.
Nezumi liked that wall, it was natural, not something created by people to prison others. He could always climb up them and observe things he couldn't see from bottom. It was one of the things he really enjoyed while his journey.
Every landscape, animal, and lost village, those views slowly healed his heart and gave him peace.
In the first year afterwards Nezumi left West Block he was a mental mess. He couldn't get over roller-coaster of his feelings and thoughts. He got the freedom he had dreamed about since his childhood, but he no longer had a place to call a home.
He never thought about West Block as a home, but that room with his books, a place to cook warm soup and old, but still nice bed was something he could call a home. Places he stayed while his journey were many times nicer and warmer than his underground room, but it missed something and Nezumi didn't want to admit that he often missed a someone.
When he thought about it he was confused again and he felt like a wreck.
"Shion was a person of the past. I will break free from his chains" he thought at those times.
He was mad at himself, at all things around him as he struggled to cut himself from the past. Nightmares after the events in Correctional Facility also didn't help. Memories of his first escape from that place as child mixed with their break in a year ago leaving left Nezumi lost and even more confused.
He discovered so many beautiful places, met so many new people, worked many different jobs and yet he felt so lonely. Nezumi imagined how Shion would ask about every little thing. He would question him about everything they encounter. That idiot would run around with his stupid smile after every new animal or plant he saw making Nezumi smile too, like he had always done back home when they were talking about books and the other things.
Then after a year he stopped struggling with his thoughts about Shion as someone who he needed to cut off. Still, there were so many places he desired to see, so many things to he wanted to solve. He wanted to find who he really was after his revenge was done.
And there was that promise that Nezumi sealed with a kiss. That was the next problem for Nezumi to solve.
Why did he kiss Shion? What did he feel about that boy?
Shion saved him over and over, not only his body, but also his soul. That white-haired boy broke through his walls. That was the most scariest thing. He could do anything for that naïve boy, even if he had to die for it.
It wasn't a good thing. Gran always told him that he should never be attached to the other people. Never trust and believe in someone else, only in himself. People are going left you anyway in the end.
Wasn't he a perfect example of that?
Later, after two years of traveling, he started to wonder if those teachings wasn't like the walls of No.6.
Just like Shion was sheltered from the realities from outside walls, those words sheltered him from warmth and kindness of the other people.
He saw and met many people during his travels.
People who were able to live and laugh like ones in those cheesy stories that Shion liked to read. Because of that Nezumi had started to wonder; he could be like them if NO.6 didn't kill his family? He always felt weak thinking like that. Wondering and feelings would kill him in the West Block.
Only now he wasn't in the West Block anymore and as for NO.6, Shion was supposed to erase that city and repair it.
Shion was safe and he was going to rebuild the city Nezumi always hated.
During his travels he picked up some information about the rebirth of the sinful city. He felt strange happy and proud for of that boy's hard work. He didn't have to worry, Shion was strong. Nezumi would meet him again after he finds all answers he needs.
After about four years he started to be afraid. He pushed that feeling, but it kept going back to him.
What if Shion wasn't waiting for him anymore? Nezumi said to that boy that he didn't have place to call a home, but in quiet part of his heart always wanted to believe in Shion's words. That's someone is waiting for him and care for him.
He was staying in NO.2 for a month now, working at some coffee shop. Summer was hot that year and the little, quiet shop was a place where people rest and cooled themselves with ice drinks. Nezumi acting skills brought customers everywhere where he worked, that's why he was able to earn some additional money for his travels. He wasn't going to stick around there long anyway.
And on that day Nezumi saw Shion again.
On the flat screen of TV hanging above one of the seats in the coffee shop where he'd worked. Transmission from NO.6 was about some changes in education and Nezumi didn't pay much attention to it until he heard Shion's name. Nezumi turned around and his body froze. Not because he missed the white haired boy, not because his latest wares, but just because of how Shion looked.
Big, gray circles under his eyes, his body was so thin, and his skin so pale that was impossible for living person to have. Yet, what was the worst for the long haired boy was Shion's eyes. Empty and lifeless.
The red eyed boy expressed his gratitude to NO.3 for helping with educational programs, he talked about feeding programs they created since wall fell and he went on about many other things. He did all of that with smile on his face. Still, that smile hurt Nezumi like nothing in past four years, it was just like Shion's eyes, hollow.
At the same time it wasn't a fake smile and it terrified silver eyed boy. He wanted to scream.
'Why no one sees it? Why? Shion's mother don't see this? What the fuck that mutt and drunk face were doing?'.
TV audition ended and Nezumi was left confused like never before. Shion was supposed to be alright, right? Maybe he's was ill? Perhaps someone wanted to slowly kill him with some drugs or hell knows what.
Shion was supposed to be alright, he was the only person alive that Nezumi wanted to be safe. But Shion didn't look good and that scared Nezumi.
That face he saw on the TV resembled him to much of Shion who had put gun to his head at the place that could have been be called hell on earth.
Confused, Nezumi went back from job to room he rented from an old couple. After a sleepless night he immediately went straight to work. Information from NO.6 should be aired today too. He wanted to see Shion again. He kept saying to himself that the look of the white haired boy he saw yesterday must have been some bad dream.

-----
One more day, one more day and he would be able to go back to work at his office. Shion never really liked to be around so many unknown people.
He just needed to complete his speech about orphan's care and new train connection between cities and he would go back to the his paper work. There was still so much things to do and it would going to be bad if he didn't finish it soon.
Shion heard his name once more. He got up from chair and approached to the front of stage. There was a moment where he was blacked out for 2-3seconds for a first time while walking.
Shion kept himself straight and said thanks to wood podium with a microphone, he leaned his body weight over it to stand when his body already started to weaken. He tried to hide one of his shaking hands. Nothing a strange thing for him lately anyway. He was going to wait until it passed away just like it always did. But when he wanted to walk away and turned around, everything went black.
-----
In the little café, miles away from NO.6, customers made a sounds of surprise mixed with feelings of terrify and horror. Images on TV's screen turned into chaos. The reporters almost shouted into their microphones. Some of co-workers ran to Shion's side who was laying down on stage. Someone screamed to call for the ambulance. Other co-worker pushed aside person with camera away from Shion. Transmission was cut off and program changed to studio.
"Shion, Member of Restructural Committee has collapsed. We don't know reason, but we will inform you about this event as fast as we will get more information. Please stay turned".
Whispers filled small café, but Nezumi could only hear loud sound of his fast beating heart. Image of Shion falling on the ground played in his head over and over. He heard someone's talk after his mind again started to register his surroundings.
"Isn't that boy the one who survived those killing wasps?" Said middle aged woman.
"Yes, but maybe some mutations or late symptoms are getting him finally lately..." Nezumi heard answer from man beside her.
"Too bad, that he had done so much good for the city after the last government fell."
"No." quiet whisper left Nezumi's mouth.
Shion would be alright. He had to. Nezumi still had his promise to keep. He wanted to touch that white hair again, caress that funny scar red snake on Shion's cheek, and he wanted to embrace that boy again.
They were going to fight over stupid things again, like what they think about one of the books one of them just read or about the blanket that Nezumi stole for himself at in middle of night…
Shion will would tell him about all those embarrassing things that made Nezumi alive for the last years.
When he casted a last look at the TV screen with the corner of his eye, he saw that the ambulance had disappeared from the view, after this his body moved on his own. Nezumi didn't even know when he had begun to run. He came back to his rented room, he packed all important things and put out all the money he had. Only one thing was on his mind. 'I had to get to the train, next to NO.6, fast.'
He could only hope that he was not too late.
*******
Karan left the small hospital room where his son was sleeping in.
"He can't go on like that. He need to eat and rest. Not mention his mental state." Said the doctor walking beside her.
Karan knew it all. Still, she couldn't do anything. She tried, though. She was always there for her son if he needed to talk. She cooked and brought Shion food as often as it was possible, but he didn't eat much of it. With a smile he kept telling her:
"It's delicious mom, but I'm simply not hungry." Karan didn't had a heart to push him more. She didn't want to add more hardship to his daily struggle. Over working wasn't the only problem and she knew it even if Shion wanted to hide it.
Nights when her son slept peacefully were rare. At least once a month she could hear shouts and cries early in the morning when she woke up and checked his room before she had to start her job. Karan tried to wake up him at those times, but after that when Shion looked away from her with so much guilt and shame in his eyes, that the poor woman wasn't sure what to do any longer.
After one night, half year ago, when she found her son half laying down on the stairs with overflowing panic on his face, everything went downhill. He'd ate even less and worked even more. Karan didn't know what he dreamed about, but she couldn't forget Shion's panicked eyes. He wanted to ask her about something, but he was too scared to do so. She'd could only hold his shaking body in her small arms and fight with the tears that were coming from her eyes.
The last piece of light was lost from Shion's eyes after that night.
She had asked Shion to work less, but he always answered her that he had promised to Safu, Nezumi and the doctor that saved Nezumi's life to rebuild city.
The only thing she was capable to win was Shion's staying in her home. Afterwards returning to their old house in Chronos and remodeling its first floor into new bakery Shion wanted to leave. Karan somehow managed to reason him to stay. Her reasoning about saving space and resources somehow helped her to win that fight. Not like it make situation any better. Shion condition was getting worse every day anyway.
She sometimes invited Rikiga, Inukashi and little Shionn on a dinner or tea in weekends to spend some time with Shion, but it also didn't help much. Inukashi often got angry and left their house with words like "idiot" and "do what you want! I have better things to do then looking at your dead face".
Maybe Nezumi would be able to help her son, but he had gone away.
Karan couldn't be angry at the dark haired boy. Not after he saved Shion's life more than once. She couldn't change her feelings even after he left four years ago. She knew that boy was lost and afraid back then.
She liked to help, but Nezumi wouldn't let her. If he pushed away Shion, then what could she do? It was beyond her power. She understood that much after all small talks with Shion later about his life in the West Block. Between lines she figured out more about a boy who was so important to her son.
It hurt to see Shion longing for Nezumi, but at the same time when her son talked about the silver eyed boy he was so filled with so much happiness and love.
At least it looked like this for the first two years after Nezumi left. Slowly Shion stopped talking about the long haired boy.
Still, Karan didn't blame Nezumi. She just wished that boy to would return back to her son and help Shion with all that he needed.
After a talk with doctor, Karan walked into hospital room. Shion was sleeping on the bed. His slow breath was the only sound aside quiet plums from drip in the clean, white room. The Woman's heart was broken apart when she saw her only son in such state.
It was like the doctor said, he might going to die if things will remain like this. Even so, Karan didn't lose hope and her will to fight for her son with all her strength.
****
Shion came out from the hospital two days later. Doctor didn't want him to leave, but he discharged himself out. He just wanted get back to his home. All his documents were there and there was no time to lose. He knew he had to eat and rest, but he simply couldn't. He had responsibilities that he accepted and needed to fulfill.
All work, all the struggles with political and social relations made him so tired that he didn't sustain any strength to eat. And then he didn't have strength because he wasn't eating. This was misleading circle. It was one of his many problems.
His exhaustion came also from his inability to sleep without nightmares anymore. Images of correctional facility, the manhunt, Nezumi and his own image of killing another human being mixed together within his dreams. Sometimes he woke up with a scream, often he just woke up after an hour of sleep and he couldn't back to slumber again. If he fell into sleep again, he would just woke up again and that over and over during one night.
Images that haunted him made eating even harder. Everything he had put into his mouth felt like an enemy that his throat wanted to cast out. He felt weak and he had just wanted to give up. Only his promises kept him going. He hated himself for showing that his words said to Nezumi were true.
Without him Shion was really a nothing. Nezumi went away and took a part of his soul along with him, it was funny how all his strength slowly diminish after that day four years ago.
He was a disappointment, he didn't saved Safu, he only worried his mother, and he was weak without Nezumi...
No.
He was a monster. Such a scary monster that made Nezumi, who survived two hunts, who lived a hard life in West Block, to run away from him with words that he was scared of Shion.
Hot tears burned his eyes as he walked with his mother towards hospital's exit, but he didn't let them fall. He would wait until he get back to his room, after that he was going to scream all his feelings out, as quietly as possible. Then he would again close his heart and feelings to survive the next day.
When they went outside few journalist caught them.
"What happed? How do you feel?" Young woman asked him while putting a microphone closer to Shion's mouth.
"I'm really sorry for all problems I've caused while such important day. It wasn't anything bad, I simply need to drink more coffee. I'm giving my apology to all the guests from NO.3 and all people who worked on that event once again." He smiled, he put hand around his mother and sheltered her from camera as they slowly moved into car which was send by one of his co-workers.
After they got inside, he gave Karan an apologize smile, he leaned his head over cold glass and close his eyes. Sometimes he simply wished to don't need to open them ever again.
****
Journey to the NO.6 took Nezumi around 3 days. The only break he had was when he had to make a transfer to the next train. He had spend almost all of the money he saved for the those four years, but he didn't think about it.
The only thing in his mind was Shion. He could only think of that pale face laying unconscious on the floor.
Little mouse slept in small pocket of his jacket. They were getting old and after hours of keeping company to their master they fell asleep into Nezumi's lap. He moved them gently to pocket with shaking hands. He felt like he was too late and that feeling didn't let him sleep much during the ride.
Still, once he got off the train, he hurried straight ahead as fast as his legs allowed him.
The city had changed. Even someone like him who spent just a few days of his life inside NO.6 could tell the difference. There were so many new buildings, small blocks with a little gardens, little shops, many unused parts of land that was organized only to look nice for eyes had disappeared. In their places were made a small playgrounds, places with fruit trees or small greenhouses.
Nezumi first went to Lost Town, but he couldn't find Shion nor Karan's Bakery. He asked some old lady what happened to the bakery. Some weight fell from his heart when he heard that Karan had moved back to Chronos a year after wall fell.
Chronos changed a lot as well. Crazy wide grounds surrounding big homes disappeared and with them those rich fountains and pools. Houses were built a lot more thicker, there were also more shops and restaurants. In the middle of the Chronos was now a large orchard.
Later, Nezumi would learn that it was too a Shion's idea. Kids from Elementary school with their teachers came there on a particular lessons and take care of all the fruits and vegetables. Raising them, picking up and learning how to make things from them. Kids took self-made food with them to their houses no matter if they had school in NO.6 or West Block. It demonstrated the next generations' difficulty of the work and valuation of a food.
It was nearly evening when he got to Shion's house. Nezumi couldn't stop the feeling of nostalgia when he hid behind the trees and faced up to the balcony. It was funny that everything came back to that place. This was a spot where he first saw Shion. This was place where he learned again about the other human's warmth.
Behind the white curtains of Shion's room Nezumi saw a light. One piece of fabric was pushed aside and the dark haired boy saw Shion.
He was sitting on desk near big windows. His desk was filled with papers and catalogues. Some part of Nezumi calmed down after he saw Shion, but the rest of his worries grew more.
The white haired boy didn't look good. Nezumi wasn't sure if he looked better or worse than in TV. Shion's hands were shaking and his face appeared even more like some kind of ghost. The older boy felt like his stomach jumped up to his throat.
About half hour later, Shion moved from the desk and with unstable, shaky steps he has walked to the balcony.
Nezumi grinded his tooth.
"Damn idiot, if you're tired you should rest, not do paperwork". He said to himself.
The white haired boy tilted over the barrier of balcony and almost crashed on it with all his body. Then he fell to his knees. At that moment Nezumi heard Shion's scream. It was different than the one from eight years ago. It was full of hurt and it was begging for help. It torn Nezumi's heart and soul apart.
Small cry followed the scream.
"Please. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Please. Nezumi..."
The silver eyed boy frozen after hearing his name. This whole scene hurt him more than anything else in his life. Before he got himself together Shion was already up and he slowly moved inside his room. Afterwards a few steps inside, he fell down on floor.
After Shion didn't move for a minute Nezumi rushed to his side. Climbing into balcony wasn't hard when he was 12, so now it took the dark haired boy only a few seconds. He fell on knees beside Shion and shook him a little.
"Hey, Shion! Wake up! Shion."
But the white haired boy was silent. Nezumi checked his pulse and breath. They were quiet, but firm. Afraid to move him, Nezumi only raised his head a little so unconscious boy had easiest way to breathe. He saw a communication unit in Shion's hand. He could just run down the stairs to the bakery, but he was too much afraid of leaving Shion alone so pressed a few buttons and pushed call button.

"Dear, do you need something? You don't usually call.."
"Ms. Karan, Shion lost conscious. Can you came to his room fast?" Nezumi interrupted woman.
"Nezumi?" He heard that woman's voice sound both surprised and terrified.
"I'm coming." Before he could say anything more Karan ran into the room and leaped out to them. She scanned room and kept her eyes on small desk beside sofa on center of room.
"He didn't eat anything again." She said more to herself than to Nezumi that who was right now just beside her now.
"Can we move him to the bed?" Asked Nezumi.
"I guess it should be alright."
After those words Nezumi put one of his hands under Shion's knees, the other around the boy and brought him closer to his chest. After he lifted white haired boy he gave strangled sound of surprise. Shion was so light. He always was slim and West Block life also didn't help it. They often couldn't get much food, they were lucky if they could have a three meals per day. But now Shion weight was almost nothing and Nezumi could feel his ribs under the white shirt. Gently he walked up little stairs to Shion's bed and put him slowly on white sheets.
Karan sat beside him.
"Shion, dear, can you hear me? It's just no good. I think he will need to go back to the hospital again."
Before Nezumi could say anything they heard a quiet voice.
"No, I won't... back... there."
Nezumi with some strange impulse jumped down the stairs and hid himself. He didn't want Shion to see him. The silver-eyed boy was afraid that when Shion sees him it would be too much shock for exhausted boy to handle. Or perhaps Nezumi wasn't ready yet to meet with the other man.
"Shion, I told you that if you don't eat you will have to get back to the hospital. You didn't eat what I brought to you again, you didn't even drink any milk."
"I will drink it now." the boy said as he tried to get up.
"Don't move. I will bring it to you." Karan said and got down. She looked at Nezumi and slowly nodded her head.
She took a tray with a milk and she climbed back to the Shion's bed.
"You really need to take a break."
"I can't mom." Shion said after taking a slip from the glass. "You know it. It's my responsible."
"Please, just one week, rest and fix regain your health then. After that you can come back to work."
Shion didn't answer.
"I don't want to anything bad happen to you."
"Don't worry, I will be alright. "
Nezumi didn't know if it was lack of any emotion in Shion's voice or feeling that Shion wouldn't mind if he just could die right here and now made the black-haired angry and frightened.
Before a second thought he jumped to Shion and grabbed him by the collar of his white shirt and brought their faces closer.
"You fucking idiot! What are you doing? Are you trying to kill yourself? You want to give up? You survived those damn bees, hunt, Correctional Facility, but now you just give up in such pathetic way? Are you really alright with worrying your mother like this? Did you see yourself? You look like dead, how could you get yourself in such state?!"
Nezumi screamed and Karan wasn't sure with which one was more terrified, he or Shion. After Nezumi stopped a silence fell in the room. Then they heard Shion's chuckle, he laughed quiet with a lifeless eyes.
"I've finally gone mad."
He looked at Nezumi and moved his hands into his hair grabbing them hard.
"Somebody stop this nightmare." The boy said quietly while closing his eyes.
"Shion!" Nezumi grabbed his hands and moved them away, then he laid his hands on the other boy's cheeks.
"Look at me!"
'Please, Shion don't break down, don't do it. Don't tell me it's too late.' Nezumi was thinking inside his head.
Sharp breaths left Shion's mouth and now younger boy moved his hands to his throat. He was fighting for each breath, eyes filled with tears.

"FUCK!"
Nezumi held tight shaking body to his chest. He was thinking about anything that could help right now, but he never was good in this sort of things. Shion was so broken that Nezumi wondered if he even could even do anything.
He put one hand over boy's waist and with another hand he gentle stroked his fingers over Shion's head to soothe him. He quietly whispered to other's ear.
"Shion, I'm here. It's not a dream or a nightmare. I'm here now. Calm down. I'm sorry I had shouted at you. It's ok, try to take a deep breath. Shion."
Swallow breath started to change into deeper ones, but Shion's body still shook in Nezumi's arms. It took about twenty minutes before the boy calmed down, he put his head over Nezumi's shoulder and moved his arms to lightly return embrace.
"Nezumi..."
"Yes, that's me." older boy said and tried to smirk.
Nezumi looked over to Karan's side. She was scared after Shion's outburst and surely lost about what she should do. When she saw Shion's eyes closing and slowly drifting to the sleep she started to calm down as well. Nezumi realized that his mice left his pocket in the middle of all this chaos. He looked around and found them sitting on a small animal bed with third mouse - Tsukiyo - which stayed with Shion. He signaled them to stay there for now.
After a few more minutes Nezumi put the sleeping boy again on bed.

"Let's go down to the bakery." A whisper left Karan's mouth. Nezumi just nodded his head and he followed her.
They got into a small kitchen. The First floor was mostly used for bakery, with a room for baking and big one that contained a shop and tables for customers. Still, they kept the small space for a family kitchen with little dinner table for, as Nezumi thought, creating opportunities to spend at least meals together. Karan waved her hand telling him to sit down.

"Do you want coffee or tea?"
"No need to bother, thank you."
"You don't need to hold back. You don't look like you have slept much. Maybe you want something to eat?”

'Damn, how that woman can be so kind? I messed her and her son's life.' boy thought looking at tiled floor.
Still, she put down a plate with muffins and a cup with coffee before him. Afterward that, she sat down in front of him.
Nezumi took a better look on her and her sad smile. He surely wasn't the only one that looked worn down. It was sure clear that the latest worries reflected on her face, she really loved her son. Seeing that Nezumi isn't wasn't going to say anything, woman asked.

"What's brings you back to the NO.6?"
"I saw Shion in TV three days ago and..." the boy said slowly.
"I see. Thank you for worrying about my son." Karan slowly smiled. Nezumi felt like the guilt was going to suffocate him right now. There was something in their family genes that always made him so opened and confused.
"Nezumi. I have a favor to ask." She looked at boy with kindness "I know you are a free person and you are already an adult. You probably have your own life, but please, help Shion. I suppose you are the only one who can get through him."
Nezumi saw woman wiping out the tears that began to gathering in her eyes with the hem of her sleeve.
Wasn't that a reason why he's back?
No.
Just a few hours ago he could only think about getting to the white haired boy as fast as possible. Before it was too late. Was it too late now?
No. Shion was still alive.
However, all the situation didn't seem much like a happy fairy tale.
Was he ready? He didn't even think a week ago that he would sit in this kitchen today.
It was always a Shion who saved him from his emotional mess and now it was his turn. But how could he do that? If Shion's mother couldn't do it how someone that was so twisted like him could help?
He was always the one who destroyed and Shion was the one who revived.
The sound of a moving chair got Nezumi off his mind.
"I'm going to make a dinner. If you want to use the bathroom, then one is down here, left doors from here at corridor, second one is connected to Shion's room at the second floor".
"Thank you Ma'am."
'Fuck, I'm not going to run. Not from Shion, not from most important person in my crazy life'. He thought before Karan left the room.
"Ma'am, I will help him. You can be ensured that I will do anything to help him.”
'I have debt bigger than my life anyway to you both'.
Karan again smiled to him, now she looked happier.
"Thank you. After I'm done can you take a dinner the food to Shion and make sure he will eat it?"
"Yes, of course." Even if he had to force it into Shion's mouth on his own, he added in his mind.
He took off his jacket and super fiber scarf and hung it in corridor near to Shion's coat. Seeing it this way, Nezumi couldn't help but smile. This picture just felt so right.

Chapter Text

Not long after their talk, Karan approached Nezumi with Shion's dinner.

Nezumi went into Shion's room which was covered by darkness of the evening. It didn't change much since they were twelve. The only thing that was different in that place was a new wall under platform with Shion's bed.

Years ago, the space under mezzanine was almost empty, with only a few shelves. On those shelves standing the rewards from Shion's contests and that kind of stuff if Nezumi remembered it correctly. He tried to check out new room, but the doors were shut. It piqued his curiosity, but Shion and dinner were more important. He put the plates on the small night stand near the bed and gently shook Shion.

"Hey, sleeping prince. Your low servant brought you a meal".

Shion slowly opened his eyes.

'Damn' Nezumi thought, how he missed that face, when Shion was still not fully woke up, he missed that soft look in albino's eyes when boy tried to figure out where he was. Often after Shion saw Nezumi next to him in their bed, he smiled and it always made a next day in the West Block less annoying.

But this time the lost look didn't leave those crimson eyes. After a while he looked at Nezumi. Shaky hand again traveled into the white hair.

"You are here." Empty words left Shion's mouth. The dark haired boy thought that maybe acting normal towards Shion will be the best option for now. Small steps, right?

"Yes, I am. Now sit up and take that soup from me, I already had my share of your mother's amazing cooking skill and I hate seeing food getting waste. "

Even so, Shion didn't moved. He was thinking deep in his mind, trying to suppress emotions that were threatened to surface onto his face.

"Maybe you start to consider that you run on the sun energy? If yes, I don't think it works by looking at you." Nezumi said, as calm as he could, but he felt that his anger was bubbling.

"Hey, my hand is starting to hurt, hurry up and take it." Nezumi felt better after he saw Shion sitting up and taking a bowl.

"It won't bite you." he smirked and felt like he was talking to a little kid. At last the white haired boy started to eat, but that damn hollow look in his eyes returned.

Nezumi saw the others boy's body struggle with every movement. Shion's body was beyond the boy's control from lack of nutrients and sugar. His hands and even legs were shaking here and there.

"Here, drink it too." Said the dark haired boy after taking Shion's bowl back and giving him a hot tea with milk and sugar.

Silence fell in the room. Shion was sitting on bed and looking on the floor.

"You don't acknowledge my return, do you?" Nezumi said after a while.

"No". Shion answered quietly.

"You didn't want me to return?"

Shion raised his head quick and looked at Nezumi with a mix of pain and anger, but his face turned back fast into emotionless mask.

"No, I wanted it."

Silence returned, but this time it was Shion who broke it.

"Didn't you always repeated to not become too attached?" He gave other boy a strange looking smile.

'Damn, I've broken him, I've broken him so fucking hard.' Thought Nezumi and now he was looking at floor.

"I've changed, there is nothing you can return to."

"Don't decide that for me!" Nezumi started to feel afraid. Maybe the man before him really wasn't Shion anymore. Maybe that boy from four years ago was already dead and Nezumi have no one to return to. He destroyed the only pure light in this sinister world. Nezumi's eyes started to burn with tears. He grabbed Shion's shoulders and nearly screamed.

"Then all you said, that you would wait, that you didn't want to lose me, that you loved me were a lies?"

Something broke through Shion's emotionless mask.

"No. Stop it. I don't deserve..."

"What is it you don't deserve? Eating, living?" He'd moved Shion's hand to his own heart.

"Then why did you save that life before you? Why did you save me and now you throw away the lives of both of us? Shion, fuck, if you've moved on… If you've found someone else, then I would understand it. It will hurt me, but it was me who left. But I don't see you happy. You're only basically and slowly killing yourself. We promised to never lie to each other! You said once that you wanted to live! Was it also a lie?"

"Nezumi..." the white haired boy's body trembled. He looked over the warm hands wrapped around him and he felt the beatings of Nezumi's heart under his palms.

"Shion, look at me. That person who you was is still here before me. You're in there, I know it. You've taught me to believe, so I believe in it. I've read every information about your work in the city. I didn't see much of it on my own yet because I was in hurry, but you have done a good job. I trusted you with that task and you didn't let me down."

Shion looked at Nezumi. All Shion had always wished for, an affection, a pride from what he had done was shining in those beautiful silver eyes. No, this couldn't be true, it had to be a dream. Then Shion felt an older boy's hand on his face and touching his scar. Just like back then. He moved his head without thinking into that touch and he closed his eyes.

"Nezumi..."

Few moments later Shion felt warm lips over his. Kiss was tender and white haired boy started to return it, but a few seconds later he pushed Nezumi away.

"Don't!"

"Don't do it. If you leave again I won't be able to gather together those pieces of me that will be left after it. I don't know what will happen to me after that..." Shion thought, feeling like his whole soul has shattered like a broken mirror.

"Shion?" Nezumi wasn't sure what was wrong. He didn't know why he was pushed away, when just a moment ago Shion said his name with such a longing voice. He looked at other boy and gave scared sound. Shion was crying, his hands in white hair, his eyes closed.

'Damn, I really can only hurt him.'

"Shion, I'm sorry." Maybe Shion really hated him. He should after all the things Nezumi had done to him.

The soft cry of the crimson eyed boy was the only sound in the room. Slowly Nezumi stood up and took the plates.

"I will take it to your mama, she will be happy to hear that you have finally eaten something. I will bring you your breakfast tomorrow's morning. "

Shion looked at him, as he wiped his tears.

"Where are you going to sleep?"

Nezumi didn't expected a question like that.

"I would gladly make use of your sofa if you don't want to throw me out."

"No, of course not."

"No, for sofa or no, for throwing me out?" Nezumi tried to smile even if his heart hurt like (as) hell.

"You can use anything you want in this home."

"Then you should go back to sleep, Your Majesty. You need a rest." He bowed and left the room.

Nezumi slowly went down the stairs.

'Damn, perhaps coming here was a really bad idea...' he touched his lips.

Even so, Shion didn't give up on him back then when Nezumi was shot, so he would do everything he could to help him as well. Even if Shion hated him right now.

Nezumi heard quiet squeaks from the kitchen. Three little mouse must have got tired of waiting and found their ways to find something to eat.

Karan turned her head and looked at the dark haired boy.

"He ate it all." Said Nezumi while putting the plates into sink.

"Really?" Happiness glowed from her face "Thank you Nezumi. Soon I will head to sleep, oh, where are you going to sleep?"

"I going to sleep on sofa in Shion's room Ma'am."

"Do you need something? A towel, sheets, blanket? "

"Don't bother Ma'am."

The woman looked at him and sat on kitchen's chair.

"Nezumi can you sit down for a while? It won't take you long."

The boy didn't like situations like this, but he quietly sat down in front of Karan.

"Maybe I should have told you this four years ago, but I didn't knew much about you at that time. Don't be angry at Shion, but he had told me many things about you."

'Mama's boy.' thought Nezumi annoyed.

"I know that you lost your family and you have gone through things I'll probably never understand fully. Still, allow me to tell you one thing. It's nothing wrong for you to be happy."

Nezumi gave woman a surprised look.

"There is nothing wrong to care about the other person if they also care for you. Nothing wrong with opening your heart. Your environment was harsh and dangerous, but being alone can't get you far for very long. "

Yes, Nezumi knew about it. Shion was the first who show him warmth of the other person. If it had not been for that he would have been dead that night. Who would he be four years ago if he did not receive Shion's kindness the night he was shot? Who would he be today? He had gone on a journey to understand things that Karan talked about. He had to find his own way of living, not to be blinded by his hatred for NO.6. Being with others was dangerous, being alone hurt and you were left without any help when you needed it. He learned fast that hoping for other's help was a mistake, well, until times when Shion was part of his life. Even when Nezumi had pushed him aside, when he told Shion that he helped him only to feel better about himself. Even then Shion always extended his helping hand to Nezumi. He told himself that they were different, but they always supported each other. Nezumi knew he wouldn't go far without it.

Karan continued her talk.

"I want you to be happy, you saved me and my son. You deserve to be happy. You don't need to run from the feelings that make you feel right. You'll always have a place here."

She stood up and put her hand on Nezumi's shoulder. Nezumi looked down, many feelings have mixed inside of him and it made his stomach twist.

"I'm sorry, Ma'am." He said without looking at Shion's mother.

"What for?" Karan smiled at him.

"For a messing your life, because of me you were thrown out from Chronos in the first place."

"You truly think that your life was less important than living in the big house?" She answered him like she was scolding child after they had done something bad.

Nezumi looked at her, feeling completely shocked.

"I was happy, I enjoyed my job, I had everything I needed in the Lost Town, you have saved that everything, and you have saved my son." Karan said with pride in her voice and looked at him with thankful eyes.

She let Nezumi be alone for a while. He felt like a heavy stone had fallen off his heart.

"Now it's time to sleep." she said and put a large, warm blanket into his hands.

Nezumi nodded and headed to Shion's room.

"Thank you, Ma'am. Good night. "

"Good night, Nezumi."

The room was dark. Shion woke up with a need to go to the toilet. He didn't knew how long he was sleeping, but it had to be more than he often managed. That was a surprise since he never slept much when he had dreams about Nezumi. Those always left him broken and hurt for a long time and after those dreams it was harder for him to return into his empty, emotionless state of mind.

Shion slowly walked downstairs. He almost lost consciousness from exhaustion. He waited a while for it to pass over while leaning over wall. He took again a few steps towards the bathroom when he heard the quiet breaths from his sofa. He came closer and saw sleeping Nezumi. Shion realized that those last hours wasn't a dream. He began to feel ashamed after he remembered about all that had happen. Even so, Nezumi was still here, under his mother's wild-flowers-patterned blanket after Shion rejected his kiss.

But…

Nezumi would go away again. That kiss must have been a sign of the next goodbye, right?

Shion felt his eyes started to burn, so he hid himself fast into the bathroom. After calming down and finishing all things in the bathroom he came back out again to look at the other boy.

Nezumi didn't change so much, he was a little taller than four years ago and his shoulders were wider. Journey and physical work made his body a little more muscular, but his face still looked almost feminine.

Shion wanted to touch him, but instead he sat on the floor, he lowered his head over edge of sofa and looked at Nezumi. It's been a very long time since Shion felt such peace in his mind. His heart hurt at that thought and the realization that it would hurt even more after other boy will disappear again from Shion's life. The white haired boy slowly hold Nezumi's hand that was hanging out from the blanket. It was so warm. With the feeling of this warm hand in his own, Shion closed his eyes.

Nezumi felt rays of the light beaming straight into his face. He woke up and saw big windows in front of his eyes. For a while he couldn't figure out where he was. After his eyes get used to the light, he realized that he was in Shion's home. He tried to move and in that moment he felt something was holding his hand. Nezumi raised his head just to saw a sleeping Shion.

His heart warmed at such scene.

"Airhead, don't sleep on the floor".

He was happy, Shion's act make him sure that maybe he still had a place in the the other's heart. He moved his free hand to touch those white hairs. They were still so soft under Nezumi's fingers. He looked at the other boy. Shion's face looked more alive after a dinner and a whole night of sleep, but dark circles under his eyes were still there. He grew a little, but not enough to be as the same height as Nezumi. He would look like handsome young man if he wasn't so slim. Clothes looked at him like they were a few sizes too large.

Nezumi stood up and lifted Shion again.

"Damn, it will take a while to cure it" he thought as he walked with underweight Shion in his arms.

After he put the white-haired boy on his bed, he walked downstairs to the bakery room.

"Good morning" he said to Karan after woman finished her transaction with a customer.

"Oh, Nezumi. Good morning, did you sleep well? "

"Yes, thank you."

"Shion is still sleeping?" she asked with a little worry.

"Yes, I believe he slept almost the whole night."

"Thank goodness. "

Few teenagers came through the glassy door of the bakery and Karan left Nezumi. Kids brought few sweet rolls and hurried to school. Didn't know how much time she had before the next customer, Karan asked the silver-eyed boy.

"Nezumi, can you watch out the shop for a while? I will prepare breakfast for Shion and you. If you will have any problems, just call me." She asked. Nezumi could say that he could himself prepare breakfast for Shion and him, but he was taken aback by Karan's proposition. He wasn't good at dealing with her motherly acting towards him, so he only nodded his head with agreement.

Before Karan got back Nezumi has sold a few muffins, breads and rolls. He was surprised how normal people acted.

His 16 year-old self-imaged people from NO.6 as a sinister beings. After the wall fell he had expected to see people broken-down from the goddess punishment. But they looked happy. It wasn't any different from in the others cities Nezumi had seen on his journey. Was it Shion's magic? Did he manage to create a place so peaceful that it already healed the wounds that the previous government and Elyurias left?

A part of him was angry. After all the things he had gone through because of this city, he wished for its people to cry, to curse their fates, to be angry over the lives that were stolen from them. To somehow pay for all that had happened to him.

But, wasn't he who gave these people a second chance? Who believed in Shion? The people who were behind all bloodshed in Correctional Facility had died. Elyurias killed them. Maybe everyone, just like Nezumi, wanted to forget, to be free after all that happened. Shion and the people who survived that day four years ago wanted to create a new future and from what Nezumi heard they had done a great job in rebuilding this city. Everything was open now, no more walls, and no one was anymore blind to what NO.6 had done. People wanted to live. Everyone looked towards the future.

"Thank you for your help." Karan's voice brought Nezumi back from his thoughts. "Breakfast is ready in the kitchen. Can you take it to Shion? Oh, did you sell this much?"

"Natural talent Ma'am" he put on his most charming pose and Karan laughed.

"That part of you didn't change much I see. "

"Thank you, Ma'am." He said with smile before he stepped away to the kitchen.

When Nezumi walked into room Shion was still asleep.

Karan had prepared a big plate of cheese and ham sandwiches and salad from fresh vegetables. They were such a luxury for Nezumi. He could be surprised that Shion was so slim with such amazing food, but he knew that Shion's problems have other causes.

He set the tray on the small desk beside the sofa and walked upstairs to wake up the white haired boy.

"Hey, Shion, wake up."

The white-haired boy sat up quickly on the bed, but a moment later he almost fell back on his pillows, and the room was spinning around him. He held hand to his head like it could help stopping the world dancing before his very eyes.

"Hey, not so fast, your royal air-head" Nezumi smiled.

Shion looked at him and checked his surroundings.

"I was sure that the bed is more comfortable, but maybe next time I should leave you on the floor?" Dark haired tried to tease Shion. It worked since the white haired boy blushed a little and turned his face towards the wall.

"Come on, let's eat."

Shion face twisted with unhappiness, but he slowly stood up and went down after Nezumi to the table. Older boy opened balcony's doors and sat down beside Shion. They ate in silence for a moment or rather Nezumi ate and Shion just bit a little pieces of the his own sandwich.

"The fresh air fits the best for breakfast. Sun will warm your body, wind will wake up your soul and food will give you strength." Nezumi tried to break the silence but it didn't worked. He was irritated, he never imagined that he would ever miss Shion's never-ending talks.

'Shion are you really still there?'

"I wonder if it's an act or not?" Said Shion after a while.

"What you mean?"

"How can you act like nothing happened, like this is a normal day and you have been here for the last four years." Shion eyes were empty.

"We both know that soon this morning will turn into nothing for you. It's only a breakfast with total stranger after all."

Nezumi didn't know what to say, did his words change Shion that much?

"Do you actually believe that?"

"Do I believe?! You were one who always said it, you were one who made it into reality!" Shion stood up and screamed at Nezumi.

"All the feelings I've said, all the things I've done for you, you just always shrug them off. I'm not drawn to you, I don't love you, I can't be with you. You are wind, I had to stay. You had gone away, you pushed me away." Salty tears fell down the boy's cheek. Nezumi extended his hand to touch one of Shion's trembling hands.

"Don't!" the white haired pushed it aside, "You are going to leave again, just like back then. I've wanted everything of you, always. I've felt that way from the very beginning. And I have always desired to give everything of me to you. You said on that hill that you didn't have a place here. It hurt me when you said it and it still hurts. Wasn't that place, that room in West Block our home? If not... I have always only wanted to create place like that for you, for both of us. For me it doesn't matter where, home is where you are. But you didn't give me a chance. You never considered me as a person, I will always be another NO.6 evil to you, you..."

"Shion, stop it, please!" Nezumi screamed, interrupting Shion's speech.

It was true, he was like that. It was so terrifying. All Shion said was the truth.

What all good things he done for the white haired boy meant when he really was like that? He hurt Shion and pushed the boy away over and over. Nothing in the world could change that. Nezumi wanted to cry like Shion right now, but he couldn't. He had done and said all of it. He had done more harm than good for that boy. Nezumi wanted to run, run away as fast as possible. To fell down and never have to face who he was with Shion.

"Your home was always here, it's still here..." Shion said slowly and fell down back on sofa. His outburst drained him out.

'Do I still have a chance? Can I fix it all?'

Nezumi wanted to ask, but the words were trapped in his throat. Nezumi looked at the other boy. The crimson eyed boy seemed tired, his face and eyes were red from crying. What should Nezumi say now?

"Will you eat more?" He asked after a while.

"I don't think so." Quiet answer left Shion's lips.

"I see..." he got up and took the plates. "You should rest, I will go help your mama."

To be true, he just wanted to get away from this room.

Nezumi walked down the stairs and he sat on the floor in the dark corridor. He felt broken, things that helped him survive until this day destroyed the only light in his life. He devastated Shion, he destroyed the only person he loved. Funny, was he even be able to love? He was a demon, he could only hurt the others. He didn't wanted to hurt Shion, everyone, but not him. Hot tears found their way to his cheeks. He didn't want to lose Shion. He didn't want to be alone.

Shion sat on sofa and stared at the sky behind windows.

He hurt Nezumi, things Shion felt and said had hurt the other boy really bad. Shion remembered Nezumi's face when the albino wanted to kill himself at the Correctional Facility. The face he saw just few minutes ago, after all the words that he said, was worse than the one from that time. Nezumi was terrified and it was Shion who again caused that.

Well, what he said was true, but in the other hand, Shion always believed, he knew that he was important to the dark haired boy. Nezumi always watched over him, protected so he could survive in West Block and he tried to help him save Safu. He cried for him. Nezumi had cried for him when Shion's world fell apart.

Shion felt bad, so bad that he wanted to throw up everything he just ate. He had hurt the other boy. He knew how hard, sad and painful Nezumi's life was and he still did that. How could he say such painful things to Nezumi when he himself was a monster?

Perhaps this was also Shion's repayment for his sins, to be alone, to always scare Nezumi away from him. He didn't deserve to be happy.

He saw a blanket under which Nezumi slept in last night. He took it into his hands and he buried his face in it. It smelled just like the dark haired boy.

Shion felt like the worst person in the world.

Why did it hurt so much?

Nezumi didn't know how long he had been sitting in the corridor. His eyes were already swollen from the crying.

"Your home was always here. It will always be here..."

Did Shion really think like that? Can he stay and try one more time to give back feelings that Shion always have given to him?

Nezumi got up and walked into the kitchen. He checked fridge and started to cook. The first soup Nezumi had ever given to Shion after he survived the wasp. Their first meal when they started living together.

Nezumi would make it as a sign of a second start. He would stay with Shion if the white haired boy let him. He would learn how to love him, if the way he loved Shion right now wasn't enough. He would fix all of his own twisted personalities, Shion's illness and pain that Nezumi had caused.

"Please, Shion, give me a chance." he whispered over a cooking pot.

Chapter Text

Nezumi was glad that his tears managed to dry before Karan came into the kitchen.

"Oh, it smells nice. What's that?" Karan asked as she came closer to the boiling pot.

"A Macbeth soup." Nezumi said. He didn't think that Shion's mother understood his answer, but she smiled brightly like she finally met a celebrity.

"Shion talked a lot about it, would you mind if I try it?"

"No Ma'am, the pleasure is all mine. "

Nezumi poured some soup into the bowl and handed it to Karan. She ate few spoonsful and looked at the boy.

"You have put a lot of your heart into it."

Nezumi turned away his face to hide his flush.

"Perhaps I should hire you in the bakery?" she said and Nezumi froze. He didn't know what to say, that woman was full of surprises and he would never think he would hear an offer like this from Shion's mother.

"Excuse me, Ma'am?" he said after a moment.

"You have a good taste. Today's morning you really helped me with the shop. I was thinking about hiring someone to help for a while, but I couldn't find anyone reliable. Still, I need to warn you. I'm a strict employer. You will have to wake up at 4a.m. and learn a lot of recipes. No slacking off." she said seriously with smile on her face.

"Think about it. I won't push you, since you may have some other things in your mind now that you come back. I don't get younger and Renka opened a flower shop around a two years ago, so she and Lili don't come to help any longer. I can't pay you much more than you would earn in the other places, but don't worry I'm not a slave driver." She laughed.

"Oh, right, I called Shion's work place and told them that Shion won't be back for a week at least. I think that will be good. I bet he's going to object and try to return to his work immediately, but I hope that together we'll manage to make him stay in the home and rest." Karan said with a more serious tone.

"I need to get back to the shop now. About the thing I said earlier, I know that's a big request but the decision is in your hands." She said and left for the shop, leaving Nezumi alone in the kitchen.

That was just strange. Why would she say that? Nezumi was lost, but at the same time he was glad. He saw hope, if Shion let him stay, then Karan didn't mind too if he remain in this house?. No, she had done even more, she gave him a place inside their family. She even handed him the task to help Shion.

Would she do something like this if she knew who Nezumi really was and what he had done to Shion?

No.

He didn't want to think about it now. For this moment, the most important was what Shion was going to choose. Would Shion want Nezumi to be a part of his life again? He would do anything for Shion to make him happy, even if he has to put his past behind. They were both here and alive. That was all they needed right now, right?

He had clung to the past for too long.

Shion was reading the documents from his work when Nezumi walked into the room with a tray.

"Damn it, Shion. You shouldn't work!" the dark-haired boy came closer to him and put the dishes on the table.

"Your mother just told me that she called your work and said you would be absent for at least a week." Nezumi said angrily.

"It's impossible. We have problems with finding money for restructuring employments in educational fields." He said it more to himself than to Nezumi who sat beside him on the sofa. Silver eyed boy took the electronic paper from Shion's hands with one smooth movement and with his other hand he turned the white haired boy's head. Empty, crimson eyes looked straight at Nezumi.

"Listen, you're going to rest. For the next week you are going to eat, sleep, watch TV and enjoy the warmth of summer days."

Maybe Shion wanted to fight back, but the room again spun around when he made a rash movement. He held tight to sofa's material with his hands and he closed his eyes.

"See? You don't have strength to fight me back and you think you can work?" Nezumi said and with uncertainty he put his hand over the other boy's shoulder.

"Shion, look at me." He said as gently as he could. The white haired boy opened his eyes and looked into magical silver of Nezumi's eyes.

"No one, not me, not Safu, not anyone who asked you to change this damn city wanted you to be hurt because of it. Listen to me and please don't say anything until I finish. I'm very sorry. All you said in the morning was true and it's true that I don't deserve your feelings. If you want me to go away, I will, but I want to stay with you, I'll remain by your side as long as you let me."

"You are lying..." Shion whispered "Just like when you said you will tell me your name after I will get better. You will do it again, I will recover, you will go away and I'll ..." his voice broke down.

"I've promised you to never lie again. I've promised you to come back. I kept that promise. But I know it might be too late."

"What if I say I want you to stay forever? You are a free person, you can't stay long in the single place."

"Yes." Nezumi answered with a serious face. Shion knew that the other boy was telling the truth. "I have always wanted to travel. It was my dream to travel, it still is. I desired to sing and laugh while seeing the world since I was just a kid. To be detached like the wind. "

"See? It's all..."

"Let me finish. In exchange for my promise to stay here you will need also to promise me a one thing." He smiled and saw that Shion's face that was almost emotionless now twisted with a surprise look.

"What promise?" asked albino, his voice mixed with curiosity and fear.

"At least one month per year, perhaps more if possible, when you and I take a break from our works, we will travel or take a vacation far away from here.

I have seen the world and its beauty and wilderness, but I always thought about you. Damn it, Shion, you broke me. You've saved me, you break through my walls and I can't cut you off no matter how hard I have tried.

I was scared of the feelings I had for you. Of how much power you had over me because of your kindness. I've hurt you many times because of that. But now I have grown out of it. I won't run away anymore from our feelings. All I want now is to be by your side." Nezumi took shaking hands of crimson eyed boy into his.

"Will you let me in?"

Shion sat there unable to believe of what Nezumi said. It was too good to be true. But Nezumi was right there, waiting for his answer. He freed one of his hand from Nezumi's grip and touched the black-haired boy's face. It was real. He touched Nezumi and the other didn't pushed him away. He wanted to believe, he wanted it so much that it killed him from inside.

"Will you promise?"

'Can I be greedy? Can I keep you close until our life will end? Can we be happy now?'

Nezumi only nodded and smiled to him.

"I promise. Anyway, your mom already asked me to help with bakery, thus if your majesty let me stay, I might say yes to that offer. "

He chuckled after seeing Shion's eyes to go bigger and bigger.

"She asked you to work with her?"

"Yes, that might be hard for us to spend late evenings together since the work time begins insanely early in the morning."

"Are you okay with it? Don't you want to act?" Shion asked with concern in his voice.

"Oh, our little prince still like to see me in a dress?" Nezumi teased the other boy.

"No, it's not like that." Shion waved his hand and flushed. He didn't wanted for Nezumi to give up things he loved for him.

"What do you think? That I've done only acting for living for a last four years? Don't worry, maybe your mom will kick me away after a week because I will suck?" He laughed.

"It's impossible, you always amazing in what are you doing." Shion grabbed his wrist and looked in Nezumi's eyes saying such line like it was the only truth in the universe.

"You didn't change, you still say those cheesy things to me." Nezumi said and Shion blushed. This whole situation felt so right. There was still hope for Shion's full recovery.

For a while no one said anything, then Nezumi remembered about a soup.

"Damn, I hope it didn't get cold."

He opened vase and he started to fill their bowls.

"Is that?" Shion asked curiously and excited crept into his voice.

"Yes, it's Macbeth soup. You don't know how long it took me to find its actual ingredients."

After he saw face of Shion totally filled with terror, Nezumi burst out with laughter.

"Tch, I should have known that you're teasing me again." Shion said with a small smile, the first one for many months.

The whole moment felt like the times when they were sixteen and it warmed the white haired boy's heart. Somehow it was easier for him to eat and after second plate Nezumi was really happy that he ate this much.

"I will go wash the dishes and tell your mom a happy news." The dark haired said and got up.

"Are you really staying?" Shion asked with a shaking voice.

"I've vowed, haven't I? What should I do more to please your royal airheadness?"

"Seal it?" Shion asked in almost a whisper, didn't believe he actually said in aloud and Nezumi smirked.

"As you wish, your majesty."

Nezumi sat back on the sofa and took Shion face into his hands. Shion closed his eyes, he was nervous and he was certain that his heartbeat was so loud that everyone in NO.6 could hear it. Shion heard Nezumi chuckled and next he felt their lips finely met again. It was a gentle, but passionate kiss, it slowly warmed up his body and Shion put his hands around Nezumi's waist. He haven't had much practice, but somehow he was able to keep up with Nezumi's hot lips. It was different from kiss on the hill that Nezumi gave him. This kiss promised the future which they didn't need to hurry, and that they could slowly find each other again.

"That's should be enough for now, I'm such an amazing kisser that you could pass out again, let's continue after you gain kilogram or two." Nezumi joked after kiss ended and Shion made annoyed sound.

"Don't look at me like that, it's another promise. Rest, I will be soon back."

After Nezumi left a room Shion stared for a while at the door. He wanted to trust in the future and for the first time in months he was happy that he felt alive.

'Maybe I truly need you to remember who I am.'

With a full stomach and thoughts about other boy he fell asleep.

Before Nezumi came back Shion managed to take a shower and change into clean T-shirt and short pants. After that he considered that it was a bad idea, since when Nezumi came in and saw him, dark-haired boy changed into a hurricane. He jumped at Shion. He lifted up the other boy's T-shirt and made an angry sound.

"Fuck!" Nezumi only said before he again left the room. Scared and frozen Shion stood in center of room and he didn't understand what just happened. After a while silver eyed boy returned with a big scale that Karan used to weight bags with sugar and flour.

Nezumi put it before Shion.

"Jump on it. Damn, you only bones and skin. I don't know how could you get yourself into such state. What the fuck were you thinking?" he cursed angrily.

"I wasn't thinking. If I were I could only think about things we saw inside the Correctional Facility, about Safu and you... About what I did there... I just couldn't eat normally with all those memories. "

Nezumi's face softened and he looked gently at the other boy.

"I understand, but it can't keep going like this. We need to deal with it, so jump on it. We need to see how bad is it and have a starting point to know how much progress we will make from now on."

Shion took a deep breath and stood on the scale.

"Fuck, Shion. 54 kilograms? No surprise that you're looking like a skeleton."

Shion looked at floor, he didn't wanted to see Nezumi's worried face. Then he felt arms pulling him into an embrace. The white-haired boy gasped quietly in surprise. Nezumi kept him in his arms the first night he came back, but that was when Shion had a panic attack. Simple hugs like this one was something that Shion couldn't believe to happen. Nezumi in the past wouldn't give him such simple act of comfort, right? Well, there was once when they were joking about his father, rest hugs ended with him slammed over something or cuts on his throat. Because of that Shion sank into embrace still afraid that soon he would get pushed away. Maybe Nezumi understood his concerns because he tighten his hug a little more. Shion put his shaking hands around the other boy's waist. He heard his mouth gave strange sound and then he noticed that he was crying. Oh, how he wanted that moment to never end, to be held in Nezumi's arms just like this.

They stood in that way for a while. When Shion's legs started to give in, he heard quiet voice just above his ear.

"Shion, can I let you go?"

The white haired boy nodded and looked at Nezumi.

"Yes, I'm sorry." he wiped out the last tracks of tears with his hand.

"Airhead, don't apologize." Nezumi said and he touched Shion's hair.

"Nezumi, I need to tell you something."

"Don't sound so serious."

"But it's important. It is something that have bothered me for the last four years after you left." Nezumi made sound like he didn't want to hear it, maybe because he was afraid of Shion's words, but he let the other boy to continue anyway.

Silence filled the room for a moment until Shion found the right words.

"Nezumi, I'm sorry about what I said inside Correctional Facility after Safu died. I blamed you for her death. I'm sorry, I never apologized for it and it was no surprise that you left because of that."

Nezumi thought he would laugh if the topic wasn't so serious.

"Shion, I never thought about it as my reason to leave you. You were hurt and I never thought that you would blame yourself for what you said at that moment. Even if you apologized for that four years ago I would still ran away because it wasn't my reason to leave."

"Yet, I have always wanted to apologize for those words."

"If that makes you feel better I won't stop you. It's okay, you can forget about it now."

Shion nodded and looked at Nezumi.

"Still, damn, 54 kilos? It will take a while." Nezumi again said after few minutes of looking at the numbers on the scale.

"Before I will be able to get naked before my lover?" Shion said without thinking and silence fell in the room that it was possible to hear the sound of the curtains moving by the wind. Both boys looked at themselves with their faces all red. Nezumi get over it faster and he smirked amused.

"My, my, look how fast they grow up."

"No! I don't... you said it once..." Shion thought that he would die from embarrassment. Nezumi laughed.

"I didn't know you learned to flirt."

"Stop it!" Shion screamed, but somehow he laughed too.

After they stopped laughing Nezumi grabbed Shion's waist, he put Shion closer to him and whispered into the other boy's ear.

"I will consider that as a promise too. I can't wait for it Your Majesty. "

Shion felt that his face must be redder than tomato right now and he fell on the chair that stood near the desk. Nezumi looked at him with smirk and chuckled again.

"Will you manage to come down for dinner? I bet your mom will be happy if we'll all eat together."

"Yes, I will go."

He got up, still shaking more from emotions that flooded him after Nezumi's words then his illness. He was happy. How was it possible for one person to always change his world so much? When Nezumi left, he took part of Shion with him and now, when he got back, the crimson eyed boy finely felt a whole again.

Everything in the past they had gone through, and everything that still needed to be done weren't so scary anymore. He would be able to survive them, because Nezumi had always taught him how to survive.

With hope in his heart Shion left room after Nezumi.

After dinner both boys have returned to Shion's room. Nezumi took things from his traveling bag and gone to take a shower.

When he returned a half hour later he saw Shion sitting on bed lost in his deep thoughts. His face was again somehow hollow. An idea came to Nezumi's mind, one that could calm down the other boy a little.

"Shion?!"

"Yes?" The white haired boy looked at Nezumi after hearing his name. After having a full attention from the crimson eyed boy, Nezumi continued.

"Do you have any spare space in your wardrobe? I don't have much, but since I stay I don't want poke through bag every time I want to get my things."

He looked at Shion with corner of his eye and couldn't stop smiling when he saw happiness spread on the albino's face.

"Yes, of course I will find you space. Should I do it right now?"

"No, it's late. Tomorrow will be good."

"Alright. "

Nezumi walked closer to the sofa and he was about to lay down when he heard Shion's tentative voice.

"Nezumi?"

"Yes?"

Nezumi looked up at Shion who was clearly hesitated to ask something.

"Go on, say it, I don't bite, it's your specialty."

"Are you going to sleep on the sofa?" Shion said after a while. Nezumi was surprised, was Shion asking him what he was thinking about?

"Yes, is something matter?"

Shion blushed slightly and looked away.

"You always lent me your bed in the West Block. This bed is even bigger and I will feel bad if I let you sleep on sofa. And I don't mean anything strange by it." Shion added the last part quickly while looking away.

Nezumi chuckled.

'Still so natural.'

"Well, if you consider the poor rat is worth your royal bed, then sure, why not! That sofa was a little too small anyway." Dark haired tried to joke to calm Shion down, but he himself was also nervous.

He walked up the little stairs with a blanket. Shion made him space and he moved aside, closer to the wall. The boys then laid down, back to back. It really felt like when they were in the West Block, but now light of the stars came through the windows so it wasn't so dark like inside the underground room. They remained in the bed, too nervous to even move.

"Good night, Nezumi." Said Shion softy.

"Good night." Nezumi said and he felt Shion moved closer so their backs were touching. Hearing each other steady breaths both of them fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Nezumi had to wake up only two times that night. He could consider that number is few after all that Karan said to him about Shion's sleeping problems. At least there were only two times that Shion woke Nezumi up with his intense trembling, which clearly indicated that the white haired boy had a nightmare. He shook the albino's shoulder until he almost woke the other boy up, but gently enough for Shion to fall asleep once more. It would be too good if the nightmares stopped in one day. Nezumi's return could help, but it wasn't an elixir that could magically cure all problems that Shion had.

The dark-haired boy knew it too well, some scars might stay forever. Ones would always be viewable like those on their skins. The other ones, maybe those that were deeper, would stick around inside their souls, hunting them like cursing ghosts.

Would they ever be healed completely?

In any case, in the end, both of them had managed to sleep enough that night. Nezumi looked at Shion's face. It looked a lot better. The dark circles under albino's eyes almost disappeared, and the boy looked calm and peaceful.

The silver eyed boy raised from the bed without waking up the other one. It will be better for Shion to get more sleep.

Nezumi changed his clothes and came down to the first floor.

"Good morning, breakfast is ready in the kitchen. Is Shion still sleeping?" Karan greeted Nezumi, she was holding a fresh prepared tray of croissants.

"Yes Ma'am. Sorry, we have overslept today."

"I hope that won't happen tomorrow." she chuckled, "It will be your first day at work. Be sure to go to sleep early today."

"Yes, I will."

"Alright, I'm counting on you." Karan said as she disappeared into corridor.

Shion woke up. He felt really well, he didn't remember when was the last time he managed to sleep so much. He turned to the other side of bed and froze. A panic overtook his whole body when he didn't see Nezumi beside him.

'Maybe he gone away, or perhaps it was all a dream.'

Shion was scared. He stood up and looked around the room. He calmed down after he noticed Nezumi's T-shirt thrown on his desk chair and a travel bag near the sofa.

Shion's terrified heart didn't have time to calm down when Nezumi walked into the room. Shion jumped to the door to help, since the other boy's hands were busy.

"What is with your face?" Nezumi asked him with a smirk.

"I don't know what you mean, but I guess I'm glad that you are here."

"Of course, I promised you."

After they ate breakfast Shion asked.

"So you said you didn't see much of the city yet? The West Block too?"

"Yes, I just went straight to your grounds, your majesty. "

"Would you like to see it today?"

"That will be a nice idea, since starting from tomorrow I'll begin working with your mom and a free day for both of us might not occur soon. The question is are you able to walk around for so long?"

Shion looked down, feeling mad at himself. He wanted to be equal with Nezumi, yet he couldn't even manage to do something as simple as a little walk around the city.

"Damn it." he only managed to say and he bit his lower lip from anger".

"Don't worry, you will show me what you have done when you will feel better." said Nezumi with a real smile, but still Shion felt angry. He hated feeling useless like this.

Nezumi sighed.

"Even so, it's a little bit disappointing." Dark haired boy said, looking around the room and Shion wished to vanish. Right, he was useless, so no surprise that Nezumi thought about him like that too.

But Nezumi continued and he said something that Shion did not expect.

"You don't read books anymore? Well, you were probably busy with repairing the city, but I hoped you will keep reading the real books."

Shion gave Nezumi a surprise look. He didn't knew why Nezumi was thinking in such way.

"I was reading, why do you think..." then he paused and looked around. Right, it was hard to even look at them so he took them all and then he...

Shion stood up and got a key from a drawer inside his working desk. He walked towards the door and wall that weren't there before he moved back into this house three years ago. Nezumi, with curiosity, followed suit.

"It was hard for me to even look at them so I took them all from around the room and put them inside."

Shion opened the door and let Nezumi was the first one to walk inside the small room.

The older boy paused at the door and looked with surprise around

"I hope you don't mind that I took them all here. The ones that I keep here are mostly poetry and literature books. Others like encyclopedias and magazines are in basement." he said, but Nezumi still didn't move.

"Shion." The dark haired boy moved around, after few steps he looked at the white haired boy. Shion thought that maybe it was a dream or he just got into a different dimension because he saw the most beautiful smile that Nezumi ever had given to him. The silver-eyed boy was clearly moved by what he had seen and he walked towards the shelves filled with old books. He touched their binds and stopped for a while near the place where Shion had put his Shakespeare collection. After a moment he got back to the other boy, he lifted albino's hands and kissed both of them.

"Thank you for saving them, I was sure they were all lost."

"Don't thank me. I just took them here mostly because of my own selfish reasons." Shion said and looked at the books "I wanted to have at least something to remind me of you."

"You're still too honest." Nezumi said.

'We always tried to hold onto things that reminded us about another, I had your sweater and the first-aid kit and you got my books for the last four years.' Nezumi thought.

"Even so, Shion, thank you for saving them." They walked deeper into the small library.

"But, I couldn't save the underground room. It started to fell apart around the two years ago. I couldn't be selfish and repair it when city had so much more important buildings to fix like schools, new homes and hospitals."

"That's alright, you did the right thing. There is no use for that room anymore anyway."

Shion grabbed a Nezumi's hand.

"But it was your home, you spent your childhood there and... That was the place where we lived together..." He looked down at the floor, but Nezumi lifted up his chin so Shion could look right into the silver eyes.

"It's alright, didn't you say something to me about a home yesterday?"

Right, he said to Nezumi that he wished to create a home for him, Shion flushed at the memory.

"Come on, let's take this day easy, your majesty." Nezumi took a few books and walked outside, he moved the sofa closer to open balcony's doors so summer sunlight warmed that spot pretty well.

The boys spent the rest of that day on reading and talking. Mice curled and listened their voices on their shoulders.

Nezumi talked a little bit about his journey, mostly about his jobs and places he stayed. Evening came faster than both of them wanted. They ate dinner with Karan and they headed to sleep after that. Maybe it wasn't the most exciting summer day, but for them it was an unforgettable day. Their first peaceful day after their reunion.

Alarm clock was lucky that it survived that morning. Nezumi pushed it away angrily after 4A.M. and got himself off the bed. Shion just rolled around and fell asleep once more. For a while Nezumi felt envy and he wanted to do anything that could wake up the other boy, so Shion had to share Nezumi's pain of waking up so early. Maybe tickles wasn't a bad idea?

"Damn" he said smiling and touched Shion's white hair and next the boy's cheek. He felt stupid, whole atmosphere really was too sappy for Nezumi's taste.

After taking a shower and dressing up, he walked into the bakery room.

Karan just started to warm up oven.

"Good morning." She said with a smile. If she wasn't a Shion's mother Nezumi would probably said with angry growl that this crazy hour couldn't be considered as a morning, but since she was, he only nodded and yawned.

Karan chucked. She walked to him and gave Nezumi a white apron and a bandanna.

"At first we will make breads and buns. It will take them a while to rise before we are able to place them into the stove. I will show you how I prepare each type. If you forget anything, take a look of these notes I've made for you. They are here." She showed Nezumi his place on the table and he saw little colorful pieces of paper on the wall just above his working space. She must had prepared it earlier.

"I often use only a two ovens. Shion brought me a third one a year ago for my birthday, but I couldn't manage to prepare so much pastry on my own. With your help I think we can finally make use of it."

For the next hour both of them worked in a humid condition created by the heat of the oven. The only sounds in the cozy room were Karan's instructions and a very quiet music from the radio hidden in some forgotten corner of the bakery. After they put in the stoves all kinds of breads, buns and croissants, Karan showed Nezumi her recipes for muffins and cupcakes. Just when they were done with placing all new ingredients for cream into a big mixer, most of the pastry in the ovens were ready. The boy took out the breads and put them carefully on the big desk at center of the room so they could cool down, after that he began to take out from the ovens the rest of their baked goods.

Nezumi was quite surprised. It wasn't an easy job, it was so hot from the stoves, they had to wake up crazily early and there was no time to take a break.

How that woman managed to do it alone every day? She was strong and Nezumi had to admit that his admiration for that small woman was bigger with every minute of their work. He put a tray with muffins and cupcakes into the stove when he heard Karan's calling his name. He turned round and saw Shion's mother with a slice of bread with butter in her hand.

"Try it." She said with a smile and gave slice to Nezumi. After a moment of hesitation boy took a bite. It was good, fresh and warm.

"And how does it taste?"

"It's really great." Nezumi said quietly.

"It's all your work." She said, warping her hand over his shoulder and Nezumi froze looking at the piece of pastry in his hand. This was something that he created? With these hands that had hurt others so much? This slice of bread was so warm and it felt like home. He had done many different jobs for the last four years. He worked at the liberty, he helped some fishermen, he worked at building houses in some forgotten village and so on. None of those were fully Nezumi's creation and they didn't turn into something so tender. It was like Shion's body eight years ago, when they hugged that rainy night, it was warming up his soul. He finished his slice of bread and he turned around to check out the muffins. He felt lost and the way Karan was looking at him also didn't help. She was like that slice of bread. Tender, sweet and warm. Is this was how a mother felt like? It was so strange to Nezumi and for a moment he simply wished to run away far from that place. He learned how to survive without anyone. Bonds and memories about his family had only hurt him so he pushed them all away. He didn't want to feel like this again.

'Damn, why everything in this place turn out to be so warm, first Shion, next this woman and that bread. '

"Nezumi, you can take out the muffins." Karan voice brought him back to the reality.

"Yes, Ma'am."

Shion woke up around 9A.M. He looked at right side of his bed and he decided that he did not like that part of Nezumi's work at bakery. That feeling of afraid wouldn't have happen if he only could see the other boy sleeping beside him.

Well, you can't have everything you want, he thought.

Shion got up and changed. He greeted the three mice that were sleeping on the pet bed. He wondered what to do next since he had a day off. He found a plate with breakfast on the night stand near the bed.

He felt good so he thought that it wouldn't hurt if he would check some documents for educational programs from work. He took an electronic paper, and the plate with his breakfast as he walked to the doorway. There was no reason to spend a day alone in his room if he could spend it with his mother and Nezumi.

When he went into the shop, he saw Nezumi selling pastry to older women. Shion approached a little table in the corner of the room, near the windows, hidden behind a big plant in an equally big flower pot.

Shion knew that he wouldn't disturb anyone sitting there, but at the same time he had a good view at almost the whole shop. Few customers came in and Shion, while eating, could look at Nezumi. He never had chance to see the other boy at his work in the West Block. Now Shion wouldn't admit to anyone how much he liked a picture of Nezumi in that white apron and white bandanna. He hoped no one was able to see him because he was sure that he was red as a tomato as this moment. After sitting in his safe corner for a while Shion heard his mother's voice.

"Shion, my dear, you could have said that you will be here."

"Sorry, I just thought it would be useless to just sit alone in my room. "

Karan smiled and she kissed her son on forehead.

"I'm glad you are here. Wait a moment, I will be right back." She added and hurried back to the bakery room. She got back with a plate full of cheese muffins.

Shion felt full after the breakfast, but he took a bite of the muffin.

"Do you like it?" She asked unusually loud.

"Yes, they are astonishing as always."

Karan chuckled at this.

"Nezumi was the one who baked them." Shion looked at his mother with shocked face and he turned his head to see Nezumi.

"Really?"

Dark haired must have heard them since he turned around to hide the blush on his face.

Shion smiled. However, something in Nezumi's face looked strange. Karan had gone away from Shion's table and he heard her talking with one of her usual clients.

She praised the other boy and Shion saw a feeling of lost in Nezumi's eyes when Karan was smiling to the silver-eyed boy.

'Oh, mom. You over did it.' Shion thought. He understood that she tried to make Nezumi feel like a part of their family, but too much of it would only scare him away.

Shion knew it too well and he remembered that look from Nezumi's face. It was the same like when he said how much he didn't want to lose the silver eyed boy. Shion hoped that if Nezumi would come back from his journey he would no longer be so frightened of the feelings other people gave to him. Old habits die hard, it seemed. However, the dark haired boy had changed a little, and the last two days were proofs of that.

Still, Shion knew that Nezumi was an orphan and Gran who took care of him died before his eyes. Karan's actions were too new to Nezumi and it must have brought back bad memories to the last child of the Forest People.

He got up and called his mother.

"Mom can you come with me to the kitchen?"

"Of course dear, Nezumi you will be alright here alone?"

"Yes, don't worry Ma'am."

Shion told Karan his worries.

"I didn't know that he would get scared because of my actions, I'm sorry." She said after a while.

"Don't apologize mom. Just slow down a little bit. I'm glad that you care about Nezumi so much."

Karan looked at Shion and nodded. It was her son who knew nearly all about the new member of their family. It was no surprise for her, since she recognized how much her son loved that other boy. She only wanted to help and protect them both.

"I will. Shion, you can always tell me everything, you know it. When you will have a problem don't hesitate to tell me."

Shion looked at his mother, how he was lucky to have her.

"I'm sorry for worrying you, I shouldn't worry you like that for the last years."

'Still, there are things you better don't know about, mom…' Shion added in his mind.

"Shion, don't worry about it. I'm happy that you feel better now." She looked at Shion's face and after that she held him close.

"You really look better. I'm so glad."

After a little talk both of them went back into the shop. Shion sat behind his table and started to read the documents, sometimes taking a break to look at Nezumi. A few customers that came to the bakery talked to him as well. They were asking if he felt alright, that they wished him a fast recovery and that they were grateful for his work for the city.

Two hours later Shion was checking the numbers on the budget list and he tried to find some savings over and over with no use. It was irritating and he felt tired. He took a deep breath and put away his digital paper. Shion saw his mother and Nezumi talking about the daily special cakes. He leaned his head over the wall. He didn't even know when his eyes closed while watching the two most important people of his life.

It was amazing day for Karan. Weather was beautiful, everything was going smooth and when she saw how happy Shion was and she couldn't stop smiling. The last few years were awful and hard, but now the future looked brighter. It was amusing to see how Shion blushed when he was looking at Nezumi. She couldn't stop chuckling when she found out that the dark haired boy was hiding the fact that he too was observing Shion.

She fed a little mice with some of their master's self-made pastry and around 1P.M., when she normally didn't have as many customers as other hours, and during the process she decided to explain to her new employee about her daily specials.

She wanted for Nezumi to feel as a part of their family, but after talking with Shion she understood that she shouldn't push it too fast.

"So on Thursdays I bake a Cravat, on Fridays we will have an Apple Pie, and on Saturdays I go with a Brownie." She said to the boy.

"I will demonstrate you how to bake them in the next week."

"Yes, Ma'am."

She almost left shop to get a next portion of sweet buns when she heard quiet and little angry "Airhead" from the Nezumi's mouth. She looked over the same place that the other boy looked and she saw Shion falling asleep on cafe chair.

"Ma'am would you mind if I left our workplace for a moment?" She chuckled and nodded 'no', letting Nezumi go wherever boy wanted. She wanted to tell Nezumi that he didn't need to be so polite, but she would wait until the boy felt safer around her.

Nezumi came back around three minutes later with a blanket that she lent him two days earlier. The silver-eyed boy went to Shion's chair and put the blanket over him. After that Nezumi quietly returned to the cash register like nothing had happened.

Karan couldn't stop her smile until end of that day.

Shion woke up around three hours later. He saw a silver eyes hovering over him as Nezumi put a plate of cakes before him on the table.

"Your Majesty, have you finally come back to us?"

Shion yawned and he felt blanket over his shoulders.

"Idiot, didn't I say something about not working for a week?"

"It wasn't real work, I simply took a look at the documentation. Still, I have not found a solution, so tomorrow I will need to call to work so someone could send me the more data."

He heard an angry sigh.

"Nezumi, thank you." Shion went on with a smile.

"For what?" Asked Nezumi who was surprised by the sudden change of the subject.

"For the blanket, you brought it here, right?"

Nezumi didn't answer. He turned away with his usual smirk and disappeared in corridor.

"You'd better eat that before the dinner." Shion heard from the corridor before Nezumi walked into a bakery room.

After half an hour later Karan went to Renka's place and the boys were left alone in the shop.

Nezumi almost started to organize things to close the shop when they heard a loud voice.

"Beautiful Karan, are you here?"

Rikiga almost ran through the door, but he froze after he saw Nezumi behind a cash register.

"E... Eve? What are you doing here?"

"Working, did you came to buy something, old man? If yes, you will have to pay a double price." The dark haired boy said with his usual smirk.

Rikiga stood at the same place until he heard Shion's voice behind him.

"Mom has gone to Renka's place."

"Shion, my dear angel, I have heard from your mother that you feel better."

"Yes, thank you."

"Shion, that guy still didn't give up on your mom? Watch out, he might truly become your father."

Shion tried to smile, but it broke in halfway.

"Hey, Eve, don't forget who drove your half dead body to the hospital four years ago!"

"Yes, yes, thank you very much." Nezumi made a theatrical bow.

"Curse you, you didn't change for the last four years. "

"Don't worry Nezumi, mom declined his proposals at least five times now." Shion said honestly and Rikiga turned around to the white haired boy with tears in his eyes.

"Shion, how could you! Please, don't remind me about that!

"Then, what are you doing here, old man?" Nezumi asked again.

"Nothing to do with you, you filthy rat."

"Rikiga, please." Shion quietly said.

"Shion, that guy abandoned you after you had saved his ass." Rikiga waved his hands.

"He promised to come back and he's back and that's all I need now." Nezumi's felt his heart jumped to his throat because of Shion's words.

"Our newspaper funds a cooking contest and I want to ask your mother if she likes to be in jury. "

"I see. I will tell her, but she might come home late, so she probably call to you tomorrow."

"Thank you, Shion."

"Will you stay for a cup of coffee?" the white haired asked and smiled at Nezumi's annoyed face.

"No, thank you my boy, I need to check out today's prints for tomorrow's release."

Rikiga walked to the door, but before he left bakery he turned around.

"Shion, watch out for that guy, he will run away and hurt you again." With such words man left a bakery.

Nezumi looked at Shion and saw pain in those crimson eyes.

'Don't believe in those words ' He thought and walked closer to the other boy.

"Shion..."

"Yes?"

"I won't. "

'I won't hurt you, I won't go away again, believe me.' Nezumi thought while looking deep into Shion's eyes.

Somehow Shion was able to understood words that Nezumi didn't say out loud, because he smiled and said:

"I believe you." After a moment of hesitation Shion moved his hand and held Nezumi's. The older boy took a deep breath, feeling that his body relaxed as well.

"A hard day?" Shion asked him with a concerned voice.

"Maybe a little, I will need to get used to the guileless and cheezy atmosphere."

Shion laughed a little.

"Is it really that bad?"

"Well, for a full sappy picture you only need a unicorn, a rainbow and even a more sugar. Ideal teenager dream." Nezumi smirked and raised his free hand in a dramatic way.

"Let's close bakery before more guests rush through the door. You can go back to your room, I will call you for a dinner. "

"Hey, don't treat me like kid, I'm going to help you." Shion said little annoyed.

"Alright your majesty, you can cut vegetables. I'm going to push into you two or three plates of fries."

Shion frowned, he already felt full after all pastry he ate that afternoon. Still, little fight with dinner was worth that look in Nezumi's eyes, gentle and teasing.

With a smile on his face, Shion followed Nezumi, as he often used to do.

Chapter Text

The next day didn't start so much different than a previous one. Shion woke up and joined his mother and Nezumi in the bakery shop. After he finished his breakfast he called his assistant about the missing data for his work.

"Rei, can you send me the data from the conference that we had in last week with the diplomats from No.3?"

"Yes sir. Mr. Takahama was wondering when you will be back, chief Shion. He said that you both were in the middle of some project and he couldn't proceed without you sir."

Shion looked around and met Nezumi's eyes. The older boy was already annoyed by his half-working.

"You can say to him that I won't be back faster than in the next Monday."

Just after saying it, he could hear angry sigh from behind the cash register. Somehow he couldn't stop smiling at this. Well, usually he would already come back to the work, but that would be crossing a line. Nezumi would probably bring him back to home with force if he had to.

"Yes, sir. I will pass him your answer. Can I help with something else?"

"No, thank you."

Shion finished his call and moved on to read the data. He had roughly two hours before Nezumi told him to stop and take a rest. In some way he felt warm just by thinking about this. It was always Shion who worried about the other boy. He would be lying if he said that he didn't liked their roles reversed for at least one time.

Shion could hear how Nezumi was enchanting an old customer and he couldn't stop a big grin pushing its way into his face.

"Here, our best products, for the most beautiful lady." The older boy said with a charming smile while packing pastry into the paper bag. Woman, if Shion recall it right, was the one of their neighborhood. She laughed softly and asked Karan.

"Oh dear, where did you find such handsome young man? "

"He's a dear friend of my son." Karan smiled and waved to the Shion's side. Shion nodded and greeted old lady. It was a really lively that day at the bakery. Two desks aside from his were taken, one by some high school couple, the other one by some middle-aged man who was reading newspaper now. Nezumi was busy behind the cash register and Shion's mom kept bringing over trays after trays full of sweet pastry to the shop.

When Nezumi had a little time later that day, he came to Shion's table and put a large plate of pastry in front of him. Shion made tired sigh, he felt really full, he ate more in the last few days than he usually had eat in a month. He really pushed himself to eat more, but it was hard.

"Don't make such face." Nezumi said to him. He bent over the desk and he added more quietly.

"If you eat it all nicely you will get a dessert later." He smiled strangely when he raised up. Shion's face became even more tired.

"I don't think I will able to eat more. And that doesn't make any sense. Pastry you put on my plate can be already considered as a dessert."

Nezumi laughed.

"You still so natural. Allow me say one more thing, look forward it, your majesty. Eat it all."

He smirked and went back behind the cash desk. Shion sighed and returned to his work. Fight with budget seemed easier than struggling with a plate of pastry in front of him.

Around 2 p.m. when the shop was empty and Karan left to bake a large order for a birthday cake, a little kid ran through the shop's door.

"Aunt Kara..." he paused after he saw an unknown man. Nezumi could see a surprise and lost on kid's face. The child was around 5 years old, has light brownish hair and eyes. After a while Nezumi and child heard a voice of the crimson eyed boy.

"Shionn."

Child turned around and jumped closer to the white haired boy.

"Brother Shion!"

Shion moved aside on seat to make space for a kid and he embraced him warmly.

"Where's your mom?" Shion asked.

"She will be right here. She said you were in the hospital. Are you sick?" The child made a sad face and Shion petted his head.

"A little, but I feel better already. Sorry for worrying you." Shion smiled and child made surprised gasp.

"Shion, that kid..." started Nezumi, but was cut off by a loud voice from person that just walked through the door.

"Shionn! I told you to not run ahead!" Inukashi said and looked around the bakery.

"Sorry, mommy." The child said, but Inukashi's eyes already were focused at Nezumi.

"So, you really did come back just as Rikiga said..." Her voice was full of anger and frustration.

"Yes, I came back." Nezumi said and waited for the next move from the brown-haired guest.

"Hello, Inukashi. What have brought you both here?" Shion greeted his friend with a nervous smile. Somehow the atmosphere in the shop was heavy, so the crimson eyed boy decided to step in and do something about it.

"Shionn wanted to check out if you're okay." she said.

Inukashi looked at him and she turned to Nezumi, looking even angrier. An uncomfortable silence filled the room.

After a while they heard sound of small shoes running towards Inukashi.

"Mom, mom, you said I can get a cupcake when we get to Shion's home." Little kid wrapped his hands around leg covered in jeans and looked up at his mother. Inukashi face softened.

"Shion, would you mind and give that small glutton something? I will pay you later."

Shion laughed and took the kid's hand.

"No problem! And don't worry about the money. Nezumi can you bring me a plate?"

"Tck." Dark haired clicked with his tongue while he left towards the kitchen room and Shion moved over closer to the showcases.

"Which one do you like?" He asked child.

"And only one, he still has to eat dinner when we will get back to home." Inukashi said and crossed her arms, but she finally smiled as well.

Little Shionn gave a disappointed sigh. Nezumi returned to the shop and lent Shion a plate. When both Shions were focused on choosing a cupcake, Inukashi grabbed Nezumi's arm and said quietly.

"I need to talk to you. And it'd better happen outside. "

Karan also walked into the shop to welcome the guests so Nezumi decided to follow Inukashi. He didn't want to make a scene in the bakery. He knew it won't be a nice talk when he first saw their old 'friend'. It would be better if he dealt with it fast, since it looked like Shion was in a good relationship with their guests. The white-haired boy gave them a worried look when they walked away towards the door. Nezumi nodded to him that everything was alright and followed Inukashi outside.

They stopped at the backside of the house, just under the balcony.

"What do you want?" Asked the dark-haired boy.

Inukashi turned around and hit Nezumi straight into the face. The boy made few steps backwards, but he didn't fell. He held his aching jaw.

"What the...?"

"Shut up! Why did you come back? To toy with him once more? To hurt him again? Damn you, Nezumi! Why he had to choose someone like you?

We tried everything, we were there for him when he had problems with the committee, we tried to bring him to the doctor, but he just kept breaking down. He had done so much for us, for the people from the West Block, but he was killing himself to repair this shitty city. For who? For a selfish rat who just ran away! For someone who thought of him merely as a tool for his revenge. I bet he didn't even kick your ass when you got back, but he should after all you had done to him." Inukashi screamed with her fists clenched. She jumped to Nezumi and grabbed him by his shirt.

"Damn you!"

Nezumi just kept looking straight into the brown eyes, he didn't care what Inukashi thought about him, but what she said was dead on the target. He used and abandoned Shion and the realization of that hurt him over and over. This is the thing he regretted the most for the last four years.

Inukashi hold his shirt tight, she lowered her head and said.

"Fuck you, we tried everything... You only came back and now he's smiling again..."

She pushed him away. Nezumi wanted to say something back, like 'Why do you care?' Or 'It's not your business ' but that wasn't true. Inukashi, Rikiga, Shion's mother, those people were with Shion when he was away. They supported Shion when the boy had to deal with impossible tasks and nightmares of the Correctional Facility. They had more rights to fight over Shion than Nezumi had now.

"I came back to help him." he said and looked straight into Inukashi's face. She grabbed him again.

"If you hurt him again or leave him once more I will find you. Your guts will end as meats for my dogs, you hear me? Somebody must protect Shion from you. I will be watching you. I have someone who changed my life thanks to him. Shion deserves to be happy for all things he had done for the others."

Inukashi let Nezumi go and walked away.

After a while Nezumi followed after her inside the bakery.

Karan was selling a pastry to the new customer, Shion and the kid were sitting behind the white table and they were laughing.

"... and then the puppies ran around the whole hotel and mom just went after them because they were all dirty. Mom was really mad because we had the important guests that day."

Shion petted him.

"Did you help her?"

"Yes, of course." little Shionn said proudly. "Mommy is back."

They both looked at Inukashi and Nezumi. Shion noticed a slight red mark on Nezumi's face. The dark haired boy was glad that Shion didn't switch into his over-protective-mode. The other boy just quietly turned his head towards the brown haired girl and said.

"Inukashi, you shouldn't have..."

"You are idiot Shion and you know he deserves it." She crossed her arms and dropped down on the seat. Shion made only a tired sigh.

"Do you feel bad?" the child asked him.

"No, I'm alright."

"Come on Shionn, we need head back to home, mammy still have a lot of work to do."

"You didn't have different ideas for a name? It's not very creative and now it's really confusing." Nezumi smirked to Inukashi, but she only sent him a murderous gaze.

"You won't stay for a dinner or at least a cup of tea?" Karan joined the conversation after she finished selling a pastry.

"Sorry, mama Karan. We just came to see how Shion is doing."

"Too bad, you should drop by more often, right dear?"

"Yes, you're always welcome here." Shion replied.

"Oh, right, I wanted to lend Shionn a nice book I found a while ago. Can you wait a moment?" The white haired boy added remembering about book with stories for children he found while cleaning Nezumi's books back into the little library in his room a few months ago.

Shion rushed towards his room, but he got up too fast and after a few steps his vision turned black. It wasn't even a second when he heard scared voices calling his name. When a vision returned to his eyes he found himself half grabbed over one of the tables and half held by the Nezumi.

"Uh, sorry, I got up too fast." He managed to say, yet whole room felt like it was twisting around his head.

"Idiot." Nezumi said helping him to sit down. "Where is it?"

"Huh?"

"That book for the Junior, I will bring it."

"Hey, don't call Shionn like that!" Inukashi yelled at the older boy, Karan chuckled looking at both of them.

"The 12 Golden Fairy Tales, it's on the second shelf from the right side of the book's room."

Nezumi nodded and went away.

"It's too nice even for him. Shion, he might be planning something." Inukashi whispered to the boy's ear.

"Inukashi, please. Everything is alright, really. "

The girl stood up and giving him a frustrated look. A few moments later Nezumi returned with a book and he handed it to little Shionn.

"Thank you." child said with a shy smile. Nezumi just nodded and walked off.

Karan gave their guests a whole bag of pastries before they got up to leave.

Inukashi and Shionn headed to the door, child waved with his hand.

"Bye, bye, aunt Karan, bye, bye brother Shion, get well soon."

"Yeah, both of you take care." Inukashi said too.

Shion waved to them until they were gone.

"Oh, I need to finish that cake!" Karan said and ran away to the bake room.

Few moments passed before Shion asked.

"Did Inukashi said something to you?"

"No, it wasn't anything important..." Nezumi answered looking away.

"Nezumi." He heard a note of anger in Shion's voice.

Right, after that day when Shion wanted to leave to save Safu, they promised to not hide things or lie to each other. Nezumi sighed.

"It was just a warning towards me to not hurt you and such. A usual thing for your friends."

"They are worry too much over someone like me."

"What bullshit are you now talking about?" Nezumi was angry.

"I'm sorry. I'm just tired."

"Yes, you are, you almost have your face flat over the floor and I will be one to clean it later, as always." Nezumi came closer to him. "Go rest."

"I want to stay here. There is no difference if I will sit on my bed or here."

"You are so stubborn." Nezumi sighed. "Eat those muffins already, I'm surprised that you didn't hand it to that kid."

"I may have an eating disorder, but I won't cheat you and myself." Shion frowned.

Nezumi smiled at him.

"And that's a good attitude, your majesty. It will be easier for me as well. Still, Inukashi as a cute mommy? That really makes my day, it was even worth to get a little punch. I'm going to have a lot of fun from it in the future. Mommy Inukashi…" Nezumi laughed hard.

"You are impossible sometimes." Shion sighed and looked already defeated over his plate again.

"Mommy, who was that?" Shionn asked when they walked towards the train station.

"That dark haired guy? Some rat, a very dangerous, you should stay away from him." Inukashi said angrily and she hold his little hand tighter. The child didn't say anything; he was lost in his thoughts.

"Brother Shion looked really happy. It was the first time I saw him smile like this." He said after a while.

"That's why this rat is still kicking." she said more to herself than to Shionn.

"I don't get it." Child said.

"Brother Shion likes that guy too much more than he should and that's a problem, you will understand this one day. Come on, our train is arriving. "

"I love trains." kid said and jumped with excitement.

"I know." Inukashi said and hugged him warmly.

Dinner took forever. Shion was at his limit. Karan looked at her son worriedly and even Nezumi had finally given up as he took halfway eaten dinner from Shion. His mother went into the bathroom on the first floor while Nezumi cleaned the dishes. Shion sat on the chair for a while and he cursed himself inside his mind. He felt very useless and weak.

With such thoughts Shion had slowly stood up and he started walking towards his room.

Nezumi hurried up with cleaning up. He saw that Shion felt bad that evening. He knew that maybe he was pushing the other boy too much. That's why he tried to tease him or maybe embarrass Shion a bit this morning. He wanted to do something that would help Shion forget about his work and his eating problems for a while.

He ran after Shion. Nezumi caught him on the 2nd floor's corridor.

"Shion, wait."

The crimson eyes looked at him tiredly and a little surprised.

'Time to cheer him up' Nezumi smirked to himself, he was going to have a fun also from what he was about to do.

"You recall what I said about the dessert in this morning?" he said and moved his hand into the white hair. Shion frowned, he was about to say something when Nezumi continued.

"It's true that you didn't eat dinner, but the deal was about your lunch, so I still think you are good enough to earn your price. "

He got closer to the other boy, he lifted Shion's chin and kissed him. Nezumi heard a surprised sound from the other boy's mouth. He chuckled, but didn't stop his kissing which Shion soon started to return. Nezumi felt that other boys hands started to travel around his back and under his shoulders, it sent shivers through his whole body. He considered that as an encouragement to lick the white haired boy's lips. From half lifted eyelids he saw Shion's eyes and lips snap open in a surprise. He took that opportunity to deepen their kiss. The dark haired boy felt how much Shion tried to bring them closer with his hands over Nezumi's back and move his tongue to catch with Nezumi's. The silver eyed boy's heart beat two or three times faster than it used to.

When he heard Shion's moan into his mouth, Nezumi lost it. He didn't even knew when he had pushed gently Shion to the wall, the kiss become more passionate and their breaths quicker and rushed. Nezumi mind went blank, only that he desired in that moment was to get closer, to kiss Shion more, not merely in the lips. He could feel, even through their clothes, the fast beating of their hearts and how warm they both started to become.

Nezumi stopped when he heard his own moan. He pulled back from the Shion.

"Shit." He whispered. He looked at the Shion whose face was red from blushing and his lips were parted a little as he still breathed fast.

Nezumi had totally lost control and the more he realized that the more it frightened him. How was it possible that Shion always was able to make him feel like he had never felt? Did Shion even realize how much power he held over him?

But in the end, what was the scariest was how much Nezumi wanted Shion in that moment.

A simple tease, a cheering up, the thing he used to manipulate the others, a something that didn't had a meaning to him until Shion walked into his life and now made him lose control. Nezumi felt like he got caught into his own trap.

Shion opened his eyes and looked at Nezumi while trying to calm his fast breath. He felt so hot and he still could feel other one's graceful hands in his hair and warm lips over his. He was about to say something when he noticed Nezumi's expression. He sighed heavily. The dark haired boy freaked out, just like the years ago when Shion said his first confession.

Maybe Nezumi wasn't ready yet? He got back, but that was because of Shion's bad condition. Maybe he would never be ready? Maybe Nezumi would always be afraid of him, just like he said four years ago when he walked away from the NO.6.

That thought made Shion's heart ache. He was so happy and close to Nezumi in just a few moments ago and now he felt like miles away from the love of his life.

Nezumi composited himself and smirked.

"I hope that dessert was good enough to please your majesty's taste? "

Shion nodded and flushed again a little. Still, he would be happier if Nezumi didn't hide behind his acting mask.

They went into the bedroom without a word. Nezumi headed alone to the bathroom. Shion prepared his pajamas and waited for his return. When the dark haired boy went back into the room he was still lost into his thoughts. Shion looked over at the floor.

A years ago, when Nezumi wanted to calm down and think alone after their talks or fights, he just used to walk out of their small underground room. Shion didn't like those times since, as Nezumi always said, the West Block was a dangerous place.

Somehow Shion felt that the dark haired boy needed a moment like that now, to sort out his thoughts. However, that idea terrified Shion. Nezumi was still somehow afraid of him. What if owner of those silver eyes won't return?

Yet, he didn't want to trap the other boy. It was true that Shion always wanted everything of Nezumi, but at the same time he knew that Nezumi was a free person, like the wind, like a typhoon; he was a person who was constantly alone and learned how to survive without other people. Shion had already taken the most of the other boy's freedom when he asked Nezumi to stay. He didn't want to make the silver eyed boy imprisoned by Shion's fear and greed.

"Nezumi..." he began and he paused, afraid to say what is in his mind.

"Yes?"

Nezumi looked over Shion who was sitting on the sofa. The white haired boy wanted to say something to him, but he was clearly hesitate to articulate it.

"Come on, my beauty doesn't come from nowhere, say it fast, I need to go to sleep." He smirked, but he still felt confused after what happened in the corridor.

"You... you have always liked the night walks... I just want to say that you don't need to be worry... If you want to take a walk..."

So Shion noticed his strange behavior. It was truly pathetic. He finally wanted to be with the white haired-boy, yet he was still afraid of his own feelings. What was he? An idiotic heroine from a romance or a drama book? And now Nezumi had to add that Shion told him he can use his old habit of the night walks to collect his thoughts. Truly and utterly pathetic.

Still, the last few days were really a wide ride for him. This new place that was becoming his home. Shion's mother was showering him with her parental love. And the biggest emotional flood from those crimson eyes with all the warmth that always caused Nezumi to feel the way he never wanted to feel. He was taught by his life to live in a total different way.

Maybe he really did need a break. He had to get himself together, if he wanted to fulfill his promises to Shion.

"Are you sure?" Nezumi asked.

"Yes." Shion answered looking deep into his eyes.

Nezumi brought his hands up to his hair. Now that Shion had said it, everything in his body and mind screamed to get out of that place. He swallowed hard. Part of him wanted to throw Shion on the bed and kiss him until they both become breathless, to do a lot more than that and he wasn't sure if he would be able to stop. That thought alone made him terrified. Shion was sick, he had a blackout this afternoon. Nezumi himself just returned after he left other boy, he hurt Shion so bad for the last years, it wasn't time and place for thoughts like this...

He needed it right now, to get out of here and calm down, because his mind started to go around in circles.

He proceeded to the balcony.

"I will be back in an hour." Nezumi said.

"Okay. Have a nice walk." He heard that Shion's voice was shaking a little, but he didn't turn around.

Nezumi jumped from the balcony. He could use the main doors, but they were probably closed and he wasn't sure if Karan had gone to sleep yet.

This was an amazing night. Nezumi loved wandering in such kind of nights. The flowers and the trees gave such fresh summer's air. He took a few deep breaths. It felt weird. He was in the NO.6.

A city he hated, a city that took everything from him, a city that tried to kill him so many times he began to lose the count. Yet, Shion was born in that place.

He came to understand one important thing on his journey. There were a various kinds of people everywhere. Shion knew it. His 'third option' came from the realization that even in this sinister city there were people who were kind and well-intended and there resides many innocent people. The destruction of the city and its inhabitants wouldn't be so much different than a massacre on Nezumi's people. He wouldn't have been able to grow and understand that if he hadn't left.

Shion made him realize such fact, yet his heart had to understand it alone on its own. Now he wanted to think about that metropolis not as a NO.6, but as Shion's city, a new place that was built by a kind, natural and naive person.

What kind of person he would become if he didn't meet Shion that night the eight years ago?

He walked down the alleyway. It was quiet, but not too calm. He already passed some people who were enjoying a summer evening like him or were coming back from the work or evening lessons. There was no sight of the crazy secret police that wanted to put people into test tubes to get to their brains. He discovered that not many town people had an identification bracelet on their wrists.

A child almost fell on him when he was catching his cat. Child smiled to him and ran back to his house with the animal on his hands. Nezumi was surprised when he saw the parents waiting for the child was one of the former inhabitants of the West Block. They were in the Chronos, where in the past was only reserved for the elites of NO.6. Shion must have changed this as well.

Nezumi sat on the bench near the small river and he looked at the sky. Because of the city's lights, the stars wasn't so viewable, but the sky was still beautiful. Nezumi wondered if Shion ever spent his time like this, walking through the streets, enjoying the evening air, seeing how much he had done for the last four years. Probably not. Shion was so drowned in his work and his problems that such thought probably didn't cross the boy's mind.

Nezumi sighed. Shion again stopped living, at least in the dark haired boy's opinion. With such difficult task he wasn't surprised why Shion had broken down. Nezumi wanted for Shion to smile and enjoy the real life again and now he wanted to be a part of it. He took in another deep breath while listening the sounds of the river. Did Shion even know that this nice place is so close to his home? A strange, warm feeling of wanting to bring Shion to this place next time, when they both had a free evening, filled his whole body.

Nezumi always made fun of feelings like this and he thought of them as a ridiculous, but now he found peace in them. Shion changed him and that always terrified him. Now the time had come to decide if that was really a bad thing.

Nezumi had gone through many things, some of them he didn't want Shion to ever know about. He survived them, he treated everyone as potential enemies, even Shion. At the same time, it was because of Shion that Nezumi was still alive. The white haired boy was always so important to him. Because of that it had been so hard to believe that Shion wouldn't hurt him one day as well.

He once told Shion that the other boy wasn't kind, he simply didn't want himself to get hurt by others, but on the other hand Nezumi was always drawn to this part of Shion's personality. Shion was kind, he deeply cared for those around him, he clung onto stupid things like hope, belief, mutual trust, and they became something Nezumi also wanted to believe in. If Shion wasn't kind, then who was in this crazy world?

All people that cared about Nezumi had died. The others simply wanted to use him, so he made sure to be the one who used them first. Because of that he made the biggest mistake in his life. He had used Shion, the only light in his grim existence. Inukashi was right, he had used Shion like a tool.

He felt the pain in his heart. No, Shion wasn't a tool, he wasn't an enemy, he wasn't a stranger. The crimson eyed boy was always the most significant person in his life. He was... Nezumi felt dry in his throat. It was so simple, yet so hard. Still, he needed to stop being a coward and start being honest with himself. All his fears and unresolved questions had only one answer. Shion had the right to hear it too.

Nezumi got up from the bench. He needed to get back, Shion would start to worry if he doesn't return soon.

Shion was nervous. Somewhere, deep inside of his mind he cursed at himself for telling Nezumi to go out for a walk. He took a shower, after it he laid down on the bed and he tried to sleep, but he couldn't. After rolling from one side to another, Shion sat on the bed and he attempted to read some book, but after reading the same line over and over and he still couldn't remember what it was about, he put book aside. Even the mice stopped waiting for him to read something out loud and they fell asleep in their own bed. For the first time in months, looking at the balcony started to drive Shion mad. He believed in Nezumi's promise, but right now he couldn't stop feeling afraid.

The next minute he heard a rumble sound at balcony. Nezumi, with his usual graceful movements, jumped over the railing of the balcony.

Shion finally was able to take a deep breath and calmed down. He looked at Nezumi as the other boy closed the balcony's door, he took off his shoes near the door then walked towards Shion. The dark haired boy sat on the bed and looked directly at the other. Shion felt his heart started to beat faster again. There was something, something new on the Nezumi's face. The way those silver eyes looked at him, there was something magical in them. They were so warm.

The last time Shion saw Nezumi looking at him like that, though not even close to the gaze he received right now, was when Nezumi taught him how to dance.

"I'm back." Nezumi answered quietly and looked at him "You were concerned that I might not come back?"

Shion looked down at the sheets.

"You don't have to respond, as always you have all your feelings written all over on your face."

Shion felt a Nezumi's hand on his cheek and he couldn't stop the flush rising to his face.

"It's alright now. How was your walk?"

"Fairly good, at least this time no one tried to shoot me." Nezumi smirked. "Next time you're going with me."

"Where?"

"For a walk, airhead. I bet you didn't leave your home for the last four years aside from walking to work."

"I didn't have time. There is always too much work and walking alone is pointless or just a waste of the time. "

"Well, now it won't be pointless. You need regain your health to keep up with me on our future trips, your majesty. Remember, I'm not going to carry you around if you will get tired."

Shion smiled, Nezumi had never used to make plans for the future. Nezumi had never believed in things like that. That made him very happy. Nezumi was thinking about the future and Shion was now a part of his plans.

"It will be great." Shion whispered and he placed his hand over Nezumi's which was still on his cheek caressing his strange scar.

"Shion..." Nezumi also said to him in almost a whisper.

He looked into those silver eyes. He saw so much emotions in that moment, kindness, affection and a spark of fear. He was so close and the distance between them shrank when Nezumi leaned his forehead over Shion's. The younger boy noticed shivers running down his spine as he felt Nezumi's breath over his face. The dark haired boy's closed his eyes for a bit. Shion could only think about how much he wanted to kiss Nezumi right now. Before he could gather his courage to do it the other boy already pulled away from Shion. Those silver eyes again looked deep into his crimson ones.

"Shion... I love you." Nezumi breathed out and in that moment Shion felt like the whole world had stopped. He was looking at the other boy like he was some sort of unearthly being. Shion could bet that his eyes must have been big like the plates in that moment. With his heartbeat rushed even more than he believed it could be, Shion moved his shaking hands towards the Nezumi's T-shirt and he grabbed it tight. He felt like a person in front of him was just some sort of mirage or a dream, and he had to hold him tight or this Nezumi would disappear.

"Can you say it once more?" he pleaded the other boy. He couldn't believe in what he just had heard. He wished so much for Nezumi to love him, just like Shion had always loved him, that right now he couldn't trust his ears.

He heard Nezumi making a deep, tired sigh.

"Shion, really? Do I need to fucking repeat myself?"

They looked straight into each other's eyes.

"Please..." Shion didn't want to give up, he needed to hear it again.

"You need to clean your ears. I love you, your majesty, was that clear and loud now?" Nezumi said but this time he looked away with a light blush on his cheeks.

Shion wrapped hands over Nezumi's shoulders and hid his face into the corner of the dark haired boy's neck. He felt so happy that he thought his heart was going to explode. For the first seconds of Shion's sudden hug the white haired boy felt that Nezumi's body stiffed, but other boy started to relax a few moments later. Shion noticed that the few tears managed to fell out from his own red eyes on Nezumi shoulder.

"Airhead, are you crying?" Nezumi said while wrapping his own hands over Shion's.

"I'm just happy. Can't I cry from happiness?"

"You're always a crybaby anyway, so I've got used to it already."

"Hey!" Shion raised his head and looked at Nezumi slightly offended. Nezumi chuckled and ran his hand over Shion's cheek again.

"We are idiots. We both are cheesy, sappy idiots."

"Is it really that wrong? I think after all those things we had gone through we can be like that from time to time. "

"Well, it destroys the image that I worked hard for it." He made a theatrical sigh. Shion laughed.

"Poor image." Shion's gaze drifted to the clock "Nezumi, it's past eleven, you are going to be worn out tomorrow at work."

"I will manage, I'm not pampered prince, better worry about yourself."

"I don't have the work tomorrow."

"From what I saw for the past few days you probably will find something to do for that shitty committee of yours."

"It's thanks to it we managed to fix this city. It's not shitty."

"Alright, alright. Can you free me? I want to change and head to sleep, as you have pointed out, your majesty."

Shion took his hands from Nezumi's shoulders with his face covered in flush.

The dark haired boy changed his clothes and laid down on bed where Shion already waited for him. They mumbled good night to each other and turned off the lights. Shion laid down for a few minutes with his back glued to Nezumi's back as they used to sleep for the past few nights. After a while he turned around and hesitantly wrapped his arm over Nezumi's waist. He was waiting for any sign of protest, but it didn't come. Instead Nezumi said with a half sleepy voice.

"Just sleep already... "

He moved his head closer to Nezumi's back and he heard that the other boy's heart was beating a little faster than it was normally. Just like his. Shion smiled and closed his eyes. Person he held tight in that moment was so warm.

"I love you too… so… much…" Shion whispered and fell asleep into peaceful dreams.

Chapter Text

 

The following two days had passed in a blink of an eye. Shion felt so happy like he never felt in his life. He couldn't stop smiling when he remembered Nezumi's face after he asked if he could get a next desert if he ate all his lunch. The sight of the older boy's face covered with bright red blush was worth every gold on the world for Shion. Nezumi didn't answered and he called younger boy, as always, an Airhead, but Shion was glad he asked that question.
He wanted Nezumi to know that he liked their last kiss and he would love to do it again.

There was the one more thing that made Shion feel drowned in happiness. Nezumi's confession.
Shion didn't think he would ever hear something like that from Nezumi.

White haired boy couldn't believe in such good changes in his life, first was the silver eyed boy's return, then a promise to stay and now that love confession. It was all too good to be true, but they both were here, in NO.6, together.

Oh well, nothing could be perfect. The night, after those two peaceful days, was terrible. Shion was haunted by his nightmares and Nezumi had to wake the white-haired boy up more than usual.

He was trembling all over and he couldn't shake off the images of dead people from his mind. Shion felt bad that because of him Nezumi didn't have much sleep either.

Still, Shion didn't know that Nezumi wouldn't sleep well that night anyway. The dark haired boy was also haunted by his own nightmares.

Nezumi dreamed about the fire. In his nightmare, as many times before, a flame swallowed his family again, but after that he saw Shion was burned alive inside the Correctional Facility. He almost woke up with a scream, but the white haired boy's cry woke him up before that.

Nezumi was afraid to sleep again. Instead being scared by his dream he focused on task to hold the other boy. He kept Shion in his arms, who was covered in cold sweats. The boy was falling into the nightmares over and over again no matter how many times Nezumi woke him up.

In the end, when Nezumi had to prepare himself to the work early in the morning, both of them were tired and worn out.

Shion got up from the bed with Nezumi. He was afraid of falling asleep again, so he decided to at least help in the bakery. Shion felt guilty, he thought that because of him Nezumi looked so tired.

"Idiot, it's not your fault. Just go to sleep." Nezumi said while walking down the stairs to the first floor.

"No, if you going to the work, then I'm going to help you." Shion answered while following him.
"I'm going to ask mom for a free day for you or I will help you in the work. It's because of me you look like a living dead."

"You should look at the mirror and say that to yourself. I look awesome as always." Nezumi said with grace, but the dark circles below his eyes told Shion a different story.

They both argued for a half hour of work, until they were too tired to speak and after that the boys worked in the silence. Karan tried to convince them that she don't need help if they felt bad, but Nezumi refused to take a break. His pride didn't let him and he didn't want to look weak.

After hour of work, when Shion got a "stupid idea", as the dark haired boy said, of bringing a next bag of flour from the magazine and he almost fell down on the floor with it, he was thrown out the bakery by a very mad Nezumi.

The rest of that day wasn't better. Shion sat in the shop and his mind was full of the pictures and sounds that his nightmares brought back to him. He couldn't eat much because of those memories. Nezumi again got mad at him when he noticed that Shion almost didn't touch his breakfast. The older boy's temper was really like a bomb that day, generally because of the lack of sleep.

Karan was looking worriedly at them for the whole day. Somehow she managed to convince Nezumi that she didn't need more of his help after they baked everything of that day's planned pastry and he could finish his job early. Thus both boys had returned to their room after the afternoon. They fell into the bed and slept almost the whole evening and night.

The next day was Saturday and Karan started her bakery a little later that day, on Sunday it was closed. Thanks to this and the absence of any nightmares in the next night both Shion and Nezumi somehow felt rested when the Saturday's work was done. It was the last day that Shion decided to take off from the work, so it was the last chance for a while for their evening trip over the new NO.6.

"If you feel tired you have to say it." Nezumi said while putting his super fiber scarf on his T-shirt.

Shion looked at him, it wasn't cold that night. The summer nights were really warm that year and there wasn't any reason to wear scarf when they both have in them short sleeved T-shirts.

Probably Nezumi got used to that piece of cloth more than he would ever admit.

Shion felt offended by Nezumi's thinking that he was so frail that the walk was going to tire him, but he smiled anyway when he saw that scarf again. It was an important item from their common past.

"I'm not a weak girl. Don't look down on me." Shion said and closed doors behind them with a key. He thought that he should order the next set of keys for Nezumi when his break from work ended. He planned to stop by the key maker shop on his way from work. It was important thing to remember. It was now also a Nezumi's house, he promised to stay here with Shion.

"I'm sorry, your majesty." Nezumi bowed to Shion, "still, your words don't match your expression. What are you grinning about?"

"It's nothing important. So, where are we going exactly?" Shion looked at the empty street, it was past 10p.m. so no surprise that most inhabitants of No.6 were asleep.

"I don't have designated place we will go, but if you require a plan of our little date, then we can walk to the West Block, next go around the Lost Town and finally end back in the Chronos."
Shion's big eyes grew wide and he felt his face warming up.
"A date?"
Nezumi turned around to look at him, he smirked and lifted Shion's chin while saying softly.
"Perhaps. Would the hero of the city like to have nice, sweet time with his boyfriend under a full moon, with dinner, music and after all that kissing before his house's door? Their face would draw closer..."

Shion could feel Nezumi's warm breath over his lips sending shivers all over his body.
"Then daddy Rikiga would open the door just next to them and he would shout 'don't put your hands on my innocent boy!'," Nezumi acted and burst into laughter. "Don't you consider it's the standard end of a teenager's date story?"
"Nezumi!" Shion almost screamed at the chuckling boy. He took a deep breath, he should have expected that.
"Come on, your majesty. You lead the way. Your handsome date partner don't like to wait."

Shion took another deep breath to calm down. Still, to be honest, for the past years he had missed that part of Nezumi's, teasing and sometimes being a little mean.

Now he could see that Nezumi joked a lot more, even much more often. Shion remembered how playful Nezumi was in the night when they first met eight years ago. When they were sixteen Nezumi still loved to tease him, but because of hardships the other boy became more reserved and distant.

After the other boy's return Shion saw that Nezumi was a lot more playful and even more so with the teasing. His eyes shined with a new light, and he wasn't incessantly afraid that someone will hurt him. A four-year journey must had erased some worries from the older boy's heart. Shion would always think about those years as the hardest time in his life, but for Nezumi they were a remedy, it was a necessary time for the dark-haired boy to get over his bad memories and all that tragedies NO.6 put him through. If that journey helped the older boy then Shion would be grateful for it. However, deep in his heart, he wished that Nezumi didn't have to leave and he would find his peace by Shion's side.

They walked down the new streets of the West Block. Shion was explaining the changes to Nezumi who followed the white-haired boy looking with an interest around and nodding from the time to time.

"...The most problematic issue at the beginning was the food problems. The West Block's people were decimated by the hunt, but on the other hand No.6's inhabitants were decimated by the Elyurias's wasps. It was chaos, as you predicted." Shion said sadly and looked at the bricked street.

"We had to gather and share all the food equally, but as you could predict, many of the NO.6's inhabitants weren't too happy about it. Everyone was only thinking about their own survival. Meanwhile the Committee worked hard on relocating the children without parents from the both sides into the city's schools and to remake them as temporary orphanages. We also had to find the places for the survivors of the hunt since West Block was basically destroyed. It was a hard task..." Shion raised his eyes when he felt Nezumi's hand on his shoulder.

"But a lot of people helped us. Mom gave a hand with distributing the food, Inukashi and Rikiga helped with the negotiations with West Block's inhabitants. Many other people that aided me with the economy and other parts of the city management. You don't know them, but they are dependable people, many of them are still in the Restructural Committee.

No.4 and No.3 helped a lot too after the news about The Hunt, West Block and the Correctional Facility spread out.

Well, I think they were afraid of the power that No.6 had. They didn't wanted to be attacked in future so they have sought for the removal of all weapons. They wanted to make sure to keep an eye on the new government and because of that they offered a lot of help.

I believe it's a good thing, at least it will be hard for the future managers of the city to again cut out from the world and do what they want. I can't say I will always be able to keep an eye on the government from the inside."

Shion sighed loudly. Some of the things he was speaking about felt like they had happened just yesterday, others felt like they took place many years ago. Those were hard times anyway.

Nezumi looked at Shion, the pain on the other boy's face hurt his heart as well. He actually left him with such heavy burden alone. Now when Nezumi thought about it, it was an impossible and insane mission. He and Safu didn't understand fully how difficult the task they put on their most beloved person in the world is. They all were just teenagers at that time. It was lucky that in the end everything turned right.

Shion was amazing, all people that helped him were amazing. And what about Nezumi? He ran away. He put even more suffering on Shion's shoulders. Nezumi looked around to see the new buildings and streets. West block looked like a different place. He stopped getting lost into his own thoughts and redirected his attention to Shion's talk.

"... When we settled down a little with those problems, we started to rebuild the infrastructure for the West Block. A lot of the Chronos district and the other places of city were restructured too, as you may have seen. We had to cut out costs of mansions environment..."

"Yes, I saw that those idiotic fountains, ponds and gardens have disappeared." Nezumi said as they slowly walked into the next street.

"Apart from it, we had to remake the whole tax system anew..." Shion fell silent after that sentence.

"I guess that the elites weren't too happy about it."

"Yes, but we truly needed a money for all rebuilding... There were problems with relocating the West Block residents into the Chronos and the other parts of the city too. Other programs needed funding as well. I couldn't leave single parents with children to starve like Kalan and Riko's family or to be homeless. The amazing thing was that No.4 offered us a great deal of their LED technology." Shion waved at the street lamp.
"We managed to exchange 90% of previous light technology and save a lot of the electric cost in city's management. Thanks to that we can provide electric to whole West Block too at the same cost like it was when only the city have an electricity. Project of giving everyone access to the clear water in their houses took a great deal of budget too."
Nezumi saw a uniformed man on the other side of street they walked through.

"So, you kept the police?"

"Yes and no, all the previous police was disbanded and put under the investigation. We had to create a new one and at the beginning other cities sent us experienced officers to teach the new guards and to create a new police system. Few of them stayed in the No.6 afterwards.

I knew that some of them provide information to their cities about our current doings, but the Rectructural Committee also keep eye on them. They do no harm and they keep an eye on things we could have overlooked. As for all of the police, they had to wear two cameras and their work is recorded so they can't do anything wrong towards the normal people."

"Hmmm..." Nezumi hummed in agreement.

"Both city and the West Block are safer, I think..."

Nezumi take a closer look at Shion. It was just like Inukashi said. Shion worked hard so everyone could be happy or at least they could have a better life than before.

But, had anyone thought about Shion?

Shion's closest people thought and tried to make him happy. Nezumi was the only one who had done nothing for Shion. Those four years were hard for the other boy. Nezumi understood it fully when he heard the boy's story and when he looked at Shion. He could hear it in Shion's voice. Working so hard for city devastated him, Nezumi was sure now that his left also worn out the crimson eyed boy.

Nezumi wasn't the right person to make the other people happy or to help them. For his whole life he only thought about himself, he cared only about himself, it was the only way of life he knew how to live. He didn't know if it would be possible, but for that one person, for Shion, he was going to try work hard and support him.

"... That project needed money and our budget was already pushed to the maximum level. Still, many members of the Committee agreed with me that it's a good idea that every child can have one free meal every day in schools or in kindergartens. To tell the truth, the project couldn't proceed at first because we lacked just a little bit more of funding for it. When I said I was willing to give up on the most of my payment for this project, a few others members of the committee joined me." Shion smiled to him, his eyes looked far away into past. Damn, he was truly something. Shion's selfless never failed to surprise Nezumi.

"Then what do you want?" The older boy asked Shion.
"Sorry?"
"I'm asking what do you want? You are so much like a saint, it will be crazy if you don't want something for yourself. You're always too fucking selfless."

Nezumi looked into the crimson red other boy's eyes, but Shion quickly averted them.
"I'm not selfless. I'm...a really greedy person..." He said quietly.

"You? Greedy? Listen, I told you a lot of shit when we lived together. I often told you awful things about you and your kindness, but the last terrible thing about you is to be greedy."

Shion still didn't look at him.
"No, you were right, as always. I couldn't deny your words because they were always so true... I'm even a worse person now."

Nezumi grabbed Shion's wrist and walked him to the small alley.
"Then tell me what is it that you desire and I will decide if you don't just put yourself lower than you should."
Shion finally looked at him, panic appeared in his eyes.
"I can't. You would run away again."
"Shion, don't look down on me."
"I'm not lying, I'm just don't want to tell you."
"Didn't you say the same thing when I didn't tell you right away about Safu’s kidnapping?"

Nezumi didn't want to raise his voice, but he started to feel angry because of Shion's behavior.
"It's not fair." Shion bit his lower lip. "Why do you want to know?"
"Because, as Inukashi said, for all you have done for the others you deserve to be happy."
"I'm happy, really..."
"It didn't look like that, you wouldn't be in such state if you were. Shion, tell me. You don't trust me?" Nezumi knew that was a cheap move since he knew Shion trusted him more than he should. Even so, Nezumi wanted to know, he wanted to understand Shion better.

He saw that other boy's resistance broke away and it took only a few moments before he heard Shion's shout.
"How can I not trust you? How when you're the most important person in my life? I have always wanted everything. There is no other greedier person in the world who have ever desired the another person like I want you. I'm even worse than Eve's fans. I want all of you and now when you know about it you will probably run away..."

Shion's talk was cut off by the Nezumi's laugher.
"You are an idiot, really." He said between his laugh.

"You already told me this a few days ago and now you are making a big problem out of it. You truly are an idiot sometimes."

"No, it's not like that!" Shion screamed to get through Nezumi's laugher and he grabbed the older boy's shirt. "I want all of you, all." He said with his face red as his scar. Nezumi looked at him, feeling that his cheeks flushed as well, was Shion saying what Nezumi was thinking?

Then Shion's grip on his T-shirt lessened.

"But I don't have right to want you. I've changed. I have done wrong things, I had to make the data to get rid of the person who was attempting to destroy and corrupting the Committee. I didn't have enough of data to prove it fully, so I made them up. I've become an awful person. I tried so hard not to change. I wished so much for you to be here, to remind me of who I am. To help me stay as myself. That person said that once I become a ruler I will be even more sinful than the previous ones after I'd exposed his doings. Now, I know that I don't deserve any feelings from you."

Shion said with tone of his voice raised inside the dark alley. Nezumi saw that his whole body trembled, so he walked slowly towards the other boy and put his arms over the shaking figure and sighed.
"Did you kill him?"

Nezumi felt how Shion tensed up in his arms.
"No, I cast him away from the city, but..."
"Did you do it for yourself or for the city?"

There was silence for a moment.
"I didn't want for No.6 to become the place it used to be again. I... I..."
"Then it's alright. As long as you do things for the sakes of others you will still be Shion I know. You didn't hurt anyone for your own selfish reasons. You're alright, you will be alright."

Nezumi felt Shion's arms wrapped tightly around his waist, maybe a little bit too tight, but he didn't say anything about it.
He heard Shion taking a deep shaky breath, while leaning his head over his shoulder. After a few moment Nezumi heard the quiet whisper.
"I'm glad. I thought that when you found out about it, you would hate me."
"Idiot, isn't that your third option? You only want to protect everyone, and if you were like those crazy guys from old government, you would just kill him. Aside from that, have they thought about the orphans, the people, equality and many other things you have done in the past four years? Sometimes you had to fight and as far as I remember you have always fought for someone else, for me, for your friend Safu, for those who needed your help."

Nezumi somehow escaped tight grip and tapped Shion's forehead.
"It's your punishment, if you do ever something bad while being in this committee of yours I'm going to kick your ass."
Those must have been the right words that Shion wanted to hear, because other boy beamed at Nezumi and his body relaxed like a big weight just fell down from his shoulders.

"I will consider that as a promise too." Shion said, he leaned closer to Nezumi and planted a kiss on his lips. That kiss was soft and warm, and it was different than the first kiss that Shion gave Nezumi. The silver eyed boy smiled when it ended.
"Hmmm, you have finally learned how to give a proper thank-you kiss."

Shion blushed profusely.
"I just want to show you how much grateful I'm for all that you have done since you got back. Mom, you and the others shouldn't worry so much about me, I'm alright, it's already alright." Shion squeezed Nezumi's hand slightly. The crimson eyes looked straight into the silver ones.
"I'm happy now."

Nezumi smirked.
"See? You didn't change much your majesty, you are still too honest."
"I'm and I will always be honest with you."

Nezumi turned around to cover the blush. It was strange how Shion's words worked on him. The white-haired boy had a lot of power over him four years ago, but everything he said went straight into Nezumi's heart.

"Let's go, your majesty, we won't get back to our place before dawn in this pace."

They just entered the border of the Lost Town when the dark clouds gathered above them and covered the sky. Shortly after the rain was pouring onto the city.
"Shit, what the fuck is wrong with this weather? A second ago it was dry like a fucking desert and now we have fucking shower over our heads." Cursed Nezumi looking around for some shelters. To his surprise, though, Shion jumped even more into the rain, he spread his hands and laughed.

"Come on, Nezumi! It's amazing! So warm and refreshing!"
"Damn you and your strange rain kink!"

As soon as Nezumi complained, he felt that he already didn't have any dry thread on his body. The streets seemed more like small rivers and the only good thing in this weather was there was no lightning crossing the sky.

"Oh, come on Nezumi! You are not made from the sugar."

"I may not, but I'm not crazy like you to be happy about the fact that I look like someone just have thrown the bucket of water on me."

He said while grabbing Shion's hand. They both ran through the heavy rain. Nezumi looked over his shoulder, Shion ran behind him, still laughing, eyes glowing with happiness and face flushed with excitement. Nezumi almost stopped running for a bit. Shion looked beautiful. The older boy always thought that Shion's look after his change was somehow unearthly and sexy, but now in the light of the night lamps, with face covered with smile, he was the most amazing view Nezumi saw in years. Shion was light, the light that shined even in deepest night and darkness.

Nezumi no longer knew if his heart was beating faster because of the running or because of Shion and their tangling hands.

They ran into the house as quietly as they could, trying to not wake up Karan whose room was on the first floor. Nezumi was still cursing and Shion didn't stop chuckling when they both enter their room.

Nezumi took off his fiber scarf and put it on the chair so it could dry. After that he tried to squeeze off the water from his hair. It was a mess, a few bands escaped from his usual knot. Shion still warmly laughed while Nezumi tried to fix himself.

"I don't know what's so funny."
"It was fun, simply amazing, that's why I'm laughing." Shion said while taking off his wet socks.
"You know, you really need to work on your..." Nezumi paused. He felt waves of warmth running through his body in spite of the cold, wet clothes. Shion was standing near him, his damp hair falling on his flushed cheeks. The other's wet white shirt stuck to his body and Nezumi felt that disaster was coming. Shion looked hot and sexy. The part of Nezumi that wasn't under the crimson-eyed boy's spell was screaming to make some space between them or else he was sure that his control won't hold for too long.

Shion knew what Nezumi wanted to say, that he still needed to work on his vocabulary, but that evening and now late time at night was really amazing. Nezumi comforted him after he heard about Shion's fears and troubles. He had so much of fun while running in the rain through the city with their hands tangling together.

He looked at the silver eyed boy who went to the sofa and was focused on drying his hair. Shion walked into the bathroom and took two large towels. He left one for himself on the table. With the other one he moved to Nezumi and put it over dark haired boy's shoulders. He smiled while attempting to dry Nezumi's hair.

"Thank you for today's date, I really loved it." He said while putting away strands of wet hair from Nezumi's face.
"Let's change, if we stay in these cold clothes we will catch a cold." Shion said while unbuttoning his own shirt. He was almost done with his task when he felt Nezumi's hands around him and hungry lips over his. Such passionate kiss surprised the white-haired boy. Nezumi's lips were so hot and Shion really couldn't keep up with kissing him back at the beginning. Older boy's hands sneaked under his shirt and Shion moaned into the kiss while feeling Nezumi's fingers touching his back. He wrapped his hands over Nezumi's neck, drowning them into long wet hair.

He was afraid he would soon run out air, but then Nezumi pulled away from his lips and he started to kiss Shion's neck and his strange snake scar.
It felt so good, the person he loved was kissing him in such way and he felt his body started to warm up, his breath sped up, and another moan escaped his mouth.

Then Nezumi stopped. That both looked at each other with their breaths enraged.
"Don't stop." Shion said nearly in a whisper.
He saw those silver eyes got darker, clouded with emotions.
"Don't stop, please."
"Shion..."

"I want you." Shion breathed those words, feeling that his cheeks must have burned with the crimson-red color just like his eyes. It was an embarrassing thing to say at that moment, but he wanted to feel those lips over his body, Nezumi's hands touching his bare skin again.

"You have no idea what you are talking about..." Nezumi said towards him.
Shion felt that wave of frustration flooded over his body.
"You're doing it again. I know how I feel and you're rejecting those feelings again. I want you, I love you." His voice and body trembled.
"Shion, stop it." Nezumi drowned his hand in Shion's hair. "Don't you understand? I don't want to hurt you and if you say something like this I won't be able to hold back. You still haven't recovered fully."

"You don't need to hold back when you're with me. I will be alright, I'm not so fragile." Shion slipped his hands under Nezumi's T-shirt and slowly started to draw small circles on Nezumi's backs under the shoulder blades. The older boy closed his eyes groaning, his body shivered under Shion's touch.

"Damn it, Shion! Don't complain later if something goes wrong." Nezumi whispered and again captured Shion's lips.

Kissing with Nezumi was something not from this planet. Each time their lips or tongues met Shion could feel just a pure shot of pleasure, the taste of their kiss made him forget about the whole world. Nezumi was close and Shion hoped that they could remain like this forever.

Nezumi decided that the stairs were the biggest enemy when they are on their way to the bed. Who got such an idiotic idea to construct something like this? After a few minute of their tender kissing activity it was clear that they had to proceed in some better place than the center of the bedroom. Nezumi lifted Shion's thighs and wrapped them around his waist. He was thinking that he was already turned on by Shion's closeness, but now he felt how hard they both started to become. He really had to get them both to the bed, fast. Nezumi managed to walk up the stairs with Shion wrapping around him like the second skin while they were still kissing.

Nezumi put Shion onto pillows and kissed exposed neck of his lover. He felt Shion's hands were trying to take off his T-shirt. Nezumi chuckled into the kiss.

"Hmmm, we are little bit impatient, aren't we?" He whispered into Shion's ear with a low voice. Shion's face became all red and younger boy turned away to hide his embarrassment.

Shion gasped when he again felt Nezumi's lips over his neck. Yes, he was impatient, he wanted to see more of Nezumi, he had waited too long for it already. Maybe it was the first time he was doing something like this but he wanted to do everything he could. He wished Nezumi could feel as good as Shion felt right now.

And wet and cold cloth over Nezumi's chest didn't help with that at all. Shion's mind couldn't stop thinking about the possibility of catching a cold if they stay longer like this.

"Ne...zumi... shirt… cold…" he only managed to breathe out. Still, it turned out more like a moan than a proper answer to the dark haired boy's teasing. Maybe Nezumi guessed what he was thinking because he got up on his knees from hovering over the Shion and with one smooth move he took off his T-shirt.

The white haired couldn't stop staring. Nezumi was beautiful. He was always the the beautiful person that Shion have ever seen.

"I see you like what you see." He heard Nezumi's chuckle with his typical smirk.
"Yes, I really like it." He said honestly and this time it was Nezumi who turned away his face to hide flush. Shion smiled and he rose up a little to wrap his arms around Nezumi's neck to kiss him again. While their lips connected Nezumi's hand unbuttoned rest of Shion's shirt. They stopped kissing so Nezumi could took off the white cloth from the white haired boy.

Shion looked down on his chest. Compare to Nezumi he looked miserable, his ribs were still visible, he didn't gain much weight in the past week. He suddenly felt ashamed. He began to regret his wish to be with Nezumi when he looked like this. He quickly turned his eyes away. Nezumi was everything you would refer to as beautiful and he was just ugly.

He shut his eyes while fighting back the tears, he felt like a strange lump had formed inside his throat.
"Shion..." he felt warm hand over his cheek. Shion looked into Nezumi's eyes. They were so tender and soft. Beautiful. This was the man who stole Shion's heart long time ago. One look into those silver eyes and Shion was lost, he fell for this person when he still hadn't understood what love was.
Nezumi leaned closer and Shion felt older boy's tongue following down his scar and stopped at his nipple. Shion closed his eyes and moaned. His whole body felt like it was on fire.

"You're hot and it's a sexy battle scar..." the older one said and he moved his way down the Shion's body. The white haired boy's trembled, the each place the other one kissed, each circle of Nezumi's hand made on his body turned him into a mess. He was breathing hard now and his pants felt too tight for all warmth that gathered in the lower part of his body.

The way Shion's body moved was starting to drive Nezumi crazy. The other boy's body arched and trembled in such a beautiful way under his touch. He wanted to lick every part of Shion's flesh, to see how he shake from the pleasure under his touch, how the younger boy beautifully moaned when he was kissing him like that.

It was scary how much he wanted Shion. The more he wanted to make the white haired boy his, the more terrified Nezumi started to become.

However, his body didn't seem to listen to his brain and his hand was already working on Shion's pants. With one smooth move he took off the other's trousers and underwear. Shion made a surprised sound as he now was laying under Nezumi all naked. Nezumi leaned over him and kissed him hard. He felt Shion's hands fighting with belt of older boy's pants. Nezumi smiled into the kiss, it looked like Shion didn't like to be the only one naked. Nezumi didn't mind. His pants already started to feel painful. He helped Shion with that task. After they both were naked like nature had made them, Nezumi paused.

He couldn't fully enjoy how cute and red Shion was right now, he had the other things in his mind at that moment. What to do next? He didn't want to go all the way with Shion right now. Or better to say not that he didn't want to, but he was really scared to.

He never was with the person he loved. Shion was, to be frank, the only person that was important to him. How it would be like to have sex with the white-haired boy? Nezumi already felt different now. If they go all the way how it will be? It was quite terrifying.

Second thing was the Shion's condition.
Nezumi clicked his tongue. This is going to be problematic. He would love to grind his hips over Shion's right now. Move until Shion could only shout out his name, but the other boy looked so fragile in this condition and so slim that Nezumi was afraid he would hurt Shion if he grind into him. The dark haired boy wasn't that light.

He could use his hand or mouth to make Shion come, but he bet that his lover wouldn't be satisfied with only that and the white haired boy would probably feel bad that Nezumi didn't come with him.

That damn 'I want us to be equal thing' that Shion once said.
So there was the only one way he could think about. Nezumi lowered himself a little as he took both of their members in his hand and began to pump them together.

"Ohh... Nez...umii."
He saw Shion throwing his head back and giving a loud cry of pleasure. He couldn't hold back his own moans either; the other boy's length was so hot and felt so good with Nezumi's. The sensation was amazing and way Shion's hips thrust into his hand, brushing over Nezumi's member made it hard to be quiet for both of them.

It was insane. The level of pleasure was insane. And yet, Nezumi wasn't close enough. Shion lifted his heavy eyelids and looked at his lover. He saw Nezumi stroke them together, he was shaking while trying to balance his own body on the one arm over Shion's body. He was fighting between giving up fully into the pleasure and don't falling on the other boy.

Shion wanted more, no, he needed more. He needed to feel more of Nezumi. The white haired boy raised his hands from the sheets to grab the silver eyed boy's upper arms. He wanted to say something, but it was hard when he was being touched like that.

"Ah.. ne... zumi... oh... are.. are you going... to penetrate... me?" He somehow said through his heavy breaths and Nezumi looked down at him surprised, his hand stopped working on their lengths.
"What?"
"I'm asking you... If you're going to take me?" Shion said while being red as tomato. To his surprise Nezumi's face become almost the same shade of red as his because of Shion forwardness.

"Shion, that's going to hurt... We don't need to hurry..."
"I want to become yours, you're not close enough in this way."
"Shion..." it was clear that Nezumi was fighting with his thoughts, still Shion could see that his silvereyes glowed with desire and lust.
"Shion, we don't have any condoms or any sort of lube. I don't want to hurt you and lube would help a lot."
"We don't need the condoms and can't you use something else, a cream or something?"

Nezumi looked at him in silence.
"Shion, you are far too trusting. How could you know that I'm clean?
"You're not?"
"I'm, but that's not point."
"Then I don't see where a problem is. I'm clean, you're clean. I love you, you said that you love me. You don't want me?"

Shion said the last part with a low voice, attempting to arch his body in the way he thought could be sexy.
Nezumi looked at him like he just found a golden egg before him, one of eyebrows raised up in amusement.
"Are you trying to seduce me, Your Majesty?" Nezumi leaned down and he kissed Shion. "You don't have any idea how much I want this, you are playing with fire." Nezumi said with a low voice too with his lips brushing other boy's ear and chuckled at Shion's expression.

"This is how you seduce someone, the lesson one."
"I think I'm seduced enough, oh." Shion said while he felt Nezumi's wet tongue on his ear. Shion raised his head and sucked the older boy's neck, his hands were traveling up and down Nezumi's spine.

"Damn it, Shion." Nezumi said with a shaking voice and kissed the other boy again, licking and biting his lips.

"Nezumi, really, my sexual arousal has already reached the maximum level a few minutes ago, can we move on?"
Shion looked up at Nezumi whose whole body began to shake and soon after loud laugher filled the room.

"Gosh, Shion, you are still so strange, what the fuck was that? Some kind of robot? You really ruin the mood right now, ha, ha."
Shion turned his head and prayed to find some way to hide from the embarrassment. He felt Nezumi's hand on his cheek moving his head back so they again looked in the each other's eyes. Nezumi was still chuckling.

"Alright, you majesty, I will gladly try to rebuild our romantic atmosphere. If I remember correctly, I have seen some hand oils in the drawer... I can't let you wait, right?"

Tease or not Nezumi moved a little toward the night stand and he found a bottle of cream in the drawer. Shion was glad that the mood between them become lighter. It seemed that Nezumi was more relaxed too. He really wished for their first time to be something they both would remember with warm feelings than time of tentativeness and hesitation.

The older boy opened the bottle and squeezed a lot of stick cream on his hands.
"Still, you had to tell me if you will feel any pain. It's not time to act tough. "
Shion just nodded his head as he felt the wet fingers working around his entrance. He took a sharp breath, while Nezumi again started to kiss his body, his one hand closed again around his member, the other palm gently slipped a finger inside of him.

Shion wasn't sure how much time had passed from the moment Nezumi started to prepare him. He was sure of one thing: it took a while. At the end when Nezumi put inside of him the third finger, Shion's body was on fire. It hurt a little, but the desire to be with the love of his life was stronger than any kind of pain.

The way Nezumi watched over him, the amount of care he received in that moment made his heart thump so hard that he thought it would jump out from his chest.

Still, the most breath-taking thing in that moment was the view that Shion saw. Nezumi's face covered by flush, he was breathing fast, his body was covered in the sweat, his long, wet hair was falling over his shoulders or Shion's body when the older boy leaned closer to him to lick or kiss again some parts of his skin.

"N..Nez.." he groaned. A few seconds after it, he felt strangely empty as Nezumi took away his fingers. Shion again saw the silver eyes asking if he's sure and ready. The white haired boy only smiled and kissed his lover warm into the lips. Nezumi lifted his legs up, then something warm and wet started to press into his entrance.
Shion couldn't hold his scream.

It was so tight and hot inside the other boy. So tight that Nezumi was afraid he would come inside the Shion after one or two thrusts. After his senses came back he heard Shion's scream. He open eyes and looked at white haired boy worriedly.

Shion was laying under him, from his closed eyes few tears managed to escape. It was obvious that he was in pain. He didn't want this, but his hips bucked themselves into such amazing warmth and Shion again gave out a loud cry. Nezumi heart stopped. They really shouldn't do this.
"Shi...on... that's... enough... we'll... try next... time..." Nezumi said even when every cell in his body was screaming for more.
"N... No..." Shion moaned, his trembling hands left the white sheets beneath them and wrapped around them Nezumi's neck.

"Give me... some.. time..." Shion said and looked at him.

It hurt, it was strange how his whole body could only feel in that one place. The place where Nezumi had entered his body.

Shion tried to relax. Nezumi was worried about him. He didn't want that, not in this moment. Moment when they had finally become one.
Shion realized. He became one with Nezumi. Inside and outside wall, they were finally become the one. This thought took his breath away. It was like a miracle. Now Shion wasn't sure if the tears that escaped from his eyes were the tears of pain or happiness. It was Nezumi who was inside him.

After a few minutes Shion didn't know if he felt more pain or more pleasure. His body cried for more.
"Nez...umi... you can... move." He breathed out and his hips moved, taking Nezumi deeper inside of him. He heard the other boy's loud moan that set his body even more on fire.

"Ahh, are… you sure?"
He nodded and parted his lips with sounds of pleasure as Nezumi started slowly to move his hips.
It didn't take long when Nezumi's length hit the most sensitive point inside of Shion.
"Ah... there... there..." he only managed to say, he wanted to feel that pleasure once more time.

It was simply too much. The way Shion looked at him was too much. When Shion lifted his lids to look at him between his moans, Nezumi could see only pure love. He felt that his heart was breaking apart and was rebuilt over and over again.
Shion looked at him like he was the only person in the world. Nezumi was needed and loved by this person. He had never imagined he would ever be someone important to anybody, he didn't want it.

Yet, Shion gave himself to Nezumi, he made him feel like he finally had his place on this cruel world. In between waves of pleasure he felt that his eyes burned. He wanted to hold this man in his arms and to be held by Shion.
Before the second thought he lifted his lover's body and hugged it tight to his chest, burning his face into the white haired boy's neck.

Shion really wished that Nezumi didn't change their positions. It felt great, he really liked it, the older boy's length hit his prostate with each trust and they were so close to each other. He could feel Nezumi's fast breath over his neck and shoulder.

Problem was that after a few moments of his attempt to ride Nezumi, his condition gave up. Physical exhaustion and the pleasure that he felt was too much. If it was not for the strong hands of his lover around Shion's back, he would already fall down on the bed. Nezumi was right, he still had a long way to fully recover.

His movements become slower and slower, he had problems with catching his breath.
Nezumi must had noticed Shion's struggle because he stopped the other boy's movement completely and he put him gently back into bed.
Next thing that the crimson-eyed boy felt was Nezumi lips over his.
"Sorry."
"It... was... ahh... nice..." Shion managed to say while catching his breath.

Nezumi tried to smile, but his own moan destroyed his plans as he started to thrust into Shion again. His whole body trembled and he was so close. He was surprised anyway by how long they both managed to hold back and hadn't come already.

He moved his hand from Shion's leg and started to pump his length in the same peace as his thrusts. If it was possible Shion's moans become even more louder. Nezumi was feeling like could just come from hearing his lover like this here and now.
Few more thrusts and Nezumi couldn't hold it any longer.
"Oh... Fuck... Shion..."

Shion's eyes snapped open as he felt Nezumi coming inside of him. It was too much, his own climax hit him and the world around him disappeared.

His own seed splashed over his stomach and Nezumi's hand as he screamed the other boy's name. He felt that the silver eyed boy's hips still slightly trembled as he still pump into him all his warmness.

Shion gave out the last moan as Nezumi took out his length from his body. They both tried to catch their breaths, Nezumi's body trembled as he held himself above Shion on his hands. They looked at each other in the silence, the only sounds inside the room were their hard breaths and the fast beats of their hearts. Nezumi averted his eyes as he quietly turned around to get one of their underwear in his hand. With the piece of material he quietly cleaned up Shion's stomach and thighs.

After that he fell half on Shion side, half on the bed, he hid his face above white haired boy's shoulder and hugged him tight.

"Nezumi?" Shion asked at such cuddling from Nezumi's side. He was completely exhausted. He almost fell asleep, but then he heard Nezumi's shaky breath that sounded kind strange somehow. Arms around him trembled and Shion started to worry. After a moment he felt that pillow above his shoulder was getting wet.
Shion hold his breath. Nezumi was crying, quietly, but still crying. He was wondering if he done something wrong.

"Nezumi?" he repeated again and he felt that the arms around him were holding him even more tightly. Shion understood now. He also held Nezumi close, he didn't say anything more. He knew he wouldn't be able to find the right words because Nezumi didn't really need them. That embrace was enough.

Shion struggled to stay awake when he heard the quiet voice.
"Who are you? How is it possible for you to change my world so much? When I think I finally sort out my feelings, you again prove me that I'm wrong..."

Shion didn't know what to say. He was moved by the way Nezumi had opened to him in that moment.
"I'm Shion, just Shion, you stole my heart eight years ago, we have always saved each other and I love you. That's all."

Nezumi raised his head and looked into the crimson depth of Shion's eyes.
"You are still so natural."

Nezumi said and his eyes started to close as well. Shion looked at the digital watch. It was past 3AM. Normally the other boy would have to wake up for his work in an hour, so no surprise that he was tired too.

He felt that Nezumi lifted him a little and he put Shion's head over his chest. With the rest of his strength, the white-haired boy grabbed the blanket and covered them both.
"Good night, Nezumi." He whispered while falling into the slumber.
"'Night." Said Nezumi and kissed his white-haired boy.

Room was already filled with the daylight when Shion woke up. He looked around and found out that he was in Nezumi's arms. To be more precise in naked Nezumi's arms and he himself was naked as well. He felt wave of heat flooded his face as he remembered what happened a few hours ago. He had sex with Nezumi. His heart started to beat faster again.

Shion looked at his lover's expression. Nezumi slept so peaceful and his heart beat steady inside his chest. Shion closed his eyes for a moment and he listened to its strong rhythm.

Shion raised a little again on his arm and looked at the silver eyed boy's body. He was beautiful even with so many scars covering Nezumi's naked form. One on Nezumi's shoulder was from the eight years ago, two were from the shots in his arm and leg. The big one on front on his rib cage that terrified Shion. Scar Nezumi got for covering him. Shion touched that scar gently.

He was glad that Nezumi survived this. So many times he had dreamed about that day, so many times the long haired boy kept dying on the white desk in the Correctional Facility in his nightmares. Sometimes it was so real that Shion wasn't sure what was real anymore.

He wondered if his mind made up the later events and in reality Nezumi was already dead. His crazy mind kept whispering to him such thoughts and Shion was so lost. He could ask his mother, Inukashi or Rikiga what was real, but he felt so broken and he simply was afraid to ask. What if Nezumi was really already dead and his mind made up the promise of them seeing each other again?

Shion took a deep breath. Nezumi was there with him. Warm and breathing. His eyes caught the two more scars, small, but long, one on left leg and one on flat stomach. Nezumi must had got them during his travel. Did something happen to him?
Shion hoped that Nezumi would tell him about it one day. Just like he had told the white-haired boy about his biggest burn scar on his back.

"Can't people sleep without being attacked by the piercing gaze?" Nezumi purred into the pillow and stretched his arms and legs. Shion smiled and looked enchanted at him.
"You're so beautiful, I just can't stop looking at you." Shion said in honesty. Nezumi turned around to cover the embarrassment.
"Can't you at least stop with such sappy lines in early morning?"
"It's already 10 o'clock, it is way too late in the morning already."
"It's still not enough time for my liking, we had finished our activities late." The older boy muttered.

Shion chuckled and he threw his arm over Nezumi's waist.
They laid down a while like this, listening their breaths and heartbeats.

"Girls in NO.6 going to be devastated." Nezumi said with his usual smirk.
"Why?"
"Such good candidate for a husband, a member of government, a person who rule this city turned out to be a gay."

Shion looked at him.
"I don't think it's matter if I'm gay or not. I just always loved only you, that's all."
"You always say such embarrassing lines with a straight face."
"It's true. You stole my heart eight years ago and I never thought about others like I thought about you."

"Then, what are you going to do about that?" Nezumi ran his hand through the white hairs.
"What are you talking about?"
"Shion, people aren't so nice. In the West Block no one gave a shit who slept with who, but you are the head of government. I know that it wasn't easy to make and maintain the Committee after the Wall fell, don't you think that some people from NO.6 will stop supporting you after they would find out that you're in homosexual relationship?"

Shion thought about Nezumi's words.
"It's true that relationships and sex were always seen in NO.6 as an act of procreation. The others associations were unproductive in city's eyes, but there was still a law that let you marry whoever you want, regardless of sex. I don't think people will care about my relationship. What I'm doing in my private life isn't connected to my work."

Nezumi smiled sad at him.
"People aren't so simple, even if there is a law not everyone agree with it... I myself don't give a fuck. If you want I can say to everyone that we are together. You deserve it. I just don’t want to cause you more problems than you already have."
Shion looked at Nezumi shocked, unable to find the words to say how happy he was. Nezumi loved him and he wanted to tell everyone about them. All the same time, the older boy was right. People were sometimes prejudiced, and he had struggled so much to keep the Committee together for so many times during the past four years. Shion wasn’t sure how people would react if he, who was like head of the committee would turned out to be a gay.

"Perhaps you're right. I still have a lot to do in the city, you and Safu asked me for that. Maybe it is best to not flaunt our relationship in public for now. If the information that we are together spread out then I don't care, I love you, I will figure out how to sort all things out then."
"Hmmm... Maybe that will be better." Nezumi said with low voice that send shivers through Shion's body.
"It will be more exciting this way." he leaned over and kissed passionate Shion in the lips.

"Let's get up, your mom with start to worry why we are so late. You think that our night activities woke her up?" Nezumi teased Shion whose face turned red.
"No, I don't think so..." He said with a little panic. "Those sorts of buildings were built with sound proofing walls."
"Hmmm... We will see soon. You were so nicely loud today's night." It was clear as the sun that Nezumi had a lot of fun in teasing him in that moment.

The white haired boy tried to get up. His face twisted in pain.
"Shion, are you alright?" Nezumi asked worriedly.
"Yes, it will be hard to sit today. I will manage." He smiled at the other boy to calm him down. "Let's get something to eat."
"Are you hungry?" Nezumi was surprised. "That's a good sign."
Shion smiled. Future was bright, he felt alive again. Nezumi was the storm that always made him feel alive.

Chapter Text

Monday came and Shion was preparing for his time to come back to the work. The last week felt for him like it was forever. He felt a lot better now. His body was stronger and his mind was clearer.

He walked into the bakery where Nezumi was preparing the second part of today's sweet rolls. The older boy turned around and whistled when he saw Shion.
"Hmmm... How elegant, you even put on a tie."

Shion looked at himself: he had on him a white T-shirt, a red tie and normal black trousers.
"It's not so elegant, normally I wear suit to work, but it's so hot today that I would be fried in it."
"However, you look sexy, maybe I shouldn't let you go to the work?"

Nezumi walked closer to Shion, his index finger traced downward from the other boy's lips and stopped at the tie. The silver eyes didn't even blinked while locking Shion's gaze with them.
"It will be such a waste, don't you think?" It was almost a whisper, but that voice already warmed up Shion's cheeks. He shook his head and tried to calm down.
"No use, I need to go back to work, you know that. Your plan failed, Nezumi."
"Tch, so you find out, my seductive skills got worse."
"They are perfect, I just really need to go. I won't be able to dig through the paperwork if I miss more." Shion laughed to the grumpy, dark haired boy.
"If they were, you wouldn't think about the paperwork right now." Nezumi murmured under his nose and Shion chuckled at such scene.

Shion made breakfast for himself. He could eat in the shop or the family kitchen, which was more comfortable, but he wanted to spend a little more time with Nezumi who still baked the muffins. When he was almost done with his breakfast, the dark haired boy put a large pack in front of him. Shion looked surprisedly between the other boy and the box.
"It's your lunch. Your mom prepared it earlier, so be a good boy and eat it all in the work." Nezumi said with a serious voice. Shion sighed tiredly, but he smiled instantly.
"I will." Shion raised from the chair. "Nezumi, can you wait for a moment?"
Nezumi stopped mixing the muffin mass and turned around. Shion leaned to the older boy and he kissed him softly.
"It's the 'see you after work' kiss." Shion explained while looking deep into the silver eyes.

Nezumi saw it: the glint of fear. It was barely recognizable, but it was still inside the crimson eyes. Nezumi took a deep breath. Some feelings and worries just couldn't disappear as fast as they both wished.
"Don't you think that name is too long for a kiss?" He smirked while leaning to Shion and kissing him back. "See you later."

Shion's eyes brighten up and the member of the Restructural Committee left to the work.

***
Two weeks had gone by. The 'See you later' kiss became some sort of their daily ritual before Shion left to work.

Karan was happy because she now had two amazing sons. Her son looked better and better every day and a lot of her worries disappeared. She and Nezumi planned their shifts in the shop, since it wasn't needed for them both to look over the shop during the low hours.

She had more time for herself, so she often visited Renka and Lili during her breaks. Karan noticed that Nezumi always took a nap in his free time. The dark haired boy wouldn't say it aloud, but she and her son knew that it was because the older boy wanted to spend more time in the evenings with Shion.
Their work's hours didn't leave them much time to spend together, but the afternoon nap helped them gain an hour or two to spend on reading, talking or just enjoying each other closeness.

Shion's friends also came to the bakery more often. Inukashi and little Shionn always visited them in Sundays, sometimes they even dropped by in the middle of week. Shion played or read with a little kid while Nezumi and Inukashi often argued about something.

Little Kalan and Rico visited them as well. Their school was in a different part of the city. In the past, they had a hard time to see Shion at home, so they soon gave up on coming to the bakery so often. Now, to the Karan's delight, Shion almost always came home from work earlier than he used to. That was surely the "fault" of the new member of their family. Their house and the bakery were full of life and warmth.

Nearly three weeks passed since the white haired boy's return to his work when Nezumi was woken up by Shion's scream. The other boy shook on the bed and cried loudly. Nezumi jumped up and shook Shion's shoulder.

"Shion, hey, Shion, wake up."
He was trying to pull the white haired boy out of the nightmare, but it didn't seem to work.
"Shion, Shion!" He raised his voice and after a while the other boy snapped his eyes open. Shion looked straight at him, but fast he turned away from Nezumi and started looking around.

"They must be somewhere here. They must! We must find them!" Shion screamed, his shaking hands waved in the dark like they were searching for something.
"Shion!" Nezumi screamed terrifiedly, he grabbed Shion's hand and turned the boy towards him.
Shion's face was twisted with pure panic, his skin was covered with cold sweat and his breath was shallow.
"Nezumi, stop! We need to save them, we can't leave them! Mom and Safu must be still alive somewhere in this pile!"

Nezumi didn't understand at first, he was frightened by the fact that Shion was looking at him, but he didn't really see him, he was trapped in some kind of illusion.
"They aren't here! We need to climb up and search for them somewhere else!" Shion screamed, his eyes were full of tears.

After a moment Nezumi understood. Shion was seeing the Pit from the Correctional Facility, he thought that his mother and Safu were thrown into that hell with them.
"Shion!" He shook the other boy's trembling body. "We are in the Chronos! In our room! Your mother is sleeping in her room here on the first floor! She's safe, just like we are right now! Safu wasn't there, do you remember? Shion!"

Nezumi screamed and he turned Shion so their eyes could meet. The white haired boy looked at him. After a while Shion began to recognize his surroundings.
"Nezumi?" Shion asked, he still did not recover entirely from his nightmare. The long-haired boy nodded and hugged his shaking body.
"We are at home." Nezumi whispered into other boy's shoulder. He heard Shion took a few more shaky breaths. They stayed like that for several minutes. After Nezumi felt that Shion started to calm down, he himself also relaxed a little. To tell the truth this whole situation scared Nezumi more than he imagined. He made space between them and took a look at Shion. The boy looked smaller than he already was, he pulled his legs up to his chest as soon as the dark haired boy stopped hugging him, his eyes followed Nezumi's every move.

The older boy sighed and wrapped Shion into the blanket.
"I'll get you something hot to drink. I will be right back."
"Thank you." Shion said quietly.

Nezumi stopped just at the edge of the stairs and looked at the other boy. Shion thanked him, but it was all his fault that the white haired boy was in such state right now. It was because of him, because he took Shion to the Correctional Facility.
Nezumi laughed sadly.

"I had to fix what I created, right?" He said with the voice full of sorrow and anger on himself.
"What do you mean?" Shion jumped to him and he grabbed his hand.
"You are wrecked Shion, you are broken and ruined because of me." Nezumi turned away.
"I'm not." Shion said, he wanted to calm down Nezumi, but his words caused a different effect.
"Don't lie! You are not? You didn't see yourself! You didn't know where you were. You were screaming and crying! I've done that to you! I've took you to that damn place!" Nezumi screamed, he was terrified how much he had hurt Shion.

"Don't you get it? I took you there, you were just a tool for me back then! I've devastated you!"

Shion looked at Nezumi. He never saw such terrible outburst from the other boy, even when Shion tried to leave. Even if Shion's nightmare still didn't fully leave his brain and he felt confused, he knew he had to say something to Nezumi. He had to calm the dark-haired boy down. The older boy wasn't right, he would had gone to the Correctional Facility anyway. Why can't Nezumi just sit down and hold him again?

"It isn't your fault. I would had gone there anyway to save Safu." Shion said as calm as he could.
"Don't you get it? I knew that there wasn't a chance for that friend of yours to be alive! I knew that because I was in that place before, but I still took you there! I only desired to destroy the NO.6. You were absolutely right about that. I didn't really care about anything else. I knew that we could have died there, but I still took you to that place…"

Nezumi slid down on the floor.
"I'm a demon, Shion. And I've destroyed you too. You don't understand what kind of person I am in reality."

Shion slowly walked towards Nezumi like he had a scared wild animal before him.
"Nezumi..." he started quietly. "Even if there weren't any chance I would go there anyway. I wouldn't be able to live thinking that I done nothing to save my friends. You aren't demon, you are the kind person."

Shion reached out his hand to touch Nezumi's shoulder, but the older boy pushed it away.
"You truly are an idiot. I hurt you so much and you are still acting like this. You are just blinded by this ridiculous love of yours towards me and you don't see what's real anymore."
Nezumi turned his head to Shion who looked at him with the face full of pain. Great, he hurt Shion again. He truly could only bring pain to people around him.

Shion looked at Nezumi. His heart felt like it just got stabbed with the knife. He wasn't sure what hurt him more, being pushed away again or Nezumi's words.

Shion's love was ridiculous, it was stupid.

It wasn't the first time when the older boy had hurt him with his words, but this time it felt different. Shion didn't even know why. Maybe because now he was thinking 'then what does Nezumi's confession mean if my love is something ridiculous? Did Nezumi lie that he loved me? Did he just act? No, it can't be true, the last weeks couldn't be lies, right?'

Shion felt tears gathering into his eyes, he didn't want them to fall. He swallowed hard, turned around and laid back on bed with face towards the wall. He was tried, lost and hurt. He wished that this moment was a nightmare too, he hoped to wake up shortly.

But such moment didn't come.
Shion heard that the other boy clicked his tongue angrily and he walked down the stairs. Younger boy turned his head and saw that Nezumi laid down on the sofa. Shion was waiting around an hour, afraid to close his eyes again because of the last nightmare. Still, Nezumi didn't return to their bed that night.
***

Nezumi was really mad at himself. He acted like a kid. The last evening he left the white haired boy alone after his nightmares and he even hurt Shion more than he already did.

He should had said something to Shion. Say sorry, his mind urged, but he couldn't, not after Shion turned away from him after his idiotic words.

Nezumi knew that he wasn't a good person. Inukashi, Rikiga, all people who met him knew it, but Shion kept trying to bring out the person who Nezumi could have been if his past life was different. If No.6 didn’t kill his people and change his childhood into hell.

That part was true, he used and hurt a lot of people, Nezumi knew he was right, that he devastated Shion as well. He wasn't going to take back what was the truth.

Why did Shion even love a person like him?

Nezumi even said such thing, that Shion's love was ridiculous. Such warm feeling that saved Nezumi, the feelings that didn't let him fall into darkness. Shion and his love were the first things that made Nezumi feel happy in his life. It was everything but ridiculous.

Because of the last night's event and his current thoughts, he was so distracted that he again mixed bad proportions of ingredients for the cupcake's cream.

He looked at the clock . It had already passed the hour when Shion jumped into the bakery to kiss him and say 'see you later'. Nezumi started to feel worried. Shion wasn't the kind of person who would oversleep to work. Did he feel bad? Maybe he passed out again?

Nezumi quickly left the bake area and headed to their room. He walked inside and took a look, but Shion wasn't there. He checked the bathroom. Shion's sleeping clothing was already arranged there. Nezumi left to the shop part. Karan was selling some bread, still Shion wasn't there either.

"Did something happen?" Karan asked him after she done with the customer.
"No, Ma'am. Did you saw Shion?"
"Oh, he had already left for work, I thought he had seen you before leaving."
"Maybe he was in the hurry." Nezumi said and turned back.

Somehow he started to feel angry. Shion left and he didn't say anything to him. Nezumi ran over the house like crazy for the last few minutes and it turned out that Shion already left. But what else he could expect? Shion was hurt by him last night. Did he expected that the white haired boy would just act like nothing happened? Yes, he was expecting that. Shion was like that, no matter what Nezumi threw at him, the white haired boy always came back to him and he acted like nothing have happened. Nezumi felt angry, but he wasn't sure if on himself or on Shion.
***
It rained fell from the sky like crazy today. The weather forecast said that after weeks of impossible heat the heavy rains were going to take place in their area. Shion didn't feel happy about rain in that day.

Rain had always been something that linked him to Nezumi. It was a sign of hope, of a day that maybe under the rain Nezumi would come back to him. It often made him feel alive, even if it had nothing to do with the silver eyed boy.

Now Shion had to deal with the side effects of such weather and it wasn't a happy outcome. Some of the old sewers under the West Block weren't enough for such a big amount of water and he with the rest members of the Committee needed to organize bags of sand and other needed supplies as fast as possible.
A few areas were in the risk of flooding if they wasted any more time. They planned to renovate the sewers in the next month. Couldn't that damn rain wait a few weeks?

Tori reminded him that the repair of Lost Town's hospital was in halfway of where they should be. To be more precise in middle of exchanging the roof. Great timing.

When he arrived back to his office from running around the city he was wet and exhausted. It didn't help that his assistant Rei again tried to ask him out for a cup of coffee, a lunch or something like that, he didn't remember what it was.

Any time his mind had a free moment he recalled the last night's events. He couldn't get himself to see Nezumi and kiss him in today's morning like he used to do past the last weeks.

He felt really hurt. Nezumi loved him, right? It couldn't be just an act, right? Then why did Nezumi say something like this?

Shion walked down the streets back home. It was getting late and yet, he still wasn't ready to deal with the dark haired boy. He wasn't like that before, perhaps he shouldn't care about the last night, they both were just scared by Shion's nightmare, but he changed in the past four years and he couldn't do anything about it. The longing for Nezumi, the heavy work for city and what happened at Correctional Facility made him less naive.

Shion met his mother near the doors. She was heading to Renka's place.
"Shion, dear, you are late today."
"Sorry, mom. I had a really bad day at work." Shion smiled and he hoped that Karan won't find out that it was only half of his today's problems.
"It looks like you had, you look awful. I left dinner in the kitchen, Nezumi should warm it up right now. Eat and rest."
"Ok, mom."

Karan smiled and she left the house. Shion put down his wet umbrella and took off soaked shoes. He headed slowly to the kitchen. He merely walked through the doors when they saw each other. An uneasy silence fell over the room.

"So his majesty finally remember about my person?" Nezumi said with a smirk, he was clearly annoyed because of Shion's behavior in the morning. The white-haired boy let those words go, he was too tired to talk about it. He sat on the kitchen's chair. He heard that Nezumi took a long, deep breath as well. Silence once again filled the room.

"You may not wanted to see me, but at least you could take your lunch, you may be intelligent, but you act like a kid. You likely didn't eat anything for a whole day. Only three weeks passed since your collapses, you shouldn't miss your meals. "
"Like you care about me. Me, the stupid, ridiculous person. You should act better if you want me to believe it." Shion wasn't sure what made him angry, maybe it was because of his hard day in the work, maybe because his lack of the sleep, maybe because words about 'your ridiculous love' still rang in his ears. Because of all this he said those words aloud. He didn't mean those words, not at all. Shion looked at the older boy's face. Nezumi, with mix of anger and hurt, put loudly plate down on the table.

"I had plenty of this bullshit for the today."
Nezumi's walked away from the kitchen leaving Shion alone with his dinner. He forced himself to eat, after what he said to Nezumi he didn't feel hungry at all. When he finished, Shion walked into their room, planning to apologize to Nezumi, but the lights in the room were already turned off. Shion felt that his anger and pain returned again when he saw Nezumi sleeping on the sofa just like in the previous night. He took a shower and he headed to the empty bed. He tried to calm himself down. The next day was going to be hard for him and waking Nezumi up wouldn't do anything good for them.
***

Two days passed by. Heavy rain didn't seem to stop haunting NO.6. The situation between Shion and Nezumi didn't seem to get better; it was opposite, it became even worse. They didn't want it, but somehow each time one of them tried to talk, they just ended up hurting each other. It was even hard for two of them to hide their fights from Karan and now the woman was looking at the boys worriedly. The atmosphere was equally heavy as the rain outside.

At work Shion hid himself in his office. He didn't want anyone to see him in the state he was right now. He felt like on the edge of crying. He was angry at himself, at Nezumi and their past. His stomach hurt and he was exhausted. Half of the Lost Town's hospital was flooded, some vegetables fields on the East Block were destroyed by the rain too. No matter how hard he tried to fix those things, everything was just falling apart.

He evacuated himself from the work in a way that almost no one could see him, he almost shouted at Tori when the man was trying to ask him if something was wrong. He didn't want to hurt others simply because he couldn't sort out his private problems.

When he came back home his mother grabbed him right after he made a step inside the kitchen.

"Oh, you're back Shion, I made dinner, it had been a while since we all ate together." She pushed him to the table. Nezumi already sat down with an unhappy face. They looked at each other for a second then both quickly averted their eyes.

Karan smiled and tried hard to make atmosphere lighter.
It didn't seem to work, the both boys ate in silence, or to be more precise Nezumi ate and Shion just poked his food with the fork. After a while Nezumi couldn't take it anymore.

"Fuck, Shion, can't you at least eat like a normal person?"

"I'm not hungry."
"I thought you learn how important food was while you were living in the West Block." Nezumi raised his voice a little.
"If it annoys you then just don't look. It's not my fault that I can't eat." Shion looked over his plate.

"Boys, please, calm down..." Karan raised her hands in an attempt to help.
"But he's right Ma'am. It's all my fault that your son is in such condition, that he can't sleep normally anymore because of the nightmares. I don't understand both of you. You both should blame me. Shion lost his education, peaceful life in the Chronos because he helped me. He nearly lost his life because of those wasps."

Shion stood up from his chair.

"Yes, the wasp wouldn't get into me because I would still live in the Chronos! Now you're just being an idiot. Those wasps would be kept off of me because the amazing Nezumi hadn't come through my window?

A crazy government would spare me like what they had done with Safu? I would probably be dead like many others four years ago. They would use me for some kind of experiments or just erase me when I had done something against the government's rule. Yes, all the bad things happened because I had helped you eight years ago. You are certainly right." Shion shouted sarcastically. He screamed all those lines so loud and fast that he had to catch breath after it.

Perhaps it was a good moment to stop, but Shion was so angry, so tired after almost a whole week of fight with Nezumi and the city's problems.

He didn't notice that Nezumi was hesitated to say something to Shion since they started this argument. But words just slipped through Shion's lips before he noticed.

"And all you have ever done was running away, from your past, from your feelings and now from the truth."
In the one moment Nezumi jumped to Shion and held him by his shirt.

"Who is always running from the truth, Mr. Third Option? You don't know how it was like. You were always protected. You had everything, you didn't saw death of everyone you cared about, you didn't hear screams of your family being burned alive, you wasn't hunted like a prey, you didn't have to survive alone as a kid in West Block, your body wasn't eaten alive by worms in your wounds and you wasn't..." Nezumi cut out, his hands started to shake and his face became pale. He turned round and he left the kitchen.

Shion looked at place where Nezumi just stood few seconds ago.
"What have I done?" Shion whispered and he hid face in his hands.
"Shion." His mother walked to him and she put her hand on his shoulder. He shouldn't have said it. He was one to blame, he hurt Nezumi, he made the other boy remember about all the bad things in his life. Shion didn't deserve that kind of treatment. He had to apologize, but he didn't know how.

Nezumi sat down on the sofa in the dark room. He tried to calm down, but it was hard. He was angry at Shion, for not understanding that he ruined the other boy's life and health, for Shion's rational arguments that were right, for all the things he remembered again, for things he tried to leave behind and thought he had finally forgot.

They hurt each other. Again. He didn't want Shion to blame himself that he had a peaceful childhood, Nezumi already said that four years ago when he first told the other boy about his past. Shion cried at that time for him. Shion always cried and cared for him. Why they were fighting with each other like this now?

Nezumi felt his chest hurt, maybe he was right once, maybe they both can't be together. They were too different, the Correctional Facility only deepened this disparity.

Why didn't he run away from here yet? He just couldn't. He promised Shion that he would remain with him until the white-haired boy wanted him to leave. Nezumi loved that boy, he was really and truly happy for the last weeks.

Can't Shion just agree that Nezumi hurt the other boy so much four years ago by leading him into the Correctional Facility? Shion changed and that was all his and only his fault.

***
Karan was woke up in the middle of the night by shouts from the corridor.
"...Don't you understand Shion? I took you there, because of me you killed a human. You don't get who I am, I'm a murder and I made you a murder too."
"It wasn't your fault, I was weak, I couldn't find the other option when I should have. You are not murder. You saved many people like you done with that man who was begging for the end of his suffering. Your song saved him when I couldn't ..."
"I couldn't save anyone! You know what I have done to him back then! I couldn't save your friend. You took a life because of me. Fuck, you even tried to kill yourself there! And tell me that this wasn't my fault? You always pay too big prices for saving me." Nezumi's voice broke down.
"I don't regret that I saved your life, I would do it again if it happened again. I didn't want to lose you, I love you."

Nezumi pushed him aside, his eyes were filled with fear.
"Do you even hear yourself? Do you even realize what I have done to you? How I have turned you into a murderer?"

Nezumi walked back few steps and looked deep into the crimson eyes. His heart was falling apart, his throat burned and Nezumi closed his eyes. He didn't want for Shion to think in such way. Shion was light, but Nezumi's person corrupted that light.

"I wish we could never met." He said quietly. When he looked again at Shion, he saw the tears falling down the other boy's face. Shion moved his hand to his own heart and clenched his fist like it could stop the pain. They both looked at each other broken and hurt. Wishing in their minds to stop. To stop causing each other anymore pain.

Nezumi couldn't take it anymore, he didn't want to see Shion crying like that because of him. His legs moved on their own and soon he ran in the never ending rain.

Words echoed through Shion's head.
'I wish we could never met.'
'I wish we could never met.'

Shion didn't know how long he stood there. His tears already made a wet spot on floor. He noticed that Nezumi ran outside into the rain, yet he couldn't move, he couldn't scream.

How did all this happen? It was because he had stupid nightmare. Because he said so many things that he didn't really mean, because he hurt and terrified the love of his life.

And now Nezumi was gone. He didn't want that. He had to do something. He couldn't lose Nezumi again. Not in such idiotic way. He won't let their past and the Correctional Facility destroy them. He wanted to hear Nezumi's voice again. They couldn't end like this.

Shion rushed to the door.
"Nezumiiiii!" He screamed into the rain, but the silver-eyed boy wasn't nowhere in sight.

Chapter Text

Karan stood in the dark corridor. She was confused after all the things she had heard in Shion and Nezumi's argument. Her son had killed a human to save Nezumi's life. Suddenly all the things she had heard from Shion after waking him up from his nightmares for the last four years became much clearer.

Oh, how they grownups had failed. They couldn't protect those children four years ago. In the age of sixteen they had seen and done things they shouldn't have. She didn't think that if they were older it would make much more difference. No one should had gone through things like that.

Her son was almost killed by the city, Shion had to fight to save the people who were important to him. Because of that he had to take another person's life.

That boy, Nezumi, was all alone. Karan was frightened of the boy's words during dinner. His family was burned alive. She had always noticed Nezumi was really hurt and he always kept distance from all other people except Shion. While he confronted the strangers, he always put on a mask and he acted. And Nezumi was a skilled actor, still Karan quickly saw through all of it. She even noticed the scars that covered the boy's body when he was changing after work and she happened to take the laundry from the boys' room one day.

And there was Safu too. Karan failed to protect such good and intelligent girl. Now she was dead because of the city.

Those children shouldn't had suffered so much. Grownups should had protected them. It was opposite, those kids were hurt so much by the city, by the people who should have kept them safe. And now that past was still haunting them, didn't let them be happy.
She walked slowly into the bakery. Shion was sitting near the door, his face was hid in his hands.
"Shion." Karan softly started and sat down beside her son. Shion raised his head, his eyes were filled with tears.
"Mom... Nezumi... He... I..." her son said between the sobs. Karan put her hands over Shion's shoulders and she hoped that it would help to calm him down.
"He's gone... Even if I run after him... If he want to leave, I won't be able to do anything..." Shion said with a broken voice, his hand gripped into his white hair.

Karan really didn't know what to say. Not like she was an expert in relationships, she was simply a single mother raising her child. She chose to stay in the city instead of leaving with Shion's father. Karan had done what she thought was the best for her son. The safe city over the unknown lands outside of it's borders. Was that a right choice? Karan wasn't sure anymore, but thinking about it wouldn't change anything. She had to help those boys now, in the best way that a mother could do.

"Shion, dear. It will be alright. You two just had a fight, you aren't the first one and you won't be the last." She slowly ran her hands over Shion's slightly wet shoulders from the rain outside.
"But he said that he wished we had never met... He will leave again..." Shion hid face in his knees.

Karan paused for a moment. She didn't want to let him know that she heard most of their argument earlier. Right now her son didn't need to know that she had found out about what had happened in the Correctional Facility. Shion had enough problems already, and having to explain to his mother why or how he killed a human being would be too much for him right now. Karan was going to wait until Shion himself was ready to tell her about it.

"Nezumi won't leave in such way." She started gently. "He promised that to you and even to me. You know that he is not a person who breaks his promises. Besides, he won't leave without saying anything."

Shion slowly raised his head and looked at her, tears were still streaming down his face.
"For what Nezumi had said to you, he might means that he wants to protect you, he is afraid that you are hurt because you met him or your connection with him will make you suffer one day. Well, that's what I think, dear."
"It's not true, or maybe it is, but with him I feel happiest, most alive and whole."
Karan smiled and embraced him tightly.
"You should tell Nezumi that when he gets back, exactly the same words."
She brushed her son's white hair. It still felt a little strange even after four years, but such color fit Shion. Karan knew that she wasn't the only one who thought so. Many times she had caught Nezumi touching Shion's hair with affection. She was sure of their love, the proof of it was visible in each moment when boys looked, talked and smiled to each other. She saw it for the last few weeks and even four years ago, when they both still weren't sure if those feelings they felt was love or something else.

That's why Karan decided to do all she could for those children so that they could be happy.
"Dear, let's get up, you should change, you will catch the cold in this way. Nezumi will be mad again for sure and that won't help you both to make up." She raised up from the floor. Shion looked at her and he also slowly stood up. Karan walked with Shion to his room. Just after her son changed into dry clothes and she managed to put the protesting boy into bed, she went back into the bakery.
Shion was afraid of running after Nezumi. Maybe that would be better. Those two fell too deep into their conflicts and those things they fought over weren't the easy ones. Karan wished to talk with Nezumi before he came back home. Maybe Shion had the same feeling as she did, that even if the dark haired boy returned, he would still blame himself for what had happened in the Correctional Facility and their fight would continue.

Karan took a green umbrella, she put a coat over her sleeping gown and walked into the streets. She wandered around Chronos neighborhood for half an hour when she found Nezumi. He was sitting on a bench near the river, holding his head with his hands. The rain fell down on him without any obstacles and Karan's heart hurt when she saw how such strong boy sat alone and broken because of the terrible things that had happened to him.

After he left the house Nezumi didn't know what to do next. He wandered around Chronos for the twenty minutes until he ended at the same spot near the river that he found himself weeks ago. He felt so hollow inside and he was so tired that he didn't even care that he was getting cold because of the heavy rain. He sat there maybe for a next twenty minutes thinking about the last few days when he felt that rain was no longer falling on him. He lifted his head to see what happened. He was surprised when he saw Shion's mother standing in front of him, her umbrella was leaned over both of them.

"Can I sit beside you?" The woman said with a gentle smile. Nezumi nodded and Karan sat down on the wet bench. A few minutes passed and the only sound both of them could hear was the dripping sound of the rainfall.
Nezumi was wondering what that woman was doing here. Shouldn't she be with Shion comforting him? What had happened after he left?

"Nezumi..." Karan started, getting him off from his thoughts. "I'm sorry."
That was the last thing that Nezumi thought he could possibly hear from the Shion's mother.
"What for?" He asked confused.
"For all that happened. We grownups should have done something. We shouldn't have let No.6 turn into such monster. We were too blind or perhaps we really didn't want to see it because it was easier. In the end, because of our mistakes, children like you, Safu and my son had to suffer. Even now after it ended it's still hurting all of you."

Nezumi looked surprisedly at her sad smile and eyes, but he said nothing. He didn't know how to think about all this.
"You shouldn't blame yourself for what happened to Shion, Safu and you four years ago. If you want to blame someone you should blame me rather than yourself. I turned a blind eye to what the city's government were doing. I only cared about my and Shion's safety, I opened my eyes only after my son got arrested. I was once close to the people who were inside the previous government if you know. But I didn't do anything."

Karan finished and she looked at him, waiting for his answer. Nezumi stared at the distance. It was funny. How it would be easy to blame this woman for all those bad things that had happened to him. Maybe years ago he would do that, just like he used to hate all the people in No.6. But this was wrong, Shion had opened his eyes to such fact.

From people whom he knew, Karan and Rou were acquainted to those crazy guys who had changed this city into hell with a beautiful cover. What did he think about this?

He looked at Karan. She was just a normal, fragile woman, yet for those few weeks of living and working together he knew that she was strong. She was a mother who protected and raised Shion, the most important person to Nezumi, with her best. How could he blame her for doing everything to keep Shion safe? She didn't know what was taking place outside of the wall, she didn't do anything to harm others. She was innocent compare to Rou whose curiosity had brought death to his family and yet he didn't blame that man... And let's be real. What could a single woman do to fight against a vicious monster like No.6? She would simply be killed like many others who were opposed to the government.

"I can't blame you Ma'am." Nezumi said quietly.
"I see." Karan said and stood up. She gentle grabbed Nezumi's hand and put her umbrella into it.
"Take your time, I'm leaving umbrella with you, Shion is waiting for you. "

Nezumi looked as woman turning round and made a few steps away. The umbrella in his hand felt like it weighted a ton. He didn't know what he was doing, but he already regretted it when he jumped off from the bench and said things he had never thought he would say to Shion's mother.

"Because of me Shion killed a human." He screamed out loud. Why did he say that? Perhaps because he had had enough. Enough of such kindness. She treated him like this because she didn't know the truth. He knew it was stupid, to make Shion's mother see him in a different light since he wanted to be with her son. However, as he promised to Shion to never lie and hide the truth, he felt the same way for the woman who let him into their small family.

He expected for Karan to say that he had to get out from their lives, that she would look at him with hatred, but she just walked back to him and wrapped her arms around him.
"Nezumi, it's enough. You suffered enough." she said gently and Nezumi felt like his heart stopped beating.
"You didn't create the Correctional Facility, you weren't responsible for Safu's kidnapping, you didn't wish for all those bad things to happen. I'm sorry because of that too, if I didn't write that message to you, both of you may had never gone into the Correctional Facility in the first place. You really had suffer enough. Even if you really did bad things, you had paid for them already. You had stopped No.6. If you still feel it's not enough then try to live the rest of your life in a way that makes people around you happy. I now understand why Shion is working so hard for the city. It's not just because of you, Nezumi, nor it is because of Safu's wish. It's Shion's way to pay for what he had done."
"He shouldn't, he has always paid too much for saving my live." He whispered, feeling his throat squeezing hard.

"Nezumi, no mother wishes to see her child suffer. Do you think your parents would be glad seeing you hurt and blaming yourself like this? You have done all you could for your people, now it's time for you to be happy."

She tightened her embrace around him. Nezumi wondered if this was how mother's hug felt like, because he didn't remember. Was his mother use to embrace him like this? He always said to himself that recalling and longing for his family would make him weak, but right now he felt fragile as ever. He had never felt this fragile in years. He felt his heart was breaking down again as Karan's words rang in his mind.

He always remembered one thing, the only memory that he knew was real: the scars. Those burning scars on his back would never let him forget anyway. He wasn't any longer sure if his voice sounded like that, but he remembered. The dark haired boy recalled his father's words, that he had to run, so Nezumi could be saved, so he would survive. His father wanted him to live.

Nezumi felt his eyes burned. He wondered if the voice he heard inside the dream that Elyurias showed him four years ago was really the voice of his mother, so he really had something to remember aside from the sounds of her screaming when the fire devoured her body. Nezumi bit his lip and tried to push aside all of the emotions and the tears that gathered in his eyes.

Karan had pulled back and she was now looking at him. With the umbrella laid down on the street both of them stood in the rain for minutes. Nezumi turned away to hide his face and picked up the umbrella from the ground. He handed over the umbrella to Karan in silence and slowly began to walk back to their home. The quiet steps followed him. Nezumi didn't turn to Karan even once, he didn't want to show anymore of his weakness to Shion's mother.

Were his protective walls still there? When he started to let others see him like this, so pathetic and weak? It couldn't be good, right? Nezumi believed that only Shion had the right to see him like this.
He stood speechless for a while. Would it really be alright if it was Shion? He smiled with mixed emotions. Damn it, he had fallen so hard for that boy that there wasn't any turn backs anymore. It was idiotic to fight with Shion. Why struggle over things they couldn't change when they both clearly couldn't live without each other? And that thought made all the pain, all the memories about things he had lost a little more bearable.
***
After his mother left the room Shion laid down on the bed listening to everything that could be the sound of Nezumi's coming back home. The little mice sat down along the pillow beside him. He patted their little heads, yet his hands shook like leaves. Cravat bit gently his palm.

"I'm sorry, but I can't stop worrying. I and your master had a fight..." He whispered to the little animal.

When he heard the sounds of the heavy steps walking up the stairs outside the room around an hour later, Shion jumped up from the bed. He froze in shock, he could only keep his eyes on the door of his room.

Nezumi slowly walked in and looked at Shion. The older boy was all wet, big drops of water fell down from his clothes and hair. Shion thought how much this image reminded him of their first meeting eight years ago. It was only him and the soaked boy in this room. Shion felt like time had frozen just a second ago, but now he was already standing beside Nezumi with a blanket and he already wrapped it around the dark haired boy. They may be in the middle of a fight, but Shion wasn't going to stop caring about his lover because of that. The whole time Nezumi hadn't said anything. Shion looked into those silver eyes and couldn't read the strange emotion reflected in them, but he was happy that Nezumi was back, even when he was afraid of what would happen next.

"I'm sorry, for all that I have said in the past week." He started with a shaking voice. Even if he was going to get a goodbye kiss, Shion wanted to at least apologize.
"I didn't want to hurt you." Shion looked away.

Nezumi grabbed his chin and he made younger boy look into his eyes.
"I don't want your apologies." The older boy finally said and Shion's heart stopped. The panic overflowed Shion, but then he heard the continuation of what the dark haired boy had in his mind.

"It won't change anything. Shion, you need to promise me to never again think about or do something like killing other person to save me. You hear me? Never. No matter what happens, you will never think about doing that again. Not even one single thought like that, got it? I can't live with the thought that I had changed you in such way. You have to promise me that." Nezumi said to him, his hands were gripping Shion's upper arms.
"Nezumi, but..."
"No buts Shion, you have to promise me that, you can protect me in all others ways, but not that way."

The white haired boy took a deep breath. He would do everything for Nezumi, so if this was what the other boy wanted, Shion would gladly promise him this.

"I promise, I won't do such thing again." He said and now heard that the older boy took a deep breath.
"I trust you to keep your promise like I kept mine, your majesty." Nezumi said.
"Of course." Shion said with a little smile, he had something to say too.
"Nezumi, please listen to me now and don't get angry."
The older boy nodded and Shion continued, feeling a little bit braver.

"Please don't stop me before I finish. I know you blame yourself for leading me into the Correctional Facility, but you have already paid enough for it. You protected me the whole time, you fulfilled Safu's wish when I couldn't, you even shielded me from the shot with your own body. It's enough. You made sure I will survive and you almost paid for it with your own life. It's more than enough for taking me there..."

"Shion, you..."
"Please, I told you to not interrupt me. I know you went there to destroy the No.6. Maybe it's really because I love you and maybe you think about it as idiotic..." Shion's voice broke down because of the pain that such words bring to him "...but I forgive you for taking me to that place."

He averted his eyes down from Nezumi's face because of embarrassment.
"And I hope that the one day you will forgive yourself too..." he added quietly.

Shion waited for Nezumi to say something, but instead of that he felt arms wrapping around his body and the other man's head over his shoulder, the wet hairs were tackling his cheek.
"I'm sorry too." The warm breath tingled Shion's neck. "I shouldn't have said such thing about your love towards me, it always was and is something that lightens my life. It's anything, but ridiculous. Sorry. I have hurt you."

Shion smiled feeling like the weight had fallen from his heart. He wrapped his arms also around Nezumi even if the other boy's body was freezing from the rain outside. It still felt perfect.
"Yes, you hurt me sometimes." Shion said and he felt body in his arms tensed "... But with you I feel the happiest, the most alive and complete too. It's how love is."
Nezumi raised his head and looked into the crimson eyes with a smirk.
"Where did you read such line?"

Shion smiled at him.
"Those are my own words, but mom said I should repeat them to you when you got back."
"Your mother, huh? You two are really the same, strange and helpless with impossible kindness."
"Why are you saying this?" Shion said feeling like the tension he had felt until now started to be replaced with sleepiness. Nezumi's embrace felt so good. He put his head over the other boy's shoulder and he noticed that his eyelids started to close on its own.

"See? You are really helpless." Nezumi chuckled.
"I can't help it, I was so worried for the last week that I barely slept."
"Alright, your majesty, let's change into something dry and head to sleep or you will soon turn me into your private pillow. Not like you haven't do so already for the last few weeks..."
"...But will you come back to bed?" Shion mumbled half asleep.
"Yes, I will." Nezumi said and ran his hand through the white hairs.

Nezumi woke up after 5am. First he jumped out the bed thinking he would be late for work when he remembered that today was Saturday and he still had half an hour before Shion's mother started her bakery. It wasn't much consolidation since he felt worn down after only four hours of sleep, but at least he wasn't late. On the other hand, late or not, working with Shion's mother might be awkward anyway after yesterday's evening.

"Nezumi?" With all the racket he made, it looked like he woke Shion up too. Nezumi laid back down. He felt Shion's arms wrapping around his chest, it was still a strange and pleasant feeling.
"You aren't going yet?"
"No, I still have half an hour."
"That's good." The white haired boy whispered and he snuggled even closer to Nezumi. The older boy chuckled, he would never say it aloud, but he liked that cuddle part of Shion.
He was almost sure that other boy had fallen back to sleep when he saw the crimson eyes looking at him.

"Hey, Nezumi, can I ask you something?"
"I hope it won't be anything annoying; it's too early for that."
Shion looked down and he didn't answer. Nezumi sighed loudly.
"Ok, what is it, you have one chance for questioning."

Shion clearly hesitated before he finally said what he had in mind.
"Just don't get angry and you don't have to answer... I was wondering about this and I want to know because I want to know you better..."
"Shion, say it already, or I will establish the time limit too."
"How much about your family do you remember?"

Shion almost shot out quickly while looking at him. Nezumi didn't expect such question. His old self would just say to Shion that it wasn't his business, but that wasn't option anymore. Shion was now a part of his life and he had already known a lot about Nezumi's past. He didn't have to keep any more things from Shion, such knowledge would make his lover happier and Nezumi felt he wanted this too. After all, his walls were already smashed by this boy.

"Not much. Most things I remember are from the day when No.6 burned down our village. Just screams and fire." He felt Shion grabbed his hand in silence and continued to look into his eyes.
"I think I recall my father's voice, but I'm not sure if he sounded like that. Anyway, I remember his every word that I had to run to save myself. My mother had long beautiful hair and she sang a lot to me and my little sister... We had a small house near the river... I don't remember more, I didn't want to remember... I couldn't let it made me weak."

The silence fell in the room and Shion raised up on his elbows, he brushed away a few strands of Nezumi's hair from his face.
"Thank you, for sharing this."
Shion put his head back on the silver eyed boy's chest. The sun began to shine through the windows and Nezumi thought about getting up already when he heard Shion's quiet voice.

"Sometimes I thought it would be great if I could forgot things I had seen in the Correctional Facility. Maybe nightmares would end, and I wouldn't blame myself for not being able to save Safu, but I can't. I need to remember, all of it. Those people who died in that pile in the pit, those who were used for the experiments, the Safu's death, about what happened to your people."

Shion looked again in Nezumi's eyes.
"I had to remember to not let No.6 again become like that. If I forget, then such tragedy might repeat. I can't let that happen again. No one should suffer like that anymore. I need to remember what I did there too. I had to remember or else I feel that one day I will become one of those people who created that hell. To never again lose my way."

Nezumi felt like in between words Shion thought about him as well. Shion was willing to carry such burden so no one else had to live like Nezumi did. So people in No.6 and the West Block didn't have to wonder if they would survive the next day. Shion's will was always so strong and it moved Nezumi every time. He wanted to make that person who always thought about others the happiest person in the world. Maybe in this way Nezumi would fix what he had done wrong in his life just like Karan said.
Nezumi didn't answer Shion, he just leaned down and kissed the other boy, to show that he loved him and that Shion wasn't alone in this fight.

***
It turned out that Karan felt really sick. Half an hour of standing in the rain wasn't good for her health. The boys, who were filled with guilt, didn't allow her to get out bed for a week.

Nezumi tried very hard to keep the bakery running on the same quality as Karan who baked appetizing goods.

Shion helped as much as he could, too. He ran back and forth between his work and the bakery. He checked if his mother left her bed, if she took her medicine and if she started working.
The rain stopped the day after their reconciliation and all other problems in the city are also effective solved, yet Shion had so much to do that he had to stay at work longer than he usually did.

The boys took turns in preparing meals for their little family.
The situation got even worse when the flu got them just like it had got Karan three days after them making up. Sick or not they didn't want to leave their works because of the guilty feelings about their actions.
In the end of the following week both of the boys collapsed on their bed, their noses were dripping, their throats were sore, and they felt half dead from the exhaustion, the cold and the slight fewer. They decided that the after-effects of the quarrels were too dangerous to repeat again.

Inukashi who visited them in the Saturday to take care of the sick little family laughed at their half-dead look. Listening to the girl's chuckles about their stupidness, the boys took mental notes to never fight with each other.

At least not on such extreme level.

Chapter Text

The days went by. Nearly two weeks had passed since Nezumi and Shion's argument. The whole bakery bathed in sunlight and it would be a perfect day if the brown eyes didn't watch Nezumi for every step.

"Don't you have anything else to do? You don't need to manage that verminous hotel of yours?"
Inukashi smiled at him from an elegant chair behind a table in the corner of the bakery.

"I have people work for me. What, are you jealous that I'm big fish now?"
"Who would be jealous over a shack full of dogs? Why are you even here?" Nezumi said, being annoyed by their guest.
"I told you, I'm waiting for Shion."
"We both know it's too early for him to get back from work." He finished placing the next patch of rolls onto the tray and put it away, not looking at Inukashi.
"Well, while waiting I can eat nice things and watch how you crawl before the clients. That's hilarious."

Nezumi was about to say something when somebody walked through the door. He sold the bread to the client with a smile while cursing at chuckling Inukashi in his mind. After the customer left, the brown-haired guest changed her behavior.

"So, when are you going to leave?" Inukashi said with a serious face. She still didn't change her mind and she was worried about Shion getting hurt again by the dark haired boy.
"Never, I'm going to stick around here forever just to annoy you. "

Inukashi didn't say anything; she just gritted her teeth. The only sound for a while in the bakery was the noise from a small TV hanging on the wall. They no longer had the living room after most part of the first floor was remodeled into a bakery so Shion's mother put a little TV into the shop so the customers could watch the news while spending their time eating Karan's pastry. In this way Karan could see if there was any information about her son shown on TV while she was working. Still, Nezumi liked it more when Shion's mother switched the channels to those that showed faraway places or wild animals. It reminded him about his own journey.

"Here, your tea." Karan said to Inukashi after she walked into the room with a white cup.
"Thank you, mama Karan." Inukashi smiled at her.
"Too bad that little Shionn isn't with you today."
"He finally got used to the kindergarten. Shion and you were right about sending him there! He has made a lot of friends." Inukashi answered while taking a bite of a colorful cupcake, which was one of the last ones from the sweets that Karan brought earlier for their usual guest.

"Junior has made friends that aren't dogs? He might still be able to grow up and become a proper human being compare to his mommy." Nezumi smirked and he dodged the spoon that Inukashi threw into where used to be his face.
Karan chuckled softly.

"You two are truly good friends."
Inukashi almost fell from her chair as she looked at the woman.
"We? Friends? Never! I should have said this a few weeks ago, but both you and Shion are getting drawn to the wrong guys, with the rat over there as a perfect example."
"Don't say things like that, Nezumi is a really good boy and I'm happy that my son is with such a nice person."

Karan smiled at the surprised girl and walked away to greet a new customer. When Nezumi turned around to hide his embarrassment, his eyes were caught by the TV showing an interview with some guy that seemed to be connected to the former elite of the Chronos.

"... Let's ask ourselves why the Restructual Committee is ruling the city now. Because they feed everyone with the imaginary story about the Correctional Facility, they say that it was mass murdering people.

Let's remember what that place really was, it was a place to separate the people who committed crimes from people who didn't, and the Committee tried to convince our civilians that people who died there were innocent inhabitants of our metropolis. They took advantage of the confusion after the attack from the murderous bees to control the situation and take over the government. What a coincidence for a boy who 'survived' those bees to show up that day. Wasn't it all too perfect for a dumb luck? And that very boy was the VC. After he lost his status of elite as a twelve years old, he was involved with a murder case with when he was sixteen. After running away from the city he just showed up and said he had the antidote in his body against the insects..."

"What the fuck is he talking about? Is that idiot thinking that someone will buy this crap? That the committee made those bees attack the city to overtake the government and Shion was only pretending?" Inukashi angrily hit the table with her hand.
"Shut up." Nezumi silenced the brown haired guest while trying to listen to the rest of the interview.

"... Those Forest People that they talked about a lot while showing previous government sins. Has anyone proved that they really existed? Maybe the Committee just made them up to legitimize their right to rule..."

Nezumi felt anger was overtaking him. Like he cared what the others thought about him, but talking about his parents, his people like they never existed and they weren't burned down by NO.6 was driving him mad.

Moments later after such thought, he hoped that Shion wouldn't see this. The white-haired boy could take a big deal of bullshit about himself, but when it came to the people who was close to him, he was unpredictable. That man had downgraded the death of Nezumi's family, Safu and many others innocent civilians of the West Block and the city.

"That's idiotic, no one is going to believe that." He heard Inukashi talking to Karan.
"I'm not sure. Many of the former elites aren't happy that they lost their privileges, many citizens who don't know what really happened to NO.6 may believe in that. It is a small number, but still it might be a problem. People from the West Block who lost someone in The Hunt or those who survived it will never believe in such obvious lies. Still, speeches like these can create some disorders that could be used by the opposition." The woman said, her face was filled with worry.

"He said it like Shion was the criminal who now rules the city. He fucking talked about Shion as someone who had planned to overtake government." Inukashi said angrily. She was afraid of how people would now treat the white haired boy after this interview.
"Shion did that." Nezumi slowly said.
"What?" Inukashi looked at him shocked and confused.
"Shion overtook the previous government. He never wanted that, it was more of my wish. Shion only wanted to save Safu, but it turned into a full-blown revolution. He's now an important member of the government and because of his background he will always be targeted by those greedy pigs." Nezumi said calmly while leaning over the wall and looking at the TV even if he was angry inside just as much as Inukashi was.

"Damn it, I hope it won't lead to anything bad."
And Nezumi hoped for that too.

***

Inukashi left the bakery a few hours afterward when Shion hadn't come back from work. She had to pick little Shionn up at the kindergarten and prepare dinner. Shion used to come back from work around 4P.M. and he was clearly late that day. Nezumi had a bad feeling about this and his worry only grew bigger when the other boy finally walked through the door at around 8 P.M.
He was cursing, which was something the dark haired didn't even think Shion could do, and the crimson-eyed boy walked almost straight into the corridor without greeting him.

"Shion." Nezumi called him.
"Oh, sorry I didn't notice you."
That was a bad sign since Nezumi had always made a joke that Shion tracked him down better than the satellite systems did.

"Bad day huh?" The older boy asked.
"Perhaps, a little." Shion took a deep breath and leaned over the wall.
"You don't need to hide it, we saw that idiot's interview in the TV."
Shion didn't often become angry, but after Nezumi said that he knew about the interview, his face twisted in pure rage.

"How could he talk about those people like that?! The piles of dead bodies, the children, the elders, the women and the men who died in the Correctional Facility. He was even making your people's death like it's just a fairy tale for the kids. Safu was killed, her normal life was robbed, but thanks to her and you we got a second chance and this person have the guts to say something like this?!" Shion waved his hand furiously and his eyes were burning with fire as he shout out his thoughts.

"Shion, please, calm down." Nezumi put his hand over younger boy's shoulder.
"I can't. We talked in the meeting about what to do with this situation for the last few hours. There is only one way and I didn't want to do it."

Nezumi frowned at that statement. Shion wouldn't do that again because he had promised when they had their last argument. The older boy didn't want Shion to change, and governing city wasn't going to turn the white haired boy into a monster, right?

"Shion, don't think about anything reckless..." Nezumi whispered.
"But that's the only option and I also need your agreement to do it." Shion looked at him in all seriousness and Nezumi started to panic.
"Shion..."

The white haired boy opened his mouth and few moments later Nezumi couldn't stop a small smile that formed on his lips. It was idiotic to doubt the white haired boy. He was dealing with Shion, the person who surprised him with his third option to erase the wall. They wasn't inside the Correctional Facility, it wasn't AN extreme situation like back then when Shion has lost his way. There wasn't anything to afraid. There wasn't anything to afraid.

***

"Are you here again? Nezumi said while bringing warm breads into the bakery. "If you are such a big fish like you said yesterday, then shouldn't you have your own TV in your hotel?"
"Shut up, you rat. I came to see Shion's speech with Karan, not you." Inukashi said nervously while looking over the flat monitor of the TV.

"Oh, so you felt lonely and afraid because you didn't saw Shion yesterday, poor thing." Nezumi smirked.

"You are too happy for what happened yesterday. Shion didn't freak out when he came back? He was always furious when I and Rikiga said bad things about you and what happened four years ago."

"You will see when Shion will make his announcement." Nezumi stopped talking to her and started to shout loudly. "Ma'am, it's starting." "I'm coming, thank you Nezumi." Karan ran from the inner part of the bakery and sat down next to Inukashi.

Three of them looked at the information channel.
Shion, wearing a dark suit, walked into the podium and he started to speak with a loud, clear voice.

"I speak today on the behalf of those who have lost their child, their spouse or their parents during those years when NO.6 lost its humanity.

We didn't want to do this. What took place four years ago and even before that, what had happened inside the Correctional Facility and this city itself was so terrifying, you won't believe that it is something done by humans to other humans.

We decided that the detailed images of the former government's cruelty wasn't for everyone.

At the same time, we can't sit still when people try to twist the truth because of their own selfish reasons.

A week from now whoever wants to watch the recordings of the actions that took place inside of the Correctional Facility will be able to do it in the special room on the first floor of the Moondrop. All of the documentation, video recordings, plans about the experiments on humans and statistics will be viewable to public.

Maybe the government should have done this earlier. If we have done it then a such situation like the one from the yesterday wouldn't take place, that was our mistake.

We have asked the families of all victims who are mentioned in those files for their consent to publish it. For those who didn't reply to our information message we will censor their personal data and identity on the publication. Aside from the victims of the Correctional Facility, I have got the permission to release all recordings and information about the Forest People's massacre and about others who have suffered when NO.6 was still under construction.

We don't recommend to show this to children. You have been warned that you should think about it thoroughly before seeing those images. As I said, we didn't want to show it publicly, but after yesterday were considered about it and decided to give acknowledgement to those who died under NO.6.'s inhumane ruling. Their souls should be rest in peace, not be used to ignite politics wars. I hope that anything like this will not happen again.

There's one thing I want to add from my own experience. When I first saw that place with my own eyes I thought it was hell, but someone said to me that this was reality. Remember that when you watch those recordings. It was reality for the people from the West Block, for the citizens of NO.6 who have lost their lives because they were obstacles for the city. It is important for us as a newly revive society that something like this should never repeat itself again. Thank you for your time. I and the other members of the Restuctural Committee will answer questions about this subject now."

Shion finished and in the next moment many questions from the reporters echoed in interview's background. Other members of the Committee came towards the microphones and answered those questions with Shion.

Nezumi used to be scared by Shion. The dark haired boy was terrified of how easy the white haired boy convinced people from NO.6 four years ago, and how much power he held over the others, including Nezumi.

But today he could only feel proud of how Shion again managed to find the third option to sort out such problem. To find his own way to fight, the way that shattered Nezumi's walls too. He hoped that such light would never disappear from Shion's heart, because the world and the silver eyed boy needed such light to be alive.

 

***

It was one of those evenings when both of them had free time after their works. Shion wasn't sure how many times he looked at Nezumi in that quiet nightfall. They were just simply sitting on the sofa and reading. Shion loved such evenings and he secretly glanced at the dark haired boy from time to time behind his own book. He could see up close how Nezumi's silver eyes shined. The dark haired boy sometimes caught Shion's gaze and smirked at him as a respond, sometimes he acted a little bit indulgently on Shion's behavior, other times he just looked at Shion with equal warmth in his eyes. However, since the time they had talked about the older boy's past and his family, Shion started to notice one more thing about his lover.

He noticed that Nezumi sometimes touched his lower backs with one of his hands and grimaced in pain. Such expression only flashed through Nezumi's face for a second and Shion only started to see it recently. It often happened when they were in the bathroom and Nezumi saw his scars in the mirror or after a hard day of work, and more often when the older boy woke up from his nightmares and got off their bed to get a glass of water.

The fact that Shion only noticed it recently made him feel bad. He knew about those scars, but he didn't think that they might hurt Nezumi. His own scar didn't bring him any discomfort aside from the strange look, but he didn't care anymore since the silver eyed boy loved his scar.

Nevertheless, it was no surprise that Nezumi didn't say anything. The older boy never liked to talk about himself, even if that had improved a little bit after their reunion.

That's why one day, after his work, Shion went to a pharmacy store. He had done a research during his lunch time to see what kind of ointment would work best on old burn scars, so he didn't waste any time and bought the one he needed.

Even if the pain that Nezumi felt was more of a mental problem than actual body pain, the proper medicine might give him a feeling of comfort and safety, even just a little bit. At least this was what Shion wanted to believe based on his research. He hoped that maybe his knowledge would let him help and do something for the love of his life.

Even so, he was a little bit worried about Nezumi's reaction. He hoped that the older boy wouldn't take his gift as some offending.

Shion came back home almost at the same time as he normally did since the older boy returned. He waited for Nezumi to finish with closing the shop, then he waited for them to be alone in their room after dinner to give the older boy his gift. Nezumi crossed his arms while turning around to glare at the white haired boy.

"Shion, what do you want? This is the fifteenth time tonight that you have glanced at me with your strange look. I knew something was going on in this crazy brain of yours. What is it?"
"Nothing, really. I just noticed that your burn scars sometimes hurt you, so I bought you the ointment for it."
Shion was still holding the tube of ointment before him. Nezumi, with a little flush, took it from the other boy's hand and he looked over at it surprised.

"It's a quite expensive stuff." Nezumi said after a while.
"Don't worry about that. You took care of me while we were living in the West Block, now I want to do something for you."

Shion expected Nezumi to argue about it, but the older boy just smiled and looked at him warmly. He was glad that the dark haired boy accepted his gift. It meant a lot to Shion and it showed that they somehow had made one small step forward in their relationship.

"Thank you." Older boy bent over and he kissed Shion.
Despite the white haired boy's liking, the kiss ended too fast, though it was not like he expected something in exchange for his gift. Seeing the other's disappointment, Nezumi smirked. He moved close to Shion and whispered to his ears.

"Maybe after taking a bath would you mind helping me to grease my scars with this medicine?"
When Nezumi pulled back he looked at Shion with awkward expression and the smile that caused shivers down the younger boy's spine. He felt embarrassed by his own excitement and arousal, but he couldn't do anything about it. They were just getting used to such feelings and they just started to discover the needs that only the other person could satisfy. They were still young and craving for each other.

Maybe Shion was selfish and his minds were no longer innocent, but he still looked forward to today's evening and from Nezumi's face he could say that the older boy was excited too.

***

Shion lifted himself up on his knees, moaning loudly as Nezumi started to thrust into him from behind with a steady motion. He felt strange and embarrassed doing it in this position, Shion would rather like to be able to hug and kiss the other boy like they used to do. On the other hand he felt excited and his curious side just loved this new way of making love.

It was only their fourth time, initially because of Shion's condition, later because of their argument and the lack of free time. It still felt so strange for Shion to be so close to Nezumi.

Today they were relaxed and they weren't tired after their works, so Nezumi wanted to try something new. Shion thought, feeling strong arms around his wrist hugging him and keeping their bodies close, that it was not such bad idea in the end. With Nezumi he always felt safe.

"Shion, do you hear that?" Nezumi said with a low voice, the white haired boy tried hard to stop his moaning and listened.
After a few seconds he heard it. A splashing sound of the lube they used and the loud slopping noise rose each time the older boy thrust into him, slamming their naked bodies at each other.

With each sound arose Shion felt his face become redder and redder and his body was overflowed with embarrassment.
"Damn... uh, Shion... you got tighter..." Nezumi groaned.
"It's... It's your fault..." he replied without even a hint of anger, feeling his mind started to become clouded by pleasure rather than embarrassment. Shion heard Nezumi's chuckle.

"It's fun teasing you, Your Majesty..." the dark haired said as he kissed back of Shion's neck.
Really, Nezumi was impossible sometimes, couldn't he at least wait until they finished? Still, maybe there was something wrong with Shion too, since this situation turned him on even more. However, he decided that he didn't care. He loved that Nezumi, he loved being one with him.

"Oh!" Shion moaned and added Nezumi's tongue to his list of favorite things. That damn, wet and skilled tongue over the scar on his back, even if it spurted out all those teasing things that drove Shion crazy.

 

***

Shion dug into their wardrobe the next morning. He wanted to prepare some documents before work so he woke up earlier that Saturday. He got one of his collar shirts and saw Nezumi's clothes beside his on the wooden shelf.

Some old shirts, two or three of them were even from the time they lived together in the West Block, all were worn out and too small for their owner. Not mention two pair of trousers that didn't look good either after days of wandering around the world.

"Nezumi, we need to go shopping." Shion said loudly to the older boy who still laid on the bed.
"What for?" asked Nezumi with a half sleepy voice.
"For some clothes for you, those are too much worn out."
"Hmm, so now those are not enough good for our royal palace, your majesty?" Nezumi said rolling on bed to face Shion.

"I didn't say that. We both know that you look sexy even in rags, but that doesn't mean you should wear one." Shion examined one of Nezumi's trousers.
"Hmm, nice response, I give you points for that one."

"I don't get you, you used to wear such beautiful dress in the theatre, even in the West Block you used to be stylish, but you now end up with few tiny shirts."
"Your majesty, you forgot that there are other worries on the world than having nice, new clothes. You should remember the days when we didn't have enough food to eat, that every piece of cloth, even a rag, was savior in the cold winter when we didn't have enough supply to heat our underground room."

Shion lowered his head. He suddenly felt ashamed. Of course he remembered all of those and now he felt like a spoiled child like Nezumi used to call him four years ago.
He heard Nezumi's sigh as the older boy raised up on his elbow.

"Shion, come here."
The white haired boy turned around and sat on the bed. Nezumi wrapped his hands around the other boy's waist and his chin landed on the Shion's shoulder.
"Sorry, I didn't intend to make you feel bad. I just wanted to explain to you that during my travel, clothes wasn't my first priority. "
"I know, but still, you are right. Living in city again gets me spoiled."
"Idiot, I don't mind buying few new things now. So when would my boyfriend like to take me on probably a looong shopping trip?"

Shion smiled widely and he rubbed with his nose a Nezumi's cheek.
"Maybe on Thursday, if I manage to get back earlier from work. Oh, and you need a few pairs of socks and underwear also; you're always stealing mine."
"Hey, you should be glad that I wear your pants, don't tell me that doesn't turn you on." Nezumi teased him with a big smirk.
"I think that your naked body turn me on better."

Shion said with the straight face and he turned head towards his right side to see the silver eyes wide open from the little shock.
"I didn't think I would ever hear something like that from you, Your Majesty. How can you say such thing without even blinking?"
"It's a payback for your teasing last night." Shion stick out his tongue and Nezumi chuckled.
"Hey, don't do that or someone could bite your tongue off." Nezumi said with the grin and he moved his hand to the back of Shion's head to kiss the white haired boy deeply.

"Too bad that we need to get going soon." The older boy said with ragged breath after the long kiss ended.

Shion thought of the same thing. He would like to stay like this forever, melting into Nezumi's embrace and looking into those beautiful silver eyes.

He wasn't good with words, but he could take care of his boyfriend like the older boy did for him when they were in West Block. They could again share all what they had, from tangible things to warmth and love. They could help each other in suffering, pain and nightmares. They could support each other, just like Nezumi once said.

***

Nezumi sighed angrily with his arms over his hips as he looked at the red box that stood on the kitchen's table. He didn't usually go into this part of their house in this hour, but Karan asked him to bring more paper plates into the shop.

"What an airhead…" Nezumi said and add another sigh when Shion's mother walked into the kitchen.
"Did you find them?" She asked the dark haired boy and noticed the box left on the table.

"Oh, Shion forgot his lunch. " Karan said worriedly. That morning the white haired boy rushed to his work as fast as a rocket since he had to sign documents that had to be sent immediately to NO.3. He just gave Nezumi a quick kiss and uttered a goodbye to his mother as he stormed out of the house. The dark haired boy was angry, Shion's condition wasn't yet so perfect, so he could skip his meals.

"Knowing him, he will be so occupied in his work that he won't eat anything until he come home." Nezumi murmured more to himself than to Shion's mother. Karan chuckled behind him.
"I guess you're right." She walked towards table and lifted up the box. "But food should not be wasted."
Karan turned towards Nezumi and the boy knew that such smile in this family didn't preclude anything good. Or at least nothing good for him.

"Why don't you take it to Shion? You haven't seen his office and the rest of the new Moondrop building after the wall fell yet. I will call to let the guards know that I send you there and you can give Shion a little surprise."
"They know me well since they frequently called me when something was wrong with Shion..." Karan added the rest with a glint of sadness in her voice.

Nezumi turned around, the vision of Shion collapsing in the work put a bad taste in his mouth.
"But it's my work time; I shouldn't leave this place just to deliver lunch and leave you Ma'am without any help."
"Oh, don't worry about that. I have managed to run the bakery on my own for the last eight years, a few hours won't be a problem." She said and handed the box to Nezumi. The dark haired boy couldn't say no. He nodded and before he noticed he had already walked towards the exit from the bakery.

"When you get there tell the guard that Karan sent you." She said walking him to the doors.

Nezumi followed down the street, cursing Shion in his head, his own weakness and the annoyance of this situation. Great, now he was a delivery boy. How low will he be because of his love for the white haired boy?

"Damn it." He said quietly to himself. Walking to the Moondrop took him around half an hour and now he was standing before one of his most hated places in his life. There wasn't any good memory in his mind about this building. He remembered the day when he sang on the top of this place, when he asked Elyurias to give this city, these people another chance. But his choice was made only because of Shion's kindness.

He didn't want to come to this place, in his memory it was drowned in the smell of blood and death. He knew that Shion had nightmares about what happened in this building, and yet, the white haired boy still worked here every day. Nezumi looked at the red box in his bag. It was a chance for them to make the first normal memory inside this building.

Nezumi entered through the doors of the Moondrop. The first floor was full of people who settled their matters, asked for information or where visitors from the other metropolises came.
Nezumi looked around when a guard walked closer to him.
"Can I help you with something?"

Nezumi jumped into his defense stance and his hand flew almost on its own into the pocket where he used to keep his knife. No.6 forces had hurt him so many times that he would never be able to shake off a feeling of hatred and he would never trust anyone who wear NO.6's military suit. The bag in his hand rustled and Nezumi reminded himself why he was standing in that place.

"Mrs. Karan send me here to deliver a pack for Shion." He said, still putting on his defense state.
"Oh, yes, she called a few minutes ago. I need to check to see if your ID matches the one she send to me, it's a protocol." Man said with a smile and Nezumi sighed angrily as he pulled out from his pocket an identification wristband. Shion gave him one two weeks after he returned to city along with the house key. They no longer had navigation programs inside, but inhabitants had them as personal documents to prove their identity. Nezumi hated to have it, it was like the handcuff in his mind, still he had no choice since it worked as the paid card too. However, he wasn't going to put it on his wrist as long as he was still breathing, so he carried it in his trouser's pocket.

Nezumi showed his ID number to the guard.
"It's all good. President Shion's office is on the tenth floor, on the right there is an elevator that will take you there. After you get on that floor, turn left, then right at the next cross-roads. Mr. Shion's office will be at the end of the corridor. I wish you a pleasant visit."

Nezumi felt like he was going to throw up, he nodded and he walked into elevator. On the tenth floor he followed the way which guard told him when he heard the girl's voice.

"Chief Shion, here are the documents about construction costs of the new hospital."
"I see. How about morning documents?" Nezumi heard Shion's voice as he stepped back looking from his hiding place in the secretary room.
"We already received a reply that they got all the documents and that everything is alright."
"Good, thank you, Rei."
"It's my job. I'm happy I can help, Chief Shion."

Nezumi saw Shion looking over the documents and the girl who hesitantly looked over her chief and nervously twisted the lock of her hair.
The girl clearly waited for Shion's attention and Nezumi almost chuckled at this picture. The white haired boy would still be so natural if he didn't see it.

"May I say something?" girl said after awhile. Shion raised his eyes from the electronic document.
"Of course."
"Everyone in the department is really glad that your health has improved and you look a lot better, sir. We were really worried when you collapsed two months ago."

"Oh, thank you and I'm sorry that I caused you worry." Shion smiled and girl flushed.

Strange feeling twisted Nezumi's stomach, he wanted to walk into that room to kiss Shion and to leave that girl being all shocked. Still, he stayed at his hiding place. He wasn't jealous, right? It was idiotic to be jealous over Shion because of that girl. It looked like his joke from weeks ago was true. Shion was attractive, he was an important person and he must had many girls who secretly in love with him. Safu wasn't the only one who saw something in Shion and Nezumi didn't like that thought.

Shion was his and only his.

Damn, he really was jealous.

"Mrs. Alice said that it must be more than just resting. She said it's like you are in love, Chief Shion."
Nezumi praised the way girl put her trap to get such information out of Shion. He wondered if the white haired boy was going to answer such personal question. Shion didn't think about it too long.

"Yes, I am." The boy answered with his usual honest way and Nezumi satisfiedly observed how the girl's smile faded away.
"Oh, that's great, all members of the committee were worried that Chief was over working himself, everyone will be happy if they know that you have found someone. About the person who have helped you so much, I wonder what kind of person are they, sir?"

Shion chuckled softly.
"This person the most beautiful, amazing and intelligent person that I have ever met in my life and who stole my heart at first sight."
Nezumi didn't noticed how the girl was crushed by Shion's confession because he himself tried to fight against his own flush. The white haired boy said such things about him so honestly to other people. Nezumi just got his emotions in check when Shion started to walk away.

"Do you need anything else, Rei?" Shion asked and turned on his electronic documents again.
"No, Chief" She replied.

Nezumi waited a few moment, then slowly approached the small room.
"Can I help you with something?" Girl asked when she saw Nezumi and Shion turned around to see the visitor.
"Nezumi, what are you doing here?" The white haired boy smiled and he walked towards him. Nezumi raised up his hand and he showed the red box inside the plastic bag.
"Your mother asked me to bring you lunch."
"Thank you. Do you have a moment? I will show you my office." Shion waved at the automatic doors.
"Maybe a few minutes, I had to go back to the work." Said Nezumi with nonchalant tone, acting like he was only Shion's acquaintance.

"Should I get you coffee or tea?" Shion's assistant asked the older boy.
"No thank you, I won't be here too long. "

They both entered the little office. It wasn't big, possibly just a little bigger than secretary room. Inside was a simple desk with three chairs, few shelves filled with paper documents. A big window that covered nearly the whole wall showed a beautiful view of the city. Nezumi put a red box on the desk.

"Here. I bet you haven't eaten anything yet."
"I was going to eat in the Cafeteria, you don't need to treat me like a child." Shion sighed and sat down on the chair.
"Do you have any cameras installed here?" Nezumi asked looking around the office's walls. Aside from few paintings they looked empty.
"No, we no longer record everyone's steps like the old government."
"Good. So I wanted to tell you, without any spying on us, that you are still so natural."

"Why do you say that?" Shion asked while unwrapping his lunch.
"You still don't have a clue about women's feelings. That poor girl was trying to make a move on you and you just turned her down in such way. If it weren't about you I might feel a little bad for her." Nezumi sat on the desk and leaned over to Shion whose face was slightly red.
"Oh, so you eavesdrops our conversations." Shion didn't look into the silver eyes. He tried to cover his embarrassment by reaching to the desk drawer for the fork.

"I know that she likes me more than a coworker, that's why I didn't want to give her any false hope. I don't want anyone else to be hurt like Safu was when I couldn't return her love. We decided not to tell about our relationship, but I won't pretend like I don't have someone who I'm in love with."

"Hmm, so you have grown up a little in the end, your majesty." Nezumi smirked and he diverted his attention to the view outside of the window, feeling warmth welling in his heart. For a moment the only sound in the room was the metallic noise of the fork in Shion's hand.

"Even so, you're sappy and natural for talking about love in such an honest way." He looked into the crimson eyes.

"But you like it when I say how much I love you, even if you never admit it aloud." Shion said calmly after he swallowed the salad. Nezumi looked over him feeling that his face must have turned red. And the fact that the other boy's smile turned into the large grin only confirmed his assumptions. The white haired boy won against Nezumi in such simple way.

The older boy pinched Shion's nose. "You will pay for this when we get home." Nezumi smirked and jumped off the desk. Shion chuckled and looked at the older boy as he started to head to the door.

"Are you leaving already? I though you would let me show you more of my office." Shion followed him and Nezumi could hear a bit of sadness in his voice.

"There's no need for that. I don't like this place and I don't need to know it. All that matters for me is that an airhead works here and he's changing this city for the better." Nezumi wanted to run his hand through Shion's white locks, but he hold back himself from doing it, because someone could walk into the office and such act would be hard to explain.

"I will keep on improving it, I promise." Shion smiled and Nezumi wanted now also to kiss him. The older boy cursed in his head and he turned away.

"So, see you later in the home, I have already stolen too much time from the city's hero."

Shion just laughed.
"I'm far away from the hero title, you know that. Beside, you have already had all of me, so there is nothing left to steal."

Nezumi took a deep breath and walked through the door hoping that his face wasn't flushed again. He had to leave this place since it gave Shion some strange powers. The white haired boy was even more straightforward and honest than he was at home.

Since he was losing to his desire for Shion, he decided to make the tactical retreat. The long haired boy smiled under his nose. Shion may win this fight, but in the end, it will be Nezumi who will win this battle. He planned to change the other boy into the pleading mess that night. This thought was exciting and Nezumi was sure that Shion wouldn't complain about it either.

He said a good-bye as he walked through the secretary room and he smirked to the girl. If she only knew how her Chief screamed Nezumi's name. Maybe in the end his trip to Shion's work wasn't a bad idea, even if his lover induced in him feelings that Nezumi never knew he had. Still the biggest emotion he felt now was happiness. He never thought in his life that his days would be like this, peaceful, normal, silly yet so bright.

Chapter Text

"Shion, can you pass me the cheese?" Karan asked her son while she was putting butter on her slice of bread.
"Here mom. Nezumi, would you like more juice?"
"No, thanks." Nezumi answered after he had swallowed piece of his sandwich.

It was Sunday's morning and on such day the little family used to eat breakfast together in the cozy kitchen. Warm looking, orange painted room was filled with the sunlight. Three of them sat around the small table which was covered with plates of cheese, vegetables and ham. It was one of those peaceful days that Nezumi never thought would ever happen in his life.

"Mom, I will wash the dishes, you can rest today." Shion raised from his chair and took his empty plate from the table.
"Thank you, sweetheart." Karan smiled and tried to kiss her son in forehead like she used to do when Shion was younger, but she couldn't. Both of then chuckled when they noticed how much higher Shion had grown.

Nezumi rolled his eyes because of this sappy scene and focused back on his food. He liked to take his time while eating. It was a habit he got while living in the West Block, where you didn't even know if you would survive until the next meal.

"Boys, would you mind if I borrowed some books from your library? The weather is so nice so I want read on the balcony, if you're going to take care of the chores today."
"It's no problem Ma'am." Nezumi said while taking a slip from the glass.
"Yes mom, you don't need to ask." Shion said, moving around with the wet plate in his hand and splashing water around. He gave an apologetic smile.
"I will clean that too, don't worry."
Karan chuckled and left kitchen.

For next few minutes Nezumi focused on eating all what's left from the breakfast and Shion took the already emptied dishes to clean.
"What?" Asked the dark haired boy when Shion again leaned over with the strange smile when he took the plates from the table.
"It's nothing." Shion answered and he continued his work with an even bigger grin.

After a few minutes of the silence Shion turned around. Nezumi noticed that his previous smile disappeared.
"Nezumi, can I ask you something?" The white haired boy gave the older boy a serious look, but the foam dripping from his arms somehow gave this scene a comical aura.
"Depends, remember that this day started so nice and I hope it will end in that way." Nezumi answered, feeling that Shion's question wasn't going to be nice.

Shion stood still for a while, considering the best way to ask about thing that bothered him a while.
"It won't change anything now, at least not for me, but I was wondering about it from time to time for the past four years." Shion started and he sat down on the chair beside Nezumi. The older boy nodded with his head to show Shion that he was listening and the other could continue.

"Do you remember that day, when we're on the top of the Moondrop and you were talking with Elyurias? She asked you if you trusted me... You said that you didn't, but you wanted to see what I would create from the scratches of NO.6."
Nezumi felt his stomach twisted as the crimson eyes looked deep into his. Shion continued.
"Did you... you still didn't trust me back then?"

Shion didn't even blink while waiting for his answer. Nezumi wasn't sure what to do. It would be best for their current relationship to lie, to tell Shion what the other boy desired to hear. To tell Shion that he trusted him.
So many things happened that day. Nezumi was frightened, wounded, and torn away from his walls. If he was afraid of Shion, then how could he trust him? That was a brutal truth. He wished he had felt different, but that was the reality. He looked at the empty glass on the table. He didn't wanted to hurt Shion again, but lying would be even worse.

"Yes, I didn't trust you fully that day." Nezumi raised his gaze back to Shion's eyes. The white haired boy smiled to him, but it was a sad smile.
"Shion, I..." The older boy started, but Shion shook his head.
"No, it's fine. Thank you for the honest answer. This is how it was, right?" The white haired boy said sadly and he got up from the chair when Nezumi caught his hand.
"I trust you now, really." He said and Shion smiled, but some of sad look didn't leave his eyes.
"It's fine, really, I know."

Shion went back to washing the dishes and Nezumi was left with the bad feeling that made his stomach twist around. Looking at the most important person in his life, Nezumi thought about what to do in this situation. He wanted to show Shion that he truly trusted him now. Still, he didn't know how. Or maybe he knew, but he wasn't sure, if he was ready to do so.

In the end, the bad taste in his mouth didn't leave Nezumi for the whole morning.

Later that day Shion sat in the bakery. It was closed, but Kalan and Rico phoned him earlier that they would visit the bakery soon, so he waited for them there.

His thoughts were coming back to his and Nezumi's talk in that morning. He still felt his heart ached at the older boy's replay, but Shion had to ask this question. It had been bothering him for many years and now he wanted to clear that matter. From many things that Shion couldn't forget from that day the four years ago, this matter was the one he couldforget and leave behind him after sorting it out. He somehow predicted Nezumi's answer earlier, but to hear it and find out that his assumptions were true, didn't stop him from feeling pain in his heart.
At last he was glad that Nezumi told him the truth. It would hurt not only because of how the older boy felt about him that day, but it would cause Shion even more suffering from knowing that Nezumi told him a lie.
In the end he shouldn't be surprised. It was mad that day. Shion killed a human, they saw hell, he blamed Nezumi for Safu's death, Nezumi was shot... No surprise that the silver eyed boy didn't trust Shion.

Even the white haired boy wouldn't trust person like that.

He took a deep, tired breath when he heard knocking on the glass doors to the shop area. Behind them stood a young girl and boy who were waving at him. Shion smiled and let his guests in. The siblings from the West Block really grew up fast during the past four years. Rico reminded Shion of himself when he was twelve, curious and cheerful. The boy looked at the white haired boy with admiration and he treated him like an older brother, though Shion didn't think he deserved such treatment after all that happened inside the Correctional Facility.

Kalan, on the other hand, grew up into a young, proud and courageous lady. For many times, when Shion looked at her, he couldn't help but feel how much she resembled Safu. They both were intelligent, straight forward and brave. Such thought always hurt his heart, yet he couldn't do anything to alter the past. Safu died and all Shion could do was work hard so kids like these two could have a peaceful future.

"Are Mrs. Karan and Nezumi home too?" Asked the girl as three of them entered the shop.
"Yes, they are. When you called earlier you said that you both wanted to talk about something. Do you want to see both of them?" Shion asked while his guests sat down around one of round white tables.
"That will be the best, we mostly want to talk with you and Nezumi, but we need to say thanks to Mrs. Karan too." Rico answered and his words intrigued Shion. It didn't look like this was going to be a usual visit like their past ones.

Shion made a round around the house. He called his mother first. Both of them prepared tea and gathered some sweet pastry leftovers from the day before, so they all could have a little treat while talking. After leaving their guests with Karan, Shion climbed to the first floor and their room. Nezumi was reading on the sofa and he wasn't very happy that he needed to stop and go down to see the guests.

Shion knew that it was not because the older boy didn't like Kalan and Rico. During the past two months their old friends had visited the bakery many times and Shion had seen many times Nezumi talking with the siblings. Still, it didn't mean that the long haired boy had changed into a very social person. Shion didn't want to bother Nezumi, especially after their morning talk. He knew that speaking about his past feelings was as hard for Nezumi as for Shion to hear about them.

"Can they not bother us and let working grown-ups rest with a book in their free time?" Nezumi murmured under his breath as Shion led him down the stairs, gripping their hands together. The white haired boy laughed.
"You sound like an old man."
"Do you think that this beauty comes from nowhere? I need some time to relax after almost the whole NO.6 ran through your mother's bakery this week. Besides it was always you who was closer to them."
"They both are my friends just like they are yours. You don't need to hide it anymore. I know you care about them too." Shion said calmly with smile and after noticing a small flush on Nezumi's cheek bones he couldn't stop feeling happy and proud. He loved to see such face that his boyfriend made.

They walked inside the light room. Karan and their guests were occupied in the talk about the amazing flavors of the pastry on their plates.
"Sorry for the wait." Shion said and he sat down on the chair. Nezumi followed him and he looked around with a bored face.
"So, what do you want to talk about?" The white haired boy asked while putting a cupcake on his plate. Kalan thought for a while before she started.

"Do you remember Mr. Peterson that we were telling you about?"
"Mr. Peterson?" Nezumi looked at the girl with a hint of interest.

"He is a skilled engineer that No.2 sent to us. He worked with the committee on the construction of the train lines to the other cities. I have met him many times and he is a very wise man, he suggested us many solutions that helped to save the resources and time and still have high quality buildings at the same time. I think he started working with us around three years ago." Shion crossed his hands as he explained. Rico smiled and Kalan nodded her head in agreement.

"So what about this guy?" Nezumi asked again though they could hear in his voice that he lost his previous interest.
"Our mother is working in the transportation section as the driver of water train. She started to work there half year after the wall fell and she loves it..." Karan started to explain.
"Mr. Peterson almost always returned to the apartment he rented in NO.6 by the water train." Rico added to story and his sister let him continue.
"This was where they met. Mom said later that he told her he had fallen for her at first sight." The little boy finished.

"Oh, you are saying that you mother met someone. It was like two years ago..." Shion nodded and slapped Nezumi's hand that dangerously moved over his plate.
"Nezumi!" He said half angry, half laughing.
"What? You were talking while putting that muffin on your plate and you know that I like the cheese ones the best." Nezumi said with serious voice, but everyone else in the room smiled warmly at those two.
"You could have asked." Shion said and exchanged his cheese muffin with the blueberry one from Nezumi's plate. Karan chuckled.

"Don't worry about them, my dear and continue." she said to the girl. Shion flushed a little and Nezumi's ears were also redder than normal.
"Well, anyway, he was in dilemma for two months before he asked our mom out for a date. He brought the flowers and asked her after everyone had left train at the last station if she would go out with him. They are together since that day." Kalan finished.
"He's a really good guy and mom is really happy." Rico said.

"Around a month ago, he asked mom and us, if we want to come with him to No.2 since his job here is almost done. She talked with us also about this afterwards. Rico and I told her that if she wanted to go then we would want it too.

She sacrificed so much for us. After our father died she tried her best to raise us in the West Block. She cried a lot back then, she suffered so much when we were hungry even when she gave us much more than she ate herself." Kalan continued sadly, staring down at the white plate. Rico grabbed his sister hand.
"We want mommy to be happy after all the thing she had done for us." The boy said. Shion gave siblings a warm smile.
"We will move in the end of the next week." Kalan finished after she saw the white haired boy's smile.
"That's why we want to speak with you before we leave." Both of the kids got up from their chairs.

"Thank you very much for all you have done for us. Shion, thank you for your kindness, for reading to us and sharing your food with us from time to time even when you both didn't have much food for yourself." Kalan said and she bowed towards the crimson eyed boy.
"Kalan, really, you don't need to do this. I'm glad I could do something for the others. Especially in the West Block." Shion said, feeling really embarrassed.
"No, we really want to thank you. You saved my life and you built this city where we all can live happily." Rico continued in place of his sister.

Shion felt that his heart ached, but in good way, he felt warm and he was glad that he somehow managed to do something good. His eyes burned from happiness and he felt his mother's warm hand over his. He raised his eyes to look at her. He saw Karan and Nezumi smiling warmly at him.

"We want to thank you too, Nezumi." Rico told with a big grin and the dark haired boy looked at the kid with wide eyes.
"I didn't do anything, it was Shion who changed my room into the kindergarten." Nezumi said with his usual smirk.
"It's not true. You noticed when I was shaking from the cold once and then in the next day I saw you leaving the sweater on my room's windowsill. There was a day when we were cornered by some dangerous guys and you got his attention so we could run. It wasn't the only time that you helped us." Kalan smiled at Nezumi who averted his eyes.
"Some airhead gave me that sweater, it wasn't mine to begin with, I didn't need it anymore and it would be waste to throw it away. About that guy, he was simply standing in my way." Nezumi said and for a second Shion saw something strange in those silver eyes, but he didn't know what it was.

"Anyway, you let us come into your room so Shion could read to us. Thank you so much, Nezumi."
Both kids smiled at the dark haired boy.
"No big deal." Nezumi finally answered after a while.
"Anyway, have fun in NO.2. It was a nice place."
"Oh, you were there?" Rico was really interested in the city he was going to live in. Nezumi started to describe the buildings and places in NO.2, when Shion noticed that they were out of the tea. He raised from his chair.

"I'm going to make some more tea. I already heard this story once, you all stay and heard it out. It's really interesting."
He went to the kitchen, walking slowly with a big jug. Shortly after him Kalan entered the small room.
"I will help you." She said and set water to boiling.
"No need for that, you should stay and listen more about NO.2." Shion said while taking from shelf a box of dried tea.
"I will have enough time to know about that city when we move there. I want to talk with you alone." The girl said and when she turned toward Shion her long hair fell on her shoulders.
"I see." He said as he looked inside the drawer for a spoon.

"Do you remember when I was a kid I said that I wanted to marry you when I grew up?"
Even though she laughed while saying this, Shion felt little bit nervous. He hoped that it wasn't going to turn into a situation where he had to reject this girl.
"It's not like I or anyone else had the chance, right? Your heart was already taken from the beginning." she smiled at him brightly without any hint of sadness and Shion let out a relief sigh.
"Yes, you're right."

Kalan walked closed to him and she grabbed his hand.
"I like you, and so does Rico. You're like the big brother to us. That's why we wish for you and Nezumi to be happy. I remember what kind of person Nezumi was before you came. He looked hurt and frightened. I remember how you were broken in the past four years without him. It was hurtful to see you that way. Rico and I were very glad when we heard that Nezumi was back. It's so wonderful to see you both happy together."

Shion smiled warmly at the girl.

"Thank you, Kalan. I hope you two will be happy too in your new home. You are also like little siblings to me. If something ever happens or if you need some help, you can always call me. I will do everything I could to support you."
"Thank you, Shion." Kalan hugged him, and when she pulled away there were tears in the corner of her eyes.
"It will be sad without you. We will miss you, Nezumi and Mrs. Karan."

After finish with the tea they headed back to the others. Nezumi still talked about No.2 with a dramatic and mysterious way, so Rico and Karan didn't notice when they came back. The rest of the afternoon passed with Nezumi telling his stories. A few hours afterward the little guests had to leave.

"You should come to NO.2 and visit us someday." Rico said as they went outside.
"That's a great idea. We will try to do it." Shion said. Nezumi rolled his eyes.
"It's not going to be soon, this guy is a workaholic."
Kalan and Rico smiled.

"We will let you know when we settle down and we will be able to host you at our place like you did for us." Kalan said and siblings waved to them as they left.
Shion looked at them until their silhouette was lost in the night. He didn't like the feeling that squeezed his heart. Watching someone important disappearing from your life was never easy. He sighed loudly. After they walked inside home he felt Nezumi's hand in his hair. The older boy pulled Shion's head close to him.

"It will be okay, you can always call them." Nezumi whispered to him.
"I know, I'm alright, but it's sad. Everything changes, right?" He whispered back, closing his eyes and enjoying Nezumi's warmth.
"Yes, but those are changes for better, the ones that are good. I have learned that from you."

Shion looked at Nezumi who turned away to hide his embarrassment. He smiled softly, feeling a lot better. He hoped that the moment like this would never change. It's the only thing Shion wanted to to be the same forever.

Shion knew that they were getting old. He knew that it was almost a miracle for the animals of their kind to live this long. And even so, he wasn't prepared for it.

Shion came back from work and walked into their room to change. He often greeted there by the three mice if they laid down in that moment on their bed. After that, he and the little animals often came down for dinner together.

It was around the middle of the week, on a day like every other day and still, just after Shion walked inside his and Nezumi's room, he felt something was off. Tsukiyo and Cravat sat on the little desk and squeaked repeatedly.
"Hey, what's wrong?" He stroked them. Both mice looked over the direction of their bed and squeaked again.

Shion walked toward the place. Hamlet was curled up on the soft fabric. He touched the little animal gently and suddenly he felt like world just stopped moving for a second. Hamlet's body was cold and stiff.
"Hey, wake up, Hamlet..." Shion stroked the little mouse, but animal didn't move or make any sound.
The white haired boy felt hot tears streaming down on his face as he took the animal into his hands. He wasn't sure how long he was standing there, but he didn't know what to do next.

After a few minutes the doors to the room opened and Nezumi walked in.
"Hey Shion, what takes you so long? Dinner will get cold, your majesty."
Shion's back was facing Nezumi when he walked closer. The older boy was a few steps away from other boy when he heard a quiet sob.
"Hey, Shion!" Nezumi jumped and grabbed the other boy's shoulders. Through the tears Shion saw confusion inside the silver eyes.

"Nezumi..." Shion started, moving his shaking hands to the older boy with little Hamlet in them. "Hamlet... He's... Dead." He said slowly. Nezumi looked at the little animal. The long haired boy moved his hand, he touched the mouse in Shion's hand.
"There's no surprise, they were getting old." Nezumi sighed loudly.
"I know, I know, but still..." Shion said with the shaking voice. It was Hamlet. Shion named him. That little animal carried massages from and to his mother when he lived in the West Block. The little friend that he read his first literacy books with from Nezumi's library.

"There is no need to cry. There's no reason for that." The older boy said and Shion felt angry. He couldn't believe that Nezumi still felt nothing towards those wise animals who lived with them for so long.
"How can you say that, it's Hamlet."
"That's why. He had a long and happy life. Maybe better than many people who have passed away. How many mice got their own names, had the airhead who read them and ate your mother's amazing food? He died because of old age; he wasn't killed. Many could only wish for such a peaceful end."

Shion looked at Nezumi feeling that his eyes burned again, but he managed to crack a small smile. Nezumi was right. Still, he wished to spend more time with the little animal after Nezumi's return. He wished to be able to stroke his warm fur and to read aloud to this mouse again. He wished for Hamlet to be still alive. Shion sniffed a few times.

"Idiot." Nezumi whispered softly while wiping the tears from other boy's face. They stood there in silence for a while.
"Nezumi... I want to bury him."
The older boy sighed again.
"Do what you want."

Both of them went down the stairs. Tsukiyo and Cravat followed behind them, like they too wanted to say goodbye to their friend. Shion stopped in the kitchen and told Karan what happened to Hamlet. The woman looked at the little body in Shion's hands and tears gathered in the corner of her eyes. She too owed this little animal for bringing her the information about her dear son. She found a small white box and Shion put Hamlet inside of it.

Three of them walked to the little front yard. Shion dig a hole and put the little box inside. After he had done with burring animal, he raised from his knees and looked at the ground. Nezumi was right, but the white haired boy couldn't stop feeling hurt. Shion was such kind of person. Yet, he felt ridiculous too. Nezumi didn't say it, but this mouse was really a happy being compare to people who died in the Hunt, to Safu, who had never got a proper burial. All that was left of those people was the tomb made from the ruins of facility and one memorial. Compare to this it was idiotic to cry over the animal who had such peaceful death.

Still, tears escaped from his eyes once again. Not only for Hamlet, but also for Safu and those people who didn't survive the Correctional Facility.

Shion felt that Nezumi clasped their hands together. The silver eyed boy looked at Shion and then he opened his mouth. Nezumi started to sing. He sang for Hamlet's soul like he used to sing for Inukashi's dogs. His voice echoed in the air and Shion was again sure that Nezumi's voice was the real magic in their rational world. Even Karan looked at the long haired boy with surprise in her eyes. She had heard about Nezumi's voice that could please god, but she hadn't yet heard it until this moment.

When Nezumi finished, Shion felt that his heart became lighter. It was time to move on. He looked at Nezumi whose eyes were still closed. Shion knew that, even if the older boy would never admit it, that he was a little sad too. Nezumi saw so many deaths and because of that he had closed his heart, he became harsh in order to not feel such pain. But Shion again found that kind-hearted core of Nezumi's soul again. He hoped that it won't cause more pain than good to the other boy in the future. Now he recalled back again why Nezumi always tried to push him away. It was because losing the loved ones always hurt.

Shion started to wish for one more thing after the silver eyes had opened again and looked at him. That Nezumi would never have to sing for Shion's soul and the other boy would never be left alone again. The white haired boy whispered such promise as he held Nezumi's hand tighter.

The four days later Tsukiyo passed away. Shion buried him beside the Hamlet. The mouse who stayed with him when his master was gone, the animal that reminded him of hope was now gone. Still, again, Tsukiyo passed away in a warm and peaceful home.

All Shion could think of after that was how long it would be before Cravat united with his friends. He watched the little mouse in his every moment, scared that soon he would not be able to see it. It was before Nezumi calmed him that Cravat was almost a year younger than two others mice, so if he didn't get sick, he would still be fine for the next few months. Those words calmed Shion, but still he was sad about the future.

All living things were going to die and there wasn't any third option to change that.

Chapter Text

The clock rang 6pm when Nezumi finished repairing the one of the garden's umbrellas above the tables in the front yard. Karan had already done with preparing the dinner, but Shion was still at the work. September was around the corner and the new school semester was going to start soon, so the committee spend a lot of time checking if everything worked properly in the new education system.

"Thank you Nezumi, it was a little heavy for me to fix it on my own." Karan said to Nezumi when the boy sat down at the kitchen's table.
"It's no problem Ma'am." He said. The woman gave him a gentle smile and looked over the calendar hanging on the wall.
"Shion's birthday is coming. I was thinking maybe I should prepare something more than just cherry cakes this year. What do you think?"
"You should do what you want, Ma'am." Nezumi said. His mind was filled with memories. Soon it would be nine years since he met Shion. So many years had passed since his life was saved and changed by the one airhead boy.

"I believe that throwing a small party won't hurt. Shion will be twenty one this year. We didn't have a chance to celebrate his 20th birthday since he was in the hospital back then..." Karan continued.

Nezumi didn't say anything. He could see that scene. Shion was alone in the hospital room, overworked, broken, spending his birthday hoping that maybe on such day Nezumi would return to him. His hopes were crushed as he got to home the next day and found out that Nezumi still didn't come back.
The older boy looked at his plate and felt like his appetite was leaving him.

"We can invite Inukashi, little Shionn and Rikiga. I bet Shion will be happy to spend his birthday with his friends. Maybe we can make one big cake this time... Nezumi would you help me with it?" Woman chatted cheerfully like Shion often did and Nezumi only nodded. He wished that Karan didn't mention that Shion was ill one year ago on his birthday, on the day they both met. Nezumi cursed in his head and he looked around. The clock was already showing 6:30pm and Shion still didn't come back.

"I wonder what to give him..." Karan wondered.
"A hand watch, the one that will give him shockwave if he doesn't come home from work on time." Nezumi murmured annoyed. Karan heard him and smiled sadly.
"Well it can't be helped. They really don't want to mess up with the educational program, the children will suffer if there are any mistakes. Apart from the last few days Shion always came back from work on time lately."
The woman said softly. She noticed changes in Nezumi's mood. For a while no one said a word. Karan looked once again at the calendar on the wall.

"Then it will be the nine years, right? Since you two have met. Time is really flying." She began slowly.
"It's yet one more reason why we should have a party. Let's make it as good as possible, so everyone will never forget it." Karan smiled to Nezumi and went to search for her notebook to write all the things she needed to buy for the party.

Birthdays were idiotic in the West Block. The only that mattered there was how to survive to the next day. Nezumi didn't even remember when his birthday was. He was too young to remember and Gran never told him about it, even if she knew.

But with Shion things were always different. Nezumi was glad that Shion was born, that the white haired boy saved him on that same day nine years ago. It would be the first time that they would be together on 7th September since that stormy night. Doing something as ridiculous as a birthday party still didn't seem enough to celebrate what had happened and how it had altered their lives. Still, Nezumi would do everything he could to be able to see Shion smile on that day. He neglected the voice in his head, laughing at how weak he had become, but he didn't care anymore. Not if that would make Shion happy.

In the end he really did buy Shion a watch. Too bad that it didn't have an alarm or anything that couldn't be turned off if the owner, Shion in this case, didn't come home on time because he was still overworking himself.

Anyway, Nezumi really didn't have any other ideas for birthday presents aside from this and new ties for Shion for his work. They had everything now compared to their lives in the West Block. They had plenty of food, clothes, stable accommodation, Nezumi's books, water and even electricity... That made finding a gift difficult. Nezumi knew that Shion wouldn't want anything too expensive, he would still be happy even if the older boy gave him a rock. The white haired boy never asked for anything that wasn't necessary.

The watch that Nezumi bought was a simple relic of the past in a place like NO.6 and its advanced technology. Not too cheap, not too expensive. It wasn't only a simple hand watch, its real purpose was rather more symbolic. It was something that would remind Shion that there were people who were waiting for him at home.

Well, that was for a birthday gift. The other one, for the anniversary of their meeting was totally a different kind.
He told himself that he was ready, but still he couldn't stop feeling more and more anxious as the 7th of September was coming close. Nezumi kept saying to himself that he wasn't a coward. He really wanted to show Shion that he had fully trusted him now. Shion really deserved to have all of him.

"Hey, move away!" Inukashi got Nezumi out his thoughts. They were preparing the shop's tables and chairs to make one big desk since the desk in the kitchen was too small for a mountain of food and one big cake that he and Karan prepared.

"Nezumi, you look like you just saw ghost, I have never seen your face this pale." Inukashi grinned to him.
"Did you fuck up something?"
"Shut up." He said nervously and cursed at himself in his mind. He had to stay calm.
It wasn't like he would lose control in that situation. Not in the way he planned it and it was Shion, he wasn't going to be a coward when Shion had already given all of himself to Nezumi. He wasn't going to run away from what he had already decided.

 

***

Shion didn't expect anything special on his birthday. It was in the middle of the week, so he expected to eat cherry cakes that his mother baked, just like the last few years. Maybe Inukashi and Rikiga would call and wish him a happy birthday. The only changes he was expecting was spending the rest of the day with Nezumi and that was already enough for him to be happy.

But there he was, with all his friends and family in the bakery, standing before a big cake. His mom, Nezumi, Inukashi, little Shionn and Rikiga... Everyone was smiling jovially at him and wishing him a happy birthday. He blew candles and wished that next year and in eternity, if that was possible, everyone in this room would be healthy and happy. As happy as he felt at that moment. Everything was too good to be true.

Shion cut through the white cake which was decorated with white creamy flowers. He noticed that the inside was red from cherries, as contrast to the white cream that covered the outside. The colors matched his current look and he guessed he knew who gave the idea for this design. It was a gift of love from the two closest people in his life.

Most guests were digging into their meals when little Shionn excitedly pulled Inukashi's sleeve and asked in almost a whisper.

"Mommy, now?"
"After we eat." Inukashi said and the child nodded and went back to his plate.
"Did something happen?" Shion asked.
"Nah, it's nothing. Shionn was asking if it's time to give you a birthday gift."
"Gifts?" The white haired boy was surprised. He didn't expect anyone to give him anything, this party was already more than enough for him. Somehow he couldn't stop feeling anxious about it. Shion didn't think he deserved something like presents. Not after what happened in the Correctional Facility. He looked at Nezumi, thinking how he always called Shion a spoiled prince, but the older boy said nothing. He was seemingly too occupied with the piece of cake on his plate.

"Hurry up and eat it, we and your mom have put a lot of work into it."
"Well I must agree that it tastes good for something that Eve worked on. Karan always makes the best pastry in the world, but for Eve I had expected poison in our pieces."
Rikiga said and he sat even more comfortably on his chair.
"I'm surprised that he already didn't poison most of the No.6 by the sweet cupcakes."
Nezumi was just about to say something with his smirk when little Shionn jumped on his chair.
"Uncle! But Aunt and Nezumi's cupcakes are the best in the world! It's impossible to get ill from them even if you eat a millions of them! You shouldn't lie about it. It's a very bad thing to lie! Mommy told me that."

The child said with a serious face and almost every guest of party burst out of laugher. When everything cooled down and the kid went back to his seat blushing, but he was very sure about what he had said. Karan brushed away a tear from her eye from laughing.

"Yes, dear, you are right. Uncle Rikiga shouldn't say things like that, not since he has already eaten two pieces." She smiled at the confused man.
"Let's take our time and after this we will give Shion his presents, is it alright dear?"

"Yeah." Shion said with a small pause in his voice. He still felt uncomfortable about this whole gift thing. He searched for Nezumi's eyes. The older boy noticed his worried expression, he looked at Shion and he rolled his eyes like saying:

'Just go along with it, don't make it more complicated and just enjoy yourself.'

Shion took a deep breath.
Yes, that was exactly right. There wasn't anything complicated in giving others something when you care about them. It wasn't like the gifts that people tried to push into him because he was a member of the committee. Because they desired something in exchange. Right now he was among the people who saw him just as himself. After all he also bought some books for Nezumi to celebrate the day of their first encounter a few days ago. There wasn't anything bad about this.

After an hour of talking and enjoying amazing food, the table was almost empty and everyone couldn't move from their food coma.
Shionn ran behind one of empty showcases and took out a colorful paper bag. The excited kid then hold up the bag right before the white-haired boy. Shion leaned patted his head.

"I made it." The kid said and smiled widely, waiting for Shion's opinion about his gift.
Shion tentatively took out something from the bag. There were two handmade stuffed mice in his hands.
"I and mommy are sad when our dogs pass away, so I thought that you too must be sad over Hamlet and Tsukiyo. With those you won't feel alone, because they will stay with you forever. Mom helped me with the sewing." Child said and Shion couldn't stop feeling moved and overwhelmed with the warm emotions that made his eyes burn.

"Thank you Shionn, they are beautiful. These mice look just like them. Thank you for thinking about me. I'm alright, you don't need to worry anymore. Cravat too will feel less lonely with your mice." The red eyed boy said with a soft and shaky voice. Shion felt so thankful and happy, he kneeled and hugged child tightly to his chest. When he let Shionn go, kid was smiling brightly like sunshine.
"I'm glad." The child then ran to his mother and clung onto her leg. "Mommy, Shion liked it."

Inukashi laughed and ruffled the kid's hair.
"Yeah, that great." She said smiling to herself since it was her who did the most work. When little Shionn came to her with his idea for Shion's birthday gift she couldn't stop worrying because the child would have to work with needles and scissors. She ended up helping him with it. They put all of their hearts into those stuffed animals. All of their love for the white haired boy was viewable in every stitch they made.

Inukashi moved forward and gave Shion her paper bag. The boy opened it and saw a glassy jar full of dried herbs.

"It's a mix of healing herbs. They are very good if you're exhausted from work or someone piss you off. You prepare it just like tea, one spoon of herbs and a cup of hot water."
Shion looked at his friend appreciatively. He knew the reason behind Inukashi's gift. She was still worried for his health and his habit to overwork.
"Thank you, Inukashi. I'm so sorry. I made you all so worried in the past four years."
Inukashi flushed a little and she gently hit his shoulder with her arm.

"Right, idiot. Don't say just sorry and start to take care of yourself more."
"I will, I promise."
"My dogs will be watching you, remember that." Inukashi joked and she grinned at her friend.

"Shion, my boy." Rikiga was next and he pulled out from his pocket a little box wrapped in colorful paper. Shion took the box from his hand and looked at it for a moment.
"Open it." Rikiga said.
Shion unwrapped the gift. The box was red and when he opened it there was a pair of elegant pens inside.
"Every gentleman should have an ink pen. We are in half-paperless era now, but as you know important things are still printed and written on paper. Next time you sign some important documents you will do it in an elegant way."

Shion chuckled. He didn't think that type of a pen would make any difference in his work, but it was just like Rikiga. As an old reporter from the West Block he loved to think about writing and reading in an old-school way, like it was more romantic. Even some people in his workplace said that holding a pen helps them to think better while writing.

"Thank you, Rikiga. I will use it whenever I have the chance."
"Shion, you have grown so much." The old man said emotionally with tears in his eyes.
"Yes, yes he grew, old man. Go cry somewhere else, you are blocking the way."

Nezumi said from behind the over reacting man. They would probably start a fight if Karan didn't step in and asked Rikiga to help her bring more drinks from the kitchen. The man, with one last angry look at Nezumi, left the room with Shion's mother.

Shion felt that his body temperature raised by a few degrees when Nezumi handed him a wrapped box. He would never believe if someone told him that he would receive a birthday gift from Nezumi.
After a few awkward seconds the older boy lost his patience.
"Take it or do you need a paper invitation?"
"N...no, thank you very much."

When Shion was opening a present, Nezumi acted like he was completely not curious about the other boy's reaction. The white haired boy checked inside of the box and saw a silver watch. He looked at the dark haired boy with a surprised face: this was an expensive item.

"It seems like you never use that bracelet on your hand properly since you never come home on time from work. Now you don't need to turn on the electronic monitor to know that you are late again." Nezumi said and Shion's hands trembled.

Everyone were thinking of him, looking after him, so he would stay healthy and didn't overwork himself. He knew the reason behind Nezumi's gift and felt overflowed yet again in that evening. However, he wished that Nezumi didn't go so far and gave him such an expensive item.

"Thank you, you don't have to..." Shion started.
"But, I want to buy it. Or you don't like it?" Nezumi asked, there was a little worried in his voice. Shion shook his head quickly.
"No, I love it." He said and Nezumi smiled at him wholeheartedly. For Shion such smile was worth more than any gift, but he didn't say it out loud. Without thinking he leaned to Nezumi and he kissed the other boy on the cheek. Nezumi wrapped his hands around Shion and the dark haired boy was just about to kiss him on the lips when Inukashi shouted.

"You guys, go find a room!" She yelled with her cheeks flushed while covering little Shionn's eyes.
"Don't worry we will, for sure" Nezumi smirked to Inukashi whose face got even redder and now Shion also blushed fiercely.

"Nezumi, can I steal Shion from you for a second?" Karan said from beside him and Shion jumped like a teenager caught doing something wrong. Both of then laughed and Nezumi let Shion go.
"He's all yours Ma'am."
Nezumi went back to the table, leaving the mother and her child alone.

"Here, dear." Karan gave him a paper bag. Shion looked inside to find a digital camera and something that looked like a book. Shion walked closer to one of tables and put the contents of the bag on it. He checked the camera with excitement. Most people in NO.6 used the identification wristband's camera to take photos or recordings, but it couldn't be compared to the real cameras that took photos with better quality. Moreover, using the bracelet's camera wasn't always comfortable. In any case, it was the first time that Shion had in his hand such item.

"You have got wonderful friends and you have found the person you love... I thought that maybe you would like to save the moments you are with them so camera will be the best item for that."
Karan said to her son who was trying to figure out how to turn the camera on. Shion looked at his mother with an excited smile.
"It's amazing! Thank you, mom."

Karan chuckled while Shion found the power button and he was already checking out the item's options.
"You can link it wirelessly to a printer and print out the photos." She added and Shion's grin became even wider. After a few moments he remembered about the book that also was in the bag. He put the camera on the table and checked out the second gift from his mother.

To his surprise it was a photo album, but it wasn't empty. The first few pages were already filled with photos. They were mostly him as a kid, sometimes alone, sometimes with Karan. The others were taken before they left Chronos, when Shion was still an elite and attended to the same school as Safu. Many images were him with Safu before a school building while holding the awards for their academic performance or simply them playing together. Shion felt his heart squeezed hard and tears were welling in his eyes. He shook that feeling away, he didn't want to worry anyone today when they had worked so hard to give him a birthday party.

"Thank you, mom. I'm surprised that you still have these photos."
Shion saw worry on his mother's face. She wondered if she had done the right thing when she printed Safu's photos. After talking to her son a few times after Nezumi returned she got the feeling that Shion no longer blamed himself for her death, but maybe the memory of losing her was still fresh in his mind.

"I'm glad that something about her is still remained. She had such a nice smile. Good thing that at least it was saved on the photos." Shion struggled to find proper words to tell his mother that her gift wasn't a bad idea. He tried to hide his feelings as he smiled to Karan and grabbed the camera again.

"Inukashi, Shionn! I will make you a family photo." He said loudly and went back to the guests. Inukashi looked at him surprised.
"Shionn is growing up so quickly that soon he will be as big as you. You two should have something to remember later."
"Okay. Shionn, come here." Inukashi said with enthusiasm as she set the kid on her lap.
"We're ready." she said to the white haired boy. After three tries Shion was happy with the outcome and he showed the photo to Inukashi with little Shionn who was still sitting on her laps. The three's excited conversation was interrupted by Rikiga who really wanted to have a picture with Karan. Woman protested gently, saying that she didn't look good, but after Shion and Rikiga's reassurance she agreed to be in a photo. Shion even took two extra, since he wanted to have more to remember of his mother.

"Nezumi, look over here." Shion started as he sat down beside his boyfriend and clicked the camera's button.
"Shion cut it ou..." Nezumi started with his mouth full of cake, but stopped when he saw Shion's face. The crimson eyes looked at the camera's monitor and his smile was crumbling. Shion quickly got up from the table.
"I will be right back, I'm going to the toilet." The white haired boy said and left the room. Nezumi followed him while others were busy looking at Shion's childhood photos. He found the younger man just behind the doors, wipping away the tears in his eyes.

"What's going on?" Nezumi asked quietly.
"Nothing... It's just that I finally have your photo now." Shion said and Nezumi raised his eyebrow, he didn't get why Shion was broken down then and whether those tears were from happiness or sadness. He took the camera from the other boy's hand and looked at it. It was a good photo, Nezumi even looked a little bit funny; he had a surprised face on while still chewing the cake. It didn't look so bad that Shion had to cry about it.

"Sorry..." Shion started to explain. "Sometimes, in the last four years, I was dying to have anything to look at, a photo of you or something, but I only had memories. I missed you so much, I was worried that one day I would forget how you looked like, or you could be dead and I would never see you again... I'm sorry. I know that I'm weak... It's just that all of you were so kind to me and mom gave me photos of Safu... And now I have your photo. All these emotions were just too overwhelming to me."

Shion looked over Nezumi who sighed loudly.
"You're still so natural." He smirked to Shion, but at the same time he wrapped his hands around the other boy. Nezumi looked at the camera's monitor and clicked with his tongue.
"Don't you dare showing that to anyone else. It looks ridiculous. I hope you will capture my beauty better next time." Nezumi said and Shion chuckled softly.
"You are still so narcissistic."
"I just know my value. Are you feeling better now?"
"Yes, sorry for all this. I should be stronger than that. "
"Idiot, you're just Shion, it was me who told you to never change. You are still that 12 years old airhead who opened his windows in the middle of the storm. I got used to your emotional reactions in moments like this."
"Hey! I'm officially 21 now. I'm not a kid anymore."
"Yeah, yeah, your majesty. Are you ready to come back for the rest of the party?"

Shion nodded and went back to the shop area after he had collected himself. He felt ashamed at his breakdown, but he couldn't help it. He wished for Safu to be here with all his friends. He felt overwhelmed by having a picture of the love of his life. He was happy to have his friends and his mom here. Nezumi said to him once that feelings made people weak and maybe he was right, but still Shion hoped that one day those feelings would make him stronger in time of need.

Two hour later when the plates were all cleaned, all the chairs and the tables were put back on their rightful places, everyone said goodbyes and headed to their homes. Karan said the good night to the boys and told them to not stay up for too long since they both had to go to work the next day. Even if Shion was already 21, he could bet, after such comment, that his mother still saw him as a little kid.

Karan went to bed and the boys returned to their room. Shion put all of the presents on the shelf and opened the wardrobe to take out his own gift for the silver eyed boy.
He walked to Nezumi who was mantling the windows curtains. The older boy turned around and he looked surprised when Shion almost pushed into his hands a heavy pack.

"What is this?"
"A gift for you. I don't know when your birthday is, but we met nine years ago so I'm counting it as an anniversary of our relationship and because of that I've decided to celebrate it in some way."

Nezumi looked a little bit confused while staring at him. After a moment the dark haired boy opened the heavy pack on his hands to see the beautifully decorated books with hard covers.

"It was difficult to find something that you don't have in your library, but you said that you were never able to get Ulysses by James Joyce and Paragraph 22 by Joseph Helper. I was able to get them imported from NO.5. I also bought a new copy of Othello since your old one is already falling apart." Shion said, feeling a little bit disappointed of Nezumi's reaction, but the other boy was simply so moved that he couldn't say a word. He flipped through the pages of the new books and looked at Shion.

"I messed up your life nine years ago and you're now giving me books for that... You're really a strange guy."
Nezumi said quietly and Shion smiled.
"We have already talked about this. I'm glad that I have met you and I wouldn't change a thing."

Nezumi put the books on the desk and moved his hand to other boy's cheek when he leaned his forehead over Shion's. From such a close distance, the younger boy saw the silver eyes were looking deep into his. Nezumi was thinking about something for a while, and then when he leaned back, Nezumi took a deep breath and smirked.

"Then I suppose it's my turn to give you a present."
Shion's eyebrows rose in confusion.
"But you have already given me a present."
"That was a birthday present, your majesty. Now it's time for your anniversary gift."
"But that watch was already en..." Shion started, but he was cut off by Nezumi's lips. After kiss ended and both of them already breathed hard, Nezumi pulled them up towards the mezzanine.

"Damn the stairs." The dark haired boy cursed while moving up to the bed. Shion knew where this was going and he agreed with Nezumi; sometimes those stairs were really annoying and they had to break their embrace because of them. As they finished climbing up the stairs, their arms again wrapped around each other's bodies and their lips met again. Nezumi pushed Shion against the bed and he straddled him. The white haired boy felt his face burning when the dark haired boy took off his shirt and leaned over him in a tempting way.

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the amazing Nezumi's private show. I hope you enjoy it." The older boy whispered into Shion's ear, causing shivers running all over his body. They kissed slowly while Nezumi's hands worked on the buttons of Shion's shirt. The younger boy's hands wandered on Nezumi's naked chest and back, trying to feel him more, to bring them even closer. Nezumi's skin was so warm and Shion wanted to feel his lover's rapid-beating heart under his palm.

Shion opened his eyes to look into the deep silver eyes. It always took Shion's breath away as to how those eyes reflected all the emotions that Nezumi felt inside. There was so much warmth, love and lust inside them in that moment. Shion paused for a moment after their kissing as he thought that he saw some nervousness into those eyes and he couldn't understand what Nezumi could be anxious about. The older boy broke their kiss to unzip the white haired boy's pants.

"Nezumi..." Shion panted hard. He was almost naked with only an underwear on.
"Hm?" Nezumi groaned while kissing the red scar around Shion's neck.
"What are you nervous about?"

Nezumi stopped and looked at him with a mix of surprise, afraid and confusion.
"Don't worry about that, just enjoy your present."
"But we have done this so many times before already and you wasn't nervous about it."
"Damn, Shion, do you want to stay virgin on the front side forever? Because if you keep on asking stupid questions like this I might change my mind." Nezumi said a little bit more quickly than usual.

"On front...oh." Shion gasped as he understood what Nezumi meant. Their position become clearer to him and he felt like his body was going to explode from the heat.
"You are going to let me penetrate you?" Shion said unsurely and Nezumi's face also turned red.
"Shit, I'm going to ride you, so please, shut up Your Majesty."

Shion was surprised how in mere seconds he could become so excited. Nezumi gave him an amused look as he must have felt how such declaration worked on Shion. Nezumi could feel how his words worked on the other boy's length while he was sitting on Shion's thighs.

To tell the truth Shion had never considered topping while having sex with Nezumi. All the times he was happy just to be with the other boy. Shion loved him and he didn't mind if things were going to stay like that forever. Now he was curious and felt overflowed with need... Even so, he was worried about Nezumi. He knew that the other was afraid of being powerless before people and he was often scared as hell when he wasn't in control of the situation. That was also the reason why he didn't think that Nezumi would ever open to him in such way.

"Are you sure? You don't have to force yourself to do it." Shion said, pressing his hand under Nezumi's jaw. The silver eyes looked at Shion without hesitation. Nezumi kissed Shion gently and answered.
"I trust you." It was almost a whisper. "You gave me all so I'm want also to give you all."

Shion's heart stopped for a second. It was so hard to believe. Not because he doubted the dark haired boy. It was because, for Nezumi, trusting other people was the most difficult and the hardest thing in the world. Even so, Nezumi wanted to give himself to Shion. He wanted to prove, if words alone weren't enough to make Shion believe it, that now he trusted him. The white haired boy felt so moved that he didn't know what to say. He wrapped his hands around Nezumi and held him close.

"Hey, Shion, may I finish the prologue of my show? We will never get to the finale with this pace." Nezumi said after a minute or two and Shion let him go. They kissed for a while, sometimes passionately, sometimes gently when they needed to take a few breaths. Nezumi raised up and took off his pants and underwear after he had done with Shion's pants. The white haired boy kissed his lover's neck when the older boy reached to the drawer for lubricant.

While being pinned to bed, Shion saw the most exciting thing in his life as Nezumi started to prepare himself. He ever started to think about nipping himself to find out if all of this wasn't a dream. However, Shion wanted to do something more than watching.

It felt strange. Nezumi stuck a finger inside himself and closed his eyes. It wouldn't feel good until he hit his prostate, but the angle in this position didn't let him go that far. He wanted to click with his tongue, but a frustrated groan escaped from his lips instead. He felt that Shion sat up as much as he could while Nezumi straddled him.

"Nezumi... Can I do it?" The white haired boy said quietly while putting his hands on Nezumi's thighs. He halted and looked into the crimson eyes. It was surprising how that few words shook his confidence in such exposed situation. His feelings must have been visible on his face since Shion moved his hand from his thigh to his cheeks.

"I won't do anything you don't want and I think it will be easier that way. I would love to touch you. I will stop anytime you start to feel uncomfortable."
Nezumi didn't say anything, but he already felt uncomfortable before Shion had even done anything. Still, slow, smoothing moves of Shion's hands and a small, gentle smile made Nezumi nod in agreement. He removed his hand from his opening, Shion sat more comfortably while learning his backs against the wall and putting some lube on his fingers. Nezumi lifted himself to his knees in order to give Shion better access and he put his hands on his boyfriend's shoulders. He felt warm lips kissing and nipping his neck and following down his chest. He frowned when Shion pushed his finger really deep inside him.

"Does it hurt?" Other boy asked with fear in his voice and his hand that prepared Nezumi trembled a little.
"No, keep going." He answered while breathing hard and letting his body relax more.

Even if Shion was the one who proposed this, in the way he moved his fingers Nezumi felt that he was scared. He was very careful, his hands trembled a little and his movements lacked of confidence, the red eyes looked at him carefully to make sure that Nezumi didn't feel any pain until Shion brushed his prostate and Nezumi let out a high pitched moan as waves of pleasure shook his body.
They both looked at the other with their faces red.

"What?" Nezumi asked feeling embarrassed.
"Nothing." Shion smiled and kissed his boyfriend tenderly on his lips, then continued to touch that one spot, making Nezumi melt into his arms.
After a while he was more than ready and when Nezumi felt the need to regain his control in the situation he pulled away and got back into previous, sitting position.
"Is his majesty ready for the final act of our show?"

Shion nodded and Nezumi chuckled at the sparks of excitement in the red eyes. The older boy lowered himself over the hard length. It wasn't that easy. It hurt a little and when Shion put his hands again on the Nezumi's thighs, the dark haired boy was afraid that Shion was going to push him down to bury his whole length inside him. His heart beat ten times faster than normal and fear overwhelmed him. But Shion didn't do anything. He was waiting, breathing hard and watching Nezumi as he struggled to lower himself all the way on the younger boy. Gentle and patient look in the crimson eyes calmed Nezumi down. After the task was done and the long haired boy was trying to get used to the feeling, Shion moved his hands and with slow, slow, circular motion as he massaged Nezumi's back.

"It's so warm... I feel you... All around me... So that's how... It feels." Shion said between deep breaths. Nezumi looked at him feeling embarrassed by those words.
"Damn, Shi..on" It was only thing he managed to moan out since his mind betrayed him.

After a while Nezumi started to move with slow motion. It felt good and he relaxed, pushing aside the fear about losing control if Shion started to flip him down to the bed. When he looked at his lover and their eyes met, their lips were connected, he was sure that Shion knew. Nezumi was aware that he could trust Shion and this boy would never do anything that would frighten him.

He sped up a little and then his lover also moved up his thighs making Nezumi see stars. He still hadn't collected himself when Shion moved again and hit his prostate once more.

"Oh.. Fuck..." He moaned, a mix of pleasure and fear overflowed his body.
"Ne...zumi..." Shion stopped to give him some time, but Nezumi didn't want to stop. It felt good and for the first time in his life Nezumi felt so complete. Shion didn't have idea how he made Nezumi feel.

"Wh..." He groaned, but the words were lost before they even left his lips.

'Why it feels so good?'
'How it's even possible to feel this good?'
'Is this because I love him?'

Shion kept hitting his spot, when Nezumi felt a hand over his leaking length.
"I... Can't hold... Ah... Too.. Long..." The white haired boy moaned. Because of Shion's words and his strokes, Nezumi came first splashing all over their chests. Shion followed him after two thrusts, filling the dark haired boy with his warm cum. They both rested their heads on each other shoulder, holding close while trying to calm their crazy hearts. After a few breaths they broke from their embrace. Nezumi released the Shion's length, but he sat back on the white haired boy's lap since his body still didn't react right after the climax. Shion lifted his clean arm and he sank it into the dark hair. Soon after it followed a gentle and tired kiss.

"Thank you." Shion said after their lips parted.
"Don't say thank for such thing, it feels strange." Nezumi answered and he lowered his head back into the corner between other boy's neck and shoulder. He felt fulfilled and exhausted.

"Do you want to take a shower?"
Nezumi thought of his answer for a while. He wanted to sleep, but Shion's cum was leaking out from him and his own splashed on their chests. It would be better to take a shower before they head to sleep.

He got up from bed and both of them slowly went to the bathroom.
Nezumi was thinking, while water were pouring from the shower, if four years ago someone told him that Shion would fuck him someday he would kill such idiot. But there he was. He gave his everything to Shion and he wasn't killed by that. He finally felt whole and safe.
Nezumi closed his eyes enjoying the hot water caressing his skin.

"Hey, don't fall asleep." Shion chuckled and moved to clean his thighs. Nezumi wanted to tell him not to do it since it was his birthday, but it felt too nice. He leaned into the touch and purred from the comfort.
"You're so cute. This is my best birthday ever." Shion laughed and hugged Nezumi from behind.
"Shut up." Nezumi flushed, but he wasn't in the mood for fighting or to teasing Shion. He will spare it for another occasion.

After the shower they headed straight to bed. When he was falling asleep with Shion's head over his chest he heard four quiet words.
"I love you, Nezumi."

And Nezumi was really happy that Shion did.

 

***

Shion decided to not call Nezumi cute anymore. Well, maybe only from time to time since the older boy mastered his teasing skills on him. After a week Shion was defeated by their playful fights.

He was heading to home from his work thinking that he would probably never forget his 21st birthday. Shion would lie if he said that wasn't the happiest day of his life. He was glad to have such wonderful friends, his mother and boyfriend by his side.

He walked inside the bakery to be welcomed by his mother and Nezumi.
"Happy birthday, mom." He came closer to Karan and gave her an elegant paper box. He bought a small, but beautiful set of tea cups, since now his mother often spent her free afternoons or early evenings at the tea meetings with Renka.
"Oh, dear. You didn't have to." Karan said after she saw cups and smiled happily at them and was enchanted by them.
"Those are lovely."
"I'm glad you like it." Shion said cheerfully. He truly thought that she deserved everything for her kind heart. He left the room to change and to his surprise when he was going back to the shop, he was dragged into the first floor's bathroom. Nezumi pinned him to the wall with hands locking him from the escape. The silver eyes told Shion that he was irritated by something.

"Damn it, Shion!" Nezumi said with a hint of anger in his voice and Shion was really surprised and confused.
"Why didn't you tell me that it's your mother's birthday today?"
"I didn't think you would care about it." Shion said and Nezumi scratched his head.
"Airhead! She let me into your house, she gave me a job and even helped us when we fought and you didn't tell me that today's her birthday."

Shion smiled. So Nezumi really liked his mom. When he thought of the Nezumi that wanted to cut off from everyone four years ago, he couldn't stop feeling happy. Shion and Karan had managed to create a safe home for Nezumi where he didn't have to feel afraid of creating bonding with other people.

"Listen. You will go and get her attention for a few minutes. I will be right back." Nezumi said after dragging him to the bakery. Yet, Shion couldn't stop grinning like a fool when they walked through the corridor.

Shion talked with his mother about his day at the work when Nezumi came back with a bouquet of flowers.

The older boy handed it over with a flushed face.
"Happy birthday, Ma'am."
Karan was brightened up as she took the present.
"They are beautiful, thank you Nezumi."
"It's nothing."
Nezumi said quietly. Karan looked at him and her smile became a little shady.

"You know, dear, I would be even happier if you call me by my name. I have already told you that you don't have to speak to me so formally. I wish you would call me just like a mom, but that's perhaps too early for you." Karan said jovially and Nezumi really looked like a mouse caught in a trap. Shion observed the scene with curiosity, hoping that the dark haired boy wouldn't run away. After a dead silence moment, Nezumi tried to smirk and joke about it but failed when he looked at Karan's gentle smile, so the dark haired boy just gave up.

"If you wish for that Ma... Karan..." Nezumi said and Shion could hear Nezumi's inner voice crying over the loss of his pride and strength. Now, probably, Nezumi must have cursed at himself about getting into such situation while he could just ignore Karan's birthday. The older boy could beat the special force of NO.6, but he was helpless against his boyfriend's mother. Shion choked down his chuckle and Karan smiled happily. Nezumi looked cute, but Shion wasn't going to say it out loud, even without it he knew that teasing attacks wouldn't end anytime soon after that day.

Chapter Text

"It's idiotic." Nezumi said and flipped a page of the book he was reading.
"Yes, I know. I have heard that many times already from you since you found out about it." Shion answered and sat beside his boyfriend. He snuck into the blanket that Nezumi wrapped around himself half an hour ago and sank into the comfortable warmth. Nezumi trembled when the white haired boy's cold body leaned closer to him.

It was in the middle of December. The whole city was covered in snow and the low temperatures made everything outside freeze with a speed of light. It was the first winter that Nezumi spent in such nice, warm and dry place. Shion remembered the chilly air in their underground room in that season. He didn't complain, but he always felt cold and on edge of falling ill. Compare to the warm winters in the city, Shion was happy that he survived that season in the West Block.

Nezumi on the other hand was used to it; he didn't have any other choice anyway. On his journey, he didn't have the many chances to be in warm places during wintertime either. That's why he acted a little spoiled now, like moving the sofa closer to the hot radiator, absorbing all of its heat, covering himself with a fluffy blanket even though he didn't need more warmth, letting Shion bring them cups of hot coffee in these wintry evenings.

"Because it's really idiotic. I bet you were the one who got such sappy idea." The older boy went on.
"I don't think it's idiotic. It may be sappy, but not idiotic." Shion said and Nezumi put away his book.
"You know, Your Majesty, that Christmas were a religious holiday back then, before everything fucked up. No one believes in that in our times. Apart from that, it was one of the many events that were used by the big companies to make money on stupid decorations, toys and hell knows what else."

"I know all of that." Shion said calmly, feeling that his cold bones from running around city on that day was finally warming up.
"You know this and you still push the idea of recreating this holiday? You're really something, Shion."
"I know that, but I know that it also used to be a family holiday. Everyone were able to spend a few hours together, and they could be with their families and friend for one night. It became a holiday that everyone treasured, even those who didn't believe in that religion. It was a chance to spend time with their loved ones. A moment when people helped each other without requiring anything in return." Shion said and he knew that Nezumi was listening to every single word.

"You know how hard and tiring winter is. People are working hard to survive it. Every day is cold and the warm days are still far away, that's why I want NO.6 to have Christmas. One free day, aside from the New Year's day, so everyone are able to stay with their families and regain their energy to live through the rest of the winter."

Nezumi didn't say anything about Shion's arguments.
"It's just like you." He ruffled the other boy's white hairs.
"Still, you can just create a new holiday; you don't have to use the pre-apocalyptic one. It's completely idiotic. Some old guys in red pajamas giving gifts to good kids; what a bullshit. I don't know who could have thought of that." Nezumi said and returned to his book. Even so, Shion knew that his speech got straight into the older boy's heart and he didn't think of that holiday as a bad thing any longer. Shion chuckled.

"Yes, you right, that was strange, but in the holidays there's always a lot of food, I thought you would love it." Shion said and Nezumi throw at him a murderous look.

"Does His Majesty think that I'm glutton? Do you think that my only desire is to eat?"
Shion caressed Nezumi's thigh with his hand while smiling brightly.

"No, but I know that you like to try new things since in the West Block everything was so hard to get and food was almost never fresh. Your figure is perfect."

Pleased with flattery, Nezumi hummed with approval and returned to his book again. Shion leaned head over the other boy's shoulder and closed his tired eyes. Aside from his standard obligations at the work, he had volunteered to take care of all additional works on Christmas event. Even without budget, he planned a few things that would make that day more memorable.

Few elementary schools agreed to help him with the colorful decorations with the new arts lessons that the Committee had included into the educational program this year. They had luck because the city's central park grew a big pine tree that could be used as a Christmas tree. Toya, the member of Restructual Committee offered to take care of the lightings for the tree.

The 'tree decorations' idea was introduced to every school principal in the city and after work Shion was taken around by the new art teachers every day for two weeks, but the job was almost done. He hoped that people would like the outcome of his work and it would lighten their hearts.

He felt a little bit selfish, but he as well looked forward to spending time with his family and friends. A whole day with his beloved ones... It was a nice idea. That was what he wanted to create. A place where relationships with other people are the most important thing. The previous NO.6 wasn't like this; it was cold and empty without emotions and individuality.

It was Nezumi who taught him how important emotions were. Now Shion wanted to change this place just like how he himself had changed. He believed that maybe even silly things like Christmas would help with creating the city a new face. A place that wouldn't repeat its story again.

There was nothing wrong with cozy things, just like in this moment, when he was with the most important person in his life, lying under a comfortable blanket and letting his mind and soul sink into sweet dreams.

"Hey, Shion are you sleeping?" Nezumi whispered and chuckled softly when he didn't get an answer.
"It's just like you to fall asleep with a stupid grin on your face." He said quietly and wrapped his arm over the white haired boy's shoulder and continue to enjoy his book and the warmth of the biggest airhead in the world.

***

Nezumi fell on the blue covers of the bed feeling worn out like he had never felt for a long time. The last week in the bakery was crazy, especially during the last two days when all people in this annoying city went nuts and started to buy their pastry in wholesale numbers for Christmas Eve.

The Inhabitants of NO.6 began to read about that useless old holiday right after the government declared that on that day most people would be free from work. Almost every hospital and other security departments worked, but everyone could take a day off of their choice later on. Anyway, people liked the idea of Christmas and they tried to bring back some of the old traditions. Children made snowmen in the snowy parks and at home grownups prepared the holiday's dinners. Even Karan made some special designs for Christmas cakes, cupcakes and cookies.

That was the beginning of the end.

People were pushing through bakery's doors like crazy and Nezumi had to work five times harder than normal. If he wasn't baking tons of pastry, he would have to sell them, or run around in town to get the ingredients because they ran out of sugar or flour. While pulling the big bags through the city covered in the snow, he cursed that neither Karan nor Shion had a car to make these things easier.

Thus after his work he fell on the bed with a promise to sleep over this whole idiotic holiday. He took a fast shower and climbed onto the bed not waiting for Shion to return. He fell asleep one minute after he had closed his eyes.

His plans were ruined, as always, by one, overly excited, white haired boy.

It was past 10AM when he woke up. He didn't remember when the last time he slept for this long was. The first thing he noticed was someone was looking at him and running their hand gently through his long hair. Nezumi didn't even need to guess who it was.

"Good morning." Shion smiled cheerfully at him. Nezumi looked into the crimson eyes that was radiating sunshine. Normal people didn't smile like this, but this was Shion.
"What are you smiling about?" He asked anyway, feeling silly when his voice didn't sound so annoyed as he planned.

Shion looked over the still-sleepy face of his boyfriend.
"I'm happy that we are lying in bed just like this. We don't have many opportunities to spend the morning like this, even less when I can wake up beside you." Shion said with his usual straight face and a big grin.

Nezumi moved his head under the Shion's chin, as the other boy guessed, to hide his flushed face. The white haired boy thought that it was such a pity because he loved it when Nezumi was embarrassed. This was their own moment. They didn't have to hurry anywhere, they didn't have anything to do until evening and they could stay like this without any problems.

From Nezumi's action, he was able to see that the dark haired boy was going to spend the whole holiday in the bed. Shion couldn't let that happen. Even if it was silly, he planned a few things for this holiday. They wasn't anything extravagant. He wanted to help with preparing a dinner. And later when it got a little dark, he wanted to take a walk with his mother and Nezumi to the Christmas tree. After that, Inukashi and little Shionn would drop by for dinner. He also invited Rikiga, but the man had already had plans with his colleagues.

Shion ran his hands through the dark hairs and looked at the clock hanging on the wall. He had at least two hours before he started negotiating with Nezumi to get the other boy out of bed. Still, before that, they had plenty of time, so he made his boyfriend look at him. Shion brushed his lips over corner of Nezumi's. The silver eyes shined with the playful sparks and they met again with lazy kisses.

Shion could feel in every cell of his body that today was going to be wonderful.

Nezumi should have known. It was the one big conspiracy against his poor soul. Shion and his manipulating morning activities were the first warning sign and the harmless question about heading to the first floor for breakfast after that was the second sign that Nezumi had ignored.

After they ate, they started to help Karan in the kitchen and before he knew he had already stood next to the happy family, his shoes had been put on and he had already wandered into the street full of snow.

He felt silly since he could guess their destination. It was that sappy tree for the spoiled inhabitants of city. Even so, to his and Shion's surprise he didn't complain much. He loved the evening walks if they didn't include dragging 40 pounds of flour around. Even with the knowledge that he was in NO.6 and it was cold outside compare to the warm bed, a little change of his surrounding was something he was glad to see.

On the other hand, a few years ago he told Shion that he wanted to see how the white haired boy was going to change this notorious city. Nezumi was going to keep his promise, even if it was something as idiotic as seeing Christmas tree.

Shion's ID bracelet rang, and the crimson eyed boy stopped walking to answer the call.

"Hey, Shion." The image of Inukashi with dark lines under her eyes was showed on the digital screen.
"Inukashi, did something happen?"
"I'm afraid yes. Shionn caught a flu, I have hoped that he will get better so we can come to dinner, but there's no changes."

They heard small sneeze and the quiet "mommy" outside of the camera view.
"I'm coming, dear." Inukashi said looking left side.
Shion face showed pure worry.

"Do you need any help?" Karan asked while standing beside her son so Inukashi could also see her. Inukashi smiled and waved her hand.
"No, there is no need for you to waste your day off. We saw a doctor yesterday already. Shionn has taken some medicine so he will get better soon. I hope the Christmas tree looks nice since he can't wait to get better and see it."

"We are about to check it out." Shion said nervously. It was clear that he was a little worried if everything turned out right. He left the rest of this work to his co-workers from the committee who volunteered to decorate the tree, so that was why he had yet seen the outcome.

"From what Lili said in the morning, it looks amazing and now with the lights on, it must have looked even more beautiful." Karan added, making all Shion's nervousness disappear in the second.
"Did you heard that Shionn? We will go there once you feel better." Inukashi smiled to her child and they heard a tired "hurray". Karan and Shion chuckled softly. Inukashi looked back at the monitor.

"I am not going to waste more of your time, have fun at the park and dinner. Too bad that we are going to miss Mrs. Karan's cooking. I was really looking forward to it. See you later, we will visit you as soon as possible. "

"Take care Inukashi, I hope Shionn will get better soon. Let us know if you need anything." The white haired boy said.
"Don't worry about that, airhead. Bye."

The monitor on Shion's wristband disappeared and three of them continued walking.
"Lili came today?" Shion asked his mother.
"Yes, she couldn't get the pastry that Renka ordered yesterday, since she was busy with helping her mother at their shop and taking care of her little sister. She came this morning, but I didn't want to disturb you two." Karan explained.
"I see." Shion answered and his face turned all red. Nezumi rolled his eyes.

'Great Shion, you could just as well scream that we had sex this morning,' the old haired boy thought. Not that Karan didn't have the idea that their relationship was on such level, but the boys would rather display their intimacy in front of Shion's mother as little as possible. Karan was always happy when she saw them being close, but to find them while having sex? Nezumi couldn't even imagine it. Or he could, at last he knew that Shion would freak out and his own work at the bakery would be awkward for at least few weeks.

"So what do you think?"
Shion asked him and Nezumi was realized that they had already made it to the center of the park without his notice. Many inhabitants of the NO.6 came and the whole place was packed with people. Before them was a big pine tree that was now lightened up by the colorful lights. Here and there on the branches hanged the colorful decorations made out of paper, from the chains to the twinkling stars and the other origamis like small paper animals. Some were made better than others, which was clearly made by the little kids. However, the golden light and something in such amateur products made even people like Nezumi think that such view was pretty. There wasn't any artificial feeling which NO.6 had used to be.

Nezumi saw a child dragging his parents and raising his hand to point at one of the paper stars hanging on the tree.
"Mom, Dad, I made this one!"
"It looks complicated to make, good work!" said his father with a cheerful voice and patting his son's head.

Nezumi reverted his attention to the tree and smiled a little. It wasn't perfect like the one in the picture books from the past when machines made decorations for the Christmas trees, but it was full of passion. He looked at Shion whose nose was as red as his scar because of the cold. He still waited for Nezum's opinion.
After seeing the dark haired boy's little smile other boy stopped feeling nervous, and now he waited for his boyfriend's judgment in silence.

"It's nice. It doesn't feel forced and people looks happy."
He said and Shion beamed happily. Karan wrapped her hand around Shion's arm.
"It's beautiful. So many people worked to create this moment and you can feel that. You and the rest of the committee have done an amazing job." The woman said and went back to admire the decorated tree again. Shion flushed a little, making his face even redder, but he too looked at the golden-bathed decoration with twinkling eyes.

The white haired boy looked excited and charmed just like the first night when they first met. That memory made Nezumi's smile go wider.

"Mr. Shion!"
They heard a woman's voice from the crowd. Three of them turned around to find the source of the sound. To them approached a blond haired woman in the late twenties and just after her was a man around the same age.

"Good evening, Shion, Mrs. Karan." Man said as they finally stood before them.
"Good evening Mr. Toya, Mrs. Alice." Shion greeted the newcomers.
"Good evening." Karan looked at those two with all her kindness. Nezumi stood a step away from all of them wondering who these people were.

"Amazing work. I didn't even imagine that it could look so pretty." Shion said and the blond haired woman smiled widely.
"Thank you. I'm just glad that I could help. Your idea was amazing and Toya had done an amazing job." Woman looked at the man beside her with glittering eyes.
"Still, hanging all those lights and paper decorations must have taken a while." Karan said.

Nezumi looked at them from afar and felt many mixed emotions. Mostly, he felt like his new little family had forgotten about him. He knew that he and Shion agreed to not show their relationship to the other people, and that kept him away from getting angry in this situation. Still, he didn't like it at all. He wondered when he had changed so much. He never cared about getting attention from other people, but now seeing Shion and Karan being with other people made him feel lonely. It was not like him at all.

As if Shion could read his mind, the white haired boy turned around and looked at the dark haired boy. Shion grabbed Nezumi's sleeve and dragged him closer.

"Allow me to introduce you. These are my co-workers from the committee and also my friends. They always help me a lot and I can't go this far without them."
"Really, No we didn't help much, Mr. Shion. It's you who have had many good ideas and make it happen. We along with other committee members are just assisting you."

"Toya, don't interrupt Shion." Alice said while nudging the man with her elbow. Shion smiled amusingly and continued his introduction.
"So this is Alice Miang, she's a specialist in sociology and psychology fields. This man is Toya Takahashi, he manages engines and all of structural departments."
Shion waved his hand at his boyfriend.

"This is Nezumi. We have known each other since we were twelve and he's now working at my mom's bakery." Shion said words that didn't lie, but at the same time didn't expose their real relationship.

"Oh, so this is the Heartbreaker from Karan's bakery." The blonde haired women exclaimed and Shion raised his eyebrows in confusion.
"My younger sister talked a lot about him. Many high school girls buy pastry at that bakery not only because of the amazing goods, but also because of a charming baker."
"Really? I haven't heard about this." Shion said in surprised, looking at both Karan and Nezumi. Shion's mother chuckled.
"Well maybe we have a lot more youngsters coming to the bakery since Nezumi started working."
Nezumi wanted to ask Shion if he was jealous just to tease him since his face had already mixed with surprise, worry and that I-want-to-know-everything expression. Too bad that they weren't alone in that moment.

The wristband on Shion's co-worker's hand rang and man checked out the electric clock on the digital monitor.

"Oh, I'm sorry, but we have to go. I've invited Alice for dinner to thank her for helping me with this project."
"I have told you that you didn't have to, I volunteered on my own will to decorate to Christmas Tree." Woman said, but it was clear that she was happy because of the invitation.
"Nice to meet you Nezumi, I'm glad that we ran into each other in better circumstances this time Ma'am." She said last part to Karan who nodded with a sad smile.
"Indeed it is. Thank you for taking care of my son." Karan said.
"Shion is a great and intelligent man, it is our luck that we can work with him." Toya added.

Shion flushed even on his ears. He wanted to protest, but the blond haired woman already waved to him goodbye and dragged her co-worker out of the crowd.

It seemed that the warm, intelligent and naive Shion had found some people similar to him to change this city. But perhaps that was what NO.6 needed. Nezumi looked at the colorful tree once more before they too started to head back to home. Nezumi hoped that this government of No.6 was the right one, that it wouldn't fail again. He wished for that because if NO.6 lost its humanity again, if people in this city needed to fear, die because of hunger, if they had to cry and crawl for survive... He didn't want the future to be like this again. That was what he no longer wished for anyone. Or maybe he himself was so afraid to experience all those bad things again.

He didn't want to return to those times after he had lived this new life in Shion's family. He didn't want to be scared of losing everything he cared about. Just like waking up from the beautiful dreams and you ended up feeling broken, cold and empty when you realized that nightmare was the true reality.

No, he would never forget the screams of dying people, of the lives he himself took away.

And yet, now he had to use his old way how to live, his rule of not being attached to his past. He would going to live and survive each and every day, no matter if it was a nightmare or a dream. He looked at Shion's profile while the other boy talked happily with Karan about the dinner. Nezumi wished that this dream would not turn into nightmare.

He had enough of it in his life.

It was enough, right?

Chapter Text

Shion blew into his frostbitten hands while he, Karan and Nezumi entered the house. He made a mental note to wear gloves next time they took such walk in this kind of weather. The little family took off their winter clothes and split up inside the warm building. Shion went to the kitchen with his mother who took a few steps inside the orange-colored room and looked worriedly at the pots filled with food. They had prepared dinner with Inukashi and little Shionn in minds. It was too much for only three of them.

“Oh well, in the worst case we will eat the rest of this tomorrow.” Karan sighed.

Shion jumped towards the window with excitement. He had read that families used to sit down in Christmas dinners when the first star showed up on the night sky. With the joy of a little kid Shion looked at the sky. After two or three minutes Shion saw the first star and he turned his head back and his eyes were shining in delight.

“We can set up the dishes! The first star…” Shion stopped while being surprised by Nezumi who had already prepared the dishes on the table. The older boy looked at Shion with amusement, but the white haired boy only grinned to his boyfriend even wider. He helped his mother move the dishes to the table. They normally didn’t listen or watch anything while eating, but today Karan took off her ID wrist band and turned on the hologram screen and changed to some channel that played almost ancient Christmas songs from the pre-apocalypse world before the one they know now.
The little family was eating and commenting on the clips that they watched; Shion and Karan were mostly delighted by them, whereas Nezumi made some sarcastic statements. The older boy’s comments made Shion and Karan laugh loudly, so atmosphere was light and warm.

Like in the old tradition they had prepared twelve kinds of different meals. Nezumi grimaced when Shion put on his plate a big piece of fish.

“Shion, you know that I don’t like seafood. No offence to your wonderful cooking skills, Karan.”

The woman chuckled at such complement, nodding that she wouldn't mind if Nezumi didn't like to eat her grilled fish, but Shion just wouldn't give up.

“But, Nezumi, fish are really healthy, their meat contain a lot of good proteins and oils that reduce the possibility of having cancer. Not to mention having a lot of vitamins with omega’s acids is good for the skin. You can eat some fish from time to time.” Shion said as he had put another piece of fish on his plate. Nezumi crossed his arms, glared at the white haired boy, his whole body language indicated that he wasn’t convinced by Shion’s words.

“Your Majesty, so you haven't noticed yet that my skin, my face looks nice even if I have almost never consumed any fish in my life? I didn’t have any problems with health likewise.”

“But how do you know that you won’t in the future? We couldn’t get fresh fish in the West Block, but now there is possibility for us to have a good diet. The ancient culture of Greece used to eat only sea food and they were very healthy. Not only that, other countries that mainly consumed seafood used to have less problems with heart diseases.”

“As always you’re full of theoretical knowledge, aren’t you? Remember, NO.6 won’t fall because I don't eat fish, if that is the case then it had happened a long time ago.”

“Nezumi it's just a piece of fish! Don’t act like a child.”

“I’m not acting like a child. I'm just not going to eat seafood, that’s all.”

The boys looked at each other, neither of them wanted to give up. Karan listened to this whole ‘fight’ in silence, feeling amused by such conversation over one small piece of the food. It was always funny for her when they argued like this. Their home had been much livelier since Nezumi became a part of their family. Karan liked how during such conversations Shion’s eyes always shined with the feelings of rivalry, excitement and bits of playfulness. Nezumi mostly looked annoyed, but the soft look in his eyes betrayed him and that he too enjoyed their little fights.

'Well, maybe not in this moment.’ Karan thought and chuckled to herself.

“You said it yourself that food shouldn’t be wasted.” Shion still continued his rational arguments while looking at the unwavering face of the other boy.

“Then you can just eat it by yourself, I think your figure is still lacking more meat than mine.”

"Boys, boys.” Karan started feeling that she had better step into this conversation.

“Don’t fight over food. Shion, Nezumi doesn't need to eat it if he doesn't want to. Nezumi, it’s true that fish is healthy food. If you didn’t have a chance to eat fresh fish, you can at least try this one I made. If you still don't like it no one will push you to eat more of this.”

Karan said in a very motherly way and she smiled to herself about how ridiculous this whole situation was. If they were still kids it wouldn’t be anything strange, but those two were already young men. Still, she didn’t mind it at all, she was happy to have them. With sons like them Karan didn’t have to be worried about loneliness and she wished that things would stay this way as long as possible.

“Shion, why are you so pushy about it today?” She asked her son.

Shion looked at the plates and then at his mom with a little blush on his cheeks.

“I just want Nezumi to be healthy because I love him, that’s all." The younger boy said and Nezumi as well blushed at those words. No one said a word after that for a while, the songs from Karan’s ID wristband echoed in the kitchen and Karan decided to pour more juice in their cups.

"I will try it, but that’s because otherwise it would be disgrace to Karan’s advice and to her work tonight.” Nezumi finally said and dug into his meal. Shion looked surprised and while he was not fully enjoyed this piece of fish, Nezumi didn’t look like he didn’t like it either.

'They are helpless sometimes.’ Karan thought, but she wished for them to stay like this as long as possible. They both didn’t have a chance to enjoy their childhood completely. They were pushed into adult roles too fast so Karan was happy that they could have this Christmas event, for an occasion like this give them an opportunity to be little bit childish and silly, so they wouldn't miss anything in their lives.

'I should have taken a photo… Oh well, maybe next time…’ Karan smiled and hummed happily to herself.

The evening had passed, and both of the boys were washing the dishes while Karan put the leftover from the dinner in the fridge.
Shion was wondering what to do next for this evening when his mother called both of them.

“Shion, Nezumi, can you both sit down and wait for a while?” Karan said and went back to her room. Nezumi looked at Shion with confusion in his eyes like he was asking what was going on. The white haired boy shook his head indicating that he didn’t know what his mother wanted from them either.

Karan came back to the kitchen with two colorful paper bags in her hands.
“Here, these are Christmas presents for you two.”
The boys looked at the older lady with a surprise expression while reaching out for the gifts from Karan.
“Mom, you shouldn’t have.” Shion said.
“Thank you, Karan.” Nezumi added.

Shion could hear in Nezumi’s voice a note of insecurity and the white haired boy knew why. Nezumi and he didn’t know that Karan had bought them Christmas gifts. Because of that both of them didn’t even consider buying anything for her. Shion felt like he needed to take the most of the blame for this whole situation, since he was the one who brought back this holiday. Therefore he said aloud to his mother the truth.
“Thank you mom, but we didn’t buy you anything.”
Seeing that the boys' faces were filled with guilt, Karan chuckled softly and ruffled their hair in a playful way.

“Oh, don’t worry about that. I don’t want anything in return, you bought me presents on my birthday and you worked so hard this year so I wanted to give something to my dear sons. Come on, open them.” She answered happily and watched them expectantly.

Shion reached into his bag and pulled out a soft, wool beanie and scarf in beautiful crimson color. He smiled and without a second thought he put on both items. Karan’s face was lightened even more. After that she and Shion turned to check on Nezumi who was still looking at his bag confusedly.
The older boy slowly pulled out a scarf that was identical to Shion’s, but his was silver colored. Nezumi, with a tint of pink on his cheeks, left the scarf on the table and he again searched for another thing in the bag.

“You always wear your hair tied up, so I thought that hats wouldn’t be the best choice.”
Shion became interested after those words. He looked curiously at his mother, trying to figure out what she had given to Nezumi.
The older boy after a moment, which in Shion’s intrigued mind took forever, pulled out the fluffy silver earmuffs.

“I know that you are used to the cold weathers during your travel and life in the West Block, but when I asked you to go out to buy some ingredients in such cold weather, I can't help but worry that you might catch a cold or get otitis.” Karan explained after she saw the abashment was more and more apparent on the older boy’s face.

“Thank you.” Nezumi said and he lowered his eyes again to look at his present. Shion had to bite back a smile when he saw that even Nezumi’s ears became a little redder from the embarrassment. No one said anything more. It was Nezumi’s choice if he was going to wear this present.
Shion wanted to say to his boyfriend that he would look nice in those earmuffs, maybe even cute, but he knew that it was better not use that word to Nezumi. Flattery was what Nezumi liked, but being called cute by Shion was another story.
Shion was very glad too that his mom was caring for Nezumi’s health just like she had always been worried for his.

Karan went towards a kitchen’s shelf and took wafers she baked earlier that day.
Shion took off his new hat and scarf and looked at his mother curiously once again in that evening, wondering what she had prepared this time.
“I heard once, when I was still a small girl, that there was a tradition in Christmas or New year where people wish each other good things in the new year while sharing a wafer.”
Shion’s eyes shone with excitement. He didn't know that tradition and he was happy that his mother shared that piece of knowledge with them. He stood beside his mother and took a closer look at the wafer.

“How do you do it, this wishing thing?” Shion asked and Karan chuckled while looking at her son’s face.
“Well, you say your wishes to the other person and in the end you tear off the piece of the wafer to eat it. I will show you what I meant. Are you alright with it?”

Shion nodded rapidly and he could feel that Nezumi rolled his eyes at such sappiness. The older boy already composed himself and he was leaning over the wall with his usual amused smirk.

“Shion, I wish you to be healthy. That your work won’t cause you too much problems, and that everything you are planning to do in this year will turn out right. I wish you to always be happy and you will always smilejust like now. I don’t have to wish you for love…” Karan chuckled and Shion felt a little bit embarrassed. With her every word Shion’s heart was getting warmer and warmer.

Karan torn a piece of his wafer. Now it was his turn to make wishes for his mother.
“So, I wish you good health too. And you will have a lot of nice customers…” Shion started, but he soon paused, didn’t know what to wish next, it was harder than he thought it would be. Karan didn’t ever tell him during the last few years what she wanted or wished for. What should he wish for such wonderful, selfless mother like his own?
He could only think of the obvious things, but maybe this was what this tradition was about, so he said them aloud.
“I wish you to never be sad, that all you wishes will become true. I wish you to have more time for yourself to rest. And this is not wish, but thank you mom, for all you have done for me.”

Karan smiled to Shion and she embraced him close, she was clearly moved by all of those simple words and Shion felt like he had done something right for her.

When Karan let Shion go from her embrace, she walked towards Nezumi. The older boy looked at her surprised as he didn’t expect that he would also get dragged into this sappy tradition.

Shion was thinking what he would say to Nezumi after Karan was done. He didn’t want to tell to the other boy simple wishes. That wouldn't be enough for his boyfriend. Shion once disappointed Nezumi. Nezumi believed in his third option and Shion had failed him when he killed a human inside the Correctional Facility. After their fight in the first’s month of Nezumi’s return, Shion understood how much his actions had hurt the other boy and he didn’t want to do it ever again. He wanted for Nezumi to believe in his words, in his wishes again and this time he would make sure to never fail.

Great, now Nezum had to think up and make some stupid wishes. Just great. As Karan gave him a third wafer he wished, oh the irony, that this idiotic moment would be already over.

“Nezumi.” Karan started and he looked at Shion’s mother with all of his attention. He might not like all of this, but at the same time it was just a harmless tradition and no one meant anything bad by saying those cheesy wishes. It wasn’t something to be annoyed like a little kid or a spoiled brat.

“I wish you to always stay healthy. I wish for you to feel good while living here, in this place which you can call your home one day. I hope that all of your wishes will come true. I don’t want you to forget your family, but I hope that the one day you will consider us as your family too. I wish for you to always remember that you have now people who care about you. I wish you to always be happy.”

Nezumi’s heart squeezed painfully. He didn’t know why, but those honest words had a bigger impact on him than he thought they would be.
Maybe because he wanted a family in some forgotten parts of his heart. He had always pushed everyone away, kept his distance to never get hurt by others, but he would be lying if he said that he didn’t want for his family to be alive. He never considered to have another one, another chance to have people like that. He was alone and that was how it was supposed to be.

Still, since he started to live in this house, he might, even without noticing, slowly, day by day, start to think about Shion and his mother as something like that. It was not like he really remembered what family was like, but his current bond with them might be the closest to what he thought about the word “family.”
Even the realization of such fact scared him a little in that moment.

It would hurt one day, one day he might regret that he got so close to Shion, Karan and even maybe Shion’s friends. It would hurt him again when he lost them.

When his mind and everything he had gone through screamed that such bonding was bad and dangerous, his heart was longing for Karan’s words that he could treat her and Shion like they were family. He wanted it even if it was the most terrifying thing in his mind.

Well, he wasn’t stupid, he knew that most wishes like 'to be always happy’ won’t come true, that’s why he didn’t like traditions like this one. Still, he felt warm in his heart. Maybe a little too warm for his liking.

Nezumi smiled a little to Shion’s mother. She wanted her best for him and Shion. It wasn’t something he should be rude to so he accepted all of her wishes for him.
“Thank you. I wish you to always be this beautiful and kind lady. That your future days will bring you happiness and health.” Nezumi was glad for all those book he had read in the past that helped him give Karan a good answer as a gift to her kindness that he had been receiving ever since he started to live in this place. Karan patted his upper hand and after that she stepped back to give some space for Shion.

Nezumi was wondering what the white haired boy was going to tell him.

Good thing that Shion’s confused face took Nezumi’s mind away from those problematic family thoughts. The older boy smirked at Shion who was clearly thinking hard about how he could start his part.
Wanting for this all to be over quickly, Nezumi started first.
“I wish you to not fuck up this committee of yours. I hope you will not overtalk me in the next year and you'll be such an airhead as always. Well, Elyurias wasp didn't manage to kill you so I think that wishing for your health isn’t needed.”
He took a big piece of the wafer and looked with amusement at Shion’s blushed face. The white haired boy opened his lips to say something and after while Shion only said one single word.

“Thanks.”
Nezumi was going to joke again about Shion’s vocabulary when crimson eyes looked at him strangely and too seriously for this silly tradition.

“Nezumi, I don’t want to wish anything to you. I know that such things aren’t believable to you. That’s why I want to promise to you some things that I want for you…

No, I want to make sure that they would come true even if this were to be the last thing for me to do. I know that you are the strongest person I ever know, that you don’t need to be protected, but I want to look out for you, so nothing bad will ever happen to you again.

I promise you that I will always do everything so you will never have to be afraid. I will do everything I can to make you feel safe for the rest of your life. I promise you to always love you and never leave you alone. I will do everything I can so you will never feel lonely again.

I know that I once failed you, I told you about the third option, I gave you hope about it, but in the end I lost my way. That’s why I will do everything so this time my words won’t be empty, that I won’t make them just flat-out lies.
I wish you to finally be happy and I will do everything to make it reality.”

Shion finished and Nezumi didn’t say anything. His eyes burned and he swallowed hard before he managed to shake all those dangerous feelings that Shion’s words had brought to him.

Those were impossible things, the things that Shion had promised him just a few seconds ago. Only spoiled kids could say it like this, the ones that didn’t know the true world and its cruelty, the blind ones.

Nezumi would have been annoyed and lashed out at them if it was another person, but Shion had lived in the West Block, he was starving and freezing with Nezumi in the small underground room. Shion had seenthe inside of the Correctional Facility, he had lost someone important to him. He had learned how loneliness felt for the last four years as he worked hard to recreate this city.

No, Shion wasn't a blind kid anymore, he knew the meaning of the words he had just spoken.

Still, Shion shouldn’t have said those words to Nezumi, because they hurt and brought him hope at the same time. Everyone wished for those things and Nezumi learned how to live without them. He survived, that was enough.
But thing was no longer how it used to be, and only surviving was no longer enough.

Shion was promising him to never be afraid again, to never be alone… It was too good to be true, but he believed in Shion again. He always used to believe in Shion’s words even if they were impossible to become real, or almost impossible. Reality was always harsh. He was stupid to believe it again, but he would do it, because he really wished to never be alone again, to feel safe, to love Shion without worrying about any other thing again.

Nezumi leaned over and kissed Shion’s lips. He smiled tenderly and Shion’s face brightened up. After taking a piece of Nezumi’s wafer Shion went to get Karan’s ID wristband.

It was easier to not show Shion that this silly event had such a big impact on him. He really wanted to get out of the kitchen, but that would cause more questions and problems than sitting on the kitchen chair, which was what Nezumi decided to do. While sitting alone behind the table his thoughts started to replay the words that his new family had just said to him.

Nezumi didn’t say anything about Shion’s promises, but Shion didn’t need that.

All he wanted was to Nezumi believed in him and to Shion that small, gentle kiss was a sigh of hope for that.
“Mom, what are we going to do with the rest of the wafers?” Shion asked his mother while getting close to her.
“Hmmm… I think we can just eat them if we want.”

Shion took Karan’s ID wristband from the shelf and searched for something that they could watch to wrap up this evening.

“Nezumi, is everything alright?”
Shion turned around after hearing his mother's words. She sat down on the chair beside Nezumi. He was sitting on the other chair, his backs were a little hunched, the long dark hair was falling on his lowered face covering the silver eyes.
“Maybe you have eaten something bad, do you want some medicine?” Karan asked as she put her hand over Nezumi’s shoulder.
“No, thank you.” Nezumi said and Shion knew that something was wrong. His suspicions were right as Nezumi’s cheeks streamed down the tears. Karan gasped in surprised at such view and Nezumi almost stood up from his chair when Shion, who had a strange impulse to block his way. Followed his instincts, he wrapped his arms around his boyfriend. Nezumi’s face was high against Shion’s fast beating heart.

Shion didn’t understand any of this. He didn’t know why Nezumi was crying. Nezumi never cried because of simple things and Shion was afraid what he had done wrong to hurt his boyfriend again. Shion expected that Nezumi would push him away, ran away to hide from their eyes, but it didn’t happen. Karan looked at both of them in worried, she was still keeping her hand on Nezumi’s shoulder.

“I don’t get it…” Nezumi finally said quietly. He didn’t look up. Shion tightened his embrace and waited for Nezumi to continue.
“I’m not sad… I’m not sad and yet they started to fall.”
Shion didn’t know what to said, but Karan whispered the truth.

“Nezumi, dear, you just cry from happiness. It’s a good thing.”
Shion heard a small gasp from Nezumi and his own eyes burned also. Nezumi cried from happiness. With his mom he was somehow able to say things that made Nezumi so happy that they brought to those silver eyes tears of joy.

“Shion… Mom… I…” Nezumi whispered, Shion and Karan exchanged surprised looks. Soon after they smiled warmly and Karan too wrapped her hands around Nezumi’s shoulders hugging him just like Shion. The younger boy knew that for his mother that one word was the most beautiful Christmas gift she had got this year.
“Thank you, Nezumi. Thank you for believing in us.” Shion said with all his love for the man inside his arms.

After a while Shion and Karan let Nezumi go. The older boy, embarrassed by this whole situation, left the kitchen without saying anything more and went to their room. Neither did Shion. It was enough. Shion didn’t think that this day would ever come, the day when Nezumi would be so open to him and his mom. That made him want to try even harder. He would make all those things he said and promised to Nezumi come true. It was selfish from his side because he wanted Nezumi to be happy more than anyone else. He wanted to erase all of the sad memories that NO.6 had caused to the other boy.

Shion stayed in the kitchen. He wanted to give Nezumi some space and for him spend a little time with Karan.
“Mom, do you need any help?”
“No dear, everything is already done.” Karan said happily.
“Do you think he will be alright?” She asked and Shion didn’t know what to answer. He himself wasn’t sure. Nezumi and his emotions wasn’t easy to deal with, but Shion wanted to believe that what had happened this evening was a good thing.
“I think so, I know he wouldn’t call you mom if he didn’t mean it.”
“That’s good to hear, I was a little bit worried. I’m so glad that you both are happy. You know that I am very proud of you and I glad that you two love each other so much. You are amazing sons and even if you weren’t together I would wish for Nezumi’s happiness. He's a good boy.”
Shion chuckled.

“Don’t say that last one to him aloud, he always says that he's the opposite whenever I say that he has a kind heart.”

Shion joked a little, but he felt bad because of his mother's words towards him. The guilt had eaten him alive and he didn’t want to lie anymore to her. Not to this wonderful woman. He didn’t want Karan to be proud of him. He didn't deserve it.

“Mom, I need to tell you something…” Shion started. How could he say this? How could he explain that he had done something unforgivable, that he had lost his humanity? He himself wasn’t sure what had happen to him that day, his mind was filled with confusion, with the mix of anger, emptiness, of his own powerless and fear.

His gaze went up from the floor and to the brown eyes of his mother. She was waiting. Her eyes told him that she was going to listen all of what he had to say to her.

He had to do it. He had run away from that moment for too long. Moreover, his mother had the right to know it. Shion was afraid that he would lose this love, the love of his mother after he told her what had happened inside the Correctional Facility. Still, he didn’t want to hide truth from her forever.

“Inside the Correctional Facility I lost myself. When I saw the inhabitants of the West Block got their brains taken out and people who worked there were laughing and thinking that what they did was right, I was furious. I couldn’t believe that someone could fall so low, to not feel anything while killing another human being, but… a few minutes later… when Nezumi was shot, when that person wanted to kill him… I shot him without a second thought.

It wasn’t necessary for me to shoot him the second time, but I was angry. I couldn’t stop my own hand because of my anger for that man who was hurting Nezumi and killing all those people. I shot him again when he was begging me to put him out of his misery. I didn’t know, it didn’t feel like reality anymore, but I think got even angrier after hearing his words.

When we were thrown into the Pit… there was a man who survived among the few other ones that managed escape the human pile… He was devastated, his organs were crushed. There was no way to safe him. He begged me for help. I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t even free him from suffering. It was Nezumi who gave him a peaceful death. I couldn't save anyone.

Nezumi didn’t kill the guards when he could do that, but I failed. I forgot my earlier values, I lost my humanity and I killed the man who shot Nezumi, it wasn't the only time after we got into the Correctional Facility that I have laid a hand on the person that hurt Nezumi. I… I… could never stay still when someone hurt him… Everyone thinks I’m good person, but that’s a lie. I’m not at all.”

 

Shion didn’t let himself cry. While he was talking Karan held his hands into hers. He didn’t want for his mother to touch him in such a gentle way. It was the last thing he deserved. There was darkness inside him. So much darkness and he failed so many times to keep it under control.

“I killed him and I knew that I had done something unforgiveable. Nezumi shouted to me that I had saved him, that by killing that man I saved us both, but I didn’t think so. Everything you and Nezumi have taught me, I betrayed it all. I have become those people who killed the inhabitants of the West Block and NO.6… I didn’t know how to face you ever again, or how to look into your and Nezumi’s eyes. I failed people who have believed in me. I have become a monster.”
Shion averted his eyes. He didn’t want to scare Karan, he wasn’t sure if he should tell her what have happened after that, but that was the truth, he thought that it was the only way for him to atone his sin.

“I wanted to pay for what I have done. I put the gun to my head and I… Nezumi stopped me. I gave up at that time, I only wanted to die, but he saved me, Nezumi’s words and tears didn’t let me fall into depravity. He told me to live, to carry the crime I have committed and live with it.

I’m sorry,

I’m so sorry, I didn’t want for you to have such a son like me… I…”

“Shion.” Karan interrupted him for the first time since he started his speech.

“I can't say that what you did was entirely bad or good. I won’t judge you since I wasn’t in your situation back then.

I wish you didn’t have to kill another human, I wish you didn’t go to that place. I also shouldn’t wrote that message about Safu… I wish that no one tried to hurt or to kill you and Nezumi. But it did happen. It did happen and still I love you. No matter what happened I will still love you.

You tried and protected person you love, and that’s one story. You killed or hurt others to save him and yourself, and that’s another story.

That person killed others too. The world is always complicated and you was just a kid when all of this happened… Maybe that isn't an excuse for your doing, but no one have taught you how to react in situations like those.

I know that you have worked very hard to pay back for what you did. I know that your feelings of guilt hunt you in yours nightmares and don't let you sleep.

You killed, but you still can do good things for others. You can make others happy, you have already done so much for other people. You crushed this city’s old government, you have done a lot more than many person to stop this tragedy, and it would be hard to do it without any sacrifices. Please don’t do such thing as attempting to kill yourself again. I don’t want you to do that. Even if you did kill another human, I don’t want you to pay for it in such way.”

“I’m sorry mom, I’m so sorry. I won’t do that again no matter what, I don’t want to hurt you and Nezumi by my actions ever again, but would that be enough?” Shion asked with a trembling voice. He had to do it, he had to fight against that dark side of him.

But he was only a human, Nezumi and Shion’s friends had always treated him as if he was the embodiment of goodness and light, but he wasn’t like that. Would he be able to not hurt anyone again? Would he be strong enough to stay as the Shion that his people loved?

“I don’t know, but I don’t want to lose you, and I know that Nezumi and your friends wouldn’t want you to die either. You have done a lot of good thing for the others in the past four years. I don’t know if that is enough, but I think it's a right thing to do. You are my son and you will always be. I will support you in this fight.”

Shion finally let tears fall from his eyes. He felt ashamed. He didn't deserve such kindness. Just a few months ago he said to Nezumi that he would do such bad things again to save the most important person in his life. That he would kill another human again. Now he hated himself to think in such way.

He made Nezumi blame himself again for his change, for his own heartless and selfish actions. His mother still loved him after knowing the whole truth. He even tried to waste the live his mother gave him by trying to kill himself. She struggled so much to raise him, she always loved and supported him, but he failed her by hurting others and trying to commit suicide.

Now he wanted to turn back time, to change what he have done, but it was impossible. The past was impossible to change.

Was that enough?

Not doing it again, to devote his life to make this city safe, to make its people happy?

Was that really enough?

He didn’t know, maybe no one knew, but that was the only option he had right now. That was his current third option.

Shion was glad that his mother didn’t hug him. It would make it all a lot worse. When he returned to their room Nezumi was reading on the sofa. They didn't talk too much. They exchanged few words before heading to bathroom and then going to bed. Shion didn’t seek for any comfort from his boyfriend. It wouldn’t feel right also. Maybe Nezumi knew that Shion finally told his mother what he had done, or maybe Nezumi was too embarrassed by his own actions at the kitchen. Either way, he didn't ask when Shion didn't wrap his arms around him when they were in bed. The dark haired boy didn’t try to hug him either and Shion was grateful for it. He would probably hurt Nezumi’s feelings if Shion said that he didn't want the other boy to touch him and comfort him when he felt so dirty by his own sins. Not this night. Nezumi deserved better than that after he believed in Shion’s promises. Their embrace right now would make Shion less guilty. In the Correctional Facility they hugged, but back then, Shion wanted to comfort Nezumi when the other boy cried instead of comforting himself after what he had done.

The first Christmas they spent together was the happy one. It was an important day, maybe Shion shouldn’t have messed the end of it with his confession. Still this was the reality, if he wanted to make Nezumi and others happy, if he wanted to keep his promises in future then he had to be honest to the people around him. He had to remember and pay for it.

He had to.

He would fight with himself and he would stay as Shion for the people he loved. Maybe in this way he would be forgiven and he could be happy with Nezumi, with his mother and all the people he cared about in the next Christmas and every other day for the rest of his life.

Chapter Text

Nezumi didn't talk much to Karan and Shion in the next two days after that Christmas night. He was mad at himself for being so weak before the others' eyes. All of his pride, all of the thing his Gran had taught him, everything he had learned until now from his harsh life were pushed away on the imaginary boat while he waved them a goodbye and let them sail into oblivion. Now he stood on the coast of the idiocy, stupidity and cheesiness. He didn't think he would fall this low and now it happened all because of his love towards his new family, especially Shion. What a disgrace.

The only good thing was that Inukashi and Junior didn't make it to Christmas dinner, or else Nezumi was sure that she wouldn't let him live peacefully after seeing him in such state.

Even so, the atmosphere at home was a little strange. When Nezumi sorted out his feelings after that stupid holiday he noticed that something was off.

Karan acted almost like she always does, well, maybe her smile towards Nezumi was a little gentler. Probably because he had called her 'mom' that night. Other than that Nezumi noticed many times that she was lost in her thoughts and her eyes were full of sorrow. He bet that it was something related to the white haired boy since Shion really acted out of his character even compare to his 'normal' strange behavior. Not like Shion and his nightmares at the night were something new. What occurred after Nezumi woke Shion up from them was something that didn't happen before. The white haired boy moved away from Nezumi just after he calmed himself down. At first he thought that Shion was just giving him some space after his silly crying on Christmas Eve, but two days had passed and Nezumi woke up strangely alone on their usual warm bed since his boyfriend was pressing against the cold wall instead of tangling around him. He didn't need to be genius to know that this wasn't a normal situation. Nezumi was thinking of what could have happened.

Shion was acting normally until the event from two days ago. Did the white haired boy do something or said something to his mother after Nezumi left?

When Shion was climbing to their bed that night and again pressed himself against the wall Nezumi decided to overlook the fact that he was feeling so silly for being a crybaby and threw his arms over Shion's waist. Pulling the other boy closer and feeling other's warmth, Nezumi sighed softly feeling that his muscles relaxed for the first time since Christmas Eve.

"Nezumi..." Shion started after few minutes.

"Yes?" The dark haired boy whispered. Shion's body was strangely stiff; normally he would have melted into his arms. Nezumi started to get some clues about where it was all going and he didn't like it. He would rather have those idiotic Christmas everyday than talk about 'that' topic.

"I told mom what I had done inside the Correctional Facility. Everything. That I killed, that I lost my way, that I hurt others because of my selfishness..."

Shion told quietly into the darkness of the night. Nezumi didn't know how to answer. He had a lot more blood on his hands than Shion ever did, but that comment would only lead to another fight and he was too tired for that.

"You told me that you want me to be happy. I'm not if my private heater is punishing himself by keeping this away from me." Nezumi whispered into Shion's ear.

"That's cruel. You know that it doesn't feel right to love you, to be close with you, no matter how much I want it, when I have done so many bad things."

Nezumi sighed tiredly, not feeling good enough to deal with this again.

"Just bear it as always. I love you, and you still love me even if I'm a bigger jerk than you. Your mom still love you too or we would be sleeping on the street right now. You promised me to not do such things again and a lot of other silly promises. That's good for now and let's sleep. Oh, and don't try to run to the wall and stay away from me. Or maybe you started to think that wall is sexier than I am?"

Shion turned around and hid his face in Nezumi's chest. The older boy didn't say anything more even when he felt that his shirt was getting wet, or when Shion whispered 'I'm sorry", or "I love you too" and "I won't do it again" repeatedly until he fell asleep. Nezumi was glad it turned out this way. It was not like he liked for Shion to cry, but this was better. He would only feel afraid if Shion acted heartless about it just like he did in the Correctional Facility. Right now Shion was acting like Shion and that was all that Nezumi wished for. He wanted the white haired boy to stay kind, natural and caring Shion that he knew.

The next day Nezumi was greeted in the kitchen by the other boy acting like his usual cheerful self. It looked like some talking that night made Shion feel better and Nezumi was so glad that he somehow forgot about his own silly behavior on Christmas Eve.

***

The 31st of December came and the small family was sitting around the joined tables in the bakery waiting for New Year with Inukashi and Rikiga. Little Shionn came too with his mommy, but the child fell asleep at around 10pm and Karan had put him into the bedroom that was on second floor beside Shion and Nezumi's room. That room was normally unused since Karan liked to sleep on the first floor's bedroom, closer to her bakery.

The music from the little TV went silent so the leading reporter could announce that it was five minutes before the New Year.

"He's fast asleep. Cravat is keeping him company while sleeping on the pillow. " Inukashi said to everyone as she came back to the bakery from checking up on Shionn.

"Maybe we should made use of that empty room more since we always end up here, in the bakery's shop, when we all have our meetings like the today." Karan wondered loudly.

"Do you want to remodel it into living room?" Shion asked her with interest.

"Well it's only a proposition because that room only stacks up dusts. We don't have a living room anymore since three years ago. We didn't need it when it was only you and me here, but now it will be useful in times like this." Karan finished taking about her idea. Shion nodded his head and Nezumi also thought that it wasn't a bad thing. At last it would save them some work to always prepare the tables and chairs just to clean them up later for the next day in the bakery.

After returning to the room, Inukashi didn't sit down behind the table. Instead, she took the bag that she brought with her and waved at older man who was now talking about his new article.

"Rikiga come here. I need some help with the drinks." She said while lifting up her bag. To everyone's surprise old man didn't protest and he already was walking toward Inukashi's place. Shion too raised up from his chair.

"I will help you too." The white haired boy said, but Inukashi only shook her head.

"You don't need to. You all have prepared this party, so we should at least make something to drink. I got some really nice orange juice. It is the best one to have after such nice meal Mama Karan has prepared." With those words both of the guests left the bakery.

Inukashi and Rikiga came back three minutes later right before the New Year Countdown started on TV. They put glasses of orange juice before Shion, Nezumi and Karan. The dark haired boy had already held a bottle of wine and he was waiting for counting to end so he could open it. Usually people drank champagne in such occasions, but Karan didn't like its taste and Nezumi hoped that Shion could at least learn how to drink wine and wouldn't get drunk like four years ago.

"3...2...1... Happy New Year!" Sounded from the TV accompanied with Shion and Inukashi's voices and a little bang from opening the wine bottle. Nezumi poured wine into everyone's glasses. He smiled a little, relaxing; it was safe because this time Shion wouldn't be able to drink the whole bottle by himself. He still remembered how Shion acted like the dog last time and he did not want it to happen ever again. Not mention that carrying the white haired boy to their bedroom would be the pain in the ass since Shion wasn't so light anymore.

Everyone talked about what had happened in the past year and finished their wine after a while. Rikiga and Inukashi started drinking their orange juice. Shion, who was a little flushed from the wine, talked with enthusiasm to Inukashi about some latest updates in the West Block.

Not too soon Nezumi saw that Shion must have talked his throat dry because the white haired boy grabbed his glass of juice and drank almost all of it in one go. The glass was empty and Shion had become silent. His face turned all red and Inukashi busted out with laughter. Nezumi with extreme worry took a slip from his own glass. Aside of the juice the taste of strong alcohol hit him almost from the start.

Nezumi took a look around. Shion was still all silent, Rikiga was a little red, Inukashi laughed at Shion's face and Karan chuckled softly.

"Inukashi, what is this?" Nezumi asked, trying to not raise his voice, but he already felt disaster in the air. Inukashi, without any more hiding and playing around, had a big proud grin on her face while she pulled out a bottle of alcohol and put it on the desk. Nezumi looked at it closer to see the big words on its label read 'Vodka ' and froze like the Shion for a moment. Nezumi knew that he, Inukashi and Rikiga were able to handle it, but Shion and Karan?

"Idiot, this thing is at least 70%!"

"Oh, I didn't think that you have changed into such a boring guy. Relax, it's diluted with juice. Shion and Mrs. Karan should have fun too, at least once per year. It's New Year Eve!" Inukashi laughed. She clearly sounded drunk already. Nezumi was terrified; Inukashi didn't see Shion after he drank only a bottle of wine. How such strong alcohol would work on him? He hoped that it wouldn't end with calling an ambulance. He was angry, really angry.

After a several more quiet moments Shion turned his head towards Nezumi with a strange smile and he unceremoniously saddled on Nezumi's labs. The dark haired boy blushed darkly, wanting to push his boyfriend off. They both weren't use to show so much affection towards each other in front of others. He looked over Shion's shoulder at Karan. The woman was just talking with Rikiga like nothing happened, chuckling from time to time.

"Nezumi, you know..." Shion started, his eyes were a little clouded.

"I want to thank you for this year. You always make me so happy... The way you touch me and kiss me... it makes me so happy... Did I tell you that you have very beautiful eyes and hands? And those hands... they always touch me with such care..."

Shion's face was so close and Nezumi didn't know what to say or what to do. The white haired boy's limbs and the rest of his body pinned him down to the chair, not letting him go. While hearing those words about his hands, Nezumi was so embarrassed that he covered the other boy's mouth with his hand. After a few moments it was clear that Shion needed some air, he was too drunk for breathing only with his nose, so Nezumi lowered his hand. It wasn't a good idea since Shion threw his arms over Nezumi's shoulders and his smile grew even stranger.

Nezumi couldn't understood how it was possible for Shion to act like this before Karan's eyes. Drunk or not he didn't know that his boyfriend was capable of saying such things in front of his mother. It was always Shion who was sometimes abashed when Nezumi talked a little dirty just to tease him.

In his mind Nezumi already cursed and promised to himself that he would remind Shion of this every single day for the whole next year.

"You make me so happy." After such words Shion rested his head in the corner of Nezumi's neck. He thought that Shion had fallen asleep and Nezumi was about to say how annoyed he was by this whole situation, when he felt the warm, wet lips kissing his neck. Nezumi jumped up on his chair as much as he could with the other boy on him.

"Shion, what are you doing? Your mother is here with the rest of your friends, stop it already!" he said with an angry voice, but the white haired boy only continued to nip him. It all felt too erotic to do it in the front of others and more importantly, in front of Karan, especially when Nezumi just called her 'mom' few days ago.

Still, no one reacted to Shion's perverted behavior. At least not how people normally acted in such situations. Inukashi, who was usually embarrassed by their, even small, displays of love now launched and pointed at Nezumi.

"Look at his face! Everyone, his face! It's hilarious!"

Karan looked at them, still chuckling.

"Aren't they sweet?" She said to Rikiga but Nezumi wasn't sure that man heard anything of what she said. Old man looked at woman like she was the most beautiful person in the world, not caring about anything else.

When Nezumi was thinking that it couldn't get any worse, he felt Shion's tongue on his skin.

"To bad that they can't have kids, otherwise they would be cute." Karan went on.

Nezumi wanted to scream and ran from this place. He was embarrassed, he felt strange and Karan's chatter about whether their children would possibly have white hair like Shion does didn't help at all.

"I would be afraid of the combination between the angelic look of Shion with Nezumi's personality." Rikiga answered Karan, while Shion continued to lick and kiss Nezumi. It didn't feel bad, but the place and the timing for this was totally wrong.

When the silver eyed boy was thinking that he couldn't take it anymore Shion finally stopped.

The younger boy moved up his head so fast that it looked almost comical. He paused for a moment and then while moving around on Nezumi's laps he looked at the rest of party members.

"Let's make that thing... you know, from snow, with a carrot nose." Shion almost fell off from the older boy's laps. Nezumi grabbed him around waist to keep him up from falling.

"Dear, it's called a snowman." Karan chuckled while looking at her son.

"Yes! Snowman! Let's make one!" Shion stood up and shouted loudly.

"Shion, calm down, you will wake up Junior!" Nezumi said. This mess was enough for him to deal with already. He didn't need a small kid in all this chaos.

Even so, Shion didn't listen to him, just like that evening four years ago. The white haired boy already stumbled towards the door. Nezumi wanted to bang his head on the table when the rest of the happy party members followed Shion. Nezumi went after them, cursing loudly, getting some pieces of winter clothing that Shion and Karan didn't put on when they ran outside. He threw a scarf on his new mother's shoulders and zipped Shion's jacket while the other boy was complaining about how he wanted to build a snowman now.

"It's cold!" Rikiga shouted as he started to roll snow into a big ball.

"Of course old man! It's snowing!" Inukashi answered as she threw some of it into man's face. Rikiga ran after the laughing girl and Karan continued the work while humming some cheerful song.

"Nezumi! Look I made a ball! From the snow!"

"That's amazing Your Majesty." Nezumi answered sarcastically. From the tone of his voice it was clear that he had already given up and he wanted for all of this to be over with. He helped Shion with making the snowman's body. The faster they finished it, the faster this crazy group would get back into the warm, cozy house. Nezumi was putting the second part of the snowman's body on the first one when his head was hit by a snow ball. He turned around to see Inukashi who was laughing insanely. That was enough for him to take.

"Inukashi, I will fucking kill you!" Nezumi shouted and walked towards her, wanting to bury her into the snow for all this mess and for making him do such idiotic thing as playing in the snow like the kids. Out of a sudden, Shion grabbed him around his waist, making the older boy stop and look at him.

"Yooou... caaan't! Kiring... is baaad... vely baaad..." Shion slurred while tears were glossing in his eyes. Nezumi stopped and remembered the conversation last week and a lot of other unhappy memories. He didn't want to hurt Shion by talking and reminding him of that matter.

He put his hand on Shion's cheek. "Don't worry, I won't." He said in a serious tone. For a moment Shion looked at Nezumi with his big, glossy red eyes. Then he smiled widely.

"Ol..kaaay!" That's was all Shion said before he ran away and continued making snowman like nothing happened. Nezumi hid his face into his hand and he felt the headache coming.

For the next half hour the little drunk group made the ugliest snowman that Nezumi had ever saw. Its body was skewed, Rikiga added to its middle part something that looked like breast. Karan stuck some tree branches in places they were not supposed to be. Nezumi didn't know if she was so drunk too, but she chuckled when she was adding the branch on the snowman's lower parts and he hoped that it was supposed to be the tail. What Shion did with the snowman's face could have put even Picasso in shame. The white haired boy probably used all of the stones in the garden and Nezumi didn't know which ones were supposed to be eyes. Inukashi somehow appeared with his super fiber scarf and she tried to put it on the snowman, but he took it back with murderous eyes. After he put his scarf around his neck, Shion wrapped his hands around Nezumi's waist.

"It waaas fuuun... I... dn't .. haaad.. Sooo Mac.. fun... nevr.."

Shion's voice got quieter and quieter. Nezumi made angry clicks with his tongue when Shion's body almost slide down into the snow.

He knew it.

He knew that it would end like this.

Now he had to drag Shion back into the house. Rikiga already fell into the snow and as much as Nezumi would like to leave him there, a dead body in front of the bakery wouldn't be good for business. After dragging Shion back inside, he came back for Rikiga. At least Inukashi helped him this time.

Leaving the guests to themselves, Nezumi made sure that Karan got back into her room safely and without any older man around, after that he threw Shion's arm over his shoulder.

"Damn it!" He cursed while dragging Shion's body up the stairs to their bedroom. It wasn't easy since the drunk body was slipping from his hold. He was so tired that he didn't even feel angry in that moment.

After a while of struggling with every possible stair in their house, Nezumi finally got to the bed and fell on it with Shion. He hoped that the thing he heard during his journey wasn't true. That 'the events happened on the first day of the year is how the rest of the year will look like'. He wasn't sure if he would be able to handle this kind of chaos and hectic every day.

***

Shion had just finished copying some files that he needed for the conference that day to his work tablet. He swallowed nervously and took a deep breath. Even though it has been two days since the New Year's party and he still felt like he had just eaten a sock.

He spent his yesterday's morning hugging the toilet and waiting until after-effects of Inukashi drinks would pass away. From time to time Nezumi paid him a visit to see if Shion was still alive.

Nezumi was angry, very angry after what had happened during New Year's Eve.

In the afternoon, when Shion was finally able to get up from the bathroom's floor, Nezumi started to complain about what had happened in the party. He told Shion about the thing that Shion had done while being drunk. The white haired boy felt more and more ashamed as Nezumi's speech got longer and longer.

He didn't remember anything happened after he had drunk Inukashi's juice, but a few red spots on Nezumi's neck were the undisputable proof of his crime. According to what he could recall from his fuzzy memory, he wanted somehow to show older boy how much he loved him and how grateful he was that Nezumi had become a part of his life once again.

Shion hid his blushed face into his hands before he walked out of their bedroom. Making the constellation of hickeys wasn't the only thing he felt ashamed of. The most embarrassing thing was that his mother saw him acting like some kind of pervert.

Shion was thinking about skipping the "see you later kiss" and head straight to the work in order to avoid Nezumi's tease, but it was no use, because the odds were not in his favor this time. He bumped into Nezumi in the corridor right after he went down the stairs.

"Oh, our skilled mouth and tongue is going to work? I hope he won't do anything indecent with them, but you will never know, since he was able to do such thing in front of his mother..." Nezumi smirked at him, crossing his arms.

Shion was suddenly interested in looking at the floor when his eyes strayed and he again saw the hickeys that looked a little like number two. Nezumi covered most of them with his scarf, but Shion knew that they were there.

Seeing that his teasing worked Nezumi left for the bakery and Shion lumbered to the kitchen in order to prepare himself breakfast. When it was time to go to work, ashamed or not, he gathered some of his dignity to walk into the bakery. He didn't know how to look straight at his mother's face anymore. She acted normally and she talked about New Year's party with happy sparks in her eyes all yesterday's afternoon, but it still felt strange. She didn't say a word about his actions, but Shion knew that she smiled many times with amusement at him the day before. He groaned while imagine what his mother must have thought about him now.

Shion was going to slip out of the house as fast as possible, but Karan saw him when he was closing the door. She waved at him happily.

"Shion, come here."

The white haired boy followed her to the showcases and he was given a paper bag.

"Here are some chocolate croissants for your lunch. Good luck at today's conference." Woman smiled.

"Thanks, mom." Shion said and turned around blushing slightly. His attention went towards Nezumi who was attaching some pieces of paper to the bakery's windows with a murderous face. Shion was wondering what was written on those papers and he planned to find out what it was on his way out, but right at that moment Nezumi turned to look at him. His signature smirk returned to his face and Nezumi said as quietly as he could so only Shion could hear his words.

"NO.6 needs to beware, the dangerous vampire is leaving his nest. He's going to satisfy his blood lust and suck everyone's necks."

Shion would roll his eyes if he didn't feel so embarrassed. On the other hand, he knew that it wasn't just Shion's behavior that Nezumi was so mad about, but it was that night as a whole. Nezumi was angry because he had to take care of them all and that wasn't something he was used to. Shion could bet that Nezumi wouldn't make such a big fuss about those hickeys if they hadn't been made in front of Karan's very eyes.

As he was walking with a slouch outside of the house Shion saw what was on the paper. It was Inukashi and Rikiga's photos, which must have been taken from Shion's database, and beneath them read:

"We don't give entrance to these clients."

Nezumi must have been really angry at these "trouble makers" to go through so much of work and make something like this.

Shion was strolling down the street thinking that the relationship between his friends and Nezumi would be a bit like a Cold War for a while now. He turned around to look at the bakery to see that Karan was already taking off the paper page, talking to Nezumi with a motherly smile.

The beginning of the New Year wasn't a time to be lazy in the committee. Aside from the adjustments of that year's budget they had other problems. Some were bigger than the other, some only needed little update in regulations and there was one in particular that Shion would rather leave for another time.

Shion was sitting with other members around the big table made of glass and silver metal. The chairs had similar designs and Shion personally thought they were too flashy, but at least they were made of recycled materials.

"That's stopping of the medicine progress! Do you all know how many good could come from the further research?" One of members from the committee started and Shion resisted the urge to sigh heavily.

"We don't want to stop the progression, but it's impossible now to give those projects green lights." Shion replied calmly to the gentleman. That man had a good heart, but like any researcher he wanted to discover everything that was new and exciting. It was dangerous, especially when those researches were about medicine and other issues around tests on humans.

"Sir President, I believe you have underestimated the benefits that could come from this. We are very close to cure damaged heart's tissues or other damaged organs."

"I know, but Mr. Umeri, please understand that we can't let it start without clear regulations." Shion said. He was afraid of those research. It was too similar to what the last government had done.

"Mr. Umeri, do you want to repeat what have happened in the Correctional Facility? You have seen those recordings, haven't you? You know how they used people for experiments." Mrs. Alice joined conversation and she said aloud what most of the committee thought in their minds. The man frowned, remembering the documentations of that place.

"No, of course not! That was inhumane! That wasn't researching, it was a mass murder and something that only a mad mind could have thought of."

"But it had its beginning somewhere. One day someone may started researching about something while using humans as the test subjects. Maybe they just started with testing this or that medicine. And they went further. Then they started thinking 'Why not try this? Or that?' Soon those scientists stopped seeing those test subjects as a people. They could eat and laugh while cutting out living people's brains... It didn't happen in one day, but it started somewhere." Shion said as calm as he could, but the images in his head were fresh like he just saw them yesterday.

No one in the conference room said anything for a while.

"Imagine half of human's body growing inside glass tubes..." Kenshi, the head of transport department, whispered to Tetsuya from the cultural department. Most of the members of committee frowned again.

"I don't want that either. The research on stem cells had already been started before the big war. I just want to continue it in order to help people, not to harm. It would increase the survival rate for mankind. Neither do I want something like Correctional Facility to happen ever again. All of you here probably have known that my brother-in-law was killed in there and he was not only one I knew that was killed because of the last government's corruption." The man called Umeri sank lower in his chair and and his brows furrowed like other members after Shion's speech.

"I understand Mr. Umeri. This method is invaluable and there's no doubt that we should perform a deeper research on it. Still, we need perfect regulations first and every step of those researches must be open to the public. I want to have at least two supervisors from other cities for this or any project that will need to be tested on humans in its last stages. We need to investigate very closely on every stages so it will be impossible for anyone to do anything harmful to human beings. I wish for such experiments to be only carry on with people who have tried everything else and they have no other hope but to participate in those tests to save their lives. Before these can be guaranteed, I can't agree to start any research."

Shion announced and almost everyone in the room nodded with agreement.

"I understand, I will prepare the documents in regard to this study for the next meeting." Mr. Umeri said without a hint of regret and Shion took a deep breath before moving to the next topic. Every time they had to handle something connected to the medicine research he felt uneasy. It was like walking on the thin ice. One wrong step and someone might get hurt again.

"Yes, that won't be problem. It would be the best to look at the research from before war, then we will decide what the next steps to ensure its safety are." After a few moments of silence, Shion continued. "If there is no more discussion on this topic, we will move on to the next one. Lady Hanami, you reported that there is a problem with the city's airlines."

"Yes, as everyone has already known, the transportation between No.6 and other cities had increased by 40% from last year..." The lady started. Shion took a sip from his glass with the water. Even after four years he knew that all of this was only a beginning. He understood that this wasn't the last time when such problematic matters needed a solution. Shion only hoped that every time he and the others from committee would make the right decisions.

Shion came back to home feeling exhausted even if he left his work a little bit earlier than normal. He took some documents with him and decided to look at them later in his room. He felt uneasy and he knew that closeness of that person that always helped him to calm him down.

Walking through glass doors of the shop he heard Renka's chuckling.

"Young man, is that a hickey? It looks too big to be done at once."

Nezumi noticed Shion and started his performance.

"Yes, Ma'am, it was done by a blood thirsty animal! They look innocent and pure, but you just let your guard down and they would eat you alive." Nezumi said tragically while waving his hands like his life was on the line and someone really wanted to get him.

Shion felt his face getting red again. Renka was one of the few people who knew about their relationship. No surprise since Karan spent a lot time with her. However, whether it was Renka, his mom, or just a random stranger, the fact that they knew about his reckless behavior made he felt equally embarrassed.

Even if it was embarrassing, he would do that again because he loved Nezumi and this wouldn't change. Being drunk only made Shion more honest about his feelings towards him. It was embarrassing, but at the same time love wasn't anything wrong. It wasn't the first time and probably not the last when they left hickeys on each other's body. Even that stray thought made him feel hot and he shook his head trying to calm down.

Nezumi looked at him with his lips rising with amusement ready to joke and act dramatically again just to see Shion's ashamed face. Even if that was going to happen, Shion's body relaxed after stressful day of work. This was all he needed.

Anyway, it looked that Nezumi was going to tease him about what had happened in New Year's Eve for a while, so he decided to wait and bear it until it his lover stopped feeling embarrassed over what Shion had done. He wondered how long it would be, but it didn't matter in the end. The most important was that Nezumi was there with him. It always made dealing with the city's problems easier, even if his boyfriend was a little angry and annoyed at him.

Chapter Text

"Nezumi, can you bring me those documents after they are delivered to our house?" Shion asked on a casual winter morning.
Nezumi huffed in annoyance while he took out the fresh rolls from the oven.

"Remind me, Your Majesty, when did I get tangled with your work?" Nezumi asked, putting hands on his hips. It wasn't a big deal, Shion didn't often ask him for a favor, but the older boy didn't like idea of himself running around in the snow to deliver some documents for his boyfriend. It sounded somehow ridiculous in his head no matter how he loved that airhead. He wasn't a damn house wife who delivered things with a sappy smile for her husband. That image alone made Nezumi annoyed at Shion's little request even if it was silly to feel this way. He knew that he should do some nice things for Shion more often, but it was hard to change his habits.

"I told you that those documents were supposed to come yesterday, but because of the delay they will come today." Shion explained him after taking a slip from his morning coffee.
"I don't get why they couldn't be sent online in the first place."
"Those documents are really old, they couldn't be scanned because they might be destroyed."
"But a dangerous journey by airplane and through post office is alright?" Nezumi rolled his eyes and the fact that Shion smiled a little on that comment made him sure that Shion too had this thought. Still, the white haired boy waved his free hand with a gesture of giving up.

"Nezumi, it wasn't me who decided that, it was the ordinance of NO.5 and I couldn't do anything about it. It already took me months to convince them to let me look at those documents."
"Why didn't you tell them to send those papers to your work, instead of our house?" Nezumi asked; there wouldn't be any problem if Shion would just do things like any other person.
"As I said, they were supposed to come yesterday after my working hours, so I ordered them to be sent here because I wanted to check and prepare them for our next project as soon as possible."
"Then call the delivery office. Order them to change the address and make them bring those documents to your work."

"Nezumi, really? Is it really that hard to bring me those documents?" Shion snapped while giving him a disappointed and hurtful look.

No, it wasn't and Nezumi knew that. It wouldn't hurt his image so much in the end. Karan wouldn't have any problem with him leaving his work place and he would be able to get some fresh air for a change, but he didn't like the idea of going to the Moondrop building. Without that place in his sight Nezumi sometimes was able to forget that this city was NO.6 and it was better for him this way.

"Alright, I will bring you those papers once they arrive at our royal palace."
Nezumi nodded to Shion and his boyfriend already smiled to him as brightly as a twinkling star. The white haired boy kissed Nezumi's cheek.

"Thank you. Well then, see you later at my office." With that and one more goodbye kiss Shion left room. Nezumi returned to his work thinking that bringing a few documents couldn't be so annoying in the end.

His assumptions didn't overlap with the reality. The guard by the entrance to the Moondrop was investigating the box of documents and Nezumi looked around the building with a pissed off face. First, it turned out that those papers were packed so carefully like they were some kind of Holy Grail. The big package was impractical to carry around the city which was covered deep in snow. Now Nezumi was treated like terrorist that brought a bomb with him, even if Shion for sure had told people about his visit. He smiled at such thought. It would be so nice to have bomb with him years ago.

"Alright, I didn't find anything wrong, you can proceed to President Shion's office." The guard told Nezumi after almost half an hour of checking the package with many different types of detection devices.
Finally, as he was following corridor to the office on the 10th floor, he heard the voice of the man who put him into this annoying task.

"Rei, I want you to give the copies of those documents to everyone in the cultural, research and educational departments. Leave also one copy for yourself. Check it carefully and write down any idea how people would twist those paragraphs to override them in order to do any other research. Tell others who will receive the copies to do the same. The timeline is two days. After that give all of the ideas to the law department." Shion said to his assistant. Nezumi went closer to the secretary desk and without any hesitation he threw the package on it with a loud sound. Shion and the girl turned their heads in surprised.

"Your documents, sir." Nezumi smirked annoyed at them and crossed his hands.
Girl looked shocked at Nezumi's behavior and Shion smiled like nothing had happened.

"That's great! Thank you very much."
"Well, it would be faster if your guard didn't scan it for the last half an hour thinking that I want blow up this place."
Shion looked at him in amused.
"I hope you are not going to do that today, that would cause me a lot of new paperwork. Still, I thought that they would let you in instantly."

Shion took the box and carried it into his office. Nezumi followed him as he lowered the package on the guest chair and turned around with a smile like he just had discovered a new planet.

"I have an idea! Nezumi can you wait here for a while? I will be back in 15 minutes. Rei, can you make coffee for Mr. Nezumi?" Shion quickly turned to his assistant while disappearing into the corridor before the dark haired boy was able to say anything.

Nezumi sighed heavily. The idea of warm coffee smoothed his anger, especially when outside was snowing like crazy that day.
Since guest's chair was taken by the package, Nezumi went around the desk and collapsed onto Shion's chair. He took a look around and noticed a change in the decoration of the room.

On Shion's desk stood glassy frames with the photos. Nezumi couldn't stop the smile that creeping onto his face. Well, it was just like Shion to be so sentimental.

There were four framed photos placed on Shion's desk. The first on was the group picture they all took on 31st December, before little Shionn head to sleep and the whole party turned into disaster.

On the second one Nezumi, Karan and Shion stood in their garden. Karan hugged the boys' shoulders with a proud face. Nezumi looked embarrassed while Shion was so happy from having the two most important people in his life so close.

The third picture showed Shion and Safu in the age of ten making some kind of project for school. Both of kids were very focused on their job. Shion still had his brown hair and eyes on that one, so he and Safu really looked like siblings.

The last photo was the one that Nezumi guessed that Shion liked the most since it stood just at the center on desk so every time Shion raised his eyes from his work it was the first thing he could see.

It was the picture of them both reading. They were cleaning and sorting out Nezumi's books that day when it was taken. They sat on the carpet in their room with books all around on floor when they were sorting out which one to leave in the small library in their room and which one to move to the basement. After a while they both began to read and leaned toward each other's backs, feeling the closeness and warmth from another. Both of them didn't remember when they had started to talk about one book and they didn't notice that Karan had gone into the room to take the photo.

Nezumi must have agreed that he liked this one too. He loved how Shion's gentle smile and curiosity was caught on this picture. Always, while looking at this photo, Nezumi was a little shocked because he looked so happy with a tender smile and gentle eyes looking at white haired boy. He didn't believe that he could make a face like this.

Nezumi was surprised that after seeing these photos no one noticed that Shion is dating a guy. It looked like people working with Shion are as natural as their Chairman.

Shion's assistant entered the office with a cup of coffee, sugar and milk on the tray. She looked shocked when she noticed that the guest had sat on her chief's chair, but she didn't say anything about it while placing the tray on the desk.
"Would you like sugar or milk for your coffee, sir?" She asked Nezumi.
"No, thank you." He wasn't going to scare away the person who are so willingly to help Shion with tons of paperwork and thus give Nezumi more evening time with his lover. That's why he decided to be at least a little polite. He flashed his stage smile and earned a blush from Shion's assistant. The girl looked at him curiously, and she didn't leave the room even after putting down the tray. It was as if she wanted to ask him something.

"Yes?" He said and Rei blushed.
"It's nothing, sir. It's just that Mr. Toya said that you are childhood friend with Mr. Shion."
Oh, so it was about white haired boy in the end. That girl just wanted to get some information about her crush. She may be smart enough to work here, but if she hadn't known enough about Shion from these photos then Nezumi ensured himself again that everyone in this city has a brain damage when it comes to romantic relationships.

"Yes, we have known each other since we were twelve." He answered, wondering what kind of information this girl wanted to know.
"Then, you probably know about Mr. Shion's girlfriend." She looked at the framed photos.
"Ms. Alice asked him once if his girlfriend was in those photos, but chief Shion laughed and said that his girlfriend wasn't in there. Then she joked that if his girlfriend was that girl with that small boy there was nothing wrong for him to be in a relationship with a woman who have already had a child. No one here would judge him for that. Still, he kept saying that he didn't have pictures of his girlfriend here and he didn't want to reveal how she looks like." Rei explained and Nezumi hold back to not laugh at her.

Shion and Inukashi, that was not even close.

Shion had surprised him too. It was true that his girlfriend wasn't in those photos since Shion had a boyfriend so the crimson eyed boy didn't lie to anyone.

Thinking back and recalling his stage appearance when Nezumi acted as Eve made it even funnier. Still, putting aside the existence of Eve, no matter how you looked, Nezumi's image captured on those photos couldn't be counted as the girlfriend.

He looked at Rei with amusement. Shion wasn't back still so he decided to kill some time by playing a little with this girl.

"Well, Shion and Eve don't like to boast about their relationship too much. I don't get Shion in this matter since she's an outstanding beauty. She always captured the eyes of every men; she was beautiful and mysterious like a mythical goddess. Well, she couldn't be some plain girl if she managed to steal the heart of the head of NO.6."
Girl listened to his every word with her mouth half open.
"Fate have gifted her even more: besides her beauty, her voice sounds like it is from an angel."

"Is she going to use the chief? If she can have any man she want then she might left after accomplishing her goals. Maybe she asked President Shion to not reveal her appearance because she is planning onto something fishy."

Girl said with a voice like she wanted to fight anyone who would hurt Shion. Nezumi was taken aback for the moment just to laugh in the next one. Shion's assistant was surprised by his outburst.

"No, I don't think so. Do you know why men want her? Because she's pure, kind and all that you can call perfection." He said while standing up from the chair and smirked at the confused girl.
"Don't most of us look for perfection? It's a normal human thing to lust for everything that looks beautiful, no matter if they are women or men, don't you think?"
Girl averted her eyes and looked embarrassed from Nezumi who enjoyed this whole situation a little too much. He wasn't jealous of Shion this time, but knowing that the white haired boy worked every day with someone who was so devoted to him didn't feel quite pleasant.

"Nezumi, please, don't bully my assistant." Shion walked back into his office.
"Sorry, Rei, Nezumi can be difficult to deal with sometimes." He gave the girl an apologetic smile.
"No, it's alright Mr. President. He just told me about your girlfriend Ms. Eve and..."

Shion raised his eyebrows and looked at Nezumi with disbelief.

"Nezumi? Really?"
"Well you wasn't here for a while. I just told your assistant how beautiful and talented is Eve."
Shion shook his head and sighed loudly.
"Sorry Rei, Nezumi was just joking with you. I don't have girlfriend called Eve. Eve was a once famous actress from the West Bock. Yes I saw her play on the stage once and it was something I will never forget in my life, but that's all."

Nezumi was surprised, Shion had never mentioned that he managed to see Nezumi's performance. Rikiga must had helped him. While he was thinking about when Shion might have seen him, he noticed Shion turned around and looked at him with a gentle smile on his face.

"Many has fallen for Eve because she looked perfectly beautiful. But for me, I have fallen for someone who looked fragile, hurt and yet stronger than everyone at our first meeting. That person don't need to be Eve to be loved by me. You know that very well, Nezumi."

Nezumi groaned in his mind. Shion had done it again. With few simple words he managed to break Nezumi's confidence and at the same time make him feel really needed.

"Putting that topic aside. I asked people to make this for you at our security department."
Shion handed him black-red ID card with some electronic chip.
"It's a high level access card. I imported all of your ID data so no one can say that it doesn't belong to you. With it you will be able to get into Moondrop everywhere and no matter what without any problems."

"But such access belongs only to members of the Restructural Committee." Shion's assistant raised her voice in surprise.

"Yes, I know. Nezumi should have the same rights as me, maybe even bigger because of how much the city owes him. We wouldn't be able to recreate this city if it was not for him."

Shion then moved on to check documents that Nezumi brought. It was clear that Rei wasn't satisfied with this answer, but after a while she excused herself from the office.

"Nezumi, would you mind not joking with my co-workers? Or is it some kind of payment for making you bring documents here because if my assistant quits her job, I will have to stay overtime to do my work."
"Well, if she's going to quit it will be more because of your steady behavior in breaking her heart over and over rather my teasing."
"Oh, you're right, maybe I shouldn't have said such things about my love around her." It looked like Shion just right now realized what effect his words had. Nezumi sighed loudly. Really, this city had brain damage around the topic of relationships. He hoped that education program that started last year will produce a less naïve society in the future.

"Still, it was your fault in the first place by talking about Eve, or else I wouldn't need to say it." The younger boy said while checking and planning how to unpack the heavily protected documents from the package.
"Well, to his Majesty concern, it was your secretary who started it by trying to get information from me about your beloved girlfriend."

"They just can't let this topic go. Does it really matter who I'm with?" Shion said more to himself.
After seeing his tired face Nezumi decided to not drag this topic any further.
He looked at the card that Shion gave him. Something like this would be useful years ago or when they were in Correctional Facility, but now? The last thing he wanted to do was to come to this building more than it was necessary.

"Well then, I'm going to head back to the place where I should belong. I'm leaving you with your desired papers."
"Thank you again for bringing this." Shion said and walked a little closer to Nezumi. "I will kiss you for this at home." He added quietly and Nezumi smiled at this. This sounded nicer than some pieces of plastic for all his trouble.
"I wouldn't expect less from you, Your Majesty."
Well he expected a lot more from Shion when they were at home, but he added that in his thoughts only.

***

It was some peaceful day in February. All of the projects, budget and other possible matters in the Restructural Committee didn't give Shion any problems and it didn't look like such stable state was going to change soon. Because of that Shion decided to get all his needed documents and data from his office to work on them at home, or, to be more precise, at the bakery. He went to the Moondrop building and after signing the most important documents, copying some data to his personal computer, Shion headed back to the Chronos.

There was something that he wanted to check out since Christmas afternoon when Ms. Alice mentioned to them Nezumi's new nickname. He couldn't help it, he was very curious about that matter, yet he was so loaded with work that he couldn't investigate it earlier. His crucial problem was after he finished with his work it was way too late to see the students dropping by the bakery after school.

Shion really couldn't stop thinking about what his co-worker said and how much truth was in it. Had Nezumi really become popular among the high school girls in this area? He wanted to see how situation looked like by himself.

There was always a chance that no one from Nezumi's fanclub would come to Karan's Bakery that day, but Shion put his things on the table in the corner of the bakery anyway after greeting his mother and Nezumi.

"What a surprise to see you at our place in this hours, Your Majesty."
Nezumi leaned closer to Shion when the shop was empty.

"Well, there are things I can work on at home so I took such opportunity."
Shion answered averting his eyes to the monthly report to avoid looking into those silver eyes.

"Hmmm." Nezumi hummed and smiled at him. Shion felt like his face was slowly heating up. Nezumi knew that Shion liked to watch him at work, that's why his smile changed into a knowing smirk. Shion blushed even more at that and he tried to focus at the monitor before him. Maybe in the end it would be better if Nezumi thought that Shion wanted to watch him than knowing Shion's real objective.

The dark haired boy returned behind the cashier and Shion continued adding new data into his report.

After around 1P.M. more and more people started to come into the bakery. Most of them were elementary school children who had just finished their lessons. The kids were eagerly looking at tons of sweets displayed on the counter and washed down the pastries they bought even before getting out of the store. Shion couldn't stop smiling as he watched Nezumi selling goods to the children. He didn't look like he was pushing himself to act and Shion was very happy about this.

His mother smiled gently as the kids were praising her works and asking if she knew magic, because her cupcakes were so tasty and beautiful.

Shion remembered the time when he had just become the head of the government and he and Karan returned to the Chronos. He thought that his mother would take a break after five years working and now let him take care for the both of them, but just after their personal things arrived Karan started to rebuild first floor of their old house into a new bakery.

Shion recalled his mother words when he said that she no longer needed to work in the bakery.

"I love this work, dear." she said to him "Just because we come back here again doesn't mean that I want to stop baking. You may think that because we were thrown out from Chronos I was suffering, but I want to say that—and remember what I will say now: I was very happy; I had you and I really enjoyed doing this. I still want to do it as long as possible."

Shion could remember how Karan's face lit up when she saw the finished kitchen and shop area for the first time. She tried all the new chairs checking if they were evenly comfortable for the clients. She sat behind each table to see if every place would have a good view on the inside the room as well as on the outside through the big windows.

At Lost Town she didn't have much space to put tables and chairs for the clients. After they moved, all of her dreams about how she wanted for her bakery to look like could have become reality.

In the second year of new bakery's activity Shion bought two new, stylish showcases and in the third some big professional oven. As always, Karan said to him that he didn't have to buy them, but Shion knew that she was delighted when she saw those presents. He wasn't sure if that was enough for her kind heart, but as long as his mother was happy, Shion was happy too.

Chuckling of young girls brought Shion back from his memories.
Four teenagers went closer to the showcases and they whispered to themselves as they were looking at Nezumi.

"How can I help you?" The dark haired boy asked their new clients. Three girls blushed and the fourth one, aside from blushing, went closer the cashier.

"Two brownies and two cheese cakes like always."
Nezumi moved to the showcases to get order. One girl whispered to another pushing her friend more forward.

"Mr. Nezumi, would you like to see the ice sculpting at the park with us? Some famous artists from NO.4 are going to have a performance tomorrow's afternoon and we were wondering if you would like to see it."
"Oh, that's interesting, but shouldn't such pretty girls like you go with someone more appropriate than mere baker like me?" Nezumi's smile was so charming that the girls and even Shion, who observed this whole scene from his hideout, blushed furiously.

"N.. no... you are handsome and kind, not to mention that you, and Mrs. Karan too of course, make amazing pastries. We will be very happy if you would like to accompany us." Gasped another girl.

"Oh, I don't deserve such flattery from you. Should I pack your orders or do you want to eat it here?"
Nezumi smiled again to the girls and Shion started to feel more and more fidgety. He wanted those teenagers to take their cakes and go away from being so close to the dark haired boy.

"We are going to eat here if it's not bothering you." Said the first girl trying to act cute.
"I don't think ladies like you would be a bother anywhere. Here are your orders, I hope you will enjoy them."
Nezumi served pieces of cakes on the paper plates with little plastic forks.
"Thank you." One of the girls pulled out her ID wrist band and paid for cakes. "Mr. Nezumi?"
"Yes?"
"About tomorrow's performance, do you want to see it with us?"
"Too bad, but I don't think I will be able to make it, I have to provide pastry to the hard working inhabitants of our city. I can't delay my work to accompany you, even if it will certainly be a pleasant experience."
"Oh, you always say that." Third girl complained. "It's not a date, it's just an outing between friends."

Shion rolled his eyes before he even realized it. Even Shion knew that this was a lie, so Nezumi must have been even more aware of such fact. Probably those girls had hoped that if they could get Nezumi hanging out with them there would be a chance that he would like one of them. This way one of the girls would get her dream date with Nezumi. Shion didn't want that. He didn't want to even imagine Nezumi with someone else, walking through the park and holding hands, smiling with gentle and with playful sparks in his eyes. Shion shook his head and closed his eyes so he didn't see smirk that Nezumi made looking at him.

"Maybe next time, excuse me miladies, I need to take another order." Nezumi said as he moved back to the showcases where a mother and her child were choosing which muffin to buy.

Teenagers sat down at a table not so far away from Shion so he could hear their conversation.

"He's such gentleman and he's so hot." One of the girls started with a dreamy voice.
"Maybe he really is already taken? I will be surprise if he isn't."
"I don't think so, I have never seen him with anyone. Once when I had my lessons canceled I spent most of my day here and he didn't even call anyone."
"Maybe he would meet up with someone after work?"
"He rarely leaves bakery without Mrs. Karan or Mr. Shion after work, and I heard that he lives here."
"Really, why?"
"I heard that he is an adopted son of Mrs. Karan. He left around the time when the Wall fell and he just recently came back to the city."

Shion wasn't surprised to hear such rumor. After talking to Karan and telling her their worries about Shion's potential problems at work, they made up such excuse for Nezumi to live with them. The other one was that Shion and Nezumi were friends and Nezumi planned to go on another journey so he stayed here for a while since he didn't have any other relatives in the city.

Shion had never liked those lies in the first place and now he really regretted that they didn't just announce their relationship to public. It would save them from situations like this. Still, the last weeks worried Shion because he only heard questions about 'girlfriend' at his work. No one even thought that he could love another man. He didn't want to ruin the chance that he got thanks to Nezumi and Safu from Elyurias. They put him in charge and he can't waste it just because his selfish need was not in the option. He cannot lose his position in the city's government. Not because he wanted that job: he would rather step back and work at the ecology department, but the situation right now wasn't so stable and sometimes Shion worried that it would never be. He had always worried that city may again take the wrong path if he didn't keep his eyes on it from the inside of the government. He had to stay there, at least for now.

"...But he always reject our propositions." One of the girls groaned in defeat.
"Because you always look at him like you wanted to eat him, Lin!"
"I didn't! Still, I won't mind if he is one who eats me." The other girls giggled at those words.
"Do you imagine kissing with him?"
"I bet it would be amazing."

'Stop it.' Shion just wanted to cover his ears.
He didn't want to hear things like this. He didn't want to think that Nezumi would kiss someone else after they reunited. No one else had the right to see that gentle smile and those silver eyes shining with love, to be touched by those graceful hands, to...

Shion gasped. He shouldn't think or feel like this. This was wrong, he didn't want to treat Nezumi like his own possession. He hid himself more behind the potted tree so no one could see his face.

'Really? You just lie to yourself, you have always wanted him to be only yours. Do you really think that you have more rights than others?' A quiet voice in his head asked. Shion shook his head while fighting against his burning eyes.
'No, I don't, but... But Nezumi said that he loves me, he gave himself to me just like I gave him myself. Is it so wrong to hope that I want for Nezumi to be mine, that he thinks the same about me?'

'Such selfishness... And you have promised to not act like that anymore...' the voice whispered. Shion closed his eyes. He felt so lost. He didn't want to think like that. He was sure that if Nezumi would be happier with someone else, he would let him go no matter how much it would hurt in the end. Maybe Nezumi really should go and find someone else who wasn't so selfish.

Shion's heart hurt like it had never been for the long time. He didn't think that checking such rumor would cause him so much pain.

This wasn't a new situation: Nezumi was always wanted. It didn't change. When he acted as Eve many men wanted him. Shion always knew that. Why it was so different right now? Why Shion felt so jealous this time?

He knew that in the past and even now, that was the way Nezumi worked. It never was anything personal in Nezumi's smile when he was doing his job. Shion knew that. He was the only one that saw and knew the dark haired boy more than anyone else. Nezumi never acted when he smiled at Shion. Shion knew that and yet, he couldn't stand to even think about Nezumi smiling, kissing and touching anyone else.

Lost in the fight with his own feelings of guilt and disgust at himself Shion didn't even realize that the bakery had become empty.

"Nezumi, Shion I will go deliver some buns and sweets to Mrs. Yanagi. She broke her leg I can't just watch her struggling every time to get here through all this snow." Karan said while putting on her winter coat.

"Be safe." Shion managed to say to his mother before she disappeared through the door. He was feeling bad. He looked at Nezumi who was smiling at him with satisfaction.

Nezumi knew. He knew how awful and selfish Shion was. He again saw through Shion. Shion wanted that man, more than anything else and because of that he felt sick from his own thoughts.

The white haired boy raised from his chair and ran to the corridor, without even taking his things from the table, just to escape from those silver eyes.

In the corridor he leaned his cheek over the cold wall. He was thinking that he started to calm down when he heard the door open and close behind him. Shion turned around to face his boyfriend.

"That was really something, Mr. President loses to the four girls who try to hit on his boyfriend. You really have all of your feelings written on your face. I could guess what you were thinking in any second during the time I was talking to those girls."

Shion's body shrank under Nezumi's amused smile.

"I didn't think that you are so possessive. So, Your Majesty wants to lock me up in the darkest place of his basement just for himself? Oh, what have I done to deserve such fate?" Nezumi said emotionally with his Eve voice teasing other boy even more.

Shion lowered his head in shame. There was no way to deny Nezumi's words. Shion felt jealous and this was the truth. He tightened his fist so much that his knuckles became white, Shion's hands started trembling from his disgust at himself. He bit his lower lip so hard that it started to hurt, earning a shocked gasp from the dark haired boy.

"Hey, Shion." Nezumi was startled by Shion's reactions. "Listen I only teased you a little right now, don't take it so serious."

"But you're right!" Shion snapped. "You're always right when it comes to me. I've got jealous of those teenagers even if you're with me. I got so mad when you smiled at them even if I know that this is part of your work and there is nothing wrong with being kind to others. It's normal and I should be happy that you're doing such a great job. I should be glad that you don't treat people from No.6 as potential enemies anymore." Shion turned away to avoid Nezumi's confused gaze. It was easier this way for him to continue, to pour out his dark feelings in front of the most important person in his life.

"Even so I couldn't stand it when you talked to them in such way. I know this is stupid, even if you said that the one you love is me." Shion's voice sounded almost desperate as he said those words.

"It hurts even to think about you going out with someone else. I can't help it, but those are my real feelings that I can't deny." He added and each next word coming out became more and more quiet. His body stopped trembling from all emotions that had been boiling inside him.

"You must be disgusted by me right now." Shion finished sadly, already judging how Nezumi must have been thinking about him.

The corridor felt silent after Shion's monologue.
"Shit." Nezumi clicked with his tongue looking at the hunched figure of the other.
"I didn't think it would turn out like this". The older boy said more to himself. Nezumi ran his hand through back side of his neck as he looked clearly worried.

"Listen, I'm not disgusted by you. Do you think I would even let myself to be dragged into the conversion with those teenagers if it wasn't to tease you? I knew that you sat there to check out that rumor about my new fan club and I just wanted to joke a little to see your reaction. I wanted you to feel a little bit jealous, but I didn't want for you to feel so bad about it... Damn... This is idiotic."

"Even if so, maybe you really should have deserved someone better. Someone who is more worthy than me, who isn't so selfish and gets jealous so easily."
"Then you should find someone better too. You should find some nice, loving girl, or some guy who will make you happier, who is more cheerful and doesn't hurt you so many times because it looks like I have done that again..."
"But you are making me hap..." Shion wanted to tell Nezumi that he is wrong, but the older boy put his finger on Shion's lips making him stop in mid-sentence.

"Do you see how things like that sounds? Stop talking in such an idiotic way. I have told you once: you need to have more respect for words. I don't want to hear such crap from your mouth ever again. Do you think I would return to this damn city if not for you? I have opened my heart for you, even if it would probably kill me one day. Shit, you shouldn't know this, but I will tell in this case."

"This is what I get for trying to joke from you." Nezumi said a little bitter to himself. Shion understood that the other boy didn't want to say a loud his feelings, but he wanted to take the responsibility for his actions and Shion knew that it was only because Nezumi really cared about him.

The older boy made a little pause before taking a long deep breath to continue.

Listen, I also get jealous, alright? Do you really believe that no one wants to get to your pants even when you're the head of this damn city now? They do and I feel probably the same as you do because you ruined me by making me love you. I hope my words were clear enough for his royal airheadness."

"Nezumi..." Shion started, but couldn't find words to describe how moved he was. He knew it, he knew that Nezumi wouldn't ever return to city that hurt him so much if Shion wasn't important to him.

Shion calmed down and he was a little happy knowing that Nezumi could be jealous of other people who approached him.
"Thank you." He said and he felt that those two words were enough, just to thank Nezumi for loving him, for feeling the same, for sharing his deepest feelings and thoughts once again with him.

"Still I didn't think you could get so jealous. I would take that as flattery, Your Majesty." Nezumi said after they were both relaxed and started to think about the situation from the last hour a lot less seriously.

"Me too, I have always thought that as long as you are beside me, as long as I can see your eyes I have everything. I think that since your return I have been in love with you more and more by every day. Because of that it's so painful to think that someone might steal you from me."

"Airhead." Nezumi whispered before connecting their lips, one of his hands sank in Shion's hairs, the other wrapped around his waist making their bodies be as close as it was possible. Nezumi's tongue gave Shion more courage. Shion sank his hands under the back side of Nezumi's shirt fighting and successfully opening the knot on his work apron. That led Nezumi's own hands to wander to the skin on Shion's stomach. Few more needy kisses, touches and moans happened before they parted from each other. Shion opened his eyes and saw that Nezumi's hair and clothes were a mess. The white haired boy could bet that he must have looked the same way as his boyfriend. The older boy's lips were red from being nipped by his teeth and Shion used all of his mental strength to not kiss them again. The silver eyes looked at Shion playfully and Nezumi chuckled.

"Maybe a little bit of jealousy isn't bad in His Majesty case if he kisses like this afterward."
Shion smacked Nezumi's upper arm playfully as he laughed along with the other boy.

"I can kiss you like this without feeling jealousy before it."
"Oh, really? Since I stuck with you I hope that this wasn't a fluke." Nezumi smirked challengingly while his fingers played with Shion's hairs.
"You want me to prove it?" The younger boy grinned happily.
"I wouldn't dare to stop you, Your Majesty."

They both smiled before reaching for each other again letting Shion prove his words until they heard the bell in the bakery signaling the next customer's arrival.

***

Since the Wall fell the newspapers and TVs information were no longer censored by the government. Therefore, people had a chance to publish their own newspaper as long as they had funds to do it.

Because of that for the past four years new newspaper companies came into existence which would never have appeared in old NO.6.

Shion, as the head of the government, often checked at least a few articles from each title. For those past years, his desk was filled with information about gardens, animals, cooking, gossips, health and a lot more that he didn't care too much about.

One day he saw on his desk new newspaper with rather questionable content and something on its cover gained his curiosity. It was article called 'the 10 biggest sex dreams that guys have.'
At first glance that title made Shion blush, but after seeing that no one was looking, he took newspaper under his desk and like embarrassed teenager he started to read the frivolous article.

His curiosity wasn't the only reason for checking something so silly. He had often wondered what he could do for Nezumi in such matters since his boyfriend was the one with the more knowledge about sex. Most of the things that Shion had learned about casual lovemaking came from their common personal experiences. Using his lunch break at work to increase his knowledge in this matter never felt right to him. At home, when Nezumi could see him… Well, Shion was always sure that other boy would mock him if he saw Shion checking out the internet or books about this topic.

Still, in that moment the idea of gaining knowledge that would surprise his boyfriend looked too appealing to refuse.
The article wasn't something really ambitious. It was just a simple template which was labeled with numbers and one sentence describing some sex activity.

On the first place on the dream list was 'being woken up by a blowjob.'

This was the genesis behind why on the one of the Sunday's mornings, when Nezumi was still asleep, Shion raised up and sat on the bed instead cuddling with the dark haired boy.

He moved to the corner of their quilt slowly to have better access to his boyfriend's body. As Shion guessed, Nezumi had slight, natural for a man in such age, sleep erection. Feeling a little excited about making the other boy feel good, Shion put his plan into action. He carefully and slowly lowered Nezumi's boxers down from his hips. To Shion's luck his boyfriend was so tired after the whole week, so even for someone who had light sleep, Nezumi didn't wake up.

The white haired boy took other one's length into his mouth and started his task. He balanced his body's weight on his hand left hand and with the other he played gently with the base of Nezumi's shaft instead of keeping it on other boy's hips.

Nezumi still didn't fully wake up. In between sleep and reality he felt something strange. Not quite unpleasant, quite opposite, but his foggy mind couldn't understand what was going on. Feeling that something was going up around his lower regions his self-defense instinct kicked in.

It was no surprise.

Fifteen years of constantly having this guard up in the fear that someone might want to attack, hurt or kill him in the West Block or during his travels had ingrained into his reactions.

Yes, he didn't have reasons to act like this since he felt really save for last half year after setting down with Shion, but this situation was strange. Instead of feeling the younger boy's arms and legs around him Nezumi felt exposed and alone.
When he felt a blow of the cold wind around his length and then the unnatural warmth after it, his body reacted on its own.

His hips jumped up in order to escape the strange feeling instead of making himself to sit up and check what was going on.

Shion was so focused on his task that when Nezumi's hips moved harshly he couldn't do anything when older boy's length choked him. His eyes were filled with tears and his teeth involuntary tightened around Nezumi.

"Fucking shit!" Shion heard while moving away and trying to catch breath. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he coughed loudly. When he finally opened his eyes he saw Nezumi, now sitting up, looking between his legs with painful face.

"Shion! What the fuck are you doing?" The older boy shouted, but the other still couldn't stop coughing and answer Nezumi's question.

Nezumi looked down on the place of his unbelievable pain. His length already started to soften, but even so he could clearly see the red print of Shion's teeth around it.

"Are you trying to bite my dick off?" He asked angrily, but his anger smoothed down after seeing Shion's crying face who was clearly tried to answer, but he couldn't between his coughs.

"I.. I... Don't... I just... Wanted you... to feel good." After few minutes Shion told his boyfriend still fighting for each breath.

Nezumi sighed loudly. It was clear what Shion was trying to. It wasn't his fault that Nezumi reacted in such way and startled him. Still, Shion could have used that perfect brain of his and imagine that approaching the older boy in his sleep wasn't a good idea. Nezumi groaned from the pain. His shaft hurt painfully, but at least it was in one piece. It could have been worse.

"Better tell truth and say that you wanted to bite my dick off to be on the top more often." Nezumi hissed while taking his cock in his hands to check fully all the damage that Shion's teeth had done.

"I didn't!" Shion whined after he finally stopped coughing. "I wanted to do something nice for you! I read that this is one of those erotic dreams that most guys have and I wanted to surprise you! I didn't want to hurt you! I didn't!" Shion said with his voice filled with guilt and his eyes were again filled with tears.
Nezumi raised his hand to his forehead as he took a long deep and tired breath.

"Alright, Your Majesty, I believe you."
Shion anyway shrank on the bed, drowning in feelings of despair and guilt. Crimson eyes were all glassy from tears.

"Come on, I'm also sad that I won't be able to woo you for a while, but I'm not crying over it."

"I'm sorry." The white haired boy sniffed sadly. Nezumi put his boxers back on and couldn't stop his face to grimace when fabric touched his hurting flesh.
Anyway he couldn't somehow feel angry at Shion's initiative, so he fell back on the pillow and he petted the right side of the bed.
"Really, don't worry about this. We will start to worry if my dick won't be working after a week or two." Shion groaned loudly in shame at those words.

"Come here, let's lay down for a little longer since it's Sunday."
The younger boy got back on his place in the bed after a long consideration.
"I meant well." Shion whispered after Nezumi threw his hand over other boy's waist.
"I know, Your Majesty. You really surprised me. I didn't think that such polite airhead would read and do such perverted things."
Nezumi smirked at other boy who groaned at those words.

"It just happened to be in newspaper that find its way to my desk at work."
"Your work sounds a lot more enjoyable now, did it have pictures too?"
"No!"
Shion tried to run away from Nezumi's embrace. The older boy wanted to tease Shion more, but he felt again the pain between his legs when they trashed on the bed. Nezumi halted and hissed in pain.

"Maybe you wanted to bite my dick off to sew it back later you crazy little doctor." He teased again recalling Shion's interest in using sewing needles on him in every possible occasion.

"I didn't!" Shion whined loudly again hiding his face into his hands. They laid on the bed in silence for the few minutes, not knowing what to do next.
"I want eggs on my bacon." Nezumi said after a while. Shion turned around and raised on his elbow to look at the other boy with a confused face.
"For breakfast. I want eggs on the bacon. Oh, and you can make coffee, Your Majesty. I'm not going to the kitchen in such state. Or maybe you want to explain to Karan why I feel pain while moving around?"
Shion shook his head in terror.

"No, I don't want it." The younger boy jumped out of bed and with a worried face he started to bombard Nezumi with questions.
"Do you need anything else? Do you want your bacon more or less crispy? Maybe we should go to the doctor or at least I can bring you some ice..."

"Shion…" Nezumi broke the endless flow of questions. It would be easy to take advantage of Shion's guilt, but even if Nezumi was hurt and they probably wouldn't be able to have sex for a while, he wouldn't want to do that.

Maybe they could have sex sooner in the end, but he wasn't going to let Shion be top. Some kind of punishment needed to be done, or else Shion might start thinking that biting his cock wasn't a bad thing.

The younger boy waited for Nezumi to finish his sentence.
"... Just breakfast and you may bring some books later to our royal bed. Nothing more."
"Are you sure?" Shion asked, his eyes looked bigger than they usually were from worry. Nezumi felt a little bad for him. This airhead just wanted to do something for him, too bad that Shion's good intentions turned out in such way. Disappointments in sex were never nice for both sides.

"Yes, Your Majesty. Maybe later I will think about something else."
"Alright." Shion said quietly and he slowly walked out the room with his head lowered down.

Nezumi laid on the bed thinking about this whole stupid situation and he started to laugh a little. At least until he again groaned in pain and hoped that Shion's damage wasn't going to be permanent. He really didn't want to be left with pretty tattoo of Shion's teeth around his length.

So in the end Shion told himself to not look at the stupid articles inside idiotic newspapers or at least to never try anything new before considering it with Nezumi first.

Almost two weeks later the dark haired boy showed Shion with his mouth how a proper waking-up-with-a-blow-job should look like and they both breathed in relief when Nezumi's length worked like it should in that tender Saturday morning.

They hugged each other later, talking and finally joking about the unfortunate event with the most desirable activity of the guy's sex dreams list.

Before heading to their works they decided that they didn't mind to try all other suggestions from that article in the future, even if they had already done some of them on their own in the past. Life was a little funnier with silly ideas like those, even if they did not always worked out like they should.

Chapter Text

The days started to warm up and the spring was around the corner.

Now that Nezumi had come back, Shion could finally fulfill the promise that he made to himself long time ago.

It started when he was still living in the West Block and he checked out some old magazine at Rikiga's place. Shion found inside information about the "Festival of the Flowers" which happened around this time of the year before NO.6 was built. Shion couldn't shake the feeling that the pictures of some people in those articles remind him of Nezumi.

Now he knew why and that knowledge had a bitter taste.

They were the Forest People. They danced and sang on the festivals before No.6 burned them all alive. Shion wondered sometimes, after discovering that sad truth, if any relatives of the silver eyed boy could be on those pictures.
Recalling that night, when Shion talked with Nezumi about his discovery, the older boy didn't sound like he had recognized anyone in those photos. Nezumi didn't even say whether he knew that those people were ones from his tribe or not.

Shion didn't want to ask about this matter any further. He didn't want to bring back those sad memories of the time when the silver eyed boy lost his family.

Shion remembered clearly how he and Nezumi argued about the existence of the festivals.
That time the older boy was afraid of believing in the future, of having hope and now Shion was no longer surprised that Nezumi felt this way. After all that thing that the older boy had gone through, the dark future was more feasible than peaceful days ahead.

With such reality, with Nezumi's hard fight against any idea around Flower Festival, Shion wasn't sure if he was able to convince the other boy to his point of view.

Still, Nezumi somehow did it, or else Shion wouldn't be able to hear it. He wouldn't be able to hear the song of hope coming from the other boy.

It was true that the first time he heard Nezumi's song was when they were inside the old truck going to the Correctional Facility into hell.

Still, that wasn't the whole truth. Shion never shared with the other boy that he heard his voice before that.

That day at the theatre, when Rikiga got Shion a ticket for Eve's performance, he had heard Nezumi. No, he heard Eve singing and that was the first and the last time in his life he could hear "her" song.

Shion wasn't sure if he could count that time as hearing Nezumi singing. The voice that the older boy used back then was more feminine than the one that Shion heard every day.

Putting this matter aside, the song he heard in that cold night at the theatre was the song of the flower festival. Rikiga had ensured Shion and Inukashi that this song was the one that was used during the old festivals. If that was true, if it was the real Forest People's song, then Nezumi might remember about his tribe more than Shion had thought.

The white haired boy was never so enchanted like that time, when Nezumi sang and danced together with melodies of hope on the old theater's stage. That was the moment when Shion made a small, quiet promise to the older boy. That one day they would recreate the real festival of flowers, together.

He took a look at Nezumi who was reading with his head on Shion's laps. Shion felt so much love for this man each time he looked at him. He wanted to do everything so the other would be happy. To create a bright future for him.

Until now the matter regarding to the organization for the festival didn't cause him any problems. Shion hadn't talked to Nezumi about his plans yet. He knew Nezumi's opinion about events like this one.

Even if Christmas day turned out nicely, Shion wanted to make sure that Festival of the Flowers would be even better before he asked Nezumi to be a part of it.

It wouldn't happen in this year for sure.

This time Shion would work on it by himself and maybe next time, if he could manage to charm Nezumi's heart, Shion would be able to fully accomplish his promise.

He didn't even notice when he had started playing with Nezumi's hair and making silver eyes observing him silently.

"You're lost deep into your thoughts today, Your Majesty." Nezumi said out with a quiet and warm voice that was reserved for the moments like this one, with only them and books around the bed.

"Well, I was thinking about some issues in the city and..." Shion raised up a book he had been holding in his left hand. "I don't get this part in the desert city. The young boy who is the servant of the old god has always wanted to kill people from the different times. It was always like that no matter if this boy and the main hero were in the past or in the future. Now boy wants to save someone. But the girl who serves good, forgiving god tells hero to not save man that arrived into the desert town riding on the donkey. In the end this man is killed by his student, because hero of story decides to do nothing. But why death this man helped with killing the old? It should be opposite."

Shion changed the topic, in hope to distract Nezumi from whatever he was thinking of. Shion didn't believe that he would manage to give Nezumi a surprise with the festival, but he wanted to keep it as a little secret until he could make sure that everything would work out. Nezumi looked at the cover of Shion's book. It was one of the books that the younger boy imported from NO.5 after their reunion.

"It's that one... you need to know the bible and about Christian religion to understand this book. The new god is the Christian one and the man in the desert town is Jesus. By saving him from crucifixion, the protagonist would help the old god. You know why?"

"Because the act of death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is an important event for their religion?" Shion answered recalling what he learned from many other books from their library.

"Bingo. If that event didn't happen, maybe Christian religion wouldn't get so popular later in Europe. The old gods wouldn't die from being forgotten because people started to believe in Christian god. This topic is the main story line at this book. The Hero of the story had been chosen to travel through time and it was in his hands whether he would kill or save the old and cruel god of his tribe. Well, this writer always uses motive of the journey in her books as far as I checked." Nezumi explained and he stretched on the bed, giving Shion an amazing performance as his shirt uncovered a little of his stomach skin. Shion felt a strong urge to touch that bare skin, but then some thoughts hit him and successfully drew his attention back.

"Do you think Elyurias will die like the gods in this book? If everyone forgets her one day, she will be erased from this world?"

"Maybe, if gods really die in this way."

"Well, before seeing Elyurias I didn't believe that such things like spirits or gods exist. If she really does, then could there be time when the other gods also be alive? And then they died when people have forgotten about them. Maybe your tribe's faith kept Elyurias alive until our times."

"Maybe. Shion, why do you care if Elyurias is alive or dead? It would be better if she died. No one would use her power ever again and in future she won't be able to destroy the city. Or maybe you think that the city needs some kind of fear along the line with 'Elyurias will kill everyone if they turn NO.6 into a living hell again'?"

"No. It's not like that. Some piece of Safu's consciousness have become a part of Elyurias. I feel that as long as Elyurias exists somewhere, Safu is also somehow alive."

"If it's true then your friend really has a bad luck. First, she was killed so young by the city. Now she has to wander around endlessly in the body of the wasp goddess, watching everyone she knew and she loved, including you, die through time and leave her all alone in this world. Living like that would be more of a curse than a blessing."

Shion lowered his head, after Nezumi finished. His eyes looked at the book before him, but his mind was somewhere else. Nezumi words again hit him with their cruel truth. His selfish and childish wish for Safu to be somehow alive was wrong if you look at it from such point of view. He didn't want such fate to happen to Safu, he didn't want for her to suffer until the end of time. He rubbed his eye as he felt it started to burn at those thoughts.

"Hey, Shion. Damn it, I made it sound too harsh. I didn't want to hurt your feelings." Nezumi raised up on his elbow to rest his hand on Shion's cheek.
"No, you are right, it was childish for me to wish for something like that. It would be like a curse for her. I hope that she didn't end up like you said."

After those words Nezumi rolled on his back looking at the ceiling and Shion tried to focus on the book before him, but his attempt ended without any successes. For a few minutes they didn't move or say anything.

"You know, Elyurias has fulfilled Safu's wish about meeting you. She has listened our request to spare the city and she has done all of this even when NO.6 had done so much harm. I don't think Elyurias is so cruel that she would keep Safu's soul if that made your friend suffer. Keeping your friend's soul would only be a bother for a goddess like her."

Shion looked at Nezumi surprised. It was rare for the older boy to cherish him. Such fact alone, that Nezumi tried to do something that he wasn't good at for him, made Shion already feel a little better.

"Do you really think so?" Shion asked looking down at Nezumi's face.

"I'm only telling you what I noticed. Giving people a second chance, but keeping a soul of a teenager girl against her will? That would be irrational." Nezumi shrugged his shoulders and Shion smiled at him. Shion tried to lean down to kiss his boyfriend in the forehead for cheering him up, but book on his laps fell down on Nezumi's leg distracting both of them. The long haired boy took it and looked at its cover for a while.

"Speaking of the journeys..." Nezumi started while still looking at the picture of the old forest on the cover. "Didn't you promise me something when I came back, Your Majesty?"

Shion made a small gasp as realization kicks in. He had been so focused on the city's matters and the festival that he totally forgot about his other promise.

"Right, our travel plans! We haven't talked about them yet."

"Clever notice, Your Majesty. So when will I be able to inform your dear mother about taking the days off?"

Shion raised his wrist and turned on the hologramic monitor on his ID bracelet. He checked the digital calendar which was filled with notes on every day for almost a whole year.

"I think I will be able to take three days off in May, it will be 5 days with the weekend, but I have to be home by Sunday since that day some delegation from NO.1 will arrive and I need to greet them."

Nezumi raised fast with pure disbelief on his face.

"Four days? Are you kidding me? Do you think that we will be able to go anywhere and back in four days?"

Shion felt a little abashed at Nezumi's words. He really wanted to find more time for both of them, especially since he had promised Nezumi a lot more. He knew how important it was for the other boy.

"...It's the closest date when I can take some days off. This year's calendar is really tight..." Shion looked nervously through calendar's pages." I think I will be able to take around two weeks off in August..."

The white haired boy looked at his boyfriend's face. It didn't look any happier after Shion said his information about the possibility of a longer vacation at the end of Summer.

"I'm sorry, I know I have promised you a lot more. The city's matters are still little unsteady; I can't leave them on their own for now. I will make up for it in the next year. I promise."

Nezumi only huffed in annoyance and he fell down on the bed again making them both jumped a little on the white sheets. Cravat who was sleeping until now on the pillow chipped angry and ran away to continue his nap on the pet bed.

"I really don't know why you keep so many people in this Committee of yours if they are so useless. Four days... Damn it, that will narrow the choices for our travel's destination."

"Do you have some places where we can go in your mind already?"

"Maybe, there would be more of them if his majesty could spare some more time for his lowly servant." Nezumi answered, from the tone of his voice it was clear that he was teasing Shion this time.

The younger boy lowered his eyes feeling guilty. He didn't want for Nezumi to feel unhappy for being kept here, inside the city. Then another thought hit him, a thought that made Shion afraid, but at the same time it could be a solution for this situation.

"Nezumi..." Shion swallowed hard before he continued, it was the last thing he had ever wanted to say aloud in his life. "If you really want to go for a longer time... like for a week or two... Then don't worry about me, you can go alone. Just promise that you will come back." He added the last part quietly. All those words sounded pitiful even when Shion tried to hide his emotions. The silver eyes looked at Shion without even blinking now. They weren't surprised, sad or warm. It was a while when Nezumi looked like this. Not letting Shion know what the other was thinking about.

"Why?" That was the only word that left other boy's mouth.

"Because I want you to be happy." Shion answered honestly. This was the truth. There wasn't anything on the world that Shion loved more than Nezumi's smile, laugh and gentle voice when the other boy was feeling safe and happy. He wanted to be drown in those beautiful emotions forever, even if that would mean for Nezumi to disappear for a while again.

At those words the dark haired boy smiled gently. The happiness clearly reached even those mysterious silver eyes, making Shion gasp quietly at such wonderful view. The slender fingers touched Shion's cheek.

"It will be more interesting to travel together. Just don't think you will get some extra treatment. We going to split all equipment and food rations, well you have always wanted to be equal and I will listen any words of protest if you get tired or the bags are too heavy for Your Majesty." Nezumi said, his hand fell down on the sheets in order to search for his book and he rolled from his backs to his right side. The gentle flush covered his cheeks, and the small smile, which Nezumi wanted to hide, revealed an emotion that Shion couldn't quite place. It was something new, something that Shion saw only a few times until now and he knew that he wanted to see it more often.

He felt really greedy this time and he couldn't help it.

He wanted to spend the Festival of the Flowers with Nezumi, to travel with him and most importantly, he wanted to make Nezumi believe that peaceful days like this one would last forever.

***

It wasn't hard to guess that Shion was planning something and kept it secret from Nezumi.

The white haired boy started to come back home later than he normally would and he didn't talk about his work as he had always done. When the older boy started asking about the reason behind such long work hours Shion only explained to him that it was something about city matters that wouldn't interest Nezumi.

Such explanation didn't smooth Nezumi's anger after a week of doing all the chores alone. Shion often was in charge of doing the laundry and cleaning the second floor where their bedroom and bathroom were, when Nezumi had always taken care of the first floor with Karan.

Everyday Nezumi promised to himself that he needed to have a serious talk about 'keeping secrets again' with Shion, but each evening, when Shion walked into their room all exhausted, when he fell on the bed beside Nezumi trying to read but falling asleep within few seconds, the older boy couldn't feel angry anymore. The older boy just woke his boyfriend up two hours later, telling him to take a shower and to change from his work clothes. Shion would kiss him for 'thank you about caring for me' and look at Nezumi with the happiness in his tired eyes.

It was their little routine for around two weeks until Nezumi noticed a poster while coming back from grocery shopping. He stopped short in front of the information board, making handcart with flour bags creak pitifully.

Nezumi sighed loudly while reading the bold title "Festival of the Flowers" labeled on the colorful poster.

That alone explained everything.

The evening came and Nezumi was waiting for Shion on their red sofa, ready to tease his boyfriend about his silly secret.

"So, the Festival of the Flowers. You couldn't just let it go and you had to recreate another sentimental event from the past." He said as soon as Shion walked inside their bedroom. Shion stopped in halfway, looking at him surprised, then his face looked even more tired.

"Do you still think of the festivals as a bad idea?" Shion asked sadly after a while, making Nezumi curse at himself. After what Nezumi had seen in the past few days, he could guess that it was important for Shion if he worked so hard on it. Now he made it sound like the white haired boy had done something bad.

"Well, it wasn't something for me to care about if it was an event in the past. Since you wanted to waste your time and brought it back, it might be not so bad. It may even be worth it to spare a thought or two." Nezumi answered. He hoped that his answer didn't hurt the other boy, but he wasn't going to jump around with excitement like a little child and lie about his opinion in this matter.

"I really think that having the festivals again will be good for everyone in NO.6." Shion said slowly while sitting beside Nezumi on their sofa.

"Really? You aren't doing it to prove to me that you are right about your opinion from our talk five years ago?" Nezumi said without a second thought and after that he wanted to bite his tongue. Damn that topic about the festivals. If this kept going like this it would probably end with a fight and one of them, more likely Nezumi, would be sleeping on the sofa tonight.

"Yes, but I also think about people in NO.6. You know that in two days from now it will be the anniversary of Wall's fell. Most people don't think of that event as a positive thing.

For the last four years we celebrated it as the day of mass slaughter – the manhunt day - by the previous government. The number of inhabitants of NO.6 killed by Elyurias wasn't small either so that day is more like celebrating for the death than the new beginning.

Each year Committee's members will put the flowers before the monument made in the place of the Correctional Facility to show that we remember what had happened that day. That place is a grave of many people, including Safu. It's a gloomy memorial for all that have survived.

I think it will be good for the city to have events that will celebrate the bright and hopeful future. That we are able to start all over again. The Festival of the Flowers, the day of the new beginning. I want people to have a day which they can celebrate happiness instead of despair.

Even so, I don't deny that I have my own selfish reasons to revive this festival."

Nezumi didn't know what to say and that didn't happen often. Sometimes Shion was able to say and do things that took his breath away, made his heart race fast with hope and faith. Maybe this time Shion was right too, like he did with the idea of breaking the wall. Maybe people of No.6 really needed things like that.

Still, Nezumi wasn't sure if he was one that needed something like festivals.

At least Shion looked happy, so Nezumi wasn't going to destroy that with his own mixed feelings.

"Well, do what you think is the best. Until now your choices have been good, so this one might be right too." The dark haired boy said, wanting for his answer to be as natural as possible so this problematic conversation could be over.

"It will be good. I will do everything I can to make that happen. I promise you." Shion said, his head fell on the back of the sofa.

"Your Silly Majesty, if you want to sleep then not here and first let's take a shower. I think both of us wouldn't mind some backs rubbing from each other."

Shion hummed pleased at that proposition.

"That sounds nice."

Nezumi smiled a little as he dragged an already half asleep Shion into the bathroom.

In the end the hot water didn't help to erase some memories from Nezumi's mind. Their room was filled with darkness of the night and Shion was already sleeping soundly. Nezumi was annoyed by this simple fact. It was the white haired boy's fault that he couldn't sleep right now. Once again Shion had dragged on the topic about the Flower Festival, like making Nezumi remember about this event the five years ago wasn't already enough.

Nezumi didn't remember any festival. He didn't think he even took part in any event like that.

Still, what Shion talked about during that cold night in the West Block reminded Nezumi of a time when the old woman that saved him from the fire was still alive.

Sometimes, when their days were better, when the grief and hate didn't consume Nezumi's Gran so much, she sang for them both. She always told Nezumi to pay attention, to learn each of her word, each melody because this was their heritage. This was all that was left from their tribe and she always told to Nezumi to never forget those songs.

After her lips became silent and all echoes of the melodies disappeared inside four walls of the underground room, she cried when she thought that Nezumi was already asleep.

If Shion's discovery only reminded Nezumi about Gran, it would be alright. The woman wanted Nezumi to remember their legacy, so if this was something he could do to thank her for saving him and taking care for him, then he wouldn't mind doing it. He wouldn't mind singing those songs aloud so those melodies would never be forgotten.

But there was something else. Something that broke Nezumi's heart again, even if he tried so hard to not be attached emotionally to his past. Shion had that kind of power which always made him vulnerable. The event happening that night when he showed Nezumi the article about the festival was no different.

Nezumi turned on their bed from looking at the ceiling to focus on the white haired boy.

He still remembered that dream he had five years ago.

No, he knew that this was a memory that Shion's words had brought back from the deepest parts of his memories. One moment of the past when Nezumi was still a little child.

He remembered the room's floor had been covered by different kinds of colorful materials. The excited chattering and laugher of the women gathered around piles of beautiful clothes they sewed. Nezumi was leaning his head over his mother's laps looking at skillful needles dancing in the air. Gentle hand of his mother was petting his long hair from time to time when it didn't work over the materials. Soon the room was filled with cheerful songs, melodies destined for that one season of the year when everything was waking up to live again. They were like lullabies to the little boy whose eyes soon closed while dreaming about flowers, colors and dancing people.

Still, all of this was gone, it was all lost into the past.

The colorful clothes.

The cheerful songs and chattering.

Nezumi's mother.

The old woman and her grief for the times that would never come back.

They all belonged to the past just like the festivals. There was nothing good in remembering those things and they should stay there in the past, leaving Nezumi alone. It could only bring more pain to his lonely heart.

The dark haired boy felt wetness on his pillow. He raised a hand to his cheek and felt the damps on his finger.

"You are cruel, your Majesty, for making me feel like this again." He whispered while looking at Shion's sleeping face. He moved closer to the other boy and held him as close as possible without waking him up. He really didn't want Shion to see him like this, but at the same time the thought of not feeling younger boy's warmth at that moment was even more terrifying.

Festivals belonged to the lonely past, but Shion was there with him. They both were alive compare to the people from his past.

Nezumi didn't need Festival of the Flowers. What he really needed was that flower boy breathing and being alive beside him.

***

It was the anniversary of the wall's falling, or the Day of Remembering, as some people started to call it around one year ago. Shion had left the house in black suit and shirt. The delegation from Committee gave their speeches in front of the memorial tab* placed where Correctional Facility once stood and the whole thing was aired on television, as usual.

"I hope that I didn't let you down." Shion whispered quietly as he left his bouquet before the black stoned monument.

All of the crumbles that were left of Facility had been cleaned after the wall fell and the bodies that they found while doing so got properly buried in one mass grave. There was no other choice since some bodies were already deteriorate to an unrecognizable stage, but for the families of those who had been killed, that was enough. They were glad that their close ones wouldn't be stuck for eternity inside that hellish place.

Now, that place where Facility once stood was covered with small grass and one small trail that led to the large slab with names of victims that died inside. Shion always remembered where Safu's name was placed even without looking.

Did she think that he was doing good job? Was that all enough? Have all those people who died that day finally found peace?

Three days later, while standing in the center of the city's park Shion had doubts if he was doing the right thing. Wasn't the date of the Festival of the Flowers too soon? Maybe he should have waited a little more, until the stir of emotions from the Day of Remembering had subsided. The reason why he didn't wait any longer was that the wall fell happened in the beginning of the spring. Waiting for two or three weeks would be too late compared to the date when Festival of the Flowers was held before NO.6 was build. It wouldn't be celebrating for the beginning of the spring anymore in that case.

Shion wondered if he didn't force the idea of preparing for the festival to the others. He looked around him to see the people who were preparing the stage, lights and little shop tents on the park's alleys. He heard a little curse when the decorations fell down from stage's roof, some people arguing over the space for their shopping stands and one of Shion's co-worker trying to smooth down the situation. Yet, everyone that Shion saw that day looked so excited: they were talking loudly and wondering how festival would look like in the end. Even right now one of the engineers had to chase curious kids who wanted to peek around away from building site.

Shion recalled the day when he proposed the concept of reviving the Festival of the Flowers for the first time. Most members of the committee were interested in doing such event. A few others who were thinking that it would be a waste of money, but they give up seeing that their chairman isn't going to abandon his idea.
Shion was afraid that he may had created some pressure on the others in matter of recreating the festival. This was the first time when he felt like he had been using too much of his position's power and that realization let a bad taste in his mouth. He felt a little guilty for doing such things to fulfill his own little dream. It was different from the Christmas event that was something he lightly proposed and others just went along with it. That's why he worked so hard. He wanted for this Festival to give city and its people as much joy as possible.

"Mr. Shion, I want to say that matter of the rented space is solved." His co-worker reported after seeing him walking closer to the tents beside the stage.

"I see, thank you Tori." Shion answered without looking up from the map of the park covered with red pen notes. It was filled with numbers of areas that they rented for the shops, which was the biggest founding source for the festival's organization.

At the beginning, town's inhabitants, who already had their own business, didn't understand what was going on when it was announced that committee rents the space in the park for that one day. Thanks to that normal people had a chance to sell and promote their own products during the festival. Shion was almost sure, after a week of silence at their announcement, that it would not work out.

Then Rikiga helped Shion with his article and the information about the profits for companies to join in such events and the situation got better. But Rikiga wasn't the only one that helped.

Renka contacted with Shion asking if she could rent a space for her little flower stand after hearing from Karan about the city's proposition. She had spread the information to other sellers and soon all the space was reserved. Even his mother wanted to sell some of her goods during festival, but Shion asked her not to do it, at least in this year. He didn't have to say anything more. Karan understood his silent wish to spend that day with her and Nezumi.

"It's looking very promising. This will make our economy speed up in this month. Those data from such events in the past are amazing." The man named Tori said as he looked over numbers about the festival from before the war. Shion didn't want to make this event into a big day of sales for the corporations, but he didn't want to fund his selfish dream using the city's budget even more. In the end Rikiga also ensured him that in the old festivals he saw beer, food and souvenirs sold and he told Shion to not worry so much. There were times when Shion thought that older man was right, and the other he was afraid that their doings would kill the atmosphere of the festivals which Shion had seen on the photos. He really wanted for the people to dance, sing and feel happy like those in that article.

"I'm worried if the presentation of our new product will work out. The old government used to import fireworks to No.6, but now the situation has changed. We have our own facility now and No.3 and No.5 are interested in buying such goods from us. Until now No.1 had a monopoly production of the fireworks, but the transportation fee from it was a lot higher than the ones that we can offer to the No.3 and No.5 since we are closer. " Shion said while looking at the computer's cables that followed from organization tent until the edge of the park where a second group of the workers were preparing a big attraction for event's evening. The developer had shown the committee only some examples of their products behind the borders of the city. One thing Shion say for sure: The fireworks from the NO.1 couldn't compare to the ones that No.6 now developed in the diversity of colors and shapes.

Shion didn't say it aloud to anyone, even his mom, but it was something he really wanted to see by himself on a big scale, with scenario and music. In this matter he felt excited like a child who couldn't wait until he could open a pack of candies.

"I think most committee members were surprised when that developer asked for help to start such facility. Did the idea for this event come to you after his proposition, Sir?" Tori asked and Shion only shook his head.

"No, I've read about old flower festivals years before that. I have always looked for an opportunity to create jobs for people. I think even such facility is important for the city's economy to grow and for everyone who lives here to be happy. The proposition of the producing the fireworks just happens to be perfect for events like this one, giving us a lot of profit from making them here in our city and I don't mind advertising it."

"Who would think that NO.6 would ever be able to produce something like that."

Thinking about all of this Shion also found it really surprising. The old government imported such product and used it to glorify their rule. To celebrate the fact that they had built a city that made everyone happy, even if it was all a lie. They created a beautiful cover for it and ensured everyone that No.6 was perfect, but they had never bothered making something like this by themselves.

In the West Block no one would probably even think about something like this when even survival factors like food and accommodation was not guaranteed. Everyone would think about such production as a waste of time and resources. Even Nezumi once told Shion that he would wish for some more bread instead some piece of amazing poetry.

"It's only possible because we have peace now and all cities need to focus more on their inhabitants rather than just fulfilling their basic needs. They can spend some of their funds in creating something beautiful that will warm people's hearts." The white haired boy said after a long pause. The man beside him looked at Shion with admiration.

"Amazing explanation and choice of words, as always Sir." Tori said and Shion laughed a little. Nezumi would probably think that he still needed to work a lot on of his vocabulary.

"Well, we only exported medicine and technology until now. We can't rely on that only. After the Wall fell city started to grow. It's a very good change. More people are trying to cultivate the fields further and further lands than just the East Block, but it was still not enough for No.6 to export their food to other cities alongside with their main exports. At least I'm happy that people don't have to be hungry anymore. Our land and people are strong, maybe one day NO.6 will have more to offer to the other cities." Shion finished and he tried to return to checking the list of things that were still needed to be done that day when his co-worker again talked to him.

"I just don't understand why you and the ambassadors from the other cities requested such high security at that facility."

"Everything can be used to good and bad things. There aren't many things that people made which can be used to hurt others. This product is especially on such list. From its basic material you can use it to create something like fireworks as well as a deadly weapon that kills. Even I'm surprised that the other cities let us build this facility after what the previous government has done."

"I see, that's why it's monitored so strictly. Well if it works out then people will love it. Our current product is really upgraded compare to the one that people in this city once saw. I can't wait to see it with my own eyes."

The other man said excitedly and Shion smiled at those words.

Even the weather forecast said that it was going to be warm and sunny on the festival day. Maybe in heaven Safu and other people who died from city's hands didn't think Shion's action was bad. Everything was going so well that it was impossible to think that something might screw up their flower festival. Shion felt at that moment that Rikiga was right and he shouldn't worry so much.

"I hope so." Shion said while looking at the stage decorated with colorful flowers and materials. The sky had already darkened and some engineers turned on few lines of lights to check them out, making the park glow with the warm orange light.

The view was so pretty in Shion's eyes and he wanted everything to work out nice with all his heart. Shion couldn't hold his smile and his body was filled with excitement and he just wanted the festival to start already.

He made sure that everything was perfect. His heart raced fast with happiness as he looked at the list of attractions they had planned. He was going to make the Festival of the Flowers the most wonderful day that anyone had ever created in the NO.6. All this hard work would bring the most beautiful and cheerful smiles on everyone's faces.

Even Nezumi's.

Chapter Text

The feeling of excitement filled the air. Shion walked from one worker to the other asking if everything was prepared for the festival which was going to start in a few hours.

"Mr. President, don't be too worried and just let them do their work." Alice told Shion after a while and dragged him to the main tent which was for the event's administrator. The woman flashed a bright smile as they walked inside.

"Toya, tell this ball of anxiety that we have had everything under control." She said to the man sitting behind a computer which was connected to endless numbers of wires. The brown-haired man in glasses, who was also inside in the tent, looked at the woman in disbelief.

"Miss Alice, how did you call Mr. President and why do you drag him around like this? This is unacceptable."

"It's alright Tori. She's right. I know that I'm a little overreacting today and I'm disturbing you with your jobs. I'm also sorry that I made you three work today instead of having fun like everyone else from our department do." Shion said. At the same time, he couldn't stop looking outside of the tent's entrance to check up on the first sellers that started to prepare their shop stands.

Almost everyone Shion worked with treated him like someone all high and mighty and infallible. Tori or Shion's assistant were the perfect examples of that. Shion was glad that Alice and Toya treated him more like friends than subordinates. This too helped him to remain a human while having the whole city under his control.

"Shion, you don't need to worry. I really don't think that there is anything here so difficult that it needs an order from the President himself. About the matter of working on the festival, I think of it as a challenge for my skills. Real-time events like this one, not mention the final attraction, is very exciting and I would be disappointed if I couldn't take part in such project

"And I'm happy wherever I can be with Toya!" Alice threw her hands over the man, making Tori grunt with disapproval and Shion chuckled a little. Since Alice and Toya started dating, the attention of the people in their department were shifted to them instead of the gossiping about Shion's 'secret girlfriend'. Alice had become even wilder and more focused on her partner which distracted her from questioning about Shion's relationship, which the white haired boy welcomed with relief.

"Sir, you don't need to worry, we will handle everything here. You can go home and rest now. Your speech is planned around 6 P.M., I'm only asking you to be here fifteen minutes before so we can be prepared in case something happens." Tori said to Shion as he walked towards the tent's entrance.

"I see. Once again, thank you all for taking care of this event. Let me know if there is any problem." Shion said before walking out. His co-workers almost immediately returned to their works.

He stopped for a while to check up on the first-aid stand where some health professionals had their ambulance parked. Shion greeted with them and asked if they needed anything. It was important to have them for the event in case of emergency. No one would ever know if there was someone who might get injured or crushed in such a big crowd. After making sure that everything was set Shion finally returned home. His heart raced fast in excitement. Everything looked perfect and well-prepared.

***

Once Shion went inside the house, Karan flipped a little sign on the glassy doors announcing that bakery was closed. Not like they had many customers that day. No surprise. Everyone inside the city were already preparing for the festival. Shion's little family wasn't different. After lunch everyone headed for a little nap, since Karan and Nezumi started their work early that morning like always.

Around 3PM, Shion stood in bakery's shop, waiting for his mother and boyfriend. He chuckled, noticing that Nezumi took the same amount of time preparing as his mother.

"I'm sorry for taking so long." Karan almost ran into the room. Shion looked at her, feeling surprised at how she looked. It was a while since he saw her in a pretty dress instead of her casual home clothes or bakery apron. She looked shining, with her bright smile and eyes sparking with excitement.

"Oh, Nezumi isn't here yet?" Karan said looking around and through the glassy windows to see if the other boy was waiting for them outside.

"No, you beat him this time." Shion chuckled a little. Nezumi finally went into the room while eying them both and guessing why Shion was laughing about.

"Anyway you look beautiful, mom." The white haired boy said to the Karan earning a big smile from her.

"Thank you, dear."

"You look beautiful too, Nezumi." Shion teased the dark haired boy. He was guessing what took Nezumi so long, he didn't wear anything different than his daily clothes: long-sleeved shirt, black leather jacket and jeans. Not like he was any less beautiful in Shion's eyes.

"I know that Shion." Nezumi smirked at him and Shion rolled his eyes. Too bad that Nezumi was so aware about his appearance. Shion really wanted to see the other boy to be embarrassed, even just a little bit. Well, you can't always have everything.

"It's not the only thing that His Majesty is right about, you look pretty today milady." Nezumi bowed theatrically before Karan. The woman chuckled and waved at them.

"Alright boys, enough with this flattery. Let's start moving or else we will miss the whole event." Karan told the boys while putting on a white jacket. They were about to go when Cravat went into the room. He wasn't very fast since his old legs didn't let him to run any longer. He shrieked at his masters.

"Oh, do you want to come with us?" Shion said to the little mouse while raising him from the floor. The little mouse started having some problems with climbing on Shion's shoulders by himself so everyone got used to helping Cravat here and there. Situation was impossible to deny: Cravat was getting old and the time when Shion said goodbye to him was probably closer than they had thought.

"I'm not sure if it's a good idea." Shion said, worrying about Cravat's health. This wasn't going to be a short trip and Cravat already fell from Shion's shoulder a few weeks ago because he didn't have enough strength to hold on.

"It will be alright, dear. Cravat, come here." Karan moved her hands and took the little animal from Shion. She then put him inside of her jacket's pocket. Cravat popped out his head out of his hiding and squeaked happily.

"It's perfect! Good for you Cravat, you got a seat in the first row." Shion said to the mouse. Maybe everyone was having the same thought, that this might be the last trip, the last event that this animal could take part in. Cravat moved his whiskers and looked at Nezumi.

"Just don't cause trouble to Karan." The older boy said in an uncharacteristically soft way and mouse squeaked again with assurance. Since Nezumi's return all his mice was really fond of Karan. No surprise, it was often her who fed them. Now, after Hamlet and Tsukiyo passed away, Cravat spent most of his time around Karan and his master, hiding in their pockets while they were working.

"If everything is set then let's go." Shion put on his beanie and opened the doors. Nezumi eyed him amusedly as he did so.

"I didn't know that you still have this hat and I have no idea why are you wearing it now."

"I don't want for people to recognize me right away. I want to participate in this event as a normal inhabitant of the city, not as the President of it." Shion answered as he locked the doors behind them.

"And you think that the beanie alone will help?" Nezumi teased him while they caught up with Karan.

"No, but at least my hair wouldn't stand out so much inside the crowd." The crimson eyed boy said, pushing some of his white stands of hair under the beanie.

"I think Shion look good in this red hat. It brings out his pretty, unique eyes, don't you think so too Nezumi?" Asked Karan softly, and she managed to do what Shion failed at earlier: Nezumi's cheeks was darkened with blush. Nezumi didn't answer and pretended to be focused on the road.

The rest of the way was just small chats between the little family and greetings with their neighbors or clients of the bakery. The streets were the liveliest that afternoon compare to any other day of the year. Summer had begun two weeks ago, so the day was short. The sun already started to hide behind the horizon and the sky was covered with orange dust during their little walk.

From far away Shion was able to see that all of the lights in the park were already turned on. Some trees have had flowers buds or new leaves and the yellowish-orange lights made them glow almost magically. People looked around and pointed to each other how beautiful the park was with all those natural decorations. At the same time, it didn't make the city decorations of the festival look any less magnificent. The trees, the shop's stands and the lanterns were decorated with synthetic flowers and colorful materials. From the center of the park, happy and jumpy instrumental music filled the whole place with cheerful atmosphere. Everything looked just like on what was in photos from Rikiga's article. The music mixed with the excited noise from customers looking at the food and items that they had never seen before in NO.6.

Shion glanced around and even if he was the one who prepared most of this, he didn't know where to start their participation in Festival of the Flowers. He was so delighted that he wasn't sure where to look. All of these colors around them made him feel overwhelmed.

Shion noticed a man making colorful flowers and animals from balloons. Kids around him cheered with excitement and guessed what the man would make next. Shion also stopped to look at the man's performance.

"Mom, Nezumi look! It's amazing. Why don't those balloons explode when he squeezes them into such shapes?" The white haired boy said pointing at the stand with balloons. The urge to try crafting something like this swelled in his heart, making Shion probably look silly because Nezumi laughed at him with amusement.

"Should I get you one Your Majesty? Really, how old are you to be excited over something like this?"

"But don't you think that there has to be some kind of trick in all of this? There must be some way to twist such fragile material so the inner air pressure doesn't break it apart." Shion said without taking his eyes from the man's hands even for a second in order to discover his secret.

"You didn't change in this matter at all." Nezumi chuckled a little. The older boy must have remembered their first meeting when Shion asked how Nezumi pinned him to the bed.

Looking at the boys conversing excitedly Karan smiled and she was about to get in line to get them some animal-shaped balloons to tease them both a little when some kids almost ran on her.

"I'm sorry Miss!" Little kid screamed looking back but he didn't stop running through the alley. Shion noticed only that the child and his friends had their faces painted with floral patterns before they disappeared into the crowd.

"I hope that the one who painted their faces didn't use some improper paints, or else their parents would have a hard time. It will be tough to clean off, not to mention the possibility of allergy." Karan voiced her thoughts based on the experience that most of mothers had. Shion looked at her, feeling a little embarrassed as he remembered how on his fifth birthday he had gotten all messy with the cheery pie. Karan was trying to clean his clothes for a week before giving up. Such memory felt a little nostalgic now. Who would have thought that this festival would bring back such memory to him?

"I know that you are worried that people will make mistakes when they doing something for the first time, but don't worry. I was surprised how well prepared people were when they came to the office to fill in the documents about what they would sell or do in the festival. This one is probably the work of "Art Dream" from Advertising Agency company to promote their products. They rented 55R stand and they said in the documents that they will use water paints that are easy to remove." After Shion had done with his explanation, he and Karan heard quiet whistle from Nezumi.

"You are still able to remember every single thing you read. I'm surprised that your brain hasn't already explode from all this information. That doesn't sound too healthy." Nezumi said and Karan looked at Shion with concern in her expression.

"You two don't need to worry. I just remember that because it sounds interesting. It's not like I can remember all the numbers and equipment of every stands here."

"Alright, so where can we get something to drink?" Nezumi teased him.

"Hot tea and Coffee stands are placed on 40L, 60R and 30R rented areas. The hot soups are sold at 67L stand." Shion answered almost without the thinking, earning shocked looks from his family.

"I was right. Your genius brain will explode one day. " Nezumi smiled triumphantly at the other boy who only held out his hands in defense.

"I can't help it. I just have photographic memory."

"Alright boys, let's not argue. Aren't you two hungry? It has been a while since we had lunch. Let's try something unusual since we have such occasion now. I saw fried nuts in the Carmel inside the shop over there."

Hearing about food Nezumi turned around fast, maybe a little too fast because after noticing that he acted silly, his cheeks were again flaming. Shion smiled brightly at this. After their reunion and all the time they had spent living together the white haired boy was no longer sure what Nezumi loved more, food or books.

"Alright let's get something to eat and drink." Shion said. He was already about to grab Nezumi's hand when he remembered that he had to keep secret about their relationship. He felt a bit let down because he really wanted to hold Nezumi's hand right now, but he smiled and offered his arm to his mother instead.

"Thank you, dear." Karan said and she placed her free hand on Nezumi's shoulder. The other boy looked at them wanting to say that this all looked and felt cheesy, but he only sighed loudly and looked away. This way the little family began their participation in the Festival of the Flowers.

***

Shion was already full, his legs hurt a little and he wanted to find some place to rest because he thought that his stomach would blow up in any minute. Nezumi and Karan were more excited about trying different kinds of the food than he could imagine, so they ran from one stand to another for the last two hours. Well, if Shion had to describe situation more clearly, Nezumi was more interested in eating and Karan was more into gathering new recipes. They still didn't make it to the center of the park and the time for Shion's speech was close. He wished his family could hurry up a little because he didn't want to be late, but at the same time he didn't want to ruin Karan and Nezumi's fun time. In the end this was one of Shion's purposes for making this event. To make Nezumi, his mom and all other people of the NO.6 happy.

"Holy shit, Shion, this guy is making small colorful clouds on sticks!" Nezumi said to him pointing at the one of the food stands. Shion held his breath as he looked at the other. Nezumi's face was filled with excitement and surprise, his expression was pure without pretense or hiding. It was the first time when Shion saw Nezumi like this beside the time when they managed to get some new rare books to their collection. He wondered what was able to make other boy look like this so he looked at the direction that Nezumi was pointing at.

"Oh, I'm surprised that you haven't seen this when you were traveling. It's candy-floss. It is made from pure sugar and sometimes some kind of edible pigment to get different colors. They heat the sugar up into liquid form and spin it out through a tiny hole where it re-solidifies quickly into thin strands of sugar glass. It's fully edible, and they are really nice too." Shion explained and Nezumi looked at him with disbelief.

"Are you kidding me, your majesty? Are you tricking me into eating one of the festival's decorations, like those balloons we have seen before?" Nezumi said while composing himself and crossing his arms. He must have felt ashamed by getting excited like Shion earlier over such a small childish thing.

"Of course not." Shion answered while trying to suppress a laugh. He grabbed Nezumi's upper arm - at least this didn't look so intimate to reveal their relationship - and Shion felt better when he was able to touch Nezumi for the first time since this afternoon. He dragged the other boy to the "mysterious" stand. Before leaving, Shion checked to see where his mother was. Karan found Renka's flower shop and she looked like she wasn't going to move to anywhere from there any time soon. It would be hard to find each other later in such crowd.

"One candy-floss." Shion ordered putting his ID bracelet to the cash register.

"Alright, mister. What color do you want?" The man asked. Shion stopped for a second to think about his answer.

"White will be alright." Nezumi always kept saying that he loved Shion's white hair so this choice was easy. The other boy must have understood why Shion picked that color because his ears turned a little red. Still, the older boy looked enchanted when the man started making cloud-looking candy. After receiving the candy-floss from the man once it was finished, Shion held it out towards Nezumi.

"Here, try it!"

"No way! I have survived until this day, I'm not going to die because of some sappy sugar cloud now, if it's really sugar." Nezumi made offended noise like Shion had just tried to poison him. The seller was just about to say something to Nezumi when he finally recognized who Shion was. He then sat down and shot Nezumi angry looks. Shion gave the seller an apologetic smile, then proceeded to take a few strings of the candy-floss into his hand and put them in his mouth.

"It's safe to eat, see?"

Nezumi eyes the white cloud candy suspiciously for a little longer before repeating Shion's action.

"It feels like it melts on your tongue and it's sweet as hell." Nezumi said aloud his little review.

"Well, it's pure sugar, so it has to be sweet."

Shion laughed a little while dragging Nezumi with one hand and still holding the candy-floss stick in another. They had to find Karan and finally went to the administration tent so Shion could fulfill his duty as the President. When they stopped in front of Renka's shop Shion gave Nezumi the candy stick so he could buy his mom a small flower bouquet. While chatting with Karan and her friend Shion noticed that Nezumi kept eating the candy-floss. Such simple picture made him so happy that he couldn't describe the entirety of that feeling. It was so perfect. It was silly and probably idiotic to be this happy about such a simple thing, but it was amazing compared to the reality they had four years ago.

They talked about some trivial things that afternoon like clothes and their looks. They enjoyed childish things during the festival. Not only them but everyone in No. 6 today acted a little spoiled without feeling guilty.

But the most important was Nezumi had accepted such reality. Finally this was a normal world, not the one that was full of suffering, corpses, loneliness and hunger. Could current reality wash away all of the tragedies that had happened in this city? Shion wasn't sure, but the people around him were laughing and smiling at that moment. After wondering for a little more Shion decided that this was good enough. At least for now.

***

Once they got closer to the center of the park they were able to see something that looked like a stage. Well it was different than the one in the West Block where Nezumi once acted. The biggest difference was the presence of the technical equipment and that it was made mostly from metal parts. The big black speakers let everyone hear music even in more distant area of the park and people could even see what was going on the center of the stage thanks to the big screen placed high on its roof. At the front of the stage was a spacious area for anyone that wanted to dance. Nezumi saw some couples and groups of the children jumping in the rhythm of the music. Among the kids they noticed Lili with her little sister. The little girl, who was now a teenager, waved at them before disappearing with her energetic sibling.

Nezumi followed after Shion and Karan to one of the big tents that were restricted only for staffs. As soon as they entered, a man with glasses glanced quickly at them from his computer and sighed in defeat.

"This place is off limits. Please…" He paused and looked at them again. His face was filled with surprise as he stood up fast from his computer making the two other people inside the tent jump up to see what was going on.

"Mr. President! I'm sorry I didn't recognize you in this clothing." The man said as he bowed a little.

Nezumi snorted under his nose as he bit back a retort. It looked like Shion turned into a camouflage master thanks to his beanie, but in truth this guy needed new glasses. Karan went closer to greet with Alice and Toya while Shion took off his hat and coat.

"Is everything alright?" Shion asked the brown-haired man and he headed to the corner of the room where a black suit's jacket was hung.

"Yes, Sir, but we have only few small problems. There were some little arguments between clients and sellers, but Alice has taken care of that. We have a little break down with the lights at the western part of the park, but it was fixed in matter of half hour. The first aid center had few kids needed to patch up, but kids get scratches all the time so it's not a big thing to worry about. Beside that everything is looking good, Sir."

"I see, thank you Tori." Shion answered to the man while putting on a tie.

"Pleasure from my side, Sir. Do you need any help with that?" The brown haired man said with something in his voice that made Nezumi smirk with annoyance. This man flattered before Shion so much that it looked almost ridiculous. Shion only shook his head and continued to fix his tie.

"Good afternoon Tori." Karan said with her usual gentle voice.

"Good afternoon Ma'am." The man named Tori looked for the first time at Nezumi since they walked inside the tent. "And you are?" He started a little suspiciously. Shion looked at them, ready to rescue Nezumi from his pushy co-worker when the other man inside the tent spoke out for them.

"He is Mr. President's childhood friend. Tori could help me with checking out the microphone, please?"

Everyone focused on preparing for Shion's speech and after a while Nezumi felt Karan's hand on his shoulder.

"Maybe it's better to not disturb them." She then turned to Shion, who was now fully dressed in suit and was checking through his speech outline. "We are going to wait you outside, Shion. Me and Nezumi will pick you up after you are done."

"Alright, if I don't get out right away, then don't worry and come inside this tent again. It will be better than searching for each other later."

"Good luck." Karan said before she and Nezumi walked outside. The older boy let out a soft chuckle. Like Shion needed any luck with a simple speech like this one when he had managed to convince an angry crowd before the Moondrop five years ago when city was in total chaos. Festival speech was a piece of cake for the white haired boy.

The music played from the speakers stopped, making some kids groan unhappily. Nezumi and Karan found a good place at the front to watch the whole speech and even few other people joined them while looking curiously to see what would happen next. The first one that came out was the man named Tori.

"Good afternoon. Can I have your attention, please? The main attractions of this event will start from now. Before that we would like to begin with a few words from the head of the Restuctual Committee, the main originator of the idea to bring back Festival of the Flowers to our area, Mr. Shion."

In this moment Shion got on the stage, he bowed a little before reaching for the microphone.

"Thank you, Mr. Tori." Shion said to the other man and Nezumi noticed that this made Tori smile like he had just won the first award. Maybe all of this was only Nezumi's imagination, but this guy was either trying to get to Shion's pants or he was just a kiss-ass in order to keep his position in the committee. Either way the man annoyed Nezumi to the bone. It was just great, another person from Shion's work who is trying to get the white haired boy's attention beside that damn curious assistant.

"Good afternoon everyone." Shion started, making Nezumi's mind stop thinking about how long is the list of people that were trying to get into the white haired boy's pants ever since he had become the head of the government.

"I'm glad that I can talk to you all during an event like this one. A few days ago we celebrated the day of the wall's fall. That day five years ago lets us create a first step towards the present we have right now. For the last five years we have tried very hard to create the possibility for everyone to be able to live inside NO.6, to change this city into a place that is indiscriminate of the people from inside or outside of the wall. We all are the same, no matter where we come from.

We are given this opportunity to recreate No. 6 and make it a better place, but still, this opportunity came with a high price. Many of us have lost someone important on that day five years ago. Ever since then the Day of the wall's fell become the time of grief. I understand this because I also experience it personally: I, like many of you here, have also lost someone important on that historic day.

Yet, I want the new No.6 to have faith in the future, that even after the darkest days we can still be able to live, dream and believe again. This is why we have this event right now. The Festival of the flowers. The festival of the time of the rebirth, when everything is blooming and starting out again after a long winter. This is the moment of the year when everyone hopes that the days ahead will bring a warm, peaceful and bright future." Shion stopped for a moment and looked at the crowd. It was this silent moment that had the most powerful impact as people held their breaths. It looked like Shion had casted on everyone some kind of spell. Shion started speaking again, accompanied with a more cheerful tone and the clear voice was again carried on through speakers.

"But it's not an event for long speeches. I hope that everyone today will have fun. After an hour from now we will welcome guests from the other cities on this stage. They are amazing singers who have prepared special programs for this night. They will also be singing a few songs that came from our area, but they were forgotten once festivals disappeared from our lands. I hope you will welcome them all with the best that you've got. After that, around 9PM, we have prepared a surprise attraction. I know it might be a little bit late for our small residents, but it's worth waiting for it before heading to beds. Next we will have a continuation of the music performances that will go on until 11PM.

I would like to have one more announcement. I want to thank all people that have taken or will be taking apart in the lottery placed near the stage. All of the funds from it will go to our next project. We have started to build a music school in our city. It will be the first music school in our area and we are grateful for all support from NO.5 since it's our first step in starting an artistic education inside NO.6. Until now, most of literature, art and music was banned in the city, but we think that those things are as important as science education. Without it we forgot how to feel and how to be a human.

The implementation of classic literature to our educational program was easier compare to music and art. Still, we hope that in the next few years we will be able to have students in our city on this stage singing for all of us." Some small excited whispers caught Nezumi's ears at that moment.

The older boy was a little surprised too. Shion didn't talk about that project at home. Maybe he wasn't sure yet if everything was going to turn out right or he was too busy in preparing this festival.

It was interesting, to have a proper music school in their city and from what Nezumi understood, the Committee had been planning to build some kind of art school in the future too. If Shion really got a support from other cities, then this might work out. Maybe one day NO.6 would have its own big theatre or museum. Nezumi remembered when he was able to visit some museums in NO.2. It was something he would never forget. Beautiful paintings, old scrolls, books and sculptures were everywhere. Until that moment he only read about many of those things in the books, but seeing them with his own eyes was totally different experience. In the end he wasn't surprised that looking at such things moved him. Nezumi was able to sing and act and that moved other people, bringing to them to unknown lands and stories. It was just the same thing.

Now NO.6 started to make the first steeps to be like other cities and show its people that live was something more than numbers and strict information.

Standing in the crowd and looking toward the stage, Nezumi understood why Shion brought back this festival. He understood the meaning behind all this talks about future and hope that he had heard from the other boy. Shion didn't promise them a fairytale-like future without any sorrow and problems with this event. It was impossible and they both knew that. But the small things, like making a possibility for the others to learn, to be able to do and see what they really wanted to do without fear, that was what Shion wanted to create. These were just small steps, like small flower bulbs that just started to grow on the meadow. Many of them may wither, many of them might be destroyed because that how life is, yet some will stay, and they will bloom, making the world more beautiful. The Festival of the Flowers represented those small wishes to bloom and grow in the future.

"Thank you all for your time. I hope you will enjoy the rest of this night." Shion finished his speech. The white haired boy gave microphone back to his co-worker who then announced that shops would be open for only another two hours. Nezumi's gaze followed Shion until he got down from the stage. The silver eyed boy felt strange, but it was now normal when it came to Shion. Nezumi couldn't stop the soft and gentle smile that was sneaking up to his face when he looked at the other. Maybe it was because of the amount of food he had eaten in the last hours, but in that moment all he can felt was an overflowing happiness. He wouldn't admit that Shion's words again got him, that this silly boy again made his world even brighter than it already was.

Shion again won. He made Nezumi believe in a bright future and it felt wonderful.

Chapter Text

Most of the people in the park started gathering around the stage to listen to music. Shion with Karan and Nezumi decided to stay away from the stage after they met again. None of them liked to be squished in that crowd.

The sellers were cleaning up their things in order to call it a day. They seemed tired, but one look on their faces and Shion knew that they were happy with the outcome of the day.

"Mister, would you like to buy the special edition of The West News?" A young man called to Shion before noticing that he just accosted the President of the city. Shion's white hair were now viewable to public because he forgot his beanie in the administration tent after changing back into his casual clothes.

"I'm so sorry Sir. I didn't mean to bother you." The man started and Shion was about to say that man hadn't done anything wrong when he heard familiar voice.
"Shion, my wonderful boy! And Karan the most beautiful of all women." The older man said loudly over the noise of the crowded alley. Rikiga went closer to his co-worker and clapped his shoulders.
"It's alright! Mr. President won't be mad just because of frivolous thing like this, right?"
Shion nodded his head and smiled a little.
"See? Yamato, boy, can you pack the archive numbers into the boxes?"
"Yes, Sir" The young man, Yamato, answered and disappeared behind the newsstand.

"Looks like your newspaper is doing well." Karan said while looking at the different releases of The West News.
"Yes, I had to even hire new people last week because we doubled our print numbers. Not to mention about the special release for this festival. Only that issue contains the information about the old festivals tradition around the world." Rikiga explained to Karan while raising his head up proudly of his achievements.

"Yes, it's not too bad. At least this time there is real information, not just dirty pictures like in the past." Nezumi said while leaning over shop stand and looking through the newspaper. Rikiga took the magazine from Nezumi's hand with a smooth move, but Nezumi still smirked at the older man.
"I almost forgot that you are here too, you dirty rat."
"Always at the service." Nezumi said and Shion sighed a little. These two would never change. The white haired boy looked over the special release that Nezumi just held.

"It sounds interesting. More information might give us some ideas for the festivals in the future." He changed the topic and was about to raise his ID band when Rikiga stopped him from doing so.
"Shion, I can't take a money from you! Without you, The West News and many others independent newspapers would have never been created. Thanks to the committee, information isn't longer censored. You and Karan can always get my newspaper for free."
"Rikiga, really it's nothing so expensive that I can't pay for it. As a President I don't like to get presents, notto mention that it might cause problems to your agency."
"Shion, it's not such a big deal." Rikiga protested. Probably this small fight would have lasted forever and caused Nezumi a headache and Karan to intervene at the end if they didn't get distracted by the shouting.

"Shionn! Shionn! Where are you!?" Someone yelled closer and closer to them until they saw Inukashi's worried face. She froze for a moment of surprised to see them. Then Inukashi started looking around again.
"Did you see little Shionn? I've lost sight of him." Inukashi asked, skipping all greetings.
"No, we didn't." Karan said as she also started to look around. No surprise that Inukashi was on edge; The crowd was packed and finding a small boy didn't sound like an easy task.

"Ugh! I knew I should have brought one of our dogs! It would have found him in an instant." Inukashi said to herself.

"We will help you look for him." The white haired boy said as he put a hand on Inukashi's shoulder. With more of them they would be able to find the boy in no time.

"And don't worry, there are a lot guards around the event. He is going to be alright." He said, trying calm Inukashi down.
"Thanks." The girl took a deep breath and her shoulders relaxed a little after the calming words.

"Alright, so what is the plan?" Nezumi asked, surprising Inukashi. She probably didn't think that Nezumi would join them.
"The ones who know the park the best are me and mom. So I think we should split into two teams. Then whoever finds Shionn first will call the other. One team will be me and Inukashi and the other one will be mom and Nezumi." Shion suggested. Such division would be the best. More splitting would only cause more searching later even if they had connection through their ID bands.

"I can't move from my stand right now until we pack our newspapers, but if little Shionn passes this way I will call you and keep him at the stand." Rikiga told everyone.

"Thank you so much for your help Rikiga." Karan said to the older man, then turned to Shion and Inukashi. "Shion, let's do what you said then. Inukashi don't worry, we will find him."

"He wears a red T-shirt and black trousers." Inukashi described Shionn's clothes before they split out.

They went into opposite directions starting at Rikiga's shop. Shion looked for every kid with brown hair and red T-shirts he could see in the crowd. After a little while, Shion noticed that with every passing minute Inukashi started looking more and more worried.
"So in the end you made it to the festival." He started a conversation to get her mind off of bad thoughts.
"Yes. This week was crazy thanks to this festival of yours. We got our rooms all booked because of the guests from other cities. Still, Shionn said that he really wanted to go. You have talked about some amazing attractions that will take place in the evening so I thought it was worth going. We just arrived and I wanted to buy him some ice cream when he wandered off." Inukashi sounded calm at first, but in the end she got worried again.
Shion thought that he had found little Shion in the crowd, but when the kid turned around, he wasn't the Shionn they were looking for. He thought about asking some guards for help, but he didn't want to cause any disruption. If they or Nezumi and Karen couldn't find the boy on their own within half an hour, Shion would take on a more drastic method.

Uh, I'm sorry. I messed up your fun time with your family." Inukashi said, looking at his face.
"No, you didn't. I'm eager to help. Mom and Nezumi also want to help you out."
"I'm surprised that Nezumi joined. It's just not like him to help the others."
"Well, he might not have done it for a stranger, but I think that he treats you two as close friends, maybe even as a part of family." He chuckled a little bit. Inukashi eyed him carefully before searching for Shionn again.
"You really look happy."
"Because I am really happy. I have everything I could ever wish for."

Inukashi didn't reply to that honest confession and just made an annoyed sigh instead.

Shion was about to ask Inukashi what she was thinking about when he noticed a small boy looking at a fish pool filled with water.
"Shionn!" The white haired boy yelled through the crowd. The child turned his head towards them.
"Shionn! You little trouble maker!" Inukashi almost jumped to the kid and smacked him lightly in the head. Shionn looked at his mommy with glossy eyes and lowered his head.
"I'm sorry." He said quietly, but Inukashi still looked very mad.
"Do you know how worried I was? I couldn't find you anywhere."
"I'm sorry mommy." The child said again and this time his mom hugged him tightly.

"Never do something like this again, not when you are alone and without our dogs."

"I'm sorry, I saw a boy had his face painted and I wanted to look closer at him. I was trying to find you after that but then I saw these fishes." Little Shionn sniffed and pointed at the stand with fish pool.

Shion looked at those two and couldn't help smiling a little. From many things he had done in his life, one right thing was to save this kid and entrust him to Inukashi. He then called Karan and told her their location while watching Inukashi who started giving another lecture to her kid.

It didn't take long for Nezumi and Karan to join them. Karan also gave some piece of her lectures to the little Shionn. Afterward the kid was sulking and Shion started feeling bad for him. The white haired boy averted his eyes to see Nezumi smirking at him, like he knew what Shion was thinking about. 'You are too soft' those silver eyes said, but Shion couldn't help it. Since he was the one who saved this child, Shion couldn't stop himself to feel somehow responsible for that kid.

He often read to Shionn when Inukashi and the child visited them. He talked with the kid about his childish problems like 'what can I do for his mommy' or 'why are stars shinning?'. Plenty of times he put more than one cupcake into the little boy's bag, what Nezumi commented later as spoiling Shionn too much. Maybe this was true, but each time he looked at that child he remembered about the day of the manhunt. The biological mother of the kid had entrusted Shion with her child. He wasn't able to do much but at least he could look after this little boy as best as he could.

Karan and Inukashi started to talk about different elementary schools in the city since Shionn would start his first year really soon. Left alone, little Shionn again turned his head to look at the fish pool. Inside of those were swimming golden fishes, which also caught Shion's interest.

"Are you selling those fishes?" Shion asked seller who were already packing up his things. His main stand was filled with plush toys and the white haired boy was sure that this stand was something about winning toys by shooting the targets. Shion didn't remember any mention about selling fishes.

"No, sir. It's a game that took place during the festivals back then. You pay for paper net and you try to catch the fish from the pool without breaking the paper. If you manage to do that then the fish is yours."
"Oh, that sounds interesting. Shionn, do you want to try?" He asked kid who nodded his head tentatively.
"It's alright, but you have to promise me that you won't make your mom so worried again."
The child nodded his head again, more excitedly this time.
"I won't! I promise!"

Little child raised his hand with hesitation to take the net from Shion. They got a plastic jar to put caught fish into it. The child looked at the pond for a moment, deciding which fish he wanted to catch. Finally, he sank the net into the water, but as he tried to take out the fish it broke and the little animal slipped back into the pool. Shion paid for another two tries, but they ended up with the same results.

"Brother Shion, maybe you try?" The child asked. It seemed like the boy had given upon a hard task for his age. Shion thought as he looked at the little child before him. Shionn looked happy and cheerful even when his tries didn't succeed. Shion bought the next net and looked at the pond. This is a challenge even for an adult like him. There had to be way to win this game. He just needed to calculate the mass of the fish and how much of its weight the paper net could hold on.

Still, his first try also wasn't fruitful. While Nezumi looked over this scene amused, ready to tease Shion for that for at least a month, Inukashi and Karan finally noticed Shion's fight with the fish in the pool. Everyone looked at him with interest when he tried to catch fish the second time. Luck was not with him this time either.

"Maybe you need to choose smaller fish." Karan suggested with Shion's fourth try.
"You know that it will be cheaper to just buy fish normally right?" Asked Inukashi after his sixth try.

On the seventh Shion moved net as slow as possible, but that plan failed too. When Shion paid for the eighth nets it looked like Nezumi had lost patience for this idiotic game. Other boy took the net from Shion's hand and with one fast, smooth move he dropped the fish into the jar filled with water.

"Happy now?" The dark haired boy asked with annoyance. For a few seconds everyone looked at Nezumi in shocking silence. The strange situation was cut off by little Shionn who stared to jump up in awe.
"Wow, Nezumi did it! So cool!"
Nezumi didn't answer to that, he was still pissed off about how much money had been wasted on something so stupid. Without any other word he closed the jar with the cover full of holes so there would be air for the fish.
"Here, take it. Don't kill it right away okay?" Nezumi gave little Shionn the jar and the child shook his head enthusiastically.
"I won't, I will take care of it like mommy taking care of our dogs." The child ensured. Inukashi only sighed loudly.

"Great, another thing to take care of. When he gets bored with it I will call you two to change the water in its aquarium and feed it." She said pointing at Shion and Nezumi.

"I don't think it will be needed." Shion chuckled a little and the small boy responded with a big shiny smile.

It was good that he was in such a good mood earlier. Else Nezumi was sure that he would drag Shion from that stupid stand by the force if that was needed. Shion must have left that genius brain inside of that administration tent because he couldn't explain it in any other way. Didn't Shion know that games like this were always set up to get money from idiots? Shion mostly saved the money he earned carefully so maybe acting silly for once wasn't something bad, but Nezumi wasn't used to such situations. It all felt spoiled, it was the careless side of living in the city that Nezumi hated. Spending money on food or something useful was alright, but for games like these? He knew that Shion started it just to cheer up the kid. If the price were books or something that would last long then maybe he would be more accepting of it, but it was only a small golden fish that would die soon. It was worthless.

Cravat woke up and raised his head off from Karan's jacket and now little Shionn got absorbed by playing with the mouse. Between playing and petting Cravat, he asked Shion for advice about taking care of the fish.
Inukashi treated them with some warm soup before the shops were closed for good. It was her thanks for finding little Shionn and probably for dragging them into that game stand. Like him, Inukashi understood better than others that wasting money was something unacceptable in the West Block.

"We all had fun, that's why he didn't stop playing that stupid game." Inukashi said after taking a slip from her soup. It surprised Nezumi; He wasn't easy to read, but Inukashi perfectly knew what he was thinking about.

"That airhead is always like this. He would do anything to make others happy, he only didn't notice that this game annoyed you." She laughed a little before continuing "Not like it's a hard task anyway. There are tons of things that can easily piss you off."

"Oh my, did you finally get a little more observing?" Nezumi tried to fight back since Inukashi hit straight into the target. Even so Inukashi didn't try to continue argue with him.

"I don't think I will ever forgive you for leaving Shion alone with this mess. He really needed you. After you returned half year ago, I thought that you would disappear soon again. Now I don't think that is going to happen. Well, you will be an even bigger idiot than Shion to leave when you finally are happy. You both look so happy that it sometimes makes me want to puke."
Those words shocked Nezumi and it didn't look like Inukashi was going to end at that.
"You always reeked with the loneliness, but now you smell totally different. You pissed me off many times, but you never laughed when I told you about my mother. That's why it's good that you are happy now. Don't waste such chance again."
They both looked at the laughing child, Shion and Karan while they were brainstorming some funny names for the fish.

"I had to leave." Nezumi said without looking at Inukashi's face. "I wouldn't be able help to him with anything, I would only drag us both down." He said the truth that he never told anyone. He knew that. Nezumi understood that if he had stayed beside Shion back then they wouldn't have been able to build a normal relationship. He had to learn how to live a new life, without constant fear that others would hurt him. Inukashi opened her mouth in surprise at such confession from him. Then her eyebrow raised and she smiled.

"Yeah, it looks like you really needed that you silly rat."
They went silent after that while looking at the people they cared about. They were both raised in the harsh reality of the West Block. They didn't trust each other until boy with the name of flower step into their lives and gave them more than they had ever imagined. Now, after trying to get use to the current reality, sharing the common wish for Shion to be happy and after going through so much those two could finally say that they were friends.

Cravat tilt his head to look at the fish in the plastic jar. Little Shionn talked to both animals as if they could understand what he was saying and introduced them to each other.
Shion and Karan watched the heartwarming scene with a smile on their faces. Out of a sudden, Karan turned to Shion.

"Shion, maybe you would like to go with Nezumi somewhere alone?" Karan asked her son. Shion looked at her with confusion.

"But you will be alone then!"
"I won't be alone. I am going to stay with Inukashi and little Shionn so you don't need to worry."
"But..." He wanted to protest, but then his eyes landed on Nezumi who was talking with Inukashi. Karan's words sounded so appealing that Shion couldn't stop his mind from suggesting him how he could spend the rest of the evening with his boyfriend. The idea was amazing, but to leave his mother like this felt too selfish.
"Shion, dear, stop worrying about me. You have spent a lot of your free time with me. It's more than some mothers could wish for." Karan said, then whispered so no one could hear her last sentences. "Now go and take Nezumi out for a date. You earned it for all of your good work."

Shion couldn't help but feel excited. It had been a while since he and Nezumi were on the date. Sometimes they were doing some late night walks around the city or afternoon shopping but all of that couldn't be called a real date.
The light hit on his back got Shion out of his thoughts.
"I will call you when I want to head back home. Now go on." Karan chuckled a little while gently pushing her son.
"Thanks mom. I love you!" Shion waved to her mother and went towards the other boy.

"... They said that the train station in the West Block will be opened until the end of the year, until now there was only one main station at the center of the city."
He heard a bit of Nezumi and Inukashi's conversation about modernization in the West Block. Shion wasn't sure what to do. Should he just ask Nezumi to go with him?

"Mommy! Aunt Karan is asking if we want to go with her closer to the stage?" Little Shionn called Inukashi. She then went towards her son and looked at the jar with concern. Shion stepped closer to Nezumi earning a strange look from the guy. His eyebrow raised, but the rest of his face was still like a mask.

"Um, mom said that we can spend rest of the festival alone, if we want to." Shion said under Nezumi's scrutinized look. The other boy didn't answer at first; he looked around then finally back at Shion.
"Do you have some places you want us to go?" The dark haired boy asked. Shion thought for a moment about the possibilities when Karan, lnukashi and little Shionn waved them goodbye. He and Nezumi were left alone. Not many people stayed on that alley beside them. Most of city's inhabitants gathered near the stage, wondering what big attraction would happen there. That give Shion an idea: they could go to a place where they would be able to watch the fireworks alone. Perfect date for an end of the day.

"Yes, I have." He answered to his boyfriend.
"Then lead the way, your majesty." Nezumi said and there was something off in his voice. They started to walk. Shion kept looking from time to time at the silent boy. It was clear that Nezumi was annoyed by something. Worrying what was going on, Shion turned to an empty stand so no one could see them.

"Nezumi, what's going on?" He asked. The atmosphere was strange and Shion really didn't want it to continue till they watched firework.
"I hope you aren't as foolish with leading the city as you were at that game." Nezumi split out not looking at Shion.

His words confused Shion. He thought that everyone had fun at that stand with the goldfishes. Little Shionn had cheered for him, and so did Inukashi and Karan. Even Nezumi observed his doings, so Shion took it as a good sign. Although it was true that the other boy became impatient at the end, Nezumi won and gave the fish to the child so he didn't think that there was something wrong.
"Which part of it made you angry?" Shion asked. From what he learned during the half past year, it was better to ask Nezumi directly rather than guessing by himself. It was an easier and more accurate way. He would get his answer or not and this time it was best to cleal with this situation as quickly as possible.
"Nezumi, I don't want us to fight."

The older boy looked at Shion, feeling surprised at his last words. He was little bit annoyed, but he also didn't want to fight over something so trivial. Now he acted like some idiotic drama queen and this wasn't the place or time for such thing.

"I got annoyed by you spending money on such stupid things. You kept going even when it was clear that it was set up so that you would lose. The other thing was that you spoiled Junior again. Good thing that Inukashi is the one who takes care of him. Some discipline is necessary while raising kids, you know that." Nezumi said maybe a little too harshly since Shion's shoulders fell down and the other boy lowered his head.

"I know. I can't help it. Even if Inukashi takes care of him, I can't help taking care of him. He shouldn't leave Inukashi's side, but I didn't want him to be sad on such a day like today. I thought that everyone had fun during that game, I did too. I'm sorry."

Seeing Shion apologized for such thing made the dark haired boy felt like an idiot himself.
Nezumi rested his hand on his forehead, sighing loudly.

"Damn, don't apologize for having fun. God, now this sounds so stupid." He glanced over Shion's worried face. This guy donated most of his pay for others, but Nezumi got angry at the spending three times more than normal goldfish cost.

"Listen, I'm overreacting but you know that life in the West Block was totally different. I can't stand any waste of money for something so pointless. I know that people of the other cities sometimes do stupid things for fun too, but this isn't something I can get used to. I may never be. I simply don't like it."

Shion looked at him sadly and hesitated to ask for something. Nezumi saw that his hand raising a little just to fall back again. It wasn't the first time during this evening that Nezumi noticed that Shion wanted to hold his hand and that left a bad taste in his mouth. It made the whole situation even more annoying and idiotic. This wasn't something worth fighting over.

"Alright, I understand that. Nezumi... But.. Do you like this event?" Shion asked and from his voice Nezumi knew that it was a very important question for Shion.
"Yes, I like your Festival of the Flowers. The music is nice, the food is too and the atmosphere is something that I have never experienced even during my journey." Nezumi answered honestly, which made Shion brighten.

"It's a good job, even that idiotic stand with the goldfishes. No surprise that world has fallen apart in the past."
His words caused for Shion to laugh loudly as they looked at each other behind the empty shop stand.
"I don't think that the big war started because there were games at the festivals in the past."
"Well, maybe the reason we know was fabricated. The truth was that ruler of some countries couldn't caught the fish during the festival. They tried and tried until they sold their own country." Nezumi played along with the silly idea making Shion chuckle again.
"Maybe you should write a book about it. With a title: 'The real reason of the big war' or something." Shion joked back.

Nezumi grinned back at him and they slowly started walking again. They got closer to the center of the park again, making the older boy guessing that Shion was leading him there, but they turned into a different alley just before they reached the stage area. This road was less crowded than the others and behind the trees they could see bits of stage's screen with some women singing cheerful songs. Nezumi still followed after Shion when something caught his attention. He wasn't sure after the first few notes because the arrangement was different, but when the words started he knew that he wasn't mistaken.
Shion looked down on the ground a little uncertain, like a kid caught on stealing some cookies.
They were quiet until song ended and even without any word from Shion Nezumi got many answers with that little piece of music.

"So it was that time when you slipped into the theater." Nezumi said after a while. The song they heard was the one that he sang as Eve after their talk about festivals five years ago. He never imagined that he would ever hear another person sing it. That also must have been Shion's work.
"Yes. You didn't let me go but I asked Rikiga and he got me a ticket."
"Oh, we have some bad boy here." Nezumi teased a little Shion who averted his eyes.

"I thought that you hated the idea of the festivals, but you sang that song about future and hope. It was beautiful. That evening I promised to myself that one day I would recreate festival of the flowers with you. I decided to create a future for you where you will be able to sing, dance and have fun on the stage in the world where hope and believing are the normal things."
That confession didn't surprise Nezumi so much, he knew that Shion probably had his own dreams and reasons for this event, but it still felt strange when the other boy was planning the future for them both.

"I don't recall getting an invitation to perform on the stage." He said it with a little joking tone to forget about strange feelings that twisted his stomach.
"I know. I wasn't sure what you would think about this whole idea so I didn't ask you to help me this time."
"So you plan to include me into your scheme in the future?"
"If you don't like to do it then I won't. I'm not going to force you into anything."

Shion looked at him with honesty and Nezumi didn't like how other boy's face had lost all of the happy look from before. Along the way, during the last half year, what Shion had felt had become more important to Nezumi than he would have imagined. The warmth filled Nezumi's heart when Shion smiled or laughed and when the other boy was sad his heart was prickled by thousands of needles. Shion had become his biggest weakness and there was no way to change that any longer. He wanted to see that boy smile.

He also wondered what it would feel like to sing to all those people from the city. He liked to sing till the end, so such idea sounded nice. It didn't mean that there weren't any problems. Should he perform as himself or should he wear his old costume? Would that lead to the revelation of their relationship?
Shion looked over the trees at the screen that showed the next music band. Some previous sparks in his red eyes faded and Nezumi understood that those problems weren't important now. All he had to do was to convince the most important person in his life that he would like to fulfill his wish.

"Well, you probably will have better singers for that position when the music school opens, but I don't mind singing one or two songs someday in the future."

At such words Shion's face was brightened like a flower under sunshine.

"Alright, someday. When everything is settled down and our relationship isn't a secret." Shion said with a dreamy voice.
"You know that then people would say that I can be on the stage because I'm your boyfriend?" Nezumi teased a little, but when he thought about this matter more carefully, this would the another problem they had to deal with.
"Even if they think that way, once they hear your voice they will take all those words back. They would love you just like the people in the West Block did."
Such answer fit Shion and as always, it cracked a smile on Nezumi's face.

"The main attraction will start with the next 10 minutes." They heard an announcement coming from the stage. Shion's eyes widened and he again raised his hand to grab Nezumi's. This time his arm didn't retreat and strong fingers grabbed the sleeve of Nezumi's jacket.
"We will be late!" Shion yelled excitedly while dragging Nezumi from the alley between the trees into more dense part of the park. They walked for five minutes between the trees and the bushes. Nezumi wanted to ask Shion where they were going as his hair and face got brushed by some branches. Still, the way Shion looked forward with excitation while telling Nezumi that he wouldn't answer Nezumi now. He let himself be dragged into the unknown and he didn't feel a slightly bit afraid. He trusted and believed in Shion, no matter what that crazy guy came up with this time.

Finally, they stopped. They were on some kind of opening between the trees and a river was a few steps away them. No one was in this part of the park, yet they couldn't be so far away since Nezumi was able to hear the music clearly.
"This will be perfect spot." Shion said to himself while looking first at the watch he got for his birthday, then at the ID brand because it was too dark to read the hour on the watch. When clock has shown 'nine o'clock', Shion raised his head looking at the sky and Nezumi followed suit.

The sky lighted up with a palette of colors. It was a magnificent view in the rhythms of the music that came from the center of the park. Fireworks. Just above their heads, the sky was covered over and over by the colorful explosions. Nezumi had seen fireworks in his past, but always from very far away since he watched them from the West Block. During his journey he missed such show when he was going to NO.2 during the week after New Year's Eve.

Now he could see them from so close that he never thought it would be possible. They exploded just right above their heads and when the remains of the sparkles fell down they looked like the rain which sprinkled the boys in golden shower. It was beautiful, the most beautiful thing that Nezumi ever saw in his life. His neck hurt from looking high above on the sky, but he couldn't take his eyes off of this magnificent show. He moved his head only for moment to look at Shion who was standing beside him. Their hands were now connected and maybe, because excitement from watching the fireworks they hold each other hand a little too tightly, but none of them said anything about it. Shion was entranced at the light show, like he also had only seen such view for the first time in his life. The lights reflected in his white hair, painting them in the colors that shine on the sky.

Looking at this boy, Nezumi could feel so much love that made his heart light and warm. Shion was just like that to Nezumi: a beautiful existence, just like the fireworks that shone so brightly in the even darkness of the night.

Their eyes met and Shion smiled even brighter. Not wanting to look silly Nezumi was about to turn back to look at the sky when he noticed that fireworks were reflected on the river beside them. Now he understood why Shion chose this place. Not only because no one was here, but because this was a perfect spot where horizon almost disappeared and they were surrounded by the colorful lights. This discovery took Nezumi's breath away.

After a minute of more looking at the different kinds of the fireworks the sky was filled with strange sounds. It wasn't like the bird chirping or the mouse squeaking sounds. Along with the sound, followed up into the sky were few white, multiplying lights. They moved strangely and the way those fireworks looked shocked Nezumi and Shion for a while. After those strange lights were gone and replaced by the next wave of normal fireworks, Nezumi burst into laughter.

"Holy god! Those looked like the sperm! You over did yourself this time, your majesty." Nezumi said, feeling like his eyes filled with the tears from the laughter. Shion didn't look like he had the same point of view as Nezumi, so it took him a second before his cheeks turned red and he shouted at the other boy.
"I didn't design any of these fireworks! I also saw this version of our products for the first time in my life just right now. My first thought was that they looked like Tadpole, your pervert!" Shion laughed, trying to push the dark haired boy playfully. Nezumi grabbed his hand and easily just like when they were kids and he spun Shion's body around like how he wanted. Instead of pinning him down, Nezumi turned Shion around and wrapped his hands around him. They both laughed and breathed heavily when they landed just like Nezumi wanted, with Shion's backs pressed to his chest.

In this position they raised their heads again and looked at the last lights on the sky. At the end of show, the darkness of the night almost disappeared when everything was covered by the last, biggest firework. With last remains of the colorful lights the music also started to become more and more quiet until it ended. After a moment of the silence, the center of the park filled with loud claps and screams of the enjoyment at the show they had just seen.

"It was pretty." Shion said when most of the noises died down.
"Yeah, it was." Nezumi agreed, because there was nothing to debate. It was beautiful. Nezumi thought about letting Shion go from their hug when music again filled the air. It would be a waste to miss such chance.
"May I have this dance?" Nezumi asked like the prince from the silly novel after freeing the white haired boy. From their conversation earlier it was clear that Shion had done all of this to celebrate the festival with Nezumi. So they could laugh, sing and dance together and Nezumi didn't mind to fulfill one of Shion's secret wishes.
The other boy eyed him again with surprised at first, then a little embarrassed to finally look at the older boy with pure happiness and joy.

"I might have forgotten how to dance." He chuckled nervously, but he took Nezumi's hand anyway. The older boy pressed them to each other as close as possible.
"You remember each of those damn shop stands here, but you don't remember how to dance? You're breaking the heart of your low servant who taught you so carefully five years ago." Nezumi said with the agony in his voice, but his attempt to act was ruined by the big smile that didn't want to leave his face.
"Well, you can always remind me." Shion answered playfully.
"As you wish, your majesty." Nezumi followed with their little flirt game.

They slow danced for a while under the music. The first few steps of the younger boy were indeed a little bit clumsy, but it didn't take long before he caught up again. Well, Nezumi didn't expect anything else. In the end it was him who was the teacher.

They held each other close when music was slower. When it became more playful, Nezumi spun Shion around earning a light, cheerful laugh from his boyfriend.
Finally, after maybe a half hour later, the boy stopped, while still holding each other close. Their hard breaths were mixed and their lips were very close. From looking at the red sparks in Shion's eyes it was clear that other boy waited for a kiss. Nezumi wondered for a while if he should do that since he was in mood to tease his boyfriend a little. His idea got quickly forgotten once he felt warm breath on his face. He also wanted to close that small distance between them and it sounded a lot better than teasing.

It didn't take much for their lips to meet.
It always surprised Nezumi, how kissing which wasn't something really pleasant in the past for him had changed when Shion became a part of his life. He wanted to kiss Shion, with all his passion because the other boy also always gave his all into the kiss. Each time their lips met his mind was exploded with things like 'I'm so happy with you', 'I love you' and 'I'm glad that I met you'. Those things were so clear with each of Shion's move, and it was not like Nezumi hadn't heard such words from the other boy everyday.

When they parted, even if they had a little problem with catching their breaths, they both smiled again. Shion moved even closer so their foreheads touched. Nezumi wanted to kiss him again when they heard some voices not so far away and the white haired boy jumped away immediately from their embrace. Both boys watched begrudgingly the forest site from where excited noises came. A group of the teenagers got the same idea of getting away from the crowd and spending the rest of the event away from other people.

Shion sighed and looked at Nezumi.
"Looks like our time is up. Maybe we should find mom and head back home?" Shion asked raising his hand to check the time on his ID band. Feeling slightly disappointed, Nezumi looked at the bushes and trees when something strange shone in the dark. He saw a dark shadow and the metallic light again, making his blood speed up many times faster than it was normally.

"Shion! Watch out!" He screamed, afraid that Shion would not understand, that even one second of waste would be the end, but the other boy turned around and almost instantly started running, pushing Nezumi forward with him. The air was cut with a loud noise from the shot and a loud curse when it missed. They ran towards the trees that were around 10 meters away from the place where they were standing. Two more shots caused teenagers to scream and run toward the center of the park. The shooters were messy and Nezumi was almost sure that person who released them was an amateur.

Yet, the two shoots later, maybe thanks to the bad luck Shion screamed in pain and the younger boy paused abruptly. With the loud sound of his own fast beating heart in his ears Nezumi grabbed Shion and dragged him to cover behind one of the trees.

He was afraid and confused. He didn't have his super fiber cloth nor even his knife. He didn't remember when he was so defenseless.

What was going on?

Didn't Shion and the rest destroy all the weapons in the city?

Wasn't the city safe since five years ago? What the fuck was going on?

Nezumi looked at Shion and for a second he almost forgot how to breath.
The sleeve of Shion's light brown coat was now drowning in bloodshot color. The younger boy had his other hand above the wound to stop the bleeding, but it didn't look like it worked anyway. Nezumi then looked at Shion's pained face just to feel scared even more.
Shion's red eyes were cold and distant.

Chapter Text

Shion felt like time around him had stopped.

He didn't even feel the pain in his arm nor see Nezumi's terrified face. His whole attention was focused on the situation he and Nezumi were in.

Someone had shot them. Most likely that person's target was Shion. It was also clear that if Nezumi didn't notice it earlier, Shion's injury would be worse.

It seemed that their enemy had only one gun. After Shion and Nezumi hide behind the tree, that person didn't want to waste bullets or he ran out of bullets for missing them plenty of time.

Moreover, judging on Nezumi's skill, if they didn't have a sudden attack then he would have been able to take down that person in an instant.

Even so, Shion was glad that Nezumi didn't rush straight toward their enemy. He would be devastated if Nezumi got hurt.

In any case, the most critical thing for them now was to get away from here as fast as possible since their current hiding place wasn't safe. That person would find them in any moment and Shion at this stage wouldn't be able to fight. They had better to take a better cover far away from the center of the park to keep people away from the threat. Shion had some place in mind.

"Nezumi, we need to move. There is a small storage for the park's equipment. It's located 340 meters from here." He said quietly to the other boy who was trying to see from behind the tree if their enemy was chasing them. It was clear that Nezumi had some questions, but like Shion, he also knew that their situation was bad and there was no time to ask.

"We will go through park's forest." Shion said, feeling that his vision blurred a little. It looked like his body had been weaker than he thought because of the blood lost. Nezumi nodded and Shion noticed that those silver eyes shone with worry and fear. Such sight hurt him more than his wounded arm ever could. He didn't see such grimace on his boyfriend's face since the Correctional Facility event.

"Tell me when." Nezumi whispered preparing for run.

Shion looked over his shoulder.

Their left side looked clear.

"Now!" Shion said before he started to run towards the closest trees and bushes. His vision again had become blurry. The firing towards them soon started again. He pushed Nezumi to run in front of him.

"Fuck, Shion! You idiot!" The other boy shouted after he noticed that Shion was trying cover him. Nezumi dragged younger boy's healthy arm and pushed other boy before him. Shion wanted to refuse, being shot again was better than seeing Nezumi again taking bullet aimed at him. That one time five years ago when Shion thought that he would lose Nezumi forever was enough. He didn't want such thing to happen ever again.

Another bullet flew toward them. Shion felt dizzy and Nezumi must had noticed that since he wrapped his arm around Shion's shoulders helping him to run. They hid behind the trees a few times and it looked like their enemy had lost their track for a moment. It wasn't something to be happy about but at least it gave them time to get to the storage.

They almost ran straight on the doors making a loud bang. Nezumi kicked the metal door repeatedly hoping to open it with force while Shion tried to find his entrance card.

He gave it to Nezumi once he found it and leaned over the cold wall of the storage, feeling like he could collapse at any moment now.

"The Passcode is 5784." Shion said and a few moments later Nezumi opened the door.

They almost fell onto the ground breathing hard. Still, Nezumi raised back quickly on his feet to block the doors with an electronic tab on the wall inside the storage.

Meanwhile Shion took down from the shelf a first-aid kit to treat his wound. He was only able to open it when Nezumi was already sitting down beside him taking the bandages from Shion's hands without a single word. Using that time, Shion took some painkillers from the kit. He knew that he would need to wait for at least 30 minutes for the pills to take effect, so he leaned over the wall trying to get his mind off of the pain.

For the first time in their temporary safe moment, Shion could take a better look at Nezumi since they were attacked. He was taking care of Shion's wound with a mixed expression of anger and lost on his face. Nezumi cursed quietly as he searched for the sterile gauze in the kit.

Until that moment Shion thought that all of this was just an another nightmare. Now, when his levels of adrenaline lowered, the wound in his arm had become more and more painful with every passing minute, his mind understood fully that all of this was real.

With the feeling of pain followed anger.

He was mad at the one who attacked them for destroying this day, for bringing harm to the city once more, for messing up with his and Nezumi's date, but more importantly, for bringing the feeling of fear back into those silver eyes again.

His tightened fist trembled from anger.

It was unforgivable, to bring such harm into their peaceful life that Shion had worked so hard to create. He wanted to hurt that person, he wanted for them to pay for destroying Shion's promises of the safe city.

"Shion."

Nezumi's quiet voice hit Shion in realization that he was about to break another promise and this time it would be his and only his fault.

He had to calm down or else he again would lose himself. He promised to not even think again about hurting another human being. He couldn't let these impulses get the better of him again.

Nezumi already stopped wrapping Shion's arm and he was looking at Shion with concern.

"It will be alright. I won't lose myself again, don't worry." Shion said aloud to make Nezumi and himself believe in those words. He wouldn't let himself to be weak like he was inside the Correctional Facility ever again.

"What now?" The older boy asked and before Shion was able to answer a loud bang onto the metal wall of the storage broke the silence.

"I know you are in there Mr. President! You don't need to hide. I will get you anyway!" The male voice screamed from the outside of the storage. The noise of the firing echoed outside and they saw the dents appearing on the storage's surface. While their enemy shot the next two bullets at metallic doors Nezumi wrapped his hands around Shion in order to protect him with his own body.

It looked like their shelter had changed into their trap.

The sound of the firing stopped to change into loud noises of hits and kicks.

"Come out you coward!" The voice shouted again.

Shion pushed Nezumi from holding him tightly, earning a surprised and hurt look from the other boy.

"I'm going to call for help." He explained raising up the hand with his ID band. Nezumi nodded and moved, giving Shion space while still watching the walls where the bullets could break over.

Even if Shion felt somehow ridiculously calm for a such situation, his fingers trembled while he pushed the buttons on the holographic monitor.

"Mr. President, did something happen?" A voice came out from Shion's communication unit.

"Yes, me and my friend are under attack. Someone started shooting us near the river site, and now we took cover in the storage placed inside PRS-4 area. I got wounded on the arm, but my state is stable. Still, we need a quick back up."

"Yes, sir! Did you hear? Kisagi, take four people and get there from the north site, Arashi, your people will go from the south. Mr. President wait for us and don't do expose yourself." The background of transmission suddenly filled with loud hurried noises as people got prepared for the sudden attack.

"Please, try to keep the target away from the civilian population. I don't want for anyone else to get hurt." Shion added before another crash landed on the door. If it kept going like this, the tin metal wouldn't be able to hold for any longer.

"Yes, sir! We will be there in 2 minutes."

With that Shion ended their transmission and looked around for anything that could protect them if the rescue team couldn't get here on time. To their luck the enemy didn't think about shooting at door's electronic panel yet. Shion wasn't sure what would happen after that. Would the doors open or he and Nezumi would end up getting trapped in this tin metallic box? Reaching his hand towards the gardening items Shion hopped that they wouldn't need to find out which answer was correct.

Nezumi bit the inside of his cheek for the third time from the moment they entered this damn storage. He hated situations when he was unable to do anything. He cursed in his mind that he couldn't act differently; If he had done something earlier they wouldn't have to hide like helpless mouse away from the cat.

With Shion's calm behavior he felt weak and shaken even when he had gone through worse things than this before. Still, waiting wasn't the thing that he hated the most in that moment.

What made Nezumi more afraid was the moment when he bandaged the Shion's arm. The other boy's crimson eyes filled with anger that they had become even lifeless and cold.

He knew that look.

It was the Shion that Nezumi didn't understand, the one he was scared of.

After Nezumi whispered the other boy's name and saw the light and warmth returned to those red eyes, he could let out a breath in relief.

But the situation didn't change for the better. Their only luck was that this damn killer wasn't able to shoot two bullets into one place, or else that useless metal would be filled with holes like the cheese right now.

He wanted to snap at Shion for making this damn storage from the recycle old cans which is probably due to his ecology obsession. Nezumi gritted with his tooth this time to calm down.

He was pathetic for wanting to take out on Shion because he was afraid.

Shion raised from the floor before Nezumi reacted to catch his hand. The younger boy was already beside garden sprinkler and some plastic buckets. Shion grabbed the shovel from the corner of the room and held it tightly in one hand while facing the door.

"What are you doing?" Nezumi asked before the next crash from the outside shook one of the walls.

"I'm going to use it if that person breaks through the doors before the reinforcement arrives." Shion answered with the emotionless voice again, leaving unpleasant chills run down Nezumi's spine. The dark haired boy could envision Shion crushing their enemy's head with that shovel while his eyes were dark and emotionless. Without a second thought, he rushed to Shion and took the shovel from his hand.

Shion looked at him puzzled and irritated.

"I don't want you to protect me! I can do it on my own!" He snapped at Nezumi. "You would get hurt because of me again!" Shion shouted loudly and some bullets must have found the previous shoot place because it sneaked inside the storage. They pushed themselves towards plastic shelf.

Nezumi knew that Shion wasn't weak, that he could protect himself, but he wanted to keep Shion safe anyway. This was the weakness that love brought on him.

'What I fear the most is to lose you.' Shion always said these kinds of things and Nezumi understood it clearly since that time five years ago when he had shielded the other boy with his own body.

This time he just couldn't act any differently. Besides, he wanted to protect Shion because he couldn't manage to do so inside the Correctional Facility.

To protect Shion from doing something that would make him regret later.

The loud crash came from the wall behind the shelf making Nezumi and Shion jump in surprise. Soon after they heard loud, happy laugh.

"Scream Mr. President! Scream and cry; it's a music to my ears!"

Nezumi had had enough of it. They were not going to die this way, getting shot like helpless animals in cage. He was reaching out to get the shovel laying on the floor when they heard another loud shout.

"Put your weapon down, now!"

The loud exchange of shooting filled the air. Nezumi and Shion were able to hear painful screams before everything quieted down.

"Keep holding him down!" Someone ordered before Shion was able to hear steps towards the storage.

"Mr. Shion, sir, are you alright?" The another voice asked from the front of the metallic doors. Shion moved to open them when Nezumi grabbed his healthy arm.

"Are you sure it's safe?" The dark haired boy whispered and Shion nodded trying to smile even though the pain from his wound was killing him.

"Yes, I know this voice."

Nezumi let go of his arm and Shion opened the door. In front of it stood one of the high officers that the white haired boy knew well.

"I'm glad that you are safe, sir." The police officer let out a loud relief sigh after he saw his President in one piece.

Shion and Nezumi walked out to see around the forest's clearing eleven police guards. Two of them were shot and now their co-workers secured their wounds. Shion's crimson eyes fell on the man pinned down to the ground by the one of the guards. Without a second thought, he stepped towards the person who wanted to take his life.

"Now you come out after you have called your dogs, you damn coward!" The young man growled after he saw Shion coming near. In answer to the man's words, the police officer grabbed his head pushing him more onto the ground.

"Sir, you should head to the health station or the hospital." The high officer said, but Shion only shook his head and looked at Nezumi. He smiled reassuringly to his boyfriend before heading closer to their enemy.

"You can lift him from the ground, there is no need to treat him like this now that he's unarmed." Shion said to the policeman.

"Look how mighty our President is." The shooter said with an annoyed grin after he was put on his knees. "Maybe you think I will thank you?"

The man kept going at it, but Shion didn't let himself be dragged into this pointless insult.

"Why do you want to kill me?" The white haired boy asked calmly looking without blinking at the man. He tried to jump at Shion, but was restrained immediately.

"You killed my parents, you damn piece of shit!"

Those words surprised everyone. Some people looked at Shion who also didn't understand what was going on. He didn't kill anyone beside that time inside the Correctional Facility. He didn't understand any of this, this had to be some mistake.

The man started to laugh at the confused faces of the people gathering on the clearing.

"You don't have idea what I'm talking about, right Mr. President? I'm the son of the scientists that were working inside the Correctional Facility. They were there the day you blew up the main department. They couldn't get out before the building was burnt down to ashes by the fire!" The shooter screamed at Shion.

The crimson eyed boy stood frozen, suddenly aware of the look from people around him.

He asked himself if that man was right, if he was really responsible for that man's parents death. If yes, then how many more did he kill that day? He only wanted to save Safu. He didn't want to hurt anyone.

And if the man was right then Shion wouldn't be the only one at fault.

No, saying that those words were truth would make Nezumi be responsible as well since he was one that blew up the main computer room. Such thought made his body sweat and his pulse rush in his veins with fear.

"Shion, don't listen to him, you didn't kill any of those people. They were the ones who set out the hunt. They brought it on themselves." Nezumi said coming closer so Shion could see his silver eyes. Looking into them made he calm down a little. Nezumi's words were too biased, but the truth was that the death of those people wasn't something they wanted to cause. If they were to blame, then Safu who asked them to destroy main computer room would be also at fault. Even Nezumi, who hated NO.6, tried not to kill anyone even if he had such chance that day. This was an accident that no one of them wished for. Shion shook his head and looked at the scientists' son.

"I'm very sorry that your parents didn't manage to run from the facility. I would never wish for their deaths. You know that everyone who worked inside the facility were put under the righteous judgment and we didn't put anyone on the death sentence for their doings. Your parents wouldn't be any different." Shion wished to explain to the young man that he really didn't want more people to die that day. No.6 had already suffered from too many deaths and most of the committee members agreed to not increase the amount of blood already shed by the city. Some were put into renovated jail where they worked for city to pay back for their crime, and others were exiled from NO.6.

"Bullshit! You are just a murder who killed my parents! You built your position on their corpses. They were innocent and you murdered them!"

At those last words, something inside Shion snapped. All the things he saw inside the Correctional Facility flooding back to him. Images of dead people that haunted him in his nightmares and the cruelty of that place. The anger took over his mind at that one word.

"Innocent you say?" Shion said and everyone looked surprised hearing the sharp and spearing voice.

"Can you tell that to the families of the people who were used as experiments by your parents? Can you tell them that it was just a harmless play to crush people's bones or to take out their brains? Do you think that other children suffered less than you when their parents were killed without reason? And you call this innocence?" Shion's words were quiet but they felt louder than the shooting earlier. The man Shion talked to gritted his teeth in anger, but he couldn't find words to fight back.

"I'm not saying that I'm any better. I killed to save my and someone else's life. I murdered in order to live and I'm fully aware of the consequences of my action. No, I'm not innocent. But so were you parents. They were murderers who took others' life just for research. Even so, as a civilian of the city and as a member of the Restructual Committee, I wouldn't put death sentence on them. I have no right to judge others and take their lives."

No one was able to say anything. Few people were aware that while trying to rescue his childhood friend, Mr. President had killed people of the Correctional Facility.

After what the previous government had done to the people no one had ever criticized Shion on this matter. Everyone knew that it was unavoidable to kill another human being in order to survive in a revolutionary situation. Many civilians were even glad about information that some guards and workers of the facility died that day.

"Sir, you don't need to explain yourself to that man." After a long silence someone came up and told Shion. It was a sign of support that Shion welcomed and hated at the same time.

Shion's arm felt numb and he noticed that his body started to react to the wound with fever.

"Thank you, Mr. Yuu, but this is my crime and I'm not going to run away from it or to hide it." Shion looked at officer and he moved his eyes back to the kneeling man.

"All I can say is that I'm sorry for your lost. I wish for your parents, no matter what they had done, to survive that day. Maybe they would have been able to pay back for their doings in this NO.6 and your life would have been different. I hope their souls will find peace."

"Damn you! You think that you can fix everything with those beautiful words? Fuck you!" The man spit on Shion's coat and police officer was going to push the man back down on the ground, Nezumi was about to step towards him too, when Shion signaled everyone to stop.

He simply shook his head and moved aside. He had enough, he wanted to go home, he wanted to forget this incident. He wanted to get back to the moment when he and Nezumi were dancing happily earlier.

Right, Nezumi.

Shion didn't want to look at Nezumi in fear of how the other boy reacted to all of this. Did Shion fail him again?

Measuring that Shion ended his talk with the shooter and the police took him away. The only one who stayed at the damaged storage were Shion, Nezumi and two officers.

"Sir, we need to take care of your wound."

"Shion, he's right, let's go." The voice of Nezumi made Shion raise his head. He didn't see any hint of fear or disgust in those beautiful silver eyes. At that Shion wanted to find some comfort from the older boy's touch.

Shion wanted to tell him that he shouldn't even dare to add those scientists to the list of people that he had killed. If Shion wasn't at fault, then he didn't want for Nezumi to blame himself either.

He wanted to believe Nezumi's words from earlier. Those people were in blame for working there, for hurting others. It was only right for them to pay back for their cruelty.

Or maybe the white haired boy just deceived himself to shake off his guilt again?

Shion just nodded and followed after two officers with Nezumi beside him. The four people walked through the park to the first-aid station in silence. When he almost fell, because he didn't notice some rock between grass, Nezumi leaned closer to him and threw Shion's right hand over his shoulder for support.

"Do you need help?" The one of the officers asked, about to rush at them from behind.

"No, thank you." Nezumi answered before Shion. The white haired boy bit his lip. He was so glad that Nezumi held him, that warmth was what he needed in that moment. Yet it didn't change the fact that Shion felt like he didn't deserve any of it.

They mostly walked in silence all the way to first-aid station. Meanwhile Shion exchanged a few words with officer about the teenagers that came to the police station five minutes after Shion called for help. The kids were a little shaken, but nothing happened to them. Nezumi saw that Shion sigh with relief when officer told them that the kids didn't start any turbulence and they headed straight to the office, so the festival event still keeps going without any interruption.

It was like Shion to worry about the festival more than his wounded arm.

Nezumi left Shion at the entrance to the first-aid station where doctors already started taking care of him. Nezumi used that time to call Karan who was still with Inukashi and little Shionn near the stage. He didn't tell her that they had been attacked. He decided that it would be better to explain the situation face to face instead of through the communication unit. After all, Shion was already safe and in one piece.

Nezumi sighed before entering the health station. The bullet's wounds in arms or legs sounded somehow familiar and normal to their lives now.

Shion wasn't inside the main tent. Nezumi felt blood rushing to his brain as he was pounded with fear that something had happened to Shion. He didn't have to search too far away. The nurse told him that the bullet was still inside Shion's arm so he was taken to the ambulance to have it taken out and get the wound sewn.

Nezumi sat on in the corner of the tent feeling the discomfort while he waited for Shion. Good thing that no one tried to bother him with unnecessary questions, because dealing with such new feelings of worry about another person was enough for him in that moment. He was thinking that he could understand Shion's talk about loving each other more and more with every passing day. He hated to admit it but he couldn't stop feeling the same.

After around twenty minutes Shion walked back from the ambulance with a faraway look in his eyes. It looked like anesthesia and blood lost have taken toll on the younger boy since he was walking like a drunk body. His coat was lost somewhere along the way and he was only in his white shirt. His whole left sleeve was dark red from the dried blood.

"Shion, you should go to the hospital, not to mention that you should lay down. God, why are you always so stubborn!" The old doctor, who seemed to know Shion well, walked beside him and tried to stop him from going around so recklessly.

"I want to go home." Shion said quietly and his face was paler than before. Nezumi rushed to Shion and supported him from his right side just like earlier. The doctor looked at them both with curiosity as the half-conscious Shion leaned himself into Nezumi's hold. This time Nezumi agreed with the old doctor and he put Shion on one of the first-aid station's chair. He let Shion rest while checking if Karan had arrived to the meetup place beside the station. Shion was given some warm chocolate drink during that time because when Nezumi came back the white haired boy looked a little better with the sweet drink on his hand.

"I will be alright, Mr. Otonashi. My mother and Nezumi will take me home." Shion explained to the doctor after finishing his cup. While Shion argued with the old man Nezumi's ID unit beeped inside his trouser's pocket. It was Karan who finally arrived beside first-aid station.

Nezumi went outside to see that Shion's mother was still with Inukashi and little Shionn. Everyone had big smiles on their faces and Nezumi felt bad for ruining their good moods, especially Karan's. The older boy didn't have to say a word. Then Karan noticed him and the place Nezumi came from, she knew that something was wrong.

Slowly, not wanting to scare the woman who took care of him, Nezumi explained what happened after Shion and he left. Inukashi asked little Shion to go play with the fish on the bench so the kid couldn't hear the story of how they were attacked.

As soon as Nezumi finished explaining the situation, Shion walked out from the first-aid station. He had changed into a white clean shirt from the blood-soaked one earlier. Inukashi dragged him to sit beside her child.

"I will get my car and drive you all home." She said not even trying to hide the frighten and worried tone of her voice.

"Thank you" Shion answered to his friend smiling a little before Inukashi left leaving her child under their watch.

"How do you feel, dear?" Karan asked.

"Good, mom. I only feel a little dizzy." Shion said tiredly.

No one knew what to say. Both of the boys were exhausted by the bad incident that occurred earlier and Karan didn't want to bother them even more, so everyone waited for Inukashi and car in silence. Little Shionn looked puzzled as to why everyone's mood changed so much. The child moved closer to the white haired boy and smiled while holding the jar close to his heart.

"Brother Shion, the festival was amazing!" The kid tried to cheer up Shion thinking that something with event must have gone wrong.

"Lamps glowed like fireflies and the flowers were so pretty. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. The best day ever!" The child chirped happily. Shion raised his hand to stroke Shionn's hair and Nezumi noticed that even if he tried his best to smile his whole face and body started to crumble.

"Yes... It was..." Shion said and his voice broke down. Nezumi gasped in surprised when tears fell from the crimson eyes.

"It... was... amazing." The white haired boy said trying to stop a loud sob that escaped from his trembling lips.

"Are you hurt somewhere? Auntie, did I do something wrong?" The little Shionn asked with a worry confused people around him. Karan sat down on the bench shaking her head as she put kid on her laps. She put her arms around Shion's shoulder, but it didn't change the situation at all. The white haired boy was hiding his face in his right palm and tears still streamed down from his cheeks.

Nezumi was shocked. He couldn't remember when was the last time Shion broke down like this. Did Shion blame himself for the death of that guy's parents? Didn't Nezumi tell to the other boy that this wasn't his fault? If that was all this about then Nezumi wasn't sure what he could do more in this matter.

After a while Shion was one who broke the silence.

"I'm sorry, don't worry about me. It's nothing. It's because of anesthesia." The white haired boy explained as he tried to stop tears from falling down with his hand. Nezumi knew that it wasn't the truth and that made him annoyed. He understood that Shion didn't want to bother anyone with his problems, but that didn't excuse lying. Hadn't Nezumi shown that he cared about Shion ever since he came back? He had tried so hard to learn how to love the other boy and now he wanted to support Shion like Shion had always supported him.

He really could do that.

He wanted to do it.

With a loud squeak Inukashi parked her car beside them. Karan then helped her son and little child get into the back seats.

Nezumi, sitting beside Inukashi, looked into mirrors to see Shion's reflection and he couldn't stop worrying. Shion's face looked empty, almost like when Nezumi just came back half a year ago.

"Shion, it will be alright. The people from the safety department will find out how that guy got a weapon. They will take care of it for sure." Inukashi tried to assure the boy on the back seat.

"Yes, they will." Shion answered, but the tone of his voice was still lifeless.

After that no one said anything more until they got to their home in Chronos.

"I'm sorry for ruining your fun time. You too, mom." Shion told to the Inukashi and Karan when they were walking towards the front doors. The crimson eyes looked sadly once more over little Shionn sleeping soundly inside the car.

"Don't worry about it idiot; you'd better take care of yourself. Don't rush back to the work with that arm, you hear me?" Inukashi warned and to everyone's surprise, Shion nodded. He looked tired. So tired and defeated that Nezumi's heart hurt.

"Good night, Inukashi." Karan told to the girl before she went back to her car.

Nezumi also nodded his head to thank her for all her help.

"Boys, tell me if you need help with treating Shion's wound." Karan said to them as they started climbing up the stairs towards their room.

"Alright mom, but I don't think I will change bandage until tomorrow."

Nezumi light up the small lamp beside the sofa after they walked into their bedroom. He wanted to ask Shion what he cried about earlier, but he decided to let them both change first. He followed Shion to the bathroom where he helped Shion taking off his clothes and changing into pajamas. While doing such task Shion avoided looking into Nezumi's eyes. They didn't break the silence that was hanging between them. Nezumi knew that if he said anything, even a simple "It's not a problem, don't worry about it" it would lead to a longer conversation, maybe a fight or something that shouldn't take the place inside the bathroom, or any place at all. He knew himself that sometimes silence is needed before you pour your heart out to the other.

Shion knew. He sat on their sofa and waited for Nezumi to change; even if it was clear that this time Shion didn't like to talk about this matter. But this was part of their relationship, an unstated rule of trust for one another with everything they had.

In the dim light of the lamp they stared at the big windows thinking about the events happening on that day.

"So? What's going on?" Nezumi whispered as he turned to look at Shion's face.

"I failed you." The other boy answered and his voice broke down a little.

"I wanted this day to be special, beautiful, amazing... I wanted to create world where you can believe in future and hope, but I failed. This day was so wonderful, but it turned into disaster." Shion's guilty voice echoed into the room.

"I promised you so much, I promised you to always be happy, to protect you, to create safe city, but what did you get? You were afraid again, and we had to fight for our lives. My actions frightened you again, I'm sure of it. I wasn't able keep even one promise to you."

Shion again hid his face in his hands and his shoulders trembled. Nezumi sighed loudly. That's why he hated such idiotic things like those promises on Christmas Eve. You couldn't promise to anyone eternal happiness because such wishes would always fail. Such idiotic wishing could only lead to disappointments just like this time.

In the end Nezumi thought that the situation they both were in would have turned out worse. When Shion was talking to their attacker he really was afraid that the younger boy would lose himself, but he didn't. He stayed Shion, the one that Nezumi loved. Shion kept his most important promise.

"Didn't I tell you to not cry for others, especially for me?" He started with gentle voice. Yes, Shion tried so hard for the person he loved and it didn't turn well, that's why he cried earlier. Promises to Nezumi weren't the only ones that were broken that night. Shion's own hopes were too. Still, if Shion thought that it was all his fault then he was wrong and Nezumi wasn't afraid to say it loud.

"Shion. You didn't break any promise you made to me. You stayed yourself. You made this whole festival to make me happy. It's not your fault that some fucker wanted to take revenge on you for something you didn't do and ruined the day."

"But I promised to change No.6. Something like this shouldn't have happened. And most importantly, not during the festival."

Nezumi wrapped his arms around Shion's waist and dragged them both laying on the sofa. Without lying he could say that this was one of the happiest moments in his life. Such moments always had Shion in them. No, Shion didn't break any of his promises. Nezumi hoped that this damn attacker would pay for this. Screw that blond haired guy and his crazy scientist parents for ruining their blissful peace.

"There will be another festivals and next time I will help you make them. It was your dream, right? We will fulfill it next year even no matter what happens, your majesty." He said his own promise which made Shion's eyes a little glassy.

"Life sucks." Shion puffed angrily as he put his head under Nezumi's chin.

"I keep telling you that since we met." The older boy smirked as their bodies relaxed into the embrace.

"But I hate that you were right." Shion answered, trying to find a better position just to hiss from the pain.

"Are you alright?" Nezumi looked at his boyfriend with concerned as he raised them both to sit normally on the sofa.

"Yeah. It could have been worse. You ran around the city with wounds worse than this."

"Because I'm amazing." The dark haired smirked making Shion broke out a little smile too.

Shion took Nezumi's hand and with tired steps they climbed up the stairs to their bed. After settling down on the bed Shion raised on his healthy elbow to kiss the other boy. Nezumi didn't mind, especially if Shion needed such closeness at that moment. The kiss wasn't too deep, but it was enough to calm their hearts after the events of that evening. After a while Shion flopped down on the pillows. He bit his lower lip and his hand clenched on the shirt just above his heart like he was feeling pain in that place. Nezumi guessed that he was again worried about his promises.

"Shion..."

"Hm?" Shion turned towards him.

"You didn't fail me. Remember that." He said quietly, but his voice was serious like this was the only truth in the world.

"Thank you. Nezumi." Shion whispered moving around and cuddling with his boyfriend in the way that didn't hurt his arm.

"You did well. Next year we will watch the fireworks again. I liked them. We can dance again. Well, we can dance more often at home too..." He whispered all those silly things that sounded so right in the dark. It was often Shion who was the one that heal Nezumi's heart with sappy wishes and plans. This time Nezumi didn't mind for their roles to be reversed.

With Shion in his life nothing was normal anymore.

Besides, those lines were like cure, they made sigh of blood, the fear and the pain they experienced again sound like just another nightmare that they soon will wake from. Those words made Shion's cheeks shine with tears and make him hold Nezumi even closer.

Nezumi drowned his hand into the white strands of hair listening Shion's shaky breath until he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

The leaves were falling down from the trees. Nezumi with annoyed face was sweeping them away from the entrance of the bakery. The long haired boy cursed as the next wave of leaves started to cover the guest's chair and tables outside their shop messing up his work again. Like he had time to waste on such trivial matter when the customers were waiting to order their cakes.

Nezumi suddenly felt a pair of arms flung around his waist and a pleasant body heat pressed against his backs.

"I'm going to work." Shion whispered into his ear making Nezumi smirk.

"You probably want your kiss, your majesty?"

"Of course." Shion beamed at him.

And every morning of theirs passed that way. With soft kisses and sweet goodbyes. Shion laughed as one of the leaves landed on his white hair looking like a little crown. The other boy waved to Nezumi while making a few steps towards his work when the sound of gunshot filled the air.

Nezumi could see Shion's white hair changed into shades of dark and nauseous red that splashed across his face and clothes before Shion's body fell to the ground. Nezumi couldn't move for a few second as his eyes were fixated on the bloody hole on what had been his boyfriend's forehead. Finally noticing Shion's flesh covering his usually white apron he screamed loudly in horror.

"Shion!"

Nezumi's scream broke the silence as he rose up from the bed. His face was wet from tears and he couldn't catch his breath. Shion stirred beside him. Nezumi wiped his cheeks hoping for tears to stop before the white haired boy could see. Shion sat up on the bed and without a word he held Nezumi tight.

It wasn't the first night that things were like this.

Two weeks had passed since the Festivals of Flowers. One week had passed since Shion got the stitches taken out from his wound. At least eight times during these two weeks Shion woke up from awful nightmares and Nezumi was the one who helped him.

Nightmares were a normal part of their lives, but for the last two- three months they didn't occur so often. Their happiness kept the bad dreams away.

But the event with shooter brought nightmares back to Shion again. Nezumi wasn't surprised of that turn of things. He only didn't think that such situation would also have a such big impact on him. He didn't think he would have nightmares where Shion was killed right before his eyes.

Why did he have such dreams?

Maybe deep down inside he was afraid that Shion would get shot and Nezumi wouldn't be able to do anything about it. Shion had for sure many enemies among the old elites of the city. The event with the shooter reminded him how easily the life of the person Nezumi truly love could be taken away.

At such moments the older boy hated that he loved Shion so much. That was the reason why he didn't want to get attached to anyone.

Shion's hand was caressing his back slowly while the other hand moved his long, wet from the cold sweat, hair from his face. He looked into the crimson eyes to see worry and endless love. Looking at Shion, alive and in one piece, Nezumi took a deep breath.

"Feeling better?" Shion whispered and the older boy took another deep breath before answering.

"Yeah." Nezumi replied as he looked over the digital clock. 1:23. It was still three hours before he normally got up. They should get back to sleep.

Worrying about nightmares wouldn't help with anything, maybe beside the warm lips that Nezumi felt on his own. If he didn't know Shion then he would think that the other boy used the opportunity when he was the most vulnerable to kiss him. Most people Nezumi knew during his life were like that, but not Shion. He knew that this kiss meant to calm him down and make him feel safe.

Nezumi pulled Shion closer and melted into his embrace as he tried to forget his bad dream. The T-shirt Nezumi slept in was wet, cold and kind of gross, same as the sticky feeling on his skin after that awful nightmare, yet Shion still held him close and planted kisses on his forehead, lips and neck like it didn't matter, as if to tell him that everything would be alright. Nezumi lowered them both back on the pillows removing Shion's own sleeping t-shirt away. He stopped at the sight of the other boy's fresh scar.

'This isn't anything new. We have survived worse things than this.' He kept reminding himself that as his fingers brushed against Shion's flushed skin. Still, he couldn't shake the idea that one day his nightmares could become true. That this boy, the one who looked at him with such honesty and ready to give Nezumi anything he needed, could be taken away from him at any second.

***

Shion leaned on the back of his office's chair sighing and looking up at the light blue ceiling. It was the end of the month and he had to check out reports from all other departments that were under his regulation. Beside reports he had to look over the schedules for the new projects in the coming month as well. His desk was filled with papers even if he had all of this documents in electronic versions. His ecological side cried at that, but after a few months of working in the office he learned that sometimes it was easier to work on paper than on electronic devices. Not mention the possibility of power outage where electronic access to the information would be impossible.

Yet, Shion was almost exhausted because of other matters. He again had frequent nightmares about the Correctional Facility. A part of him was still worried about how his actions in that place had impacted the people of the city. He wondered whether things would have been better and less people would have been killed if he had acted differently.

Such thinking was pointless, Nezumi would tell him. He always told Shion to never regret his actions because such worries and doubts would only destroy him. Shion knew those words were true, but he still couldn't stop wondering.

Shion left the scientist's son's incident to the security department. Since he was deeply connected as a victim and as the one who was blamed by the shooter about the events happened inside the Correctional Facility, Shion didn't want to take parts in the investigation of this case. He didn't want to spur the rumors among the people that he had personal interest in the man's conviction later.

Looking at the next pile of papers Shion couldn't shake away the image of Nezumi's face after the nightmare two days ago. He didn't have to ask what that dream was about. He knew such look from his own experience: When Nezumi was still far away, Shion often wake up from the nightmares where the other boy died. He had seen the terrified expression through his bathroom's mirror countless time at this point.

Shion was always happy that Nezumi loved him, but at times like this, when the relationship they had together had hurt Nezumi so much, Shion sometimes wondered whether it would be better if Nezumi cared less.

Since that wasn't an option and Shion really didn't want for them to change the way they were now, he tried to figure out how to bring their peace back.

He couldn't do anything about Nezumi's nightmares. It was impossible, he knew that well. He couldn't even stop his own.

Nezumi was dreaming about Shion's death, so he was afraid that Shion was still in danger now. From what Shion heard from the security department, the first investigation had found out that the scientist's son found the weapon inside a hidden place in his home recently. Beside the pistol used during the assault they didn't find any weapons there, so it all looked like an one-time event.

But could they be one hundred percent sure about that? Even if it looked like the weapon wasn't made recently and no one imported it, could they be sure that somewhere in the city someone didn't hide something dangerous? They had checked the city after the Wall fell, but if they didn't find that one pistol, then they might also had overlooked the possibility that there could be more weapons which were hidden from the officials.

Shion leaned over his desk in despair. If Shion himself wasn't sure that no one would attack him again then how could he promise Nezumi that nothing like that would happen again? He needed to do something. Something that going to ensure Nezumi that being with Shion and live without fear was entirely possible.

But what more could he do? As a member of the Restructural Committee, Shion had done everything he could. Gaining some fighting skill wouldn't save him from getting a bullet into his backs or head. Finding the right solution wasn't easy at all. Yet, he wasn't going to give up. He wouldn't let the situation where Nezumi had to sing over his dead body become reality.

Shion sighed again as he stared out to the big windows into the beautiful view of the city.

"But how?" He groaned to himself.

***

God or whatever spiritual being was must have heard his call, because the answer came three days later when he was least expected it. He was hanging their clean clothes into their wardrobe when he noticed Nezumi's super-fiber cloth. Shion took it into his hands, smiling at such brilliant idea.

Well, almost brilliant.

There was no way he could walk to his workplace or meetings covered in the dark cape, although that idea made him chuckle a little. Not mention that summer was right the corner. Even thinking about wearing the cape in such weather caused Shion to sweat already.

Most importantly, he didn't want to steal Nezumi's possession either.

Later that evening Shion searched the internet to see if he could buy some simple clothes made from super-fiber materials. He found one company from NO.3 that have such kind of products, but they were mostly for people who were doing some dangerous sports. He wanted to order one white t-shirt that could be easily hidden under his suit and some that looked like sweat shirt for summer days.

Everything was beautiful but the cost made him frown. Yes, he was the President of the city, but he cut down his earnings so that he could live like an average person in the city, to have enough to keep his fridge full and his little needs met. His life in the West Block taught him that what make you happy aren't expensive things, but people, knowledge and a safe place that you can call home. Living in such way influenced him to manage his savings properly. He wanted to make sure that his salary and savings would be enough in case of urgency.

He had some dreams too.

He planned to organize some nice, relaxing vacations for his mother with part of his savings. Now, when Nezumi was able to take care of the bakery, Shion hoped that he could convince Karan to go relaxing at some beautiful beaches at No.5 or anywhere she wanted to as her birthday gift.

Shion also thought about using some of his savings for his and Nezumi's trip far away from NO.6, where he would be able to spoil his boyfriend with some rare books, food and other things they would love to see or get.

It looked like that dream would turn into a distant future because that shirts would take all of his savings. Still, it wasn't time to be miserable. Having such protection would for sure rise Shion's chances for survive in case of a sudden attack. And certainly feeling safe could not be measured by money. He could still save money in the future, but he wouldn't be able to do that if he were dead.

When Nezumi walked into their room and looked over Shion's shoulder the younger boy didn't try to hide his order. The silver eyed boy raised his eyebrow surprised. It wasn't like Shion to buy things from other cities through the internet, except for the books.

Not mention of the price... There was no way any book could cost like this, unless they were made of gold. Nezumi thought that Shion might have lost his mind because on the screen he could see plain white shirt.

"Those are the clothes made from the super-fiber material. Since the Babylon Treaty, the demand for clothes made from such material had decreased, so right now only few companies still offer them. Because of that the prices are high." Shion explained as Nezumi sat beside him on the sofa. The white haired boy leaned toward his computer then turned around to look at Nezumi with a serious expression.

"Nezumi, I'm not going to let myself be killed by anyone. You asked me once if I want to live. I do and I'll do everything to live with you. I may not be as fast or experienced and strong as you, but I will find a way to protect myself. These super-fiber shirts are my current way to survive if something unpredictable happens. You taught me well on how to keep myself alive, so now, you don't need to worry about losing me."

'Damn it.' Nezumi thought as he listen Shion's words. Nezumi felt silly that the other boy had found out that his current nightmares were about Shion's. At the same time, he was moved by Shion's will to fight. This made him believe that Shion will be alive even if Nezumi couldn't be around. Shion would protect himself with all his might. Nezumi wouldn't be left alone ever again.

"...I think that it will be a good idea to use super-fiber shirts as undervest, but then one is not enough. I can wear one and wash the other. What do you think?" Shion continued his explanation to finally asked Nezumi for an opinion.

What could Nezumi say in this? When Shion had made such a powerful declaration of his will to fulfill all those heartfelt promises? That after the last few weeks when their peace were shaken, Shion had found out a way to clear Nezumi's fears again?

The only possible way to react to all of that was to kiss the other boy, but it sounded like a cheesy thing to do, so Nezumi only shrugged.

"You could do whatever you want. It's your money." He said rising from sofa and head for some books to read. In the corner of his eye he saw Shion sighed heavily as he confirmed his order.

"I was hoping we could go on some nice vacation far away from here with this money." Shion said quietly to himself.

Nezumi stopped for a moment in surprise. Really, couldn't Shion be more selfish and less honest? Or at least don't mix Nezumi in his every dream and plan? That way it would be better for Nezumi's health because his heartbeat started picking up from happiness. This silly airhead would make him die from joy one day. Such thought should make him feel annoyed and yet a tender smile found its way to his face. Nezumi sighed loudly when he realized that Shion again beat him without even trying.

'Maybe that wouldn't be bad to die this way.' He told himself while picking one of Shion's favorite books as he planned to read it aloud to the other boy.

***

"Nezumi. My order is going to arrive today." Shion told Nezumi after a week had passed. Nezumi was in the middle of kneading the dough so he could not raise his eyes to look at the other boy. Still, Shion smiled knowing that Nezumi heard his every word.

Since Shion told Nezumi about his the super-fiber clothes, Shion noticed some good changes. Nezumi's shoulders weren't so stiff from worries. Their nights were calmer. Although Shion had nightmares sometimes, his dreams were also become less scary.

Maybe his idea was the remedy that they both needed after the festival's night.

"I told mom about it too, so can either of you have time to pick it up for me?" Shion continued as he grabbed some fresh buns on the table for breakfast.

"Well, if I'm at the cashier when his majesty's precious package arrives, I don't see a problem in receiving it." Nezumi answered, trying so hard to sound uninterested and it made Shion want to chuckle. Like every morning he made some sandwiches for himself and Nezumi so they could eat together.

The topic of their small chat during breakfast jumped from the science document that Shion wished to review that evening to the discussion of a musical program that Nezumi wanted to see from No.5's theater. They were playing 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and it was already the fourth day when Shion heard Nezumi's long dramatic speech about how much he wanted to see it alive, but he had to be satisfied with a TV transmission.

Shion as always rolled his eyes while grinning like crazy. He was happy that the could again talk about books and TV programs of art or science and daily life instead of his wounded arm, nightmares or the old NO.6.

After Shion swallowed his last piece of food, he gave Nezumi a 'see you later' kiss, leaving some bread crumbs on the other boy's lips. Walking to his office Shion felt that his heart was somehow lighter. He really could feel that everything would be alright.

The event with someone who wanted take Shion's life might not happen ever again, but if it would, then the crimson eyed boy would have been prepared.

Later that day his super-fiber shirts arrived, and beside them Shion also ordered a little piece of that material so that he could put it under his beanie. Nezumi would look at Shion while he tried them on and acted like he didn't care, but when Shion turned away he would smile to himself and his posture would relax. He would also check out the material if they are really good once Shion left the room for laundry duty. They would then watch Shion's science program first then Nezumi's theater play. Nezumi would get the 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' book and act the parts which in his opinion he would play better. Shion would look at his boyfriend with sentiment, feeling enchanted by Nezumi's graceful movements.

From the next day Shion would wear super-fiber skirt everyday to his work and on outside meetings.

Finally everything would be like it should have been once again.

Chapter Text

Some people say that big problems have their beginnings in a small matters. Somehow Nezumi started to believe those words after the event that happened on a late spring's day.

...And the said day had started so nice.

When Nezumi woke up that Saturday morning the warm rays of sun already lit up their room. Then, since he and Shion were in the mood, they had two rounds of sex; first one in the bed, second under the shower. The younger boy only had a small meeting at work so he returned home early and helped Nezumi and Karan at the bakery.

Yes, the day started so perfectly.

Everything was so good until Shion said a few words that shouldn't have even bothered the silver eyed boy.

"Mom, you know that Alice and Toya are getting married? He proposed to her last week." Shion said while they all were eating dinner.

"Oh, that's so wonderful. Well, looking at them you could guess that it would happen soon or later." Karan shared her son's excitement after hearing the news.

"Yeah, you're right." the white haired boy chuckled lightly "Still, I think it's wonderful that they decided to get married. It's nice when two people promise that they will care for each other in health and sickness. Maybe it's a little old fashioned, but I think that such a celebration of love is something beautiful. Oh, and they already invited us to their wedding"

"That's so nice of them."

"Beware, mom. I bet that Alice is planning something unusual for the party." The younger boy smiled brightly as he poured more apple juice into his cup. Until now Nezumi wasn't dragged into silly talk, but then Karan looked at him clearly wondering about something.

"Nezumi would you like to go as well? If anyone asks for a reason for you to be there I will explain to them that you are part of the family as my second son." Karan asked him making Shion hold his breath in anticipation for a long speech about the pointless existence of such events. The white haired boy knew that Nezumi had the tendency to criticize the topic of cheesy romance, celebrations and old rituals. When they talked about books with silly, sugar coated weddings Nezumi always said something like: 'There are other things that are truly significant in life, more than a party created for others to know how much money you can throw away to make a show.'

"I will think about it." Nezumi answered this time making Shion's eyes even bigger than usual from surprise. Nezumi was sure that in the end he would refuse and he would spend that day reading on the balcony, because what would he do at such party? He didn't know those people, even if he was grateful to them for supporting Shion. He wouldn't be even able to dance with his boyfriend. The female guests would try to flirt with them and the situation would make them both annoyed.

No, Nezumi didn't want to go to that party, but he wasn't going to stop Shion and Karan from going and having fun.

The older boy moved his eyes on Shion, who looked like he had just read Nezumi's mind. The white haired boy smiled gently, telling Nezumi without words that he wouldn't mind for his boyfriend to stay at home.

The cheerful conversation around the topic of the wedding continued for a while between mother and son leaving Nezumi alone with his own thoughts.

It was clear that Shion liked the idea of marriage. Since they were together, would he like to marry Nezumi? Probably yes, but knowing Shion he would never say a word about such hopes and dreams, even on his deathbed. The white haired boy always made it clear so Nezumi knew that possibility of them to love each other was enough. He never asked for more than the silver eyed couldn't give or do.

Yet, Shion always did everything for Nezumi.

The older boy chewed his vegetables angrily.

It was idiotic. They both were men, so they decided not to tell the public about their relationship, but he was still wondering if Shion would like to marry him.

Such thoughts didn't leave Nezumi alone in the next days. He tried to not growl angrily at Shion even if this was all his fault.

He tried hard to forget how happy Shion's voice sounded when he was talking with Karan about the wedding ceremony and focus on the other, more enjoyable matters.

They were slowly preparing their trip outside the city and Nezumi had chose the perfect spot in his opinion, which he discovered during his travels. Thanks to a new train line alongside the station in a small village close to their destination, they would be able to get there and back in four days. He was really happy and excited over their trip. However, each time Shion brought him a cup of coffee, showed him a new project on how to improve No.6, covered Nezumi with his own blanket at night making himself sneeze next morning, or just whispered his name when resting after their climax, Nezumi couldn't shake the feeling that he also should do more for his boyfriend.

Noticing his bad mood for the past three days, on the roof Karan sent him shopping so he could catch some fresh air. It only worsened the matter. One of the things Nezumi had to buy was inside the shop that had a jewelry stand inside. Offhandedly, his eyes caught a glass-case displaying engagement rings.

"This is fucking joke." Nezumi cursed at his fate. Damn, even Shion not to treat him like a girl. Nezumi wasn't going to kneel before the other boy and ask him to marry him like some kind of damsel. Shion was a man just like him and the other boy proved that more than once.

Deciding indefinitely to never buy an engagement ring, Nezumi made a few steps to get Karan's order but he stopped once more when something else caught his attention. It was pair of wedding rings with two engraved lines running around the surface. They weren't too extravagant nor too simple. Some would say that since they both were men the plain rings would be better, but Nezumi knew that Shion deserved better than that. A natural like Shion was truly one of a kind, especially for making Nezumi think about damn rings, which was driving him crazy.

The shop keeper looked at him with gentle smile waiting for the long haired boy's next move, but Nezumi almost ran from that place forgetting even Karan's order. He wondered how much more ridiculous he would become because of love for the person who saved him nine years ago.
***

Nezumi often called him an airhead, but even Shion wasn't so oblivious to not notice that since the talk about his friends wedding Nezumi started to act strange.

At first Shion thought that his boyfriend didn't want to go to the wedding; That the dark haired boy didn't refuse the invitation as not to make Shion and Karan feeling guilty about leaving Nezumi behind when they have fun. Maybe Nezumi thought that they wouldn't go to the party without him. Well, yes, normally families went to such events together, but Shion knew that their situation wasn't a normal one. Their situation was never normal from the beginning...

It would be nice to go to the party together and say to everyone that this beautiful man is Shion's most important person in his life. To grab Nezumi's hand and drag him to dance since the dark haired boy promised to dance with him more often. Nezumi would probably do his best to show everyone how much of an amazing dancer he is. Shion would laugh at the attempt since he loved that playful smirk on his boyfriend's face.

Yes, it would be nice.

Still, their current situation was too complicated. Did Shion regret that they couldn't make their dreams into reality? Yes, maybe a little, but he was already more happy than he could wish for. He had Nezumi, his mother, good friends, a safe home and he could change people's lives for better thanks to his work. He thought about himself as a really lucky person by having all of this.

"Nezumi, you don't need to go to the wedding. I know that you aren't fond of such events. Mom and I can go alone if you're worried." Shion said to the older boy during the second day of Nezumi's strange behavior. The other boy rolled on their bed with a book in his hands and stared at him for a while.

"Alright. I would rather take a walk around the city that day or take long bath in our royal bathtub if his majesty wouldn't mind."

That was the only answer that Shion heard about the matter of the wedding invitation. Yet, it didn't change the situation.

Nezumi still hissed at Shion sharply from time to time as if he had done something wrong. A few minutes later the older boy always apologized to him, often adding a quick kiss on Shion's lips.

All questions about reason for such behavior were met with an answer of 'it wasn't anything important'.

Shion even asked his mom if she knew about any possible reasons for Nezumi's bad mood.

It seemed like it wasn't a work related problem since Karan also didn't know what was going on.

The only time when Nezumi relaxed and didn't show any sign of being worried or annoyed occurred while preparing for their trip. The silver eyes filled with excitation and happiness when Shion told his boyfriend that he already filled the papers about his vacation from work. They were going to leave the city without any problems so Nezumi already bought them both train tickets. Looking at the booking information Shion asked his boyfriend if their destination was the small town west from NO.6, but Nezumi, with a playful smirk, kept saying that it was a secret. Such words filled Shion's own heart with anticipation and he really looked forward to their first trip together.

Yet, even during moments Nezumi sometimes drifted off into his mind to again looked annoyed later.

That's why Shion started to worry if his happiness about traveling again made Nezumi regret his decision of staying with Shion. Maybe living in NO.6 wasn't enough for the dark haired boy? If that was the case then why didn't Nezumi want to tell him what was wrong?

Didn't Shion deserve more trust? Didn't they promise to never hide and lie to each other?

Worried and betrayed Shion wanted to use some more drastic measures and start an argument in order to find out why Nezumi was so annoyed about during the last passing days. After Shion took a bath the dark haired boy wasn't in their room. The white haired boy found his boyfriend in the kitchen.

His anger mixed with doubt. He wasn't really sure if he should start a fight or wait until Nezumi would tell Shion by himself what was wrong. He walked quietly as possible to open the door to see his boyfriend making himself an sandwich and giving pieces of the pastry and cheese to Cravat.

"...I know. He's just like that." Nezumi said to the mouse with warm voice that made Shion hide in the corridor. Such moments, when Nezumi talked to the old animal was rare, or maybe they weren't, but the older boy was too embarrassed to talk to Cravat when Shion was around.

"He's making me love him so much that I would do anything to see his smile. Even the most sappy and idiotic things that I wouldn't do normally..." The dark haired boy continued making Shion feel a little ashamed by listening such words about himself. He turned around and went back to their room. He really didn't want to spy on his boyfriend like this. What Shion heard already calmed him down and gave him a possible answer for the strange behavior of his boyfriend. It explained why at one moment Nezumi was happy, taking about their trip, books or anything else, then after he looked at Shion, his eyes filled with confusion. And why his mood became increasingly distressed.

Shion found reason a for all of this. Nezumi was thinking about something that could possibly make him happy.

Or maybe this was just another of Shion's hopes? Maybe once more Shion sought the most easy and comfortable answer for the situation?

In the end he decided to believe in Nezumi and trust him. Later that evening when they were inside the bed holding each other as usual, Shion was almost sure that he was right about his supposition. Nezumi wouldn't cuddle with him if there was another option.

"Nezumi..." Shion said lifting himself a little to look at his boyfriend.

"I'm so happy that you're, I wouldn't ever wish for more."

Nezumi looked at him for a few moments. Shion tried to make his boyfriend sure that he didn't need anything else to be happy. He wanted to take other the boy's worries away without revealing that he heard the talk between Cravat and his master at the kitchen.

Nezumi sighed loudly.

"I know that you wouldn't wish for more." The silver eyed boy answered in a confusing way. His voice hadn't cheered up like Shion wanted. Still, the strong arms pulled Shion down again making him land on his boyfriend chest. He could hear Nezumi's heart beat fast again. Still, Shion couldn't somehow shake the feeling that it beat quick because of worry instead of happiness.
***

This was madness.

Nezumi couldn't even recognize himself. If his younger self would meet him right now, Nezumi would probably get his ass kicked for turning into such sappy idiot. He couldn't shake off from his mind a memory of those two rings that were so perfect to give each other.

He even dreamed at night about such ridiculous things like this guy from Shion's work proposing to the white haired boy. Not to mention that Shion left Nezumi for that guy in the end of that dream. When he woke up his heart was beating like after the nightmare and he hated his subconscious for being this jealous and messed up.

He also made Shion more and more worried, he knew it. Nezumi was surprised that his attitude already hadn't lead to the fight between two of them.

He didn't know why Shion was really patient in this matter. But wasn't Shion like that when it was about Nezumi? Loving, caring and too forgiving?

Shouldn't Nezumi do something for the other boy to thank for all this warm feelings before someone else will give Shion love and the relationship he deserved?

Nezumi didn't care if he ever married or not, but if that would make Shion happy then why not do it? They already promised to always stay together so what's the difference? Those damn rings would make the airhead happy and they won't change anything in Nezumi's life. If he didn't mind that people called him a whore, then why would he be pissed of to be called Shion's husband?

Damn, that sounded bad, to compare those two classifications... It was making it sound like being Shion's husband was something gross. It wasn't, it felt right and maybe that was the point that worried Nezumi so much.

The smell of the burning cupcakes took him from the wave of his thoughts. He cursed loudly when Karan walked into bakery room to see the long haired boy taking the coal pastry from the oven.

"Sorry, I will pay for them, fucking shit!" he screamed when he burned his hand a little by wanting to take the messed up pastry from the tray too quickly. He quickly ran to the tap and poured cold water on his fingers. When he turned around Karan already stood beside him with a tube of ointment for burns.

"Thank you." Nezumi told quietly putting some of cold ointment on his hurting fingers.

"Nezumi can you sit down for a moment?" Karan said with a calm voice and made some space on the bakery's table. Nezumi sat down on the chair, but to his surprise the brown eyed woman didn't join him. She stood beside Nezumi looking at the boy with her hands leaning on her hips.

"So now, young man, explain yourself."

Nezumi didn't have much experience in situations like this but at that moment Karan looked like a mother scolding her child. She was waiting until the boy would confess his worries and it didn't look like Nezumi would able to walk away without answering her.

"It's nothing, as I told, you can cut the cost of ingredients from my payment."

"That won't fix the problem. Young man, I don't mind salty cream on Monday, buns left forgotten so they grow up big as football's balls on Wednesday, almost killing Mr. Yoshi with a too strong coffee yesterday, but you are acting like a girl during her period for a week now. Both, me and Shion are starting to worry about you."

"It's really nothing. Just one silly thing I can't stop thinking about. Don't worry about it." Nezumi answered hoping that Karan will let it go. But the woman stood still and looked at him seriously.

"If it was nothing then you wouldn't look so worried. Nezumi, you are the part of family. It's normal to share our problems with each other so we can think of a solution together."

"It's not a problem, it's just something I never considered thinking about before. It's... Just idiotic! I'm not like the people who grow up inside the city. I was taught to act differently, to not trust anyone, to not give my heart to others and fight hard to survive the next day. Not to do such silly things." Nezumi started to explain the feelings that were driving him crazy for the week now. He didn't even realize how much he told Karan until he finished surprising even himself. Anyway, instead of calming down Shion's mother, Karan looked at him even more concerned. Nezumi sighed loudly giving up. Now he for sure couldn't just walk away from that place without a good explanation and lying wasn't an option.

Screw it. He already lost a long time ago when he met Shion. He will go for it. He will let that sappy idea win even if it will lead him to the deepest parts of hell in the end.

"Karan, Ma'am. What do you think about me and your son exchanging wedding rings? It's not like we can reveal our relationship now and sign the proper papers, but maybe at last this would make Shion happy." Nezumi kept his eyes locked down on the floor while he spoke. He knew that Karan really liked him, but many times Nezumi was surprised that she accepted his and Shion's relationship so easily. It wasn't about that they both were guys, but rather that Shion deserved someone better for the rest of his life.

When he raised his eyes Karan already smiled at him with a watery eye's. She walked closer to the sitting boy and embraced him as much as his sitting position let them.

"That would make Shion delighted for sure. I am very glad that you told me about this. You were always a precious part of my son's live since that night nine years ago. He always used to say your name from time to time with dreamy eyes. I often teased him asking if he fell in love. He refused, but I knew that I was right. He always loved you and I'm glad that he found someone who returned his feelings."

Hearing those small words of blessing for their future Nezumi lowered his head to hide the big blush covering his cheeks. When Karan let him go his face still didn't recover its normal color. The woman smiled brightly to the sitting boy.

"But, Nezumi, I got the impression from your earlier talk that you only want to do it to make Shion happy. What about you? You made it sound like such a decision is uncomfortable to you. It shouldn't be like this. You also should be happy while making such step in your relationship, or else it would be meaningless. You don't have to push yourself into something you don't want to do." The woman said and this time she also sat down behind their working table. Nezumi didn't expect such words from Shion's mother. She always surprised him as so many times she didn't only think about her son, but also about Nezumi. He often received the same amount of care like her birth son and that was always a strange feeling. Yet, it wasn't unpleasant one for sure.

He started to think it all over. It would be cowardly to take back his idea right now, when he already said it aloud to Karan. But she was right. If he will do that only for Shion's sake it would be pointless in the end. When Shion would find out that Nezumi lied about his feelings during asking for marriage he would be more hurt than happy.

Nezumi never loved anyone like he did Shion. He didn't think that he ever trusted another person like he did Shion. That white haired boy was always the most important person in his life. Nezumi couldn't even imagine to love someone more than this natural boy.

When the another person is so important to you, isn't it normal to tell them those silly confessions of wanting to be together until death take them apart? To giving each other a touchable proof of their feelings?

Nezumi imagined them to have matching rings and he was a little shocked how nice it felt. For the first time in his life he would have an item that represents only love, belonging and all other bright feelings. It was not like him to be this sappy, but waking up with Shion's hands around his chest with a golden ring around his finger sounded so good. Not mention his own hand wearing exactly the same jewelry, proof of that he wasn't alone anymore. They wouldn't be just people who will love each other. The would become a couple who wish to never be apart.

That wasn't the only thing they both would gain by being married. They would show those annoying co-workers that Shion belonged to someone already and that person was Nezumi. He could see disappointed faces of all those who wanted to be with the white haired boy.

Thinking about his boyfriend's work brang Nezumi back on Earth. Shion wouldn't probably want to wear the ring in the end. It was the easy way to expose their relationship. It wouldn't be so surprising. It would be nice if that idiotic play in hiding their relationship could finally end, but Shion's situation was more important. The little pain in Nezumi's chest at the idea of Shion rejecting the wedding ring was something he wasn't prepared for.

He wanted Shion to wear that ring, to at last keep it close if he wouldn't be able to wear it because of his current position in committee.

Nezumi didn't mind trying to be silly this time, to be normal like Shion used to say. That such a cheesy future could be Nezumi's reality instead of the one where he couldn't even trust anyone. When he felt never ending fear of getting hurt by the others.

He wanted to give one of those rings he saw inside the shop to Shion, see him smile... and maybe, in future, they would be able to sign the proper papers. This was the final conclusion inside Nezumi's heart.

Probably Gran who raised him wouldn't be happy that he become so weak, but this was his life. One day such wishes could bring him more suffering than ever experienced, but he decided to a chose future with Shion along with everything it would offer.

Now Nezumi understood what it meant to be hopelessly in love for the first time in his life.

"I want to do it. I want to marry your son. If Shion will accept my proposition then I would be really happy." Saying those words Nezumi knew that he must have smiled just like Shion does, brightly and tender, but he couldn't help it.

"He will for sure." Karan beamed back to him making a slow preparations to head back to the bakery's shop. It was good for them that this whole situation took place while the most less occupied hour of the day or else some customers would get really annoyed by now. Karan took some croissants while Nezumi started to prepare new cupcakes in place of the burned ones.

"Well, now when you two will get married I hope you will call me 'mom' more often." The brown haired woman said as she leaved making Nezumi red on his face again. For a moment he again consideed if all of this was good idea before he smiled again.

Shion and Karan welcomed him in their home with open arms. Now he going to be one who will prove them that he really wanted to become part of this cheesy little family. It was the right step for him to make.
***

The next day Karan noticed Nezumi preparing to go out outside during his break. She asked boy if he needed to borrow some money, but the boy thanked her and said that he had some savings. She knew where he was going. In the next two hours he was back with a little black box. Maybe she shouldn't stare so much at the embarrassed boy, but she couldn't stop to feel curious about Nezumi's choice. After a moment of reflection the dark haired boy gave her little box to check out, like her opinion could decide if he can marry her son.

Karan found this whole scene heart warming. Still, sometimes she couldn't feel a little sad for the silver eyed boy, specially while moments like this one.

Nezumi didn't had anyone. His parents were dead, she knew that he didn't had any survived relatives. The boy didn't had anyone to share his worries, doubts, decisions or happy moments. He couldn't even get his parents blessing in such wonderful moment – when he decided to spend rest of his life with person he loved.

Nezumi was a good child. Sometimes moody, narcissistic, ready to tease her son in every possible moment. Strong, yet so fragile sometimes. He was intelligent and caring for the people he loved even if he had problems with being honest to his own feelings.

Because all of this Karan wished to somehow give this boy at last a little piece of what having a family feels like. Maybe this was crossing a line from her side. Maybe she shouldn't let herself think about Nezumi as her own son and the man who was standing before her was too old to be treat like a child, but if that was the case then would Nezumi wait for her opinion right now? If he didn't trust Karan would he tell her about his worries over the idea of wedding rings?

From what Shion told her about Nezumi the answer was 'no'. The silver eyed boy wouldn't act like this if he didn't trust her. Until now her actions were right. She was sure of it once she looked at Shion's bright smile and Nezumi's eyes filled with happiness when three of them spent time together.

Not wanting to keep Nezumi nervous any longer, Karan opened the box to see two rings inside them. They didn't look ordinary, the engraving on the surface wasn't very common so it was easy to guess that the people who wear them belong to each other. She smiled tenderly at this jealous side of Nezumi.

"They are perfect. When are you planning to exchange them?" Karan asked Nezumi giving him precious set back.

"Well, I'm thinking about doing it while our trip, there's a perfect spot where we will stop to camp. I think that place will be good for an occasion like this." Nezumi answered Karan, who was waiting for her reaction.

Well, Nezumi went straight to the wedding, skipping the engagement. It would be more expected for Nezumi and Shion to exchange their rings with the company of their families and friends. But Karan could understood Nezumi's choice. He wanted to make that moment special and celebration with only two of them. Or maybe Nezumi was a little shy to do it in front of the other people.

"It's a nice idea. Just don't lose them somewhere..." Karan started "...and once you get back I will prepare for you two a little party. It's not a wedding without a cake and some close friends. I'm not accepting any refusal on this matter since you're going to marry my only son, young man."

Nezumi sighed tiredly before he smiled back at Karan and nodded.

In the end Nezumi gave Karan the box with rings to hide it inside her room until the day of the trip. The long haired boy didn't want for Shion to find them before the time comes. Karan's room was the only place where the white haired boy didn't help to clean.

Walking back to her bedroom, Karan couldn't stop herself from looking again inside the box. She was very glad that Shion found happiness. Her son and that boy had gone through enough, it was only right for them to find their own piece of heaven now.

Two days later Shion sat with her in the kitchen with a confused face. He was waiting for Nezumi. The boys planned to go on one last shopping before their trip after Shion would come back from work. Their going out was delayed by the bag with flour that tear apart covering both Karan and Nezumi with white dust. Karan cleaned herself first since the silver eyed boy volunteered to take care of the mess. Nezumi only managed to finish cleaning the bakery before Shion came back and now the older boy was taking his deserved shower.

"Is something troubling you?" Karan asked her son after a while. Shion moved his head smiling a little towards his mother.

"No, it's nothing. I just don't get it. Nezumi acted very strange this past week, but since the last two days everything went back to normal. I can't find a reason for such change. I tried to find a to way to fix Nezumi's problem, but no matter what I said nothing seemed to work."

Karan couldn't stop her face from smiling. She was thinking about those two wonderful boys and the rings hid inside her wardrobe.

"You know something, right mom?" Asked Shion looking at his mother with hint of curiosity.

"Well, he was little 'love sick', but I think he found a perfect solution for that." Karan explained cryptically causing Shion's jaw to open. The playful smile that brighten his face told Karan that her son isn't going to give up so easily after such answer.

"Mom." He pleaded in a childish way making Karan chuckle tenderly.

"I won't tell you anything more. Nezumi needs to tell you the reason by himself."

Shion looked a little disappointed, but he nodded with his his head. He sat down back on the kitchen chair.

"Yes, you are right. But, it wasn't anything bad? That thing Nezumi worried about."

Karan went closer to her son, she put the hair from his forehead and she kissed the uncovered place like in time when Shion was still a teenager. When she raised back Shion was all red on his face.

"No dear, it wasn't anything bad." She said looking warmly at her child "You grew up so fast. I don't even know when. But, I know that you will be fine. You both will be alright since you have each other."

"Mom? Is som..." Shion stood slowly back, his voice was full of concern.

"Shion! Are you ready?" Nezumi's voice from the corridor stopped the crimson eyed boy from asking his mother if something was wrong. Karan patted her son's shoulder before she went back to making herself tea.

"Have fun shopping. Oh, and don't forget to buy cheese on the way. We ate the last piece of it this morning." Maybe the bright smile on Karan's face calmed down Shion. The white haired boy squeezed lightly on Karan's hand.

"Alright, mom I'll get cheese." Shion turned around ready to go when he looked again at Karan "Mom, you have us. Me and Nezumi. We will be around for you, always."

"Shion! The shop with tents will close before we get there if you don't hurry up!" Nezumi shouted before walking into kitchen to check what was taking Shion so long.

"I'm coming. See you later mom." Shion waved for a goodbye following after Nezumi.

"Did you forget that they close our desired shop at 6 PM?" The dark haired boy asked annoyed, changing his shoes at the little corner of their corridor. While pouring boiling water into her cup Karan was still able to hear typical for her boys conversation that sounded like harmless argument.

"Pardon me Nezumi, it was me who was waiting for you until now. I hope you took your ID unit."

"No. You want to buy a tent, you pay for it. I didn't have any tents during my travels and I somehow managed to stay alive." The dark haired boy answered with a proud voice.

"Oh, then I won't stop you from sleeping outside while I will use the tent." For a moment everything went silent. Probably Nezumi wasn't prepared for such a comeback from the white haired boy.

"Hmmm, I think you would miss me. It would be waste for me to stay outside, don't you think?."

After that Karan went into corridor to drink her tea inside her room and read some book that the boys recommended her earlier. She managed to catch a glimpse of Shion blushing and Nezumi smirking with satisfaction after a successful tease.

She was able to see from hers bedroom's window both boys walking down the street with smiles on their faces. She hoped that their love will never disappear because it was the best type of 'sickness'.

Chapter Text

On the road

 

The weather was nice. The sun was shining brightly and the temperature was very high for a spring day. It was just perfect for their little trip. Rain nor storm could stop them from going on their first vacation together.

Nezumi shuffled through their bags looking again to see if they forgot anything and threw away extra pair of unnecessary clothes. Shion packed things like they were going on a trip for at last two weeks, not only a mere four days.

Around an hour later both boys were already standing at the front door being escorted by Karan.
“You two be careful.” The woman said to them and Nezumi could hear in her voice a note of worry. It was the first time Shion was leaving home for more than two days after the crazy events that almost killed her son five years ago.
“Don't worry mom. I'll be fine, Nezumi will be with me.” Shion told his mother taking from her a paper bag with lunch to eat during their train ride. The way they head on the trip was totally different from the time when Nezumi left this lands five years ago. They had everything that made their journey very comfortable. Food, a tent and spare clothes. Back then Nezumi brought with him only a shirt, trousers, underwear and his knife. He sometimes couldn't believe how much his life changed in such short time.

“Cravat, look over the house while we will be away.” Shion said to a little mouse who sat inside pocket of Karan's apron. The animal squeak firmly like telling them to not worry. Nezumi and Shion had some conversation before their trip talking if they should take Cravat with them. In the end they decided to leave the animal at home. Cravat already saw the world with Nezumi and now peaceful senility was the best they could offer to the little animal. They just hoped that the mouse would be still alive to welcome them back after their trip.

Before turning around and following Shion to the station Karan's hand reached for Nezumi's arm and she asked him quietly.
“Did you hide them well?”
“Yes, they are safe inside my jacket.” Nezumi nodded knowing that the brown eyed woman was talking about the wedding rings. He put the box with the important jewelry in a zipped pocket placed near his heart where he could always check out if it's safe.
“Good luck” She said pushing gently Nezumi to join Shion who observed them with interest.

“Something happened?” The white haired boy asked Nezumi when they walked through the streets of Chronos.
“Your mom was wondering if his majesty forgot to take clean underwear with him.” Nezumi teased his boyfriend. He expected Shion's face to blush, but the white haired boy let out a sentimental sigh looking deep into Nezumi's eyes.
“Alright, alright. Let's hurry up. We’re going to miss our train.” Shion smiled at him walking fast with a big travel bag on his back. Nezumi made sure that his boyfriend backpack would be as light as possible. Shion didn't have as such stamina as Nezumi, not to mention the shot's wound on his arm. It healed really well, but Nezumi and Karan had done everything in the past weeks so Shion didn't even have the chance to lift anything heavy.

The main train station was located not so far away from Moondrops office. This place really changed in the past five years turning into a crowded center of NO.6. People from outside their homeland arrived through this train station before heading further into city. The air travel was still very expensive and it was used in only special cases where time was important or there was no other chance to get into a desired destination. That’s why the place turned into the heart of the city and to increase its space the committee build a big promenade above one of the biggest rivers that crossed No.6. Even if Nezumi didn't feel very comfortable surrounded by the crowded city, this place had something that felt just right, from the train's station covered by a glassy roof, trees and plants on center of the promenade, the view of water to the trains crossing on the river under the whole infrastructure.

They both were almost late for their train. Many people recognized Shion and they wanted to exchange even a few words with a member of the Restructural Committee asking where he was going and wishing him a nice vacation after Shion revealed the reason for carrying such a big back-bag. Even after ending one conversation a few steps later someone else started to talk to them again. Well, it was impossible to deny that Shion was popular and admired person inside the city. From what Nezumi heard the only old elite of the NO.6 weren't happy that Shion and rest of the committee were ruling the city now. Not like it could change anything. There was no way that their complaints could destroy the wonderful opinion about the Restructural Committee.

It was luck that their train didn't depart without them. They ran inside it just before the doors started to close. Shion stopped for a while to catch his breath standing in the trains corridor. Even Nezumi felt a little out of breath. The reason for them both to be so tired was probably because of running with such heavy backpacks, but anyway Nezumi was shocked. He was worried if living in peace and with always a full fridge didn't mess up his condition. He checked his reflection every morning, his body and his stomach were flat and looking good as always. The bakery work let him to keep his perfect figure even if he ate much more right now. Maybe he and Shion should start to do some rounds around Chronos everyday?
Shion raised his head after calming down his heavy breathing. His eyes sparkled with excitement making Nezumi to crash a little smile. He was sure that this airhead would love him anyway no matter if he had an ideal figure. Not that Nezumi was ever going to let that happen.

After searching few a wagons, they couldn't find any empty cabin so they entered into one already taken by some old lady.
“Good morning.” Shion greeted woman just after entering the small room.
“Oh, good morning boys.” The woman answered them.
Nezumi pushed his backpack on the shelf above seats. Shion was about to do the same when the older boy took the bag from his hands.
“You shouldn't overwork your arm yet. I don't want you to whine in pain for rest of the trip.” Nezumi explained and he was glad that Shion nodded his head without complaining.
“Alright, thank you.”

They took two seats in front to the woman who kept looking at both of them without even blinking. Such a situation annoyed Nezumi. Does the two men riding a train together look so strange? Even if the woman thought that they were a couple, it still wasn't her business.  
“Excuse me, but are you a Shion from the Restructural Committee?” She asked with uncertainty in her voice. Nezumi relaxed a little. The woman was wondering if Shion was the famous President of the city. His appearance was rather unique to mistake him with someone else but this old lady must have learned to not rush to conclusions.
“Yes, Ma'am.” Shion answered politely with his bright smile.
“Oh, I thought that my old eyes played some trick on me. I didn't think it was possible to meet someone like you in such a place.”

The woman had some right to be confused. It was strange for someone so important like Shion to travel like a commoner wearing such casual clothes like a short sleeved red T-shirt, light white jacket, jeans and a big backpack accompanied by some man who didn't look like his guardian.
“Anyway, I’d like to thank you since I had such an opportunity.”
Shion looked surprised at the woman, then his eyes moved towards Nezumi's sight, but the older boy also didn't know what this was all about. The woman chuckled softly looking at their faces.

“I was living in West Bock before Wall fell down. The harsh conditions of that place took away the life of my daughter soon after we arrived into this land seeking protection inside the city. After that happened I had been really afraid that the rest of my family would met the same fate. We somehow managed to survive four hunts because we were living in the underground of the abandon facility, but still the future that awaited for us wasn't a nice one. My son died from an illness around time of second hunt and I was left alone with my son's wife and children. The West Block was a really dangerous place but we didn't have any other place to go. Then the Wall fell and the city accepted us giving my family hope and acfuture,”

“My granddaughter even started a nursing course this year in NO.6's college. It wasn't easy for her to get there, but it was not as hard as our previous life. Such a chance wouldn't be possible without the work of Restructural Committee. I know that you had a hand in breaking the Wall and making the city in the way it is right now, young man. I want to thank you from bottom of my heart for that.” The woman finished her long story. Shion, who sat beside Nezumi, lowered his face hiding his embarrassment from the old lady.
“I'm glad that I managed to help someone. I was just keen on doing what I think is right to do. I don't think it deserves such praise.” Shion answered after a while. The old lady moved a little on her seat to reach Shion's shoulder and she patted it softly.
“It does, the whole city must be thankful that such a kind heart as yours exists while we still have a chance.” The woman smiled to the white haired boy who turned all red at those words.

Nezumi could bet that it wasn't the first time that Shion was thanked in such honest way. Still, the power Shion held didn't change him. That boy still thought about all people as equals. Nezumi wasn't very good at spoiling the other man with praise for all things the other had done. They often had little arguments when Shion showed Nezumi some of his ideas. Maybe sometimes he was too harsh on his boyfriend, but since Shion not once thanked him for giving such opinions, Nezumi didn't change his ways.
It didn't mean that he hadn't supported his boyfriend. He did as best as he could. Still, since his words were often like a bucket of the cold water Nezumi was glad that there were people who could praise Shion in such a heart warming way.

The woman talked to them for another hour of their train ride. Nezumi rarely opened his mouth to say something, Shion was the one who kept the conversation going. They heard most of the old lady life's story and the reason she was on the journey that day. It looked like her brother was still alive living in NO.3 and woman decided to pay him a visit. After a long conversation the old lady got tired and she drifted off into a light doze leaning her head over the train wall.

Nezumi was thinking to do the same, but then he looked at Shion's delighted face as the scenery behind windows changed from yellowish plains to the coast of a really big lake. He smirked a little. If that view caused Shion to be so happy, then Nezumi wondered what kind of face his boyfriend going to do when he going to show him 'that' place.

NO.6 wasn't a bad looking city. The rivers that poured into the city helped to water beautiful plants with a low cost of maintenance. From many high buildings it was possible to see magnificent mountains that protected the city from the north. Still, the things Shion saw right now through the train window made his heart race. The deep forest that the train crossed while they were talking with the old lady looked amazing to the white haired boy. Since the simple trees made a such a big impression on Shion, the scene with a beautiful lake was just stunning. He could understand the reason why Nezumi wanted to travel. Seeing things with his own eyes was always a lot better than looking at them on a computer monitor or television.
If Nezumi hadn't watched him right now Shion would climb up to his knees on the train seat and glue himself even more into window like a little child excited over new discovery. He was really glad he finally went on vacation creating the possibility to experience things he hadn’t seen. Nature seemed to start to rise up from devastation of the war. The plants covered the wounded earth and Shion was able to see a really small village near the lake's side. The world was in better shape than with the old government of NO.6.

He was glad that he lived in such a time, when he could see the rebirth of the world. He wasn't sure how he could handle the times of war. The hell that NO.6 created in the past already took away his soul's purity. The only reason he saved some of his innocence was Nezumi. Without the silver eyed boy Shion wasn't sure how would his breaking-in into the Correctional Facility would end. That's why Shion didn't like when people were praising him for his job. He treated it as atonement, not something he should draw selfish complacency from.

“Hey, Nezumi. How long are we going to ride this train?” Shion asked quietly after lake disappeared from the view and the trees were again all they could see.
“We still have around five hours of our journey at this moment.” Nezumi answered yawning a little.
“Still, that much?”
“Don't complain my prince. It took me around 4 months to get there on the foot. The way we are traveling right now is very comfortable and fast compared to that.”
“No, I'm not complaining. I'm glad that I have possibility to discover and investigate new places. Maybe I would be able to see some rare species of pla...” Shion started but a soft snore form old lady stopped him from talking more since he didn't want to wake up the accompanying woman.

He moved his face towards the window again. Then he saw something that made his happy excitement extinguish like a candle by the wind.

The ruins. He looked at the ashes of the once big metropolis. Once big and graceful, now it was just just pile of the rocks and glass. Even if city's ground already started to cover with plants it wasn't very happy scene to see. It was perfect example of humanity's ability of self-destruction.
Shion asked himself why people still keeps doing that? Why they choose to fight instead of living in peace. Maybe Shion will never understand that and maybe he didn't want to. He wanted to believe that one-day nature would heal that place so people could start over again settling down on those lands and starting a new. Somehow he flooded with relief when the ruins disappeared from sight.  

For the next half hour nothing interesting showed up on the horizon, only trees and plains. Shion was a little disappointed. He hoped to see another stunning lake, some mountains or scary precipices. Maybe they could pass some sea or ocean. He never saw the sea with his own eyes. After people were able to leave the city as they wanted he still didn't have an opportunity. His hands were always full of work inside NO.6 so even if the possibility for delegation to another city showed up, Shion's co-workers had to go in his place. He always wondered how the sea breeze felt like, how it would feel to swim in such a big reservoir. Nezumi probably knew but Shion didn't want to ask him. He wanted to experience that all by himself. Maybe one day he will do that, with Nezumi.

No ocean or sea appeared outside the window.  Shion thought that maybe he expected too much. Still, that didn't make him less happy. In the end he was on the trip with Nezumi. That alone made his heart race with excitement.
Moving his attention from the window back to Nezumi he noticed that his boyfriend looked kind of bored. The long haired boy was trying to take a nap for the last few minutes but his body wasn't used to sleep at a such hour.
Shion was somehow thrilled by noticing this. The situation was the perfect chance to do the next thing that people normally have done while on train trips on their vacations. They did it in novels that he read from their little library.

Shion stood up from his seat in order to get from the metallic shelf a paper bag.
“Nezumi, would you like to eat lunch?” He whispered sitting closer to his boyfriend and putting our pastry snacks that Karan prepared for them.
“Well, we don't have anything else to do anyway. Too bad that we didn't bring any books with us.”
Nezumi reached lazily for one of the cheese muffins.  
“You said yourself to not overweigh our bags so I didn't pack any.” Shion answered Nezumi remembering how many things the other boy removed from their backpacks.
“Should I point out that Hamlet isn't a very thick book?”
“Wouldn't you be worried that your favorite book could be destroyed by accident during the trip?”
Nezumi looked at him thinking before smiling gently at the white haired boy.
“Yeah, I would, you are right.”

Seeing Nezumi looking like this made Shion wonder when this beautiful man started to smile so warmly. If it had happened while living in the West Block, then Shion would remember such a moment since it was the most beautiful thing he ever saw. He loved Nezumi. His voice, how he breathed during sleep, even that the other boy never put his tooth brush back in his cup leaving it on the sink. He was drawn to this man. He wanted to embrace Nezumi and hold him as close as possible. Still, the chance that the old lady might wake up was high, not to mention that someone new could join their cabin in any moment so Shion saved that need for a better occasion and continued eating in peace.

Since the view outside didn't change Shion tried to think of something he and Nezumi could do to kill some time. Sitting in one place without being able to do much was more tiring than he thought. Normally their lives were so busy with their jobs, shopping, taking care of the house and helping his mother. Finding some time that they both could enjoy together with such inactivity felt strange.

Then an idea came to his mind. He turned on his ID unit's system. Most of its options didn't work outside of the city, but he was still able to access some of his personal files.

“Nezumi. I have a 'Pharaoh' e-book on my ID unit. I know you wanted to check it out so maybe we could start reading it now, together?” Shion proposed looking at holographic monitor, but when he raised his eyes Nezumi looked at him like he just have stabbed a puppy.
“Shion, you know what I think about reading through electronic monitors.”
The younger boy rolled his eyes. He knew, maybe that's why the idea of reading from his database didn't click in his mind right away.
“...And I'm surprised that you took this cursed thing with us on our trip.” Nezumi added looking at Shion's ID bracelet.
“And I'm assuming that you didn't take yours. Nezumi, this thing doesn't have a navigation program anymore. Besides it has access to personal information, an Internet database, calling, forecast and it even stores self created files inside it. It wouldn't kill you to use for more than for shopping.” Saying those words Shion always felt like he was living in endless, never ending circle. He lost count how many times he already tried to convince the other male to not treat the new version of the ID unit as the works of the devil.

“But those blessings of our civilization you talk about don't work outside NO.6. I don't see point of bothering to bring it in the place we are going, your majesty.” Nezumi looked back at him crossing his hands. Shion sighed giving up again. From all stubborn habits of the other boy had this one was the most harmless one. Still, Shion would like if Nezumi have took his ID communicator in case if his own unit broke down.

“It has a clock and we can read e-books on it.” He tried once more before letting the matter go. Not like he thought that such simple options would change Nezumi's opinion.
“As I said, I don't like reading in such a way. I like to feel paper under my palms. Talking about clocks. Why didn't you take the watch I gave you? It won't run out of energy as fast as your wonderful handcuff.”

“For the same reason why I didn't bring any of your books with us. It's too important for me to lost it or to let it get destroyed while on our trip. It's the first present you ever gave to me on my birthday. I want to keep it forever safe since it's physical proof that you care about me.”
When Shion finished Nezumi averted his eyes and his ears were a little red.

“Your natural behavior will kill you one day.” The dark haired boy whispered. Looking at the embarrassed face of the other boy Shion thought that he didn't mind being killed if his honesty was able to make Nezumi look like this. The white haired boy moved his eyes to check on the old woman. Her breathing was calm and she snored again. It looked like she was deep in sleep so Shion let his urge to kiss Nezumi win. Their lips brushed only for a moment but that was enough for Shion's heart to start to race like crazy from joy.

“Hm, you aren't scared that we’ll give the old lady a heart attack?” Nezumi licked his lips knowing what effect it would have on Shion. The white haired boy didn't mind playing this game more. They just had to be careful and watch out if their company will wake up. A small kiss or touch never killed anyone.
“Not when I know that she's asleep and I do it like this.” Shion whispered making one more quick peck on the other boy's lips before leaning away back on his seat like nothing just happened. Nezumi smirked like the devil at the playful spark in Shion's eyes before leaning forward himself to make a quick kiss on younger boy's neck.

The game continued for around half hour until quick touches on hands, hips, cheeks and small pecks didn't make them want to go further. Still, it was a nice activity to spend their free time and Shion didn't mind to try repeat this silly game again one day.

Two hours later, after a trip to the toilet, Nezumi gave up and told Shion to turn on the e-book on his ID unit. They read until the woman finally woke up. Shion felt a little abashed talking to her later after recalling what he and Nezumi were doing while she was sleeping. They helped her carry her heavy bag at her final station earning gratitude and warm wishes of safety for their own trip. Around half an hour later their train ride finished.

The stop where they get off was placed inside the small village. When Shion took a look around he noticed that their new sounding was very similar to the Lost Town. Small shops, little houses and farmlands were all he could see. Still, he looked around with curiosity trying to figure out how the social structures worked in place that didn't have the same amount of protection that big cities used to have. From his observation this community was almost administration free. The only places that looked to have more complex structures was a school in center of town and a hospital near the train station. Shion twisted his head so many times that his neck started to hurt him but he couldn't help himself. All of this was so interesting and so new. He wanted to learn everything about this place. It didn't look like West Block or any post war town that Shion saw in books. At the same time, it still had a long way to become a big city. It was like an unknown plant that may turn into big tree or just stay as a small but pretty flower.

Shion followed Nezumi through the stone streets. The white haired boy was able to spot maybe one or two cargo cars used to transport food and necessary things. With town so small the demand for personal mechanical transportation vehicles wasn't so big as inside NO.6.  

“Have you been here before?”
“Of course, how else would I know how to lead his majesty into this place?” Nezumi answered him looking over Shions with a bit of amusement.
“I spent around two months here. It was harvest time and I worked on the fields helping to gather potatoes, corn and wheat.”
“Oh, where did you sleep?” Shion asked but to tell the truth he wasn't sure if the dark haired boy would answer him knowing his old habits. Nezumi wrapped his arm around his shoulder and rotated his body.
“See that house? I stayed there.” The older boy pointed with his hand on the house standing on the small hill almost at the edge of the town. “It's an attic with a nice view of the village and fields. It was a quite comfortable place to stay.”

Shion looked at the only little window placed on house's roof. So, Nezumi was living there for a while after leaving NO.6. The long haired boy told Shion a lot about his journey, but those places never felt real. They were like stories from beautiful books where Nezumi was a main protagonist. Now, Shion was even able to touch everything that once welcomed the other boy. He could follow the same streets Nezumi once walked on. He could see things that the most important person in his life once saw.
It was a strange, nostalgic feeling of realization that engulfed his chest with tender warmth. He felt like he got back some of the days when Nezumi left and now Shion was able to fill a hole in his heart created in those lonely times.

They passed a few streets to get on the small market. This place was similar to the one where Shion bought food for him and Nezumi in the West Block, but compared to it this one was filled with the fresh products and new items. Shion stared at the colorful stands when the other boy patted his shoulder again.
“Here, buy us some strawberries. After you’ve done that stay around the market so I can find you.”
Saying this Nezumi put some the cold metal into Shion's hand. The younger boy looked over his palm just to see small silver coins. It looked like Nezumi exchanged some money inside NO.6 into the ones that were used in this place. Shion wished to investigate the coins closer but the words of his boyfriend said made him feel uneasy.
“Where are you going?
“Don't worry your majesty. Your lowly servant is going to get us a nice sample of local produce.” Nezumi bowed theatrically before turning around. “I’ll be back from ten to fifteen minutes. Be a good boy while I’m away.”  

Shion nodded slowly noticing that his throat squeezed painfully. Maybe if Nezumi didn't act strange during this last month he wouldn't feel so worried by being left alone now. It was ungrateful for him to distrust the other boy, he knew that. They were on vacation together. It was unrealistic to think that they would stay close for every minute of it. It was irrational to even have the idea that Nezumi could abandon Shion in a place unknown to him. Nezumi probably wanted to save some time.
Shion bought strawberries and he waited for his boyfriend sitting on the stone fence. The village's inhabitants looked at him with curiosity. No surprise, his look wasn't common. When he smiled to them they usually averted their eyes awkwardly away from him returning to their previous activities.
Nezumi came back as promised around ten minutes later.

“So, what did you buy?” Shion asked looking at the other boy, but the local produce that Nezumi got must have been hidden already inside his backpack. The white haired boy followed his boyfriend who was leading them slowly towards the edge of the city.
“It's a secret until the evening, my prince. I rather like to deal with his majesty's intemperance once we have our camp set up. Don't worry it's just something that will make our dinner nicer.” Nezumi smirked at him making Shion puff his cheeks a little frustrated. There was too much surprises and secrets and too little answers for his liking. Nezumi saw Shion's face and chuckled warmly catching his nose with graceful fingers.

“My, my what would your co-workers say seeing their President acting like this? Hey! What the hell are you doing?”
“I'm trying to bite your fingers.” He answered, shocking Nezumi while smirking and clicking his teeth playfully.
“That's it! Your visits to Inukashi's place are suspended from now on. Her dogs have bad influence on you.”
“I wanted to bite your nose before meeting her.”
“That only proves that you’re crazy and I'm even more crazy for falling in love with you.”

Shion wasn't sure if Nezumi said 'love' as a joke or if he was serious. Despite this, it made Shion drag his boyfriend behind the first tree he saw and kiss him tenderly. The last remains of laughter stayed on their faces while their lips met. Shion wanted to warp his arm around his lover's waist but Nezumi's backpack make him unable to do so.  

“Hmm. . . You’re certainly shameless today. Who would have thought that his majesty would change into such a beast once he left the city?” The silver eyed man looked at Shion with satisfaction and amusement but the white haired man only grinned widely not letting himself get teased this time.
“It's only you who makes me like this. Inside or outside the city don't matter when it comes to my feelings towards you.”
“And you are still so impossibly natural. But I think it doesn't annoy me anymore." Nezumi sighed quietly while stroking the younger boy's cheek. He leaned a little to give Shion small peck on lips before starting to walk again.

“Come on, we’ll never be able to get to the place I want to show you.”
Shion didn't ask again about their destination. He knew that Nezumi wouldn’t tell him anything more. Shion followed after Nezumi until all they saw were farm buildings and wide fields where crops just started to raise from the brown ground.
“Hm, so they got a second one, that would make the job easier from last time.” The older boy said to himself quietly. Shion moved his eyes towards the same place that Nezumi looked. He saw small farm with two tractors standing under a self-build roofing. Probably his boyfriend recalled the times when he was working on those fields. Shion smiled gently. He wished to see that, or rather he would like to join Nezumi back then. He wouldn't be much help, but he could see himself picking up the crops beside the silver eyed boy. Both of them sweaty and dirty from the work, healing together after the events of the Correctional Facility.

Because this place surely took a big part in healing Nezumi's heart. Shion was sure of it.
Shion didn't even realize that he also needed such time until this moment. While working on rebuilding city he didn't have such a chance and maybe now he was a little envious of the other boy. Memories about hardships from five years ago still haunted Shion even if Nezumi's return really helped him to find peace again.

Now, in this time, in this place it was Shion's time to erase some of his worries and to heal his own soul.
He stopped for a while, closed his eyes and took a deep breath smelling the grass and crops around him. When he opened them he saw a beautiful blue sky, green fields and Nezumi looking at him with gentle eyes.
“It's a pretty place.” Shion said aloud taking the next deep breath.
“Well, it's not bad for sure. You know, the East Block is similar to this place. The only difference between NO.6's farms and this place is that our city more machines to work. And maybe the crops here are healthier. You really should go out from home more and see what you governing over with your own eyes.”
“Yeah, you're right.”

“Hey isn't it that bad mouthed kid? What was he was called, Nezomi?”
“It was Nezumi.”
“Ah, right!”
Shion turned around to see two men walking towards them from the field's side. They held big, wooden boxes full of freshly gathered cucumbers. Both men were well built. Their clothes clearly told Shion that they were working hard on the fields that day. They put down the boxes with vegetables before talking to Nezumi.

“Are you looking for the job again? Because the season for cherry gathering starts soon and every pair of hands would be helpful. Payment would be the same as the last time.”
“I'm sorry Mr. Brown, but this time I'm only on vacation here for few days before heading back to NO.6.” Nezumi answered causing both men to open their eyes in a surprise.
“I thought you said that you want to get away from that place. It's strange that you settled down there again”
“I realized during my travels that I have place to call home there. I found out that such an option has easier access to a full fridge and warm bed. It's just more comfortable.” Nezumi shrugged his shoulders not telling the whole truth that he returned and stayed inside the NO.6 for the boy who was now standing beside him.
“Too bad, our kids and wives loved it when you sang in Kirishima's pub. Maybe your companion is looking for a job and is making you stay a few days in town? What's your name kid?”
“Shion, sir.”
“Hmm, I think I saw him somewhere...” One man said to another and now they both started to look at Shion from his toes to the stands of the white hairs. Shion smiled a little awkwardly towards them wishing that they could stop staring like this at him. Well, probably even in such town someone had had access to the television so the opportunity to see the crimson eyed boy while a transmission from NO.6 was high. Still, Shion would rather like to have a break from other people's staring at him so far away from the city.

“Sorry for destroying your hopes, but he's on vacation too.” Nezumi started stopping the both men from looking at Shion.
“This guy is a workaholic, but his body isn't so strong to handle heavy lifting for a whole day.”
Shion groaned quietly at such words. Still, he couldn't help but agree with Nezumi. It would take some time before his muscles were be strong enough to do so.
“Maybe we would find some time on our way back to go to the pub. Now, you’ll have to excuse us, but we have to hit the road before twilight catches us.”
On those words the men's faces brighten up probably from hope they will be able to listen Nezumi's singing voice again. Shion wasn't surprised. He also loved to listen to the dark haired boy's songs. Shion could consider himself lucky since he had opportunities to hear Nezumi's singing voice, while the other boy baked, showered or shaved in their bathroom.
Nezumi and Shion exchanged goodbyes with the both men before heading between the fields. Or rather Nezumi lead them there and Shion walked behind him.
“Who were they?” Shion asked after they got away from the town.

“I worked with both of them as you could have guessed from our conversation. That guy in the blue shirt was the one that I rented a room from. The other one's wife has the pub where everyone used to eat after work. There was one day when I asked for a second plate of the amazing grilled steak she cooked. Maybe we really should stop there on the way back so you could try it. Anyway, the guys I worked with tried to joke with me, telling me telling that I wouldn't get a second one until I show them something interesting. I could beat the crap out of them or show them my knife skills on their throats so I started to sing. From that day I could get each second plate free in exchange of the singing for the people of this town.”
“You could recite Hamlet to them too. They would give you a discount also for the first one.” Shion chuckled at this.
“Well, compare to his majesty's sublime taste, these folk weren't good audience for real art. They got bored after ten minutes and asked me to sing again.”

Shion laughed loudly imagining how Nezumi's face must have looked when that happened. It must have been a funny view since the other boy was so full of himself. The comment must have shocked Nezumi making him stop in half way and look around with disbelief.

“I wish I was there. I would surely appreciate your acting.” Shion complimented his boyfriend before Nezumi could take his laugh as sign of being happy from that failure.
“I wouldn't expect any less from you.” Nezumi hummed pleased.

Shion followed Nezumi again between the growing crops. He was amazed how much more he learned about Nezumi in one day. He was stunned by all those wonderful things he saw until now. He loved every bit of their trip and he wondered how much more he would be able to discover from now on.

Chapter Text

They passed the raising fields and entered the wild plains bathed in the afternoon sun. Nezumi let himself take a deep breath of the warm air filled with smell of the young grass. It felt great. He really missed this. He thought about Shion's house... Their house in Chronos as his home, but he also loved to travel through the wild nature. It couldn't be like that again he was once the one of the forest people, the memories of the playing in the forest as child were distant and unclear.

"Nezumi, aren't you warm?" Shion asked him with concern around two hours after they left the town.

It was really hot. The wide surface of the plains reflected the heat from the sun making them both sweat during their walk. Shion already took off his jacket and wrapped it around his waist. When the sweat started to drop from his forehead, Nezumi looked over his boyfriend wishing to do the same, but the silly words of Karan about losing the rings were keeping him from doing so. Still, half an hour later the heat won over, Nezumi halted and took off his backpack and striped himself to his T-shirt.

He carefully placed his jacket, with rings hidden inside it, into his bag. The possibility of them being stolen during their trip was very low, but even so he buried another cloth under a layer of the food for their trip to keep them more safe. Nezumi didn't want to lose them before he would put one of them on Shion's finger. His heart started to race from excitement and nervousness at such a thought. He knew that there was nothing to worry about. Shion rejecting Nezumi's gift would be like a sign of world's end. He was sure of that. They acted like damn star crossed lovers for the whole day for the god's sake. Everything should be alright.

Checking once again through the jacket material Nezumi made sure that the small box was safe before zipping his bag. The white haired boy was sitting on the grass and he kept eating the strawberries from the paper-bag waiting for his boyfriend. Nezumi looked at him gently before reaching out to stole one for himself from Shion's hand.

"Ready to resume our walk, your majesty?"

"Yes, of course."

The younger boy kept Nezumi's pace without any problem even if the rugged terrain wasn't so easy to walk on. Shion looked around with his eyes shining from the joy. He stopped not once to check upon any plants or insects he only saw inside the books until that day. It seemed that being the President of the city didn't change Shion's love for ecology and nature.

Shion looked happy, really happy.

Nezumi felt a little guilty seeing how much his boyfriend was enjoying their trip. They explained many untold feelings and unclear situations after they started over again almost year ago. They had countless conversations about their past in order to make a fresh start, but there was still a one thing that they hadn't talk about. Shion didn't ask about it and Nezumi knew that it was painful topic for the other boy so he didn't ever bring it up.

"Shion..." He started thinking about the right words before continue. "I was wrong."

Such words directed Shion's attention from the strange looking tree.

„About what?" Shion asked since Nezumi's pause was too long.

"About that drifter and stationary shit five years ago. Or rather I wasn't wrong, I just wanted to believe it. I thought that I wasn't meant to stay in one place. I had put a label on you telling you that you are destined to settle down in NO.6. It was a mistake that I repeated many times when we were living in the West Block.

I created some concept of who you are in my head. As I have started to know you better I understood it didn't overlap with the reality. You weren't so naive as I thought, your words weren't just sappy lines, you were right about many things which I ran away from. I was afraid of getting to know you even better since I already fell for you and being alone was bad enough. I was also scared of you getting to know me so I said that you had to stay, that you wouldn't be happy with traveling. It was my excuse to run away again. I put a label on us again. The black and white. The drifter and the settler. But the reality was different. We were never only black and white." Nezumi with every word started to regret the decision about telling all of this to Shion, but the other boy only nodded and waited for Nezumi to continue. The dark haired boy swallowed loudly before speaking again.

"I was afraid of how much power you had over me and of my own feelings towards you. I wanted to cut you away together with my past. I'm not trying to defend myself now and sound less selfish but I also didn't want to destroy your future. I didn't want you to regret that you broke the promise you gave to your friend and other people who entrusted their hopes in you.

Even now I don't see the other way to solve that situation. It would be bad for you to leave. I don't know how our relationship would turn out if I have stayed."

Nezumi stopped at that. He wanted to add that he was sorry, to apologize but it would sound wrong after his last sentence. He was really upset that he hurt Shion, but even if it was possible to change the past, or only that one day, his choice would be the same. It was impossible for them to be together after wall fell without hurting at last one of them. Saying sorry wasn't so simple and easy. Why did everything in their lives always had to be so difficult and fucked up?

They stood under a small, twisted tree without any words for a while. The silence felt awkward and Nezumi was worried that he just destroyed their trip, not mention the possibility to give Shion the wedding ring at the end of it.

"I know that you needed it. It was always painful, but I understood you had to leave NO.6 which hurt you so much. Thinking about it now, I know that you are right. If I had left that day I would never be able stop to think about what happened to mom, the city and the people from the West Block.

Maybe any the other choice would destroy us.

I'm just glad that we are together right now. That you came back to me when I needed it the most. That I can laugh with you now, talk to you, love you and go on vacation with you. That's good enough."

Sometimes Nezumi couldn't understand Shion. He didn't think he would ever understand him fully. He knew that some part of Shion's heart was hurt deeply by him leaving and he might always hold some grief that wouldn't ever go away. Still, the crimson eyed boy said just right now that he somehow agreed with Nezumi's decision. This was a small thing, but just like many others small things that Shion said or did that moved Nezumi's heart.

"I'm sorry." Nezumi didn't care anymore if his apologies would sound right or not. Shion deserved every apology in the world and numerous gratitude for being such a forgiving and loving person.

"You don't have to. I also think that you made the right choice for both of us."

Nezumi leaned towards his boyfriend in order to hold him tight. Without using words, he tried to show Shion that he would never leave the other man again. Shion hummed pleased and sank into embrace moving his own arms around Nezumi's waist. In the moments like this such embrace was worth more than any kiss.

After a few minutes Nezumi gentle detached himself from other boy trying not smile like sappy idiot. He knew that Shion would let them hug until their legs give in, he liked their cuddling so much. Nezumi loved such moments too, but someone had to be the rational one.

He cleared his throat and fixed his backpack before turning around and heading back on their road.

He felt better now. His heart was lighter and he was glad that Shion wasn't holding a grudge anymore about Nezumi's decision to leave. He was happy because they could put this matter past behind them. Maybe it was good moment for them to exchange rings but he held back from doing so. There still weren't at the place which Nezumi planned to use for the ceremony. Such an important moment should follow the script. The most perfect, cheesy script which Shion deserved and will never forget.

Thank goddess the previous light mood wasn't destroyed by Nezumi's confession. They talked a little about plants, things at home and at their works like nothing happened. It was hard for them not to smile during their conversation. From time to time they stopped to drink some water to not get dehydrated. Nezumi wasn't worried about running out from water. Their supply was just enough until they will get into the place which he discovered four years ago.

He stayed in the local town for around two months. During that time town's people made few breaks from the hard work on fields. When the weather was good Nezumi used the time to wander around the village. One day he found some old map on the attic he slept. Lands were destroyed during the last war, so the place he discovered on that piece of paper probably no longer existed, but still he didn't mind to check it out. He packed some food and one morning he headed into the area described on the map. He got there at the evening, but even in slight light of the stars the view of that place took his breath away. Now he wanted to show it to Shion. He planned their trip in a such way so they could arrive to that spot at the daylight and enjoy beauty of his little discovery.

After another hour of their trip Nezumi noticed that Shion focused his attention more on him than on their surrounding. His eyes traveled to Nezumi just to avert moments later back to the ground. It was clear that the white haired boy wanted something from his boyfriend. Such situations always amused the dark haired boy. They just had conversation about one of the most problematic day in their lives, but Shion still wasn't sure if he could say something that he had in his mind. Something silly knowing the crimson eyed boy. Shion didn't look tired so he couldn't be considering asking Nezumi for a break, they fertilized the local nature not long ago and Shion wasn't ashamed then he disappeared behind the brushes last time.

There could be only two possibilities.

It was something silly or something worse than their parting day, but Shion didn't have a reason to bring their past life up right now. Nezumi only brang up his conversation to clear situation between them before they get 'married'.

"Has this place already bored his majesty?" Nezumi teased the other boy after Shion again lowered his eyes after looking at him.

"No, it's not that. Don't worry about it."

"Well I know that my face is so beautiful that it's hard to not look at it, but you could look at it at home. You're going to miss most of our trip if you will keep glaring at me, or at the ground, so say what is bothering your genius brain. It can't be that bad."

Shion kept silent, his cheeks covered by small blush before he spoke.

"I want to hold your hand. We don't have the chance to do such thing inside the city where people could see."

Nezumi wanted to burst out with laugher. He was right. It was the most idiotic matter that Shion could worry about.

"You know that's silly and childish request? How old are you to wish for something like that?"

Shion glared at him frustrated surprising Nezumi with such reaction. It wasn't any different than others of Nezumi's teases but this time Shion acted just like not himself.

"You held my hand not once while living in the West Block or at home, I never said to you that it was childish. It felt right. Our relationship was never simple but I liked when you reached out to hold my hand. Such moments felt like we were a normal couple. I don't necessary need to hold hands but I would like to do that more often." Shion lowered his head upset looking into yellowish grass. "Uh, just forget about this."

After Shion finished he speed up a little leaving Nezumi behind. It was idiotic behavior since he didn't know where they were going.

All Nezumi wanted was to tease his boyfriend before fulfilling his request. He didn't think that Shion would react like this. Shion's brain was the greatest mystery of the world. He took the painful conversation about their past without being angry just to get worked out about such silly matter. It was also the first time when Shion pronounced that such a thing as holding hands was so important for him but he wasn't the only one. Nezumi always liked for them to hold hands, he liked warmth that resonated from other boy's skin when they were close even if it was embarrassing to admit.

Nezumi quickly cached up with Shion and grabbed his boyfriend's hand.

"I deeply beg for your forgiveness my Prince." Nezumi said leaning Shion's palm to his lips and kissing it to smooth the other boy's frustration. "Please give me a favor and let me held your hand for the rest of our journey." It sounded more like joke and the smirk played on Nezumi's lips, but when he raised his eyes he saw Shion beaming happily.

"I gladly fulfill your plea, my loyal Knight." Shion said after thinking hard. Such answer finally make Nezumi laugh aloud.

"Knight? Where that did come from?"

"Would you like better if I say Milady?" Shion grinned to him making Nezumi proud with such comeback. It looked like years of teaching didn't go to waste.

"No, Knight is good, my dear Prince." Nezumi answered thinking that he couldn't fall any lower. It was sappy, ridiculous and perfect. They walked with their hands clenched and he wouldn't change anything.

Shion couldn't wish for more.

For a moment he was mad at Nezumi. He never teased his boyfriend when Nezumi started to cuddle, when he held Shion's hand or wrapped himself around him when they were reading. He was a little annoyed that Nezumi called him childish when he was even worse in that matter. Many times when Shion saw couples that could hold hands in public he imagined himself and Nezumi. He didn't envy those people but he wouldn't mind to do the same.

This was the perfect chance for them to act like normal couple and no one knew then they would be able to do such a thing again.

Now Nezumi was leaning them across beautiful plains. Their clenched hands felt sweaty but none of them tried to let go in order to wipe their palms. At some point Nezumi started to hum a happy melody. Shion wasn't sure if his boyfriend even noticed that he started humming. Silver eyes looked straight ahead on horizon where Shion could see from very distant some kind of hills covered by forest. The older boy was probably leading them into that direction. Sometimes Nezumi moved his eyes to look at him. Shion couldn't remember if he ever saw those beautiful silver eyes to sparking with such joy.

He was surprised at how relaxed Nezumi's posture was. The gentle wind fluttered his long hair making the longer stands stroke Nezumi's cheeks. A gentle smile danced on his lips for the whole day. The song he hummed reflected the feeling of the joy that the older boy must have felt right now. This was Nezumi not bound by fear, past and NO.6. This Nezumi was overflowed with joy.

With every passing second instead of happiness Shion's heart filled with pain. This was how the older boy looked while traveling. By making him stay inside NO.6 Shion took that happiness away. He selfishly caged Nezumi taking away his freedom, those sparks from his eyes and those bright melodies from his lips.

Didn't Nezumi say that this was his dream when he returned? To travel and sing while crossing the world?

Now when Shion saw such a side of Nezumi he didn't think that their current situation was right anymore. He couldn't ask Nezumi to be with him if he was clearly happier by living like this. Maybe Shion didn't notice that Nezumi sacrificed pieces of his soul just to stay with him. That NO.6 was again draining happiness from the other boy, putting shackles on his soul. This would for sure make Nezumi regret one day that he didn't spend his life different, that he stayed with Shion. Maybe Nezumi himself hadn't yet realized that their current situation was clearly leading to a misfortune end.

The only solution Shion could think about was letting the other boy go and allow him make his dreams come true. He already imprisoned Nezumi for almost a year because of his own selfish love. Now when he realized the truth he had to free Nezumi, if he really loved that man.

Shion must have stopped to walk at some.

"Are you tired?" Nezumi asked before turning his head back on the white haired boy and gasped surprised.

"Shit, what's wrong, are you hurt somewhere?"

Shion didn't even knew what to say. He knew that his face must have betrayed his every thought. A shaky breath escaped his lips before he answered.

"You are happy right now, you were humming." Shion managed to say through his squeezed throat.

"Can you explain it more clearly? Right now you don't make any sense." Nezumi asked even more nervous.

"Maybe we weren't such good idea in the end. I took your happiness away. I made you stay with me and I robbed you of your dreams. I shouldn't have done that; it was clear to me when I saw you humming with such happiness I never thought I would ever hear from you." Shion answered messily trying to stop his eyes from burning.

Nezumi didn't say anything at first. He looked like he saw a ghost before his face twisted with pain.

"This is the biggest bullshit I heard in my life! I don't know, did you leave your brain when you went to take a piss or something? Maybe you got sunstroke? Because I don't think you even have an idea of what have you just said?! You didn't rob me from anything! I stayed with you from my own free will!" The other boy sounded really hurt and Shion couldn't even remember when was the last time he heard Nezumi with such anger in his voice.

"Shion, I just apologized for leaving you behind and now you say something like this? This doesn't make sense!"

"Saying sorry about not taking me with you is a one thing, but I can tell travelling is what makes you happy!". Shion answered not even noticing that they started to scream at each other.

"Do you think that during my previous travels I could be so carefree like this? That I could sing songs when I was alone and hungry? No! I prayed to catch or pick up anything that could fill my stomach when I couldn't find any town for weeks. Not once I thought I might die when all the water I could gather came from the morning dew. Before I managed to get inside NO.2 the cold winter almost killed me!

I was teenager back then. I didn't know what would await me in the half destroyed world. I learned the hard way that surviving in the wild was even more difficult then in the West Block. It wasn't a trip like we have right now. It wasn't a fairytale. I imagined that it would be alright to stay alone and yet every time when death was knocking on the door I was thinking of you! Even if I had the equipment and food like now, do you think this trip would make me happy like this without you?" After that Nezumi turned around hiding his embarrassment and anger away from Shion. The older boy threw his backpack on ground with clanging sound of the pots inside it.

"Traveling with me is what makes you happy?" Shion asked surprised. In the past Nezumi often called him a burden, not to mention that it was the first time when Shion heard that Nezumi's journey was so hard. Often the dark haired boy told Shion about good things that he saw and experienced during those four years apart. Maybe he didn't want to worry him or maybe Nezumi himself didn't want to recall the harsh moments of his journey.

"Use your damn head already and get your answer by yourself! Would I apologize for that drifter and settler excuse if it was different!? I wouldn't buy that... Fuck!" Nezumi kicked a stone that laid near his shoe. He didn't say anything for a while and Shion sat down beside him. They looked on the plains in silence.

"I just messed up our vacation, right?" He said quietly looking at the small stalks of grass raising from the ground. Nezumi snored angry not looking at him.

"Yeah, you did. And I thought that my conversation was going to fuck it up."

"I'm sorry. It was the last thing I wanted to do. This day was wonderful until I got impression that I keep you from living the way you really wished to."

"I don't even know how something so ridiculous could be born inside your mind." Nezumi groaned annoyed leaning his hand on his forehead.

"It was just... It's rare for you to be this happy at the home. Sometimes you hum or sing but only when no one is around. I just thought that I keep you from being truly happy. I couldn't even dream that one day you would tell me that I'm the cause of your happiness. I'm sorry. I did hurt you by saying that we are not good, right?"

Nezumi didn't answer that question but Shion knew that he was right. Even Shion was now mad at himself for having such crazy thoughts. Good, why he was so stupid? They laughed together, they hug, kiss a lot today and even held hands for at last a hour without a break. Why he took that signs as forcing Nezumi to be with him? He knew that the other boy never done anything that he didn't wanted. His boyfriend was filled with joy because Shion was with him, but now all of that was ruined.

"I'm sorry. I love you. I love you so much that I will do anything so you could smile like this everyday. You were right, strong emotions make people irrational and I'm perfect example of that. I'm so much in love with you and it's probably not the last time I will say something idiotic because of my misjudgment. Thank you for being so honest with me, about your hardships and about how you feel about being in relationship with me right now."

"Being honest is a disease that you spread around, it's not like I glad that I caught it from you." Nezumi answered. His voice calmed down. For a moment Nezumi's eyes rested at his backpack stopping there for a few moments. After Nezumi sighed tiredly Shion leaned up on his knees to wrap his hands around the dark haired boy's shoulders. With a hesitation Shion lowered his face to kiss the other boy's cheek.

"I'm sorry... and I love you. I really do." Shion said. He was going to voice such words a thousands times it that would make Nezumi to smile again.

"Well, you forgive me that I left you, so I would be idiot for being angry at the brain damage that you clearly had right now. We are now even. I don't want to spend rest of our precious vacation at such a ridiculous misunderstanding." Nezumi leaned down on the grass looking at the sky. Shion grabbed his boyfriend hand. When Nezumi squeezed it lightly back Shion took it as a good sign.

"Can I do anything to make it up to you somehow?"

"Well, save me from more stupid ideas like this one. For bringing my good mood back... Well, I'll leave it to his majesty imagination. Maybe this time it would work like it should. I'm giving you a free hand in that matter. You don't need to hold back with being creative."

Yes, that was suggestive. Maybe a little too suggestive since Shion's face became as red as his eyes. Still the white haired boy brang that upon himself by messing up such great day.

Nezumi laid on the grass and waited for Shion's first move. He watched with satisfaction as Shion tried to work out through things that could please Nezumi and fix situation.

Nezumi would lie if he said that this whole conversation didn't hurt him. Shion's words felt like little needles pricing his heart. How could this idiot even get such an impression about their relationship? Nezumi wasn't always very talkative about how damn good their life together felt. He wasn't such a cheesy person who would scream everyday that he's happy. He already was more open about his feelings and past thanks to Shion and Karan's efforts. To change the way he learned to live, it wasn't easy even for the sake of person he cared about.

Shion should know that.

How many times did he have to say to that airhead that he loved him? Damn, one day he will go crazy because of Shion. It only took few words from Shion's mouth to shatter Nezumi's composure. He almost told his boyfriend about the rings... There was a moment when he wanted just to throw that small box straight into Shion's face just to make the other boy to stop telling such idiotic ideas. He understood that Shion said all of this because he wanted the best for Nezumi, but it still felt bad.

When both of them calmed down all Nezumi could feel was an emptiness He looked at his backpack and he wasn't sure anymore if he didn't hurry up with this whole ring matter. Maybe he should hold back with this idea for better occasion, but he didn't know what he would say to Karan if they return without rings on their palms.

If Shion hadn't held him and said that he loved him, Nezumi was sure that this situation would make him abandon the whole 'getting married' plan.

God, that day was just too much, it was one damn big rollercoaster.

Maybe it was Nezumi's mistake at some level since he didn't tell Shion about hardships during his journey. He couldn't call his travels a hell like living inside old NO.6 was, but it wasn't easy either. The loved moments when he got to new city, village or discovered a place supplied by nature in food and water. But it wasn't always like this. There was such time, around third year after he left NO.6, when for around four months he couldn't find any human agglomeration. There was one night when he was more dehydrated and starved than ever in his life. He laid under some brushes to keep himself at least a little warm and that day for the first time he regretted that he left Shion. He was thinking about their promise to met again, about times when they were living together and the night when Shion saved him. Back then he felt weak and lonely like never before. Nezumi didn't want to talk about those times when he was just helpless, alone man against the cruelty of the untamed nature. His pride didn't let him. He rather liked to tell Shion about the bright side of his journey.

His eyes were focused on the darkening sky when the white haired boy finally made his move and brought their lips together. Nezumi hummed in pleasure. He thought that Shion would stop at that, but the other boy moved down Nezumi's neck. This was a surprise. Nezumi didn't think that Shion had the guts to do something like this on his own will.

Still, his skin was covered by pleasant goose-bumps when he felt Shion's breath moving up from his neck towards his ear. Then he heard one sentence that ensured he that Shion didn't only learn some good comebacks but an ability to tease as well.

"I bought you a copy of Shakespeare's 'Antony and Cleopatra' and 'The Tempest '." The white haired boy whispered with a low voice. Nezumi snap his eyes open in surprise and he sat down pushing Shion off from hovering above him.

"What?"

"I bought you those books. I hid them at mom's room so you couldn't find them. They were very hard to get, as you know. You said once that those are the only ones from Shakespeare's works that you never read. I was able to find them thanks to ambassador from NO.4 and I wanted to give them to you on our anniversary on 7th September." Shion explained sitting more comfortable on the grass.

Finding paper books wasn't so easy in their times. Libraries and many personal collections were destroyed during the war. Some people used books as fuel to warm themselves after they lost their homes, so even popular titles have become hard to obtainable. Every book Nezumi had in his collection was a little miracle. They were survivors just like him.

Sure, the big cities had copies of almost every book in their electronic database. Reprinting books was the last thing people worried about and possibility of reading through computers didn't help this matter. It wasn't like Nezumi or any person from the West Block had access to NO.6 database before wall fell. Nezumi knew about the existence of those two books only because he found Elaboration of Shakespeare's works. Not very good book in Nezumi's opinion since he didn't agree with author about interpretations of Hamlet's characters, but it was better than nothing.

Anyway, even during his journey he didn't even have a chance to encounter those two books, but Shion somehow managed to buy them for him. It was amazing to Nezumi that Shion remembered those titles. If his own memory hadn't been mistaken he told the with haired boy about them only once five years ago.

Making Nezumi's small dreams come true was so simple and an easy way for Shion to win his heart again.

How could Nezumi not love that boy when he was doing such things for him. It was useless to fight with the warmth and happiness that embraced his heart at the thought of reading those books once they will get back from their trip.

"Nezumi?" The anxious voice broke the silence which have been created after Shion's announcement.

Nezumi sighed loudly before talking again.

"Alright, this offering has erased your sins, your majesty."

"Uh, now I have to find another present for our anniversary." Shion lamented and that alone made corners of Nezumi's lips to rise up.

"Well, it's not my fault, my prince. It was your decision to tell me about those books."

"I know. Still... it was worth it, you look happy again." Shion pointed out in his usual honest way.

Nezumi's face warmed up a little at such words. He turned his head in the opposite direction to hide his cheeks from a delighted Shion. His eyes wandered towards the sky. The sun started to hide behind the horizon painting it with shades of orange. It was the best time for them to prepare their camp before it will get dark. Not mention that Nezumi got a little hungry and Shion probably felt the same. They lost around hour for this stupid, unnecessary fight. Nezumi wished to get further during the first day of their trip, but at the same time they weren't so behind in their planned schedule.

"Shion, we're going to camp here."

At such words Shion beamed with happiness. The other boy jumped to his bag and started to set up their tent. Shion was skilled at such work and he really liked it. His eyes sparked with thrill while he read instructions, even if Nezumi was sure that he would handle such matters without any help. Letting his boyfriend play with his new toy, Nezumi set up a campfire and put out the bags of food. He reached into his backpack with worry at first, expecting to find out everything was all wet. He was lucky the way he threw his bag before, didn't damage the water bottle he bought in the small town.

Maybe this was a sign that the day's end would be as pleasant as morning was.

He found some sticks laying on the grass and he opened a plastic package with sausages. Nezumi cut them nicely with his knife before setting them up the near fire. It was so comfortable to just reach inside Shion's bag to get paper plates for both of them and some bread he baked in the evening before their trip.

Shion finished his job quickly and he found some rocks they could sit on in front of the campfire. They both sat down on Shion's self-made bench from stones and two wide branches from the fallen trees. The air filled with the smell of hot sausages as they watched the dancing flames.

Without denial, this trip felt totally different compared to his fours years of lone wandering through unknown lands.

It felt safe and like home, just like every time when Shion was around.

The air had cooled down as the sky started to cover with stars, but Shion didn't notice it. The flames from the campfire glowed at them sharing warmth. Nezumi was sitting beside him waiting for their dinner to cook. It was the first time when Shion was going to spent a night sleeping under the starry sky. It would be even more wonderful if sky was filled with stars instead of clouds. The weather got worse since the afternoon but he didn't think that it would start to rain that night.

His stomach growled hungrily at the smell of baked sausages making Nezumi smirk at him with amusement. The heavy and dark tension created during their fight already disappeared. Well, Shion paid a high price for it. Books that Nezumi didn't in his collection were really hard to get. Not to mention Shion was already broke from buying super fiber shirts, so their high price didn't help. That fight could be considered one of Shion's defeat, but he felt like a winner.

He heard that he is the one that makes Nezumi so happy.

Those were the most beautiful words, beside a confession of love, that Shion ever heard from his boyfriend. It was almost an unbelievable announcement. Shion was making Nezumi's life better, more colorful and happier just like the other boy made his. It was more than Shion could even wish for. He wasn't anymore a bother to Nezumi. He was needed. His existence was important for the man Shion loved so much.

"Don't burn yourself." Nezumi said putting on Shion's paper plate a hot sausage.

"Thanks."

He set up the plate on his knees. From the day ahead they would need to support themselves with canned food. Shion didn't want to complain about that. It was luxury food compared to what they ate while living in the West Block.

Shion blew at his hot food not stopping to look at the dancing fire. Sometimes the flames reminded him about the Correctional Facility, they were regular guests inside his nightmares. He was surprised at first that Nezumi who was once burned by such flames didn't harbored bad feelings towards the fire. They talked about such matters once, when Shion woke up from a very bad nightmare. Shion could have guessed Nezumi's answer. The older boy answered him that it was the people who turned fire towards his people, family and him. It was other humans who marked him with fire creating a scar to always remind him that their kind could easily use everything they could to bring harm to one another. That he didn't hate fire because it warmed his body when he was homeless, helped him change their small room in the West Block into a place to live and cook his meals. Instead he hated people who used it for bad things.

Shion couldn't tell him that he was wrong since there was a piece of truth inside those words. It was reality that his own body was covered with scar created by humans who wanted to play gods. He couldn't change that fact.

Looking at Nezumi Shion couldn't stop to admire how strong the other boy was. He never gave up. Maybe he was too harsh on the people but Shion could understand that. With being hurt so much by another human's hand there wasn't any other option but to create such a defense mechanism, and yet Nezumi still believed in Shion. The other boy learned that not every person wants to bring harm to another, just like not every flame was destined to destroy and burn living beings.

The younger boy was about to take a bite of his bread when Nezumi put his own plate on Shion's lap.

"Hold it for a moment." Nezumi said moving towards his backpack. He got from there two small metallic cups and the bottle filled with yellow fluid.

"What is that?" Shion asked as Nezumi poured the strange substance into two cups.

"This is, my dear majesty, famous product of these lands."

Shion sniffed the cup that Nezumi put into his hand. It smelled sweet.

"Juice? No, it's alcohol?"

"It's liqueur. People from that town makes it from peaches and honey. Its recipe is one of the secrets that those people have preserved for generations. It's pretty healthy to drink for once a while if you don't overdo it like some white haired boy that I know. He's even capable to get drunk from wine causing his boyfriend a headache. Poor guy, if you would ask me."

Nezumi teased making Shion's ears go red from shame. When the dark haired boy took his plate back, Shion with hesitation moved the cup to his lips.

"It's good!" He gasped aloud once liquid disappeared inside his mouth warming his throat. Nezumi chuckled while watching his face. Shion also laughed quietly. It reminded him of the night when he first tried wine. He even wanted to ask Nezumi to pour more of the tasty liqueur into his cup, but he wasn't a teenager anymore. He was an adult who knew how to be responsible. Not to mention that he didn't want to give Nezumi reason to prove his opinion about Shion being greedy when it came to alcohol.

Shion didn't often drink alcohol, not that he didn't want the chance to do it. Some people, not once, asked him out. They were some of his co-workers or people who wanted somehow to buy his support after the wall fell. But he never felt like doing it. Before Nezumi came back his health was getting worse and worse. Loosening himself in alcohol would be a nail to his coffin at his state. But there was another main reason that Shion didn't want to get used to the taste of alcohol.

It was his father.

Shion never met that man, but he knew from his mother that he was a drunkard and he cheated on her not only once. He didn't want to be like that. He didn't want to hurt someone like that man and bring more grief to Karan's life. His mom always acted strong but Shion was sure that it was once painful for her when she was left by her husband. She raised him the best she could but Shion was sure that it would be easier for her to not be alone. He was only a child and as much as he wanted to support her he knew it wasn't a possible, especially when he was a little kid.

Inukashi's drink at the beginning of the year only ensured Shion in the decision that he didn't necessary need alcohol in his life. The way he felt the next morning could only compare to the time when the parasite wasp almost killed him.

He was surprised that Nezumi bought this liqueur. The silver eyed boy also wasn't very found of alcohol. Sure, it was tasty and Shion knew that such drinks once a while were good for blood circulation and digestion after a heavy meal, but still it was something new.

It wasn't unusual that people in the West Block reached out for alcohol. The low temperatures made them drink on order to get little warm. It then turned into addiction. It wasn't the only motive. Wanting to forget their problems, erase pain even if only a temporary, not mention that alcohol had a lot of calorie. It howled down the need to eat, but that also worked only for a while before destroying the person's health.

Yet, Shion had never seen Nezumi drunk during the time they lived together. The older boy for sure had his portion of memories he wanted to forget. The pictures of dead people from inside the Correctional Facility he wished to stop hunting him. To calm down his anger when someone tried to robe him from all dignity after his performance on stage as Eve. When Shion was getting through Nezumi's walls making him feel uncomfortable.

No, Nezumi was strong. He knew that running away was like jumping into void.

And maybe, Shion was almost sure that this was the main reason, while being drunk Nezumi would feel even more vulnerable than normal. It would be easy to hurt him in such state.

Shion saw Nezumi drunk only once and it was wine they got as a gift.

Maybe he thought that with Shion he was more safe to do such a thing. That he could let himself relax a little with something that was to taste during the meal. Well, the wine Rikiga brought and that liqueur right now was surely like that.

"Hey, your food is getting cold." Nezumi said to him. His plate was already empty and he poured a little more liqueur into their cups before he hid half the full bottle back inside bag.

"We should buy more of this on our way back as a souvenirs for Rikiga and Inukashi." Shion threw the idea. He took another slip of his drink. It was really good. Nezumi almost choked at such proposition.

"Yeah, old man would be for sure delighted by such a gift, but I'm not going to spent money to please that pervert."

"You know that he saved your life." Shion reminded.

"It was you who saved my life. Inukashi told me that you demanded to give you the keys to the car in order to get me into the hospital. One look at your face and they knew it was useless to deny your request."

"I... I couldn't waver. I had to be like this. Every second was getting you close to death and... I couldn't lose you. Just couldn't."

"Don't worry. I would be crazy to not be grateful for helping me with everything you can. I would have done the same."

"I see. Good." Shion answered relaxing. His mind started to feel a little dizzy. He didn't have good resistance towards the alcohol in the end. He leaned a little over Nezumi feeling that fatigue of the whole day hit him like a hammer. He didn't even think that he was this tired.

"Nezumi, I'm sorry, I think I will need to lay down soon." He whispered sadly with clear voice. He really hoped to use every minute of their vacation well, but his body started to betray him. With liqueur or not Shion would reach his limits right now.
"Did you somehow manage to get drunk from this? I think that's your record." Nezumi asked surprised looking at Shion face to see proofs of his conclusion.
"I'm not drunk. The events of this day, various emotions and how my body used it's remaining energy into the digestive processes exhausted the rest of my body's strength."
Nezumi bursted into laugher at such explanation.
"You are really something else, you know?"

Well, this may be true. This line must have sound kinda strange but it's outcome felt so right. Shion's body melted in a pleasant way from warmth of the fire, liqueur and the beautiful laugh ringing inside the darkness of the night.

Nezumi was sure that after such a declaration Shion would head straight into the tent but the white haired boy only moved closer and put his head over Nezumi's shoulder.

"Nezumi will you sing for us?"
The question surprised him but it was something to be expected after the afternoon's event.
"I really don't want to force you. Still, I want you to know that you don't need to hold back. Every desire, every dream you ever wished for, I want to help make them true."

He should have teased Shion for throwing a sappy line like this. Instead he let it make his heart beat faster, his mind became nicely dizzy and happy thanks to Shion's confession and golden liquid. He laughed often about the white haired boy's weak ability to hold his alcohol but he also didn't have much experience in drinking. He always lowered his guard too much for his liking when he was drunk. Still, the liquid people made in local town was too good to not try it when there was such chance.

"So, what would his majesty like me you sing for him?" He asked wrapping his arm around his boyfriend's waist and he didn't let himself think that he was looked like a silly idiot. In the end it was strange that perverts and the other freaks from the West Block heard him sing more times than Shion.
"I will be alright with anything. I leave the choice to you." Shion answered happily.
Nezumi searched in his mind for a perfect song that would fit their little trip. There was a one song he heard once from the older woman of his tribe. He always liked when she sang this one particular melody, it always wrapped up his childish dreams nicely into words. He was worried a while if he should sing it to Shion. That airhead might again misunderstand Nezumi's current desires.

"Alright I have one. I always liked it. It's unique song, not like the cliché ones about love. Just don't get the wrong idea, it's about a wish to see world but it didn't mean that you want to discovery it alone. Do you understand?"

Only when Shion nodded his head Nezumi smiled and closed his eyes before the melody left his lips.

I want to try chasing after

light and shadow

In the high-spirited laughter

of the children running along

I was wondering what exists

Beyond the sun that I saw

When looking through green leaves

Emerald green

From within the hands

That plucked the flowers

They change their form

Into the sky, the wind, the earth

In the far-too-dazzling place

Where I opened my eyes

To this beauty

I've sprawled out and

I'm questioning the sky

It was amazing. Well, it always was breath taking moment when Nezumi sang but when Shion heard this song he felt like under some kind of spell casted on him. He could see Nezumi as a child picking flowers on the colorful meadows and playing with other children from his tribe. The silver eyes dreamily looking at the green leaves hoping one day to see lands behind his homelands while listening to this song.

Such picture caused his eyes to burn a little. Nezumi didn't deserved what NO.6 have done to him. None of Forest People deserved the end that city prepared for them. He cleared his throat before looking at his boyfriend again.

"It was beautiful; I'm always amazed how you could sing like that. It sounded like it was being sung by a woman. It technically almost impossible since your voice is normally so low and when you sang for Hamlet and Tsukiyo you sound like you, but this time... If I closed my eyes I wouldn't be able to tell that you are a man."

"I think that his majesty wants me to take off my pants to make me prove to him again that I'm not a woman." Nezumi smirked teasing at him. Shion shook his red cheeks poking Nezumi between ribs. They both giggled a little drunk.

"And you said that I'm an airhead. I'm telling you that your voice is magical. Impossible for science to even explain."

"So you're telling me that I'm a miracle?" Nezumi said without thinking but Shion was sure that the other boy regretted his carefree action as soon as he heard the answer.

"Yes, you are. You always were a miracle to me."

"Uh, you are so sappy and natural that it sometimes hurts." Nezumi answered acting a little disgusted. He took empty paper plates from grass and put them into some plastic bag that they used for a provisional trash bin. Shion helped with cleaning up a little disappointed.

"Nezumi, would you mind to sing more?" He asked after they put trash into their bags. None of them wanted to taint this beautiful land.

"I thought you were tired."

"I am, but I wanted to hear you more."

"Hm, if you really can't wait until tomorrow then I will give his majesty one more song, for free."

Nezumi joked sitting back on the bench and extending his small performance. His face was a little flushed on cheeks from their flirting fight and the liquid. Shion found it a really beautiful. He didn't have the chance to see his boyfriend so vulnerable.

Once again the sweet melody rang through night's air.

Beneath a veil

so cold,

You deeply sleep,

all alone

The melody of prayer;

on the lonely fields,

a little light

shone

I watched as you dreamed

You laughed like a child

So dear, and yet so far –

That is the promise of our future

Nezumi finished the last line with a little embarrassed 'crap' from his mouth. Shion laughed loudly after that making Nezumi's face even more red. Shion was sure that Nezumi would normally never sing that melody to him if he didn't get carried away. It was the really sweet and sappy song that made Shion feel so loved. If it reflected even a little of Nezumi's feelings, then Shion was living a blessed life.

He leaned and kissed Nezumi with all the passion and love he felt at that moment.

"This is really the best day of my life." Shion said and he couldn't help but think that Nezumi was adorable. Not like he would ever say it aloud. He didn't want to die during such a wonderful day.

"Hm, maybe tomorrow's outcome would be even better?" Nezumi answered.

"It's impossible." Shion said quickly leaning his head back on Nezumi's shoulder. His eyes already started to close. He tried his best to win this fight with his own tired body but his attempt failed.

They watched as flames slowly died down before heading finally into their tent.

Shion, with last remains of his strength, giggled when they slid into one big sleeping bag saying that they look like a two-headed-caterpillar. Nezumi huffed at him calling him idiot and asking if he didn't secretly drink the rest of liquid because he started to sound crazy again. The white haired boy only answered his boyfriend with a small butterfly kiss. Before falling into the dream lands Shion heard quiet words.

"Tomorrow... Shion."

But he wasn't sure if those words were already part of his dream so he didn't ask what Nezumi meant by that.

Chapter Text

The second day of their trip didn't start very eventful. Nezumi and Shion woke up, maybe a little too late for Nezumi's planned schedule. They ate some leftover bread for the breakfast and they got their things packed. After making sure that they were ready, they moved their steps towards the non-existent road which lead them towards the edge of forest. This time Shion didn't ask for permission to hold their hands together. He just grabbed Nezumi's hand during the first minutes of their renewed journey. The dark haired boy only squeezed back the warm palms of his boyfriend letting his heart warm up with sun and the gentle smile of the person beside him. Everything was feeling so right that Nezumi didn't mind to sing few songs making the hour before they reach their destination to pass in the blink of eye.

The forest itself wasn't anything special at the first glance. Shion looked at every tree with delight, but Nezumi saw many places like this during his travels. They arrived in the best time when forest's fruits were in their harvest phase. The natural green around them was entwined with red colors of strawberries and raspberries accompanied by cobalt of the blueberries. Seeing such beautiful jewelry of the nature Nezumi was surprised that no one yet gathered them. The town wasn't really that far and he remembered eating wonderful jams produced from fruits rising inside those forests. Maybe people were still too busy with crops. Well, at least such fact made Nezumi sure that he and Shion could enjoy beauty of those lands alone. He lead them into that place not because of the forest's eatable goods, but for something that was hid there. Them two alone would be more enjoyable experience without any other people around.

Walking through the forest wasn't easy. There were no roads and they moved from one small clearing between bushes and trees to the another. They weren't upset about such a situation. Shion looked like he had time of his life while walking behind Nezumi and picking fruits into a metal cup. During small breaks they ate what the younger boy gathered.

It was the fifth time when cup was full and Shion turned towards the older boy to share his findings when his whole body froze.

"Nezumi look!" Shion let out surprised gasp making Nezumi worry that other man found cause of human's absence inside the forest and that it wasn't anything good. He didn't even had time to turn around when next gasp filled with excitement left his boyfriend's lips.

"It's a deer! Look, Nezumi. Those horns must be at least meter long!" Shion squeaked quietly thrilled looking at the wild animal. The white haired boy looked like teenager girl who somehow managed to saw face-to-face her beloved idol. Nezumi had to cover his mouth with hand just to not burst with loud laugher scaring deer away.

Yes, that was exactly how Nezumi imagined Shion to be during the trips like this one. Not once he had problems in predicting his boyfriend's actions but this time he was right in his assumptions. The younger boy was looking at the deer like it was some kind of holy creature. Shion was reciting to the older boy his knowledge about deer's learned from NO.6 database's. There was no mistake that Shion was still the same natural boy who he met years ago.

It didn't even take five minutes when the deer noticed them both and ran into the deepest parts of the forest.
"Oh, it's gone." Shion gasped with disappointed but the big grin didn't vanish from his face.
Nezumi started again to lead them towards their destination when Shion asked him with quiet voice.
"Do you think we would meet more animals inside this forest? Like a fox or bear?"
"You know your majesty, I would rather not meet a bear. This might rather be problematic."
"Yeah, you are right." The white haired boy nodded and he put a few blueberries into his cup.
"Well, maybe you should consider making a ZOO in NO.6 for your and other kids enjoyment." Nezumi teased his boyfriend. Shion seemed to let Nezumi's comment slide at first, yet his face changed into perfect example of the deep concern.

"I don't think the idea of creating a prison for animals in order to bring others enjoyment is a good one. That would take their freedom away."
"Nothing comes without a price. It's a common occurrence since ancient times. Humans fed and took care of animals in exchange for benefits they could gain from them. Such creatures have longer life compare to their untamed brothers. Was their freedom to little or too big a price to pay? You would gain different answer depending on who you ask. No.6 also protected its people, at least on the surface, taking their freedom away. In the end we were just like animals to them. NO.6 bred its people as long as they were useful."

Shion looked at him surprised.

"It's amazing how easily you can jump from silly conversation about making a ZOO to the old ways of the city." The younger boy told after a few silent moments. In his voice Nezumi could hear a note of tease.

"Well, that's part of my charm, you should get used to it already." Nezumi shrugged his shoulders giving Shion his best playful smirk.

"Hm, I wouldn't call such a skill a charm, but it was definitely something that define you from the others. Here." Shion answered in his usual softly way and put blueberry into Nezumi's mouth. The older boy clearly felt his cheeks to paint red as sweetness of fruit melted on his tongue. God, could they get even more sappy? Still, Nezumi couldn't decide if it was really so bad as his brain screamed to him.

The forest around them was a perfect example of the natural wild. Sometimes the bushes were very hard to walk through so Shion was really glad that Nezumi was with him. He was sure he would get lost without the other boy. Nezumi was able to find an even smaller road between trees, he carefully looked over Shion so the white haired boy wouldn't end up with his head smashed by some branch. It was a wise choice to wear long trousers. It saved their legs from many scratches and possibly of catching some ticks. Shion wanted to encounter some animals, like deer from before, but ticks and snakes were the last on his list.

It was almost afternoon and even with cover from the trees temperature inside forest was high. Shion's shirt stuck to his skin thanks to the sweat. He and Nezumi didn't shower for two days so they didn't smell fresh anymore. In the West Block they at least had their small shower. Right now every drop of water seemed like gold, too precious to waste. They situation should feel bad, but for Shion this was the most exciting thing he occurred for a while. Beside he was sure that Nezumi planned everything and their supply of food and water was enough for this trip.

Shion felt like one of the characters from Nezumi's adventure books and any hardships that wasn't dangerous to their life were making it even better. They were just like the travels who searched for the lost treasures inside jungle or mystical forests.

Knowledge that his usual days were filled with papers, meetings and offices with gray walls felt almost unreal. He surely didn't feel like he and Nezumi were on their trip only for two days now. Every moment since they left city was filled with so many experiences and Shion just loved every second of it, wishing for those moments to not end fast.

After a while Shion heard something. Something that surely didn't sound like the forest. It was a quiet sound and at first Shion thought it was the noise of leaves moving by the wind, but as Nezumi led them deeper into forest the sound was getting louder and louder.

"Nezumi, do you hear that?" Shion asked finally his boyfriend even if chances to get answer were really low.

"You will find out soon, patience my majesty." Nezumi answered pushing away next branch in order to make another steep. Shion huffed a little annoyed. His curiosity was almost killing him right now. Sound he heard was similar to river that followed inside the city, but this one was mixed with strange splashes and it seemed to have few sources.

As Nezumi told him, Shion didn't have to wait very long for his answer. Dense growing trees and Nezumi's back blocked his view until he finally stepped into clearing to reveal a source of strange noise from before. The dark haired boy moved aside and smirked at Shion's frozen in shock face.

"I hope his majesty doesn't regret going through some inconvenience to see this place." Nezumi joked looking at Shion's open mouth and big eyes. The crimson eyed boy shook his head without moving his sight from the scenery.

Before them spread the most beautiful place that Shion ever saw. The azure water was embraced between gray rocks, trees, moss and small plants. From high cliff above steamed waterfalls, five of them to be precise. Three little rivers created a road for lake's water into forest and changing into life source for whole ecosystem in that place. Shion made a few steps to look into crystal clean surface of the lagoon. He could clearly see every single stone on the lake's bottom. It was hard to even say how deep was that lake because water was so clean. Small fish swam in places where water was more calm, not splashed around by the waterfalls.

This was the treasure hidden and protected by that forest. Many places like this one were destroyed. Most pictures from before the war got lost when people tried to save more important information. Shion saw a few of them on his ID unit, or during his classes and while living inside the city closed from rest of the world he never imagined to see such beautiful place with his own eyes. Beside, NO.6 didn't want them to know that alongside destroyed lands there was still something beautiful outside the wall. Nezumi again shown him the reality Shion thought was long gone. He made Shion aware of pain, sorrow, injustice, loss, true happiness and love. Now he taught Shion that places so beautiful like this one weren't lost yet.

He couldn't move. He watched how two small waterfalls slide down between green moss and rocks. How the surface of water broke into white chaos by three bigger ones. Shion was afraid that if he made even one small steep, took one deeper breath, this whole scenery would disappear like an illusion.

Then Shion heard the sound of pulled down backpack on the grass and it woke up him from the trance. He looked towards his boyfriend just to feel his face to warm up.

"Nezumi, what are you doing?"

The long haired boy already took off his shirt when he looked at Shion. He Smiled playfully at his confused boyfriend and started to take off his trousers too.

"What does it look like to you?" Nezumi said standing now only in his boxers. Shion swallowed hard. He didn't mind seeing seeing naked Nezumi, but this was unexpected turn of events. Was that invitation for intercourse? Not like Shion minded that either.

"So what you are waiting for? Take your clothes off." Nezumi said slowly with even bigger grin. "The water should be nice after few days of heat like yesterday. You smell like old sock." He added even more teasing causing a war inside Shion's mind between saying disappointing 'oh', fighting back by saying that older boy doesn't smell like a flower himself and being excited over Nezumi's idea. Not mention of being totally ashamed. He really could have guess Nezumi's intentions considering where they were instead of jumping into... such wrong conclusions.

In the end he had chose third option, like always.

It was always so much fun. Each tease that turned Shion into big walking tomato was one of Nezumi's biggest enjoyment of his life. He could bet on his whole monthly payment that his boyfriend's mind was filled with dirty ideas after Nezumi's performance. It always made him happy to know that core of this natural boy stayed the same. Naive, silly and longing for Nezumi's love. He always hated when people lusted for him in the West Block, no matter if it was about him or his stage character. He always loathed such feelings. But Shion's longing was different. He never pushed Nezumi into anything, but he didn't mind to welcome with joy every moment of closeness that Nezumi decided to share.

Now, when they settled down together the feeling of longing didn't bring Nezumi harm. It was something he looked for. No matter how crazy it always sounded to him, he was glad that Shion held this kind of desire towards him. Was that because it flattered his ego? Yes. But at the same time when Shion looked at him with his eyes dark with longing and love Nezumi's own heart jumped with the same desire. And it was the best kind of feeling. Of course beside teasing this natural boy.

Nezumi knelt down beside their backpacks while Shion started to take off his clothes with vigor. The crazy, excited grin returned to the younger boy's face. Nezumi wanted to secure their bags before they head into the water. It's true that they didn't see any single living soul on their way, but he always rather liked to be prepared than sorry later. He took out some rope from Shion's equipment and he tied both bags together, then to the tree. There wasn't even need to secure their equipment with so much care, both back-bags tied together would be enough heavy to not be stolen quickly while they take their time in water.

Between running around their bags Nezumi made a quick glance at Shion. The other boy was focused on taking off his trousers so Nezumi quickly checked and pushed back the box with rings under caned food inside his bag.

When he turned around to stand up his body froze because Shion started to run into the water naked like the day he was born. All Nezumi could focus at was Shion's ass, with that damn sexy snake scar crossing it, while the other boy ran into the water like a crazy ten years old kid. The water splashed around Shion when he went into water until half of him was inside the lake.

"Come on, Nezumi! Water is great! Maybe not very warm, but I think it will be alright if we don't cool down too much."

Nezumi could only support his head over hand and sigh loudly. Shion and his craziness sometimes was just unpredictable. What that idiot would do if the other people had visited lake just like them? How could he get himself so exposed in an open, unknown space? Maybe Nezumi shouldn't be the one talking, in the end he was standing in his underwear only, still, at least his private parts were covered.

The dark haired boy leaned with another sigh towards the grass and he took Shion's underwear before walking into water.

It was a little cold. The water didn't have enough time to warm up. It ran from mountain into lake and it never stayed there for too long before making it's way further into the forest. Yet, after being covered in sweat for two days it felt like heaven.

Shion was slowly walking around the lake, checking with every steep how deep the bottom of lagoon was. His eyes were focused on the water when Nezumi joined him. Just as Shion raised his head to say something Nezumi threw underwear on his white hair.

"Put something on your ass. You are going to make the local animals blind."

Shion pouted a little while removing boxers from his head.

"This way I feel more free, it's closer to nature. Beside I know a gray haired animal who didn't go blind by looking at my ass."

Nezumi smirked proud at such nice comeback.

"I didn't think that his majesty was a nudist type."

"I'm not. It's just that sometimes it's nice to discharge yourself from everything. Let nature be one with your body. Forget about all rules of our civilization and to be free for a moment. This place looks perfect to do so. Last time I feel like doing something like this was that night when we met. I wanted to feel storm without being bounded by anything..."

"Wait, you are saying that you wanted to scream on that balcony naked?"

"Yes" Shion answered honestly with a little blush on his cheeks.

It was second time when Nezumi was speechless that day. His imagination showed him that day once again, but this time he pinned to the wall a naked, twelve years old Shion. It was ridiculous. Even a big sigh couldn't popery show how his brain crumbled at that moment. Such an important memory, the day that changed Nezumi's life... It was all devastated. If there was any god, beside Elyurias, that still existed he was grateful to them that Shion didn't end up naked that night or else he would end up dead. Probably.

"Philosophers were right, some things are better left not known." Nezumi groaned.

"What things?"

"Your damn kinks. You just ruined my memory of our first meeting with that revelation."

Not knowing what to do with such ridiculous information about their past Nezumi wasn't any longer sure if he should laugh or imagine more of that evening with naked Shion. On crazy impulse he done something that he never thought he would do. His hand flew over water surface and he splashed Shion leaving his boyfriend soaked all over.

"Hey!" Shion yelled and jumped to catch his boxers floating on the surface of lake. After grabbing his underwear, Shion quickly put them on and with both hands splashed even more water at his boyfriend. When Nezumi opened eyes again big drops fell on his face from his hair.

"Did you just splash me?" The dark haired boy said with a low, dark voice trying to get wet stands from his face. A happy and bright grin of the white haired boy only make him sure that Shion didn't understand what he had just done.

Nezumi's lips slowly curled into smile. In the end he had some airhead to drown down.

Shion climbed one of the rocks that stood around lake trying to calm his rushed breath from adrenaline and laugh. Nezumi pretended to try to drag him down, but the older boy was also exhausted by their water fight. They pulled each other few times under surface of lake and Shion was proud that this game ended with a tie. He managed to splash and drag Nezumi into the water as many times as Nezumi did him.

He climbed two more rocks in order to get closer at the waterfalls. One of them fell into some kind of stone floor before following into the lake. It looked like a little shower and Shion was really curious how it would feel to stay under the stream of such natural water. Looking down he checked upon Nezumi who now slowly swam on his back with his eyes closed. His ponytail went undone during their playful game and now his hair danced under the surface of water. The view of Nezumi, now almost naked and looking like some water dryad, took Shion's breath away. When the other boy opened his eyes and Shion again caught a glimpse of that beautiful shades of silver all he could do was to thank heavens that this gorgeous and intelligent man was part of his life.

He found himself starring at the other boy for too long. In order to not create a chance for Nezumi to tease him again Shion went back to his previous activity. He made careful steeps on slippery rock and in one move he went under steam. Cold water hit his head and back with more force than shower but it was still very pleasant. Droplets of water hit his skin and Shion couldn't hold back a chuckle. Nezumi stood back on feet to check out what Shion came up with this time.

"It tickles!" Shion shouted to his boyfriend still giggling. "You should try it too!"

Nezumi swam closer to waterfalls and Shion noticed wrinkle of worry between his eyebrows.

"Shion, I think you had enough. Your lips are starting to get blue."

The white haired boy knew that his boyfriend must have right. His body trembled a little from cold. Looking down at Nezumi he noticed that older boy's lips also started to lose their pink color. That was surely a sign to end their fun inside the water.

It was disappointing but better than getting cold or hyperthermia.

Having no other way to go back from cliff Shion decided to use his only opportunity and jump back inside the water. He picked the spot he knew that was deep enough so he couldn't get hurt and with loud happy scream he jumped back into lake. When he swam back into the surface his heart beat fast from euphoria.

His gaze met with Nezumi's as the other boy sighed loudly again. Shion almost could hear how Nezumi called him names inside his mind. He only answered that with smile, his biggest weapon towards the dark haired male.

"Alright my dear child, did you have your fun? Now be a good boy and dry yourself or else you will get sick." Nezumi joked acting like a mother. Sometimes Shion really wondered why Nezumi was still working in Karan's Bakery instead being an actor since it gave his boyfriend so much fun. But as always he decided to leave that question for later to ask. Instead he swam closer to Nezumi and once they were able to stand up on the solid bottom Shion wrapped his hands around the other boy. He kissed his boyfriend gently. It didn't help their lips to warm up but Shion wanted to share the happiness he felt.

"Thank you for showing me this place. I could say that you really improved in preparing swim dates."

His comment was met with a reaction that he hoped for. Shion heard the most beloved, bright laugh he could listen over and over until the end of world.

"Oh, you didn't like our first date in the sewage?" Nezumi smirked as they steeped into solid, dry ground towards their backpacks.

"No, I rather prefer clean water without... excrement."

"The master of description as always."

"I'm always at your service." Shion joked trying to act theatrically like Nezumi. "Here. It's good that I took with me an extra blanket."

The blanket wasn't as good as a towel because of the material structure, but somehow they both managed to mostly dry themselves. Their hair which were still a little damp when temperature started to lower past after late afternoon. While Nezumi hung the blanket to dry on the nearby tree, Shion washed their T-shirts. Waiting for their hair and items to dry Shion dragged the second blanket and pair of fresh shirts from his bag. After getting dressed up they found a nice spot where sun still warmed up the lake's stones and both men spent almost an hour on talking and watching beautiful waterfalls. At some point Shion felt Nezumi's hand around his waist moving him closer. When he raised his crimson eyes Nezumi only explained his sweet action with excuse of 'warming up faster this way'. Putting his head over the other boy's shoulder Shion felt gentle coziness covering his whole body and soul.

To Shion's disappointment after such wonderful hour Nezumi told him to get his backpack and to move.

"Can't we camp here?" He asked while checking on their washed shirts. They were still wet and he found idea of spending night in such beautiful place more appealing.

"We can, but it would be better to pick more quiet and secure place to sleep. Not mention that space here is insufficient to set up your wonderful tent, your majesty."

Shion didn't agree with the dark haired boy. There was plenty open space, but maybe that was the reason why Nezumi didn't like it. He was sometimes such paranoid about getting attacked and he probably thought that inability to clearly hear, because of waterfall, was making him uncomfortable. In the other hand Nezumi survived four years of traveling alone. He had more experience in such matters than Shion so maybe he had right. With heavy sigh Shion got his backpack, threw wet shirts over his arm and followed Nezumi wherever the other leaded them.
***

They slowly walked towards the spot which Nezumi thought was perfect for them to set their camp. They both were hungry by that moment and climbing up the little road around cliffs went really slow. They put back their jackets but it didn't change the weight they had to carry. Nezumi just wished to set up camp and to empty cans with food making their stomachs full and bags less heavy. He knew that Shion wasn't a person who easily starts to complain, but he found strange that the other boy didn't say anything for last few minutes. Nezumi turned his head over the shoulder to check on his boyfriend. The white haired boy walked behind him, spinning their shirts like propellers of the helicopter with his both hands. Nezumi halted his steeps to at this strange show until Shion noticed that he was being watched.

"What? I'm trying to get them dry faster." Shion said seriously causing Nezumi to burst into laugher that probably scared all animals in distance of few kilometers.

"You are really something."

***
The fire wildly danced. Nezumi started to feel more and more nervous. It should be easy; in the end it was him who planned everything. A whole day passed without problems. They both set up their camp around the small meadow on the cliff where river gave birth to the waterfalls. It was secured place with beautiful view over the valley with lake. The sky was clear without even one single cloud telling him that stars should be pretty viewable that night. Everything on earth and heaven cooperate with Nezumi and his plans to give Shion one of golden rings.

Yet, he felt nervous.

Shion kept mixing inside the pot with a spoon and the smell of canned beans with meat raised from the campfire. The sun already hid behind the line of forest and sky started to cover with the dark cape.

"I think it's ready." Shion said leaning to take Nezumi's plate. The older boy looked over his meal, but his thoughts drifted around the other topic. He wore his lather jacket and the box with rings was touching his chest. Everything was set and ready, he just waited for the right moment.

"It's so good." Shion moaned after chewing his first spoon of their dinner. Nezumi smiled at that nostalgic picture forgetting that he was nervous. Shion wasn't a picky eater. Well, better to say that he never was big eater from the beginning, but during the last year his build greatly improved. He became a normal looking man in his twenties instead of being a walking skeleton.

Nezumi added few new pieces of the wood into the fire. After they ended their third plate both boys leaned their backs on the stonewall behind them.

"Wow, this is really good spot to look at the stars, there is even that white shadow of the Milky Way." Shion started leaning his head up at the sky.

"Well, West Block didn't have many advantages, but the sky there was always nice too." Nezumi added recalling that one good thing from his teenager years. There wasn't many of them but he loved to watch starry sky.

"You are right, but even there, even near our underground room, NO.6 always created some light pollution. The sky here is even more detailed. Nezumi, you know the star inside the belt of Orion's constellation is about to end its life? And when that going is to happen it will be the most shining star on the sky? A lot bigger than the Polar Star."

"Well, that will be problem, from decades the Polar Star was guide for lost travelers."

"It's not like the Polar Star would disappear. Maybe a new point on the sky would be just an extra option that travelers could use. With help of a new light, they would find things no one before have ever seen."

Nezumi chuckled a little at Shion's romantic explanation.

"You and your options."

"Well that's part of my charm." Shion laughed softly repeating Nezumi's words from few hours ago. "Too bad that there isn't any rain or falling stars today. I would love to see it."

"Well, it's not that time in the year, you need to wait for the summer. Beside, what would his majesty wish for?" Nezumi teased his boyfriend, but he knew that Shion's answer didn't change since that rainy evening years ago when he asked similar question.

"Nothing. I have everything I could wish for. Or... No... Even stars can't bring back the dead."

Smile faded from the crimson eyed boy's face and Nezumi knew what Shion was thinking about. He wanted for his friend Safu to be alive, that innocent people from West Block, NO.6 and Forest City could back to live. It was impossible, but even knowing such cruel truth people always wished for it.

"You know, it's better that nothing. There is always a slight possibility of some big meteor to fall. I rather enjoy the evening without being hit by one." Nezumi tried to go back to their previous topic with this stupid and surreal idea. He wasn't very good at cheering people up, but he always tried his best to make Shion smile again.

It somehow worked. Maybe too much since Shion not only smiled but his eyes started to glisten with delight.

"But that would be interesting! We could take a samples! We might find piece of substance we yet know or even some remains of unknown bacteria from another world! Nezumi, we could discover a new life beside one from our planet!" Shion went on with excited flush on his face. If Nezumi didn't know the white haired man he would think that Shion just joked. But every word was serious and honest. Nezumi always knew that Shion loved ecology and he was really curious, but not to this extent. Such childish excitation should annoy Nezumi but he found Shion's words somehow charming and funny.

"You are crazy! Just an impossible guy!" Nezumi laughed at his boyfriend. He loved that part of Shion personality. In the end Nezumi would be dead at least twice without Shion's desire for science and medical knowledge.

"Hey! Since Elyurias is real then considering that there is life on the other planets can't be such crazy thing. There is high possibility that one-day people will discover life somewhere in space."

"You know, people should fix the shit they create everyday before they start to search for another life and planets."

"You're right..." Shion agreed quietly and Nezumi cursed in his head. He only told aloud his opinion but he didn't want for Shion's enthusiasm to disappear.

"Still, as you said there is a high chance that there is a life somewhere out there. Whole new ecosystems for his majesty to learn about." He tried to fix his mistake. Putting aside his personal opinion about humans, he wanted to ensure Shion about his right. He also thought that something may really dwell in the corners of the universe.

"Nezumi..." Shion whispered fondly understanding the real meaning behind Nezumi's honest words. "Thank you. That was really kind. I love you."

"I love you too." Nezumi confessed back the cheesy truth.

This was the right moment. There was no way for mood around them to get even more sappy. He had to do it now or never. He was able to overcome everything in the West Block, so why he was so nervous now?

"Cosmos is surely beautiful." Shion said gently. "You know... I saw as a child the photos of the nebula and it was something that changed my view on the universe. It wasn't all dark and empty. It was filled with colors, shapes and light. It's dangerous for sure, planets collide destroying each other, galaxies as well, but everything works so perfectly with the same rules. When one thing is destroyed the other is born soon or later. Even our galaxy and sun were once a bigger sun that died. It died and we were born out of it's pieces. I love how author of article I about read about that matter said that we all are children of the stars. You know, because stars in the end are just suns. It's somehow romantic and breath taking. Don't you think?"

The way Shion said simple scientific information couldn't be cheesier. But Nezumi loved it and wanted to see with the other boy those pictures he talked about. He couldn't help but to feel enchanted by Shion's words. He didn't think that some people deserved such a romantic title, but as for the white haired boy... Shion deserved even more than to be called the child of stars. He was sun itself in Nezumi's opinion.

"Yes, it's beautiful. But to tell you truth, I met a flower more beautiful and amazing than whole cosmos. A flower that shines in the places where any sun couldn't reach."

Shion looked at him with wide open eyes unable to say anything and Nezumi started to feel even more nervous than before. He said such cheesy line and the worst in all of it was that every word he said was truth. He really thought about Shion in such silly way.

"Nezumi... Did you..." The white haired boy tried to ask if those things were about him when Nezumi quickly interrupted his question. His heart tried to jump out from his chest and he wanted to make Shion stop looking at him for even a moment so he could collect himself.

"Shion, can you close yours eyes?"

The white haired boy looked totally lost at that moment, but he did what Nezumi asked. His lips opened for a second wanting to ask Nezumi what was going on and yet no sound escaped from them.

It was awkward, the most awkward situation the dark haired boy could recall in his memory and he once earned for life singing in the dress. He pulled box from his pocket, his hand started to sweat and all scripts he prepared in his mind seemed to fail him.

He could just ask Shion to open his eyes and take ring, it was that simple. Still, after rejecting every people that tried to get closer to him, Nezumi was afraid that Shion would do something like this to him right now. It was ridiculous thought, he knew that. This whole situation started to give him a heart attack.

'Screw it. He made me love him. He has to bear the consequences right now.' Nezumi thought trying to replace insecurity with feeling of annoyance and after grabbing Shion's hand he just pushed ring on the other boy's finger.

Shion didn't know what to do. Nezumi acted really strange and something was clearly wrong. When Nezumi said a such words about flower more beautiful than cosmos he was sure that it was just a introduction to some kind of new tease. But nothing like that came. He never saw Nezumi so nervous and he already have seen the other boy in most extreme situations. Maybe he understood Nezumi's words in a wrong way. Or Nezumi himself had something else in mind and now he was embarrassed for messing up his own sentence.

The request about closing eyes was even more strange leaving Shion with only possible explanation that he fell asleep and it was just some kind of bizzare dream. But after a while he felt Nezumi holding his hand and putting something on his finger. It had to be crazy dream because there was the only one metallic thing you could put on your hand like this.

"You can open your eyes." Nezumi's nervous voice told him, but Shion was afraid to do so. What if he was mistaken again like in the afternoon when Nezumi teased him?

"Shion." The other boy whispered his name and there was something in that voice that told Shion he couldn't run from his answer any longer.

His eyelids slowly raised and he looked over his hand. On his finger was beautiful golden ring. The most beautiful treasure he never dreamed to get from his most beloved person.

"What is it?" Shion inquired just like they used to ask each other for the reason behind their first kisses in the past. It was the question more important than any other, one to give Shion meaning behind that gift.

"It's a Wedding Ring. You've heard of them, one that people give each other when they get married." Nezumi teased him a little to cover his own embarrassment but Shion just knew that he was telling the truth. He touched the gold metal with his other hand to make sure that it wasn't illusion.

But there it was, cold and solid.

On his finger was a wedding ring given by the most important person in his life. Nezumi did something like this for him.

In moments Shion's vision turned all blurry. He almost couldn't see as his eyes filled with tears. He looked over piece of the gold and sobbed from happiness like he never before. He was like that for at least two minutes when Nezumi again talked to him.

"Your Majesty, I'm still here. How long are you going to make me wait?"

Just then Shion tried to blink away tears and see what Nezumi was talking about. He wiped his face with his sleeve and then he noticed that his boyfriend held a red box with another ring for this whole time. This view only ensured Shion that all of this wasn't lie. You need to have two rings for the wedding and there were the second one. Nezumi put first one on Shion's finger, now was his turn. His eyes again blurred a little from new tears of happiness but anyway he reached for the another ring and with the gentlest touch possible he took the other boy's hand.

"I... I will always love you... and care for you... and never leave you." He told between his sobs as he recalled that people gave each other vows during the ring's exchange. When he raised his eyes from Nezumi's hand, now decorated with the ring, he saw that all nervousness and tension disappeared form the older boys face. Gentle love and happiness inside those beautiful silver eyes were all that he could see. Nezumi's lips curled into fond, sweet smile so Shion wiped his face for the second time and he beamed back at the other man.

There was the one thing left that Shion wanted to make clear before letting himself completely drown into feelings of the joy.

"Why?" He voiced aloud wishing that this one question won't mess the moment. Maybe Nezumi expected Shion to ask for this because he leaned down and kissed him passionately. Their hands traveled around each other faces and hair as gentle kisses continued almost endlessly until the older boy whispered his answer.

"Because you opened that window. Because instead of selling me out in order to keep your status you helped me and even gave me food. Even years later you still stayed the selfless and unpredictable making me fall for you with every single day. No matter how hard I tried to run away from you and forget, you always were in my heart. You created a place which I can call home. That's why. Is that answer good enough?"

Shion nodded with his head. It was more than enough.

"I love you so much."

Nezumi smirked at him.

"You better do since now we are married." The older boy's voice had a teasing tone while saying such cheesy line, but Shion knew that he was serious. He really hoped for Nezumi to say that one word again, but his heart wouldn't probably survive so much of happiness.

"But you know, you don't have to wear that ring once we got back if that's going to cause you a problem. I really wouldn't mind if you kept it in home." Nezumi explained but Shion only shook his head.

"No, I'm going to wear it everyday and everywhere. I rather die than let anyone take this ring from my finger. I know it might be problematic at work but I can always make up some excuse why I'm wearing it. And if my co-workers would believe it or not... I don't care."

"Well, if that's what you want." The older boy nodded and his eyes somehow brighten up with a joy.

They were married right now, maybe not legally in eyes of their city, but they had rings they exchanged and that was more important for Shion than any state paper.

He almost jumped at Nezumi closing the distance between them and kissing him with all passion. They pushed their chest closer and somewhere along the way during the kiss Shion ended on Nezumi's lap. Small moans escaped their lips as their tongues playfully fought for dominance. When Shion opened his eyes he could see his own hand with the ring leaning over Nezumi's cheek. It was view more beautiful than any waterfall, lake and even cosmos. Shion wanted to chuckle from happiness between the next kisses, but instead he again gasped loudly when one of Nezumi's hand left his hair found its way to his stomach. Such contact over his Shion's skin was more than welcomed and the white haired boy in answer grinded his hips into Nezumi.

"Hmmm, so hard in such short time. It falters me, my prince." Nezumi hummed before biting and sucking Shion's lower lip. The crimson eyed male groaned disappointed when Nezumi stopped kissing him. A smirk again came back on his face and the older boy raised Shion's hand to their eyes level.

"Or maybe it's the wedding ring that made you hard this fast?"

In different situation Shion would blush bright red at Nezumi's usual tease, but this time those two words rang in his ears like bells.

'Wedding ring, Wedding ring from Nezumi. They got married. They got...' He thought with happiness looking at gold band and while Nezumi decided to move further in his teasing and suck the ring clad finger causing Shion's eyes to snap wide open.

"Oh right, mom!" He almost shouted making Nezumi froze with his lips hanging open above the white haired boy's finger.

"Shion, could not mix m... Karan, into our foreplay?" The long haired boy groaned annoyed and he let go of Shion's hand as his mood to tease disappeared like water on desert.

"But we exchanged rings and got married without letting her know. She really loves me and you. She would love to see this moment. She's going to be sad knowing that we've done all of this behind her back." He explained trying to find some better position talk. He grinded accidentally over bulge in Nezumi's pants causing the older boy to gasp loudly.

"You... don't need to worry about that. Your mom is going to throw us party when we come back." Nezumi answered and he tried to return back to their previous activity.

"She knew?" Shion screamed loudly surprised and not so edger like the other man to restart their passionate snuggling.

"Yes, we have her blessing."

"So it was that all about! When you were acting strange. Now everything is clear. I remember that I asked mom if she knew the reason behind your strange behavior. She told me that you were love sick but you found a cure for that. It was all about the rings!" Shion chattered with a joy and older boy turned bright red on his face after hearing how Karan called his problematic idea. Nezumi didn't have time to collect himself when Shion again started to kiss him with even more enthusiasm.

As their hands started to sink under their clothes and their breaths ragged heavy with desire the feeling of shame was forgotten. Shion was about to take of his lover shirt when Nezumi stopped him.

"Let's... go into tent." The older boy explained.

"We can do it here. It would be more romantic." Shion gasped and tried to continue but Nezumi put finger over his lips.

"Getting earth into your ass wouldn't be very romantic. Not mention that here in open space we are more vulnerable than inside."

Shion pouted disappointed. He really liked idea of having sex with Nezumi under stars. Beside, Shion didn't think about tent as much protection in case of attack but if that made the other boy feel more save than he wasn't going to fight over it. Maybe one day Nezumi would change his mind. They untangled themselves and Shion splashed some water into remains of fire, putting it down for good. He gasped when Nezumi again wrapped his hands around his wrist and grinded their hips.

"Hurry up, I don't want make my husband wait." Nezumi teased again and that was the end for Shion. With only that one word said with such desire and devilish smile Shion was sure he would be able to come at the spot.

***

Nezumi woke up feeling like shit. His throat was dry, the skin on his knees and elbows was scratched, his every muscle hurt and he was sore on back and on front equally. He laid inside the tent with Shion sleeping on his chest. When he tried to move a little even a little his body almost cried in agony.

No, five rounds of sex in one night weren't very good idea. After they entered the tent they went with two rounds to celebrate their weeding. One top for Nezumi, one for Shion. It wasn't like Shion had to ask to fuck him. As long as Nezumi didn't feel that he lost control over the situation he really didn't mind to give himself to his lover.

Anyway after those two rounds and three hours of sleep they somehow woke up. Looking at piece of metal on another person's hand shouldn't be so arousing but they started to kiss once more. That lead to the next round with Shion riding him like crazy. Hearing loud moans of the white haired boy he knew that this wouldn't be enough. Like in ecstasy they loved each other fourth time. When Nezumi came into trashing in the bliss Shion they again slowly fell into sleep holding tight and with sweet words of love from their lips.

It was already morning and sun started to light the space around their tent when Nezumi opened his eyelids. He met just right away with crimson of his lover's eyes. Without thinking he leaned to kiss the other man and passion again triumphed over their minds. Shion took a lead that time and Nezumi only groaned with desire at that turn of events. It would not be fair towards Shion to first disagree for the sex under stars and then to top again during their lovemaking while such important night... Well, it was already morning, but Nezumi didn't care.

Now whole tent smelled like sex, their sleeping bag, blanket and pieces of scattered wardrobe profaned and violated with their fluids. Their bodies were dirty from remains of dried semen.

"What a mess." Nezumi sighed, but he didn't regret even a second from that night. Beside his hurting body he felt really satisfied.

Nezumi reached out towards Shion's ID unit and groaned in the pain. When he checked the hour on the item his eyes opened wide in shock.

"Shion, hey, Shion! Wake up! It's already eleven o'clock! We won't make it back for your meeting if we don't start to move now!" Nezumi shook the other boy's shoulder. Shion also groaned painfully as he opened his eyes. Maybe he even tried to move but his body almost dissolved on Nezumi's chest.

"Screw the meeting. I'm not moving from here until tomorrow." Shion rolled on his other side pushing his head into blanket to hide from light and groaned painfully surprising the older boy.

"Wow, I never thought I going to hear such irresponsible words from yours mouth, Mr. President."

"I don't care. There is only one wedding night in your life. That's more than enough to skip one meeting."

Well, they both knew that there was a possibility to have more than one wedding night one's life. Yet, Nezumi knew that Shion wished from all his heart for his words to become true. He hoped to spend with Nezumi, and only with Nezumi, the rest of his life. The long haired boy wrapped his arms around Shion's waist and nuzzled his nose into the corner of the other boy's neck.

"Oh, so you say that your husband is more important than fame and power? What flattery." He kissed one of the red spot on Shion's neck and he let his hand to circle slowly around his lover's stomach. The younger boy's body slowly started to tremble under Nezumi's touch.

"Nezumi, could you stop that? You are going to make me aroused once more."

"Oh, really?" The other boy smirked playfully still moving his hand.

"Nezumi." A hiss mixed with small moan escaped the crimson eyed boy. "If you keep doing this then I'm not going to go easy on you."

"Hmmm, that would be interesting threat, too bad that it's not achievable right now." Nezumi teased further until Shion rolled back and pinned him down into sleeping bag. The silver eyes looked shocked at the other boy. Shion hovered over him with very serious and stubborn face telling Nezumi that he's going make his threat real even if that would kill him. They looked in such position at each other for maybe a minute before Shion's eyes started to water from muscle pain.

Nezumi couldn't hold it anymore. He busted with loud, bright laugh starring Shion. Nezumi raised his hands and dragged the other man into tight embrace. He never was so happy. He had everything he could wish for; warm and safe home, nice job, family, what to eat, he could travel from time to time through the word and most of all he had this silly, unpredictable and wonderful husband. For the first time he put the painful past behind him for a small moment and he let himself to laugh with such joy. Not like world just became peaceful, happy and fair but he decided to give his cautious part of personality a day off.

"Nezumi, have you gone crazy?" Shion asked quietly a little worried.

"Yes, the day I met you." Nezumi laughed and bring their lips together. His hand ring clad hand reached for Shion's one.

"And thank god, or any other existence, for that."

Chapter Text

The third day of their little vacation didn't go as planned. They were late with everything. Nezumi was already aware of the delay when he noticed that they had both overslept. As much as they tried to be fast they couldn't make up for those lost hours. Nezumi packed their tent much slower than usual because of his own sore muscles. Beside him embarrassed Shion tried to clean their sleeping bag and dirty clothes in the steam. Nezumi could hear his husband's silent prayers for no accidents happening between evidence of their lewd wedding night could meet a washing machine. Nezumi didn't think that Karan would wait by the door of their house just to grab their belongings and do laundry, but he agreed that it would be better if their equipment wouldn't smell like sex during their ride back to the NO.6.

They had then waited for that sleeping bag and their clothes to dry as long as possible but because they were still short of of time they had to put them into their backpacks still damp. It didn't speed up their journey back for sure. According his planned schedule Nezumi hoped to rent a room in town for the last night of their trip, but they ended up sleeping under stars once again. Luckily the tent and sleeping bag had somewhat managed to dry before they headed to sleep. Not getting into a warm town bed that night didn't remain the only inconvenience they had to go through. The next morning they were out of food. Nezumi's stomach, which was now accustomed to three meals per day, cried loudly for anything to eat. His mind even started to dream about Inukashi's cooking and while it wasn't the worst he ever tried, he was rather not fond of her skills. The Sunday's evening when their little family was invited for a dinner burned in Nezumi's memory, making him wonder how Junior had survived for those five years.

Shion chuckled at him teasing that he always got grumpy when he was hungry and Nezumi couldn't deny that fact. He was a little annoyed that Shion handled his own feeling of hunger better than him. No surprise from the person who almost starved himself to death once.

Or maybe Shion was too focused on the ring on his finger to even notice that he was hungry. Every time Nezumi checked on Shion the other man was looking or touching his gold band like he wanted to make sure that it's real.

It was such a sappy gesture and in the past Nezumi would have laughed at the white haired boy for being silly, but now he couldn't stop smiling gently. His own eyes shifted to his hand without second thought. It was surely a new experience, to feel so much joy from one small piece of metal.

It was around the afternoon when they finally got into that restaurant and got their orders. Shion dug into his meat like crazy, making the older boy feel better about his own weakness and rumbling stomach. The steaks they both ate were even better than Nezumi remembered, so both boys focused on eating without any words until their plates were empty. Somehow Nezumi couldn't help but to feel frustrated at himself for not being prepared in case of being late. Still, overreacting over such small overlook sounded even more idiotic. Instead, Nezumi took a mental note to take more food with them next time. In the end he was a man who never repeated his mistakes.

Later that day, they both headed to the train station with satisfaction after such a wonderful meal. Before they left town Nezumi ignored Shion's request and they bought four bottles of local alcohol as gifts for Inukashi, Rikiga and two for their own family use. Shion's mother wanted to make them party anyway so getting Liqueur sounded like reasonable investment. There was always danger of having that situation from last New Year's party repeat again, but a wedding without alcohol sounded strange.

„Nezumi?" Shion started a conversation while Nezumi pushed their backpacks under some empty space beside the train window. To their luck the cabin they found was empty, at least for now.

„Yes?"

„Thank you for this trip, those four day were the best ones I had in my whole live."

Nezumi didn't need such thanks from Shion. He prepared the whole journey and wedding on his own free will, not mention that he also had a wonderful time revisiting such a beautiful place. Shion only followed Nezumi's selfish plan from the beginning to the end.

Spending time with Shion and being thanked for that shouldn't be a new or strange experience. And yet, it made Nezumi glad that he could lower his guard down, forget his old habits and accept the other human's thanks without worry each time.

„I'm glad to be at service, your majesty." Nezumi answered, adding a dramatical bow for his husband.

„You know Nezumi, I would love to visit that place again."

„We didn't even leave those lands and you already making plans to come back?" Nezumi teased the other man. He had somehow expected Shion to say something like this sooner or later.

„It's that strange? That lake and waterfalls were beautiful... besides... it was place where we got married. I think I'm going to hold a special spot for that lake in my heart from now on."

Shion's simple explanation made Nezumi feel embarrassed and he would lie by denying such fact. Until now the dark-haired man had been met with such sentimental lines only inside books. He knew that Shion really meant what he said, even if it was cheesy as hell. On the other hand he really liked to associate that place with their relationship and he didn't mind returning there to celebrate their marriage in future.

„Alright, your majesty. We can visit that lake again on every fifth anniversary. What you say to that proposition?"

„Every fifth..." Shion beamed with pure joy, saying these words a little dreamy. This was a promise. Not only about returning to those lands but also that in the next five, ten, fifteen and more years they were still going to be together. Nezumi didn't like promises, he was grateful to survive every single day, but he had decided anyway to make such a silly vow for the sake of their future. After a moment Shion's eyes stopped to sparkle with happiness and he asked confusedly „Why only on every fifth?"

„Because there is still a lot more to see in our world, my dear prince. By keeping going back to only one place you never going to see others. And who knows, maybe they will make your heart tremble with excitement and passion more than the lake and waterfall we just saw."

„Oh, I can't wait to visit them."

„Then I would be happy to be your guide, your majesty."

„Looks like we are alone." Shion said. The train had already started to move during their conversation but no one had joined them within that time „I didn't see much people in other cabins too. I thought that train would be more packed on a Saturday."

„Well, it seems that people rather stayed in their homes on such a nice day. It's their lose. At least we have all those seats for ourselves. Taking the nap is going to be much more pleasant experience if no one join us in half way." Nezumi said, leaning down across on three seats and humming happy after setteling himself as comfortable as possible. Shion smiled gently at him but he didn't follow the other boy's example.

„Well, I can watch over our things if you want to sleep." Shion offered and plugged his ID unit into a charger under his seat.

„Maybe later, thanks." Nezumi answered and after a small pause he started a conversation they both had to go through before returning to the NO.6.

„Shion, so as you said you want to wear this ring all the time?"

„Yes... Is there a problem?"

„No, it's more than okay. But since you going to wear it and we still aren't going to expose our relationship..."

„I would love to tell everyone, you deserve this... You bought the rings and asked me to be with you and I..." The white haired male quickly interfered into Nezumi's sentence sounding guilty but the older boy only raised his hand telling Shion to stop.

„Don't worry about that. I know you have those damn elections this year. Speaking about that, you and the rest of the commitee were idiots to set up the law about voting for the new government every five years."

Shion's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. He didn't think he would hear such opinion from Nezumi about democratic voting.

„I think it's good change. People can decide if current members of the Committee meets with their expectation or they want someone else with better program to improve things that the current rule lacks."

„Still, there are two, maybe even three problems in having those elections this year, your majesty. First, it's too soon. As you told me, Committee started their legitimate rule around year and few months after the wall fell. Five years still didn't pass since then. Second, Committee just started to fix the disasters which the last government had created. Many changes are still in progress or they just begin and the people need time to see what they turn into. To make replacements right now would be an idiotic move for everyone. Third, there are still those annoying pigs from that previous elite, even thought they got quiet lately. Don't you worry that one of them try to sneak into your palace and overtake the city again?"

„Yes, there is such possibility, yet I know that people think just like you. It's too soon and most of residents thinks we still need more time. On other hand, they are happy that we are sticking to the law and we don't make any exceptions. We said we were going to rule for five years since the wall fell and we're keeping our promise. Beside, we know from once-per-year survey about people's needs, made by our information department, that around 86% of city's inhabitants are happy with our ordinance. Only education and finance departments have less support because... well, people are still unsure about the education program we started last year and as you said, that ex-elite isn't happy about their current status... But those two matters aren't bothersome enough to cause personnel changes even in those departments. So, saying shortly, it looks like those elections are going to end with all of Committee members to stay as they are."

Nezumi wondered if he should tease Shion with questions on what the survey said about him, but he abandoned such idea. He knew that Shion would start a long speech about him needing to work harder and talk about the ones who criticize him, instead of taking the praise, which he deserved without a doubt, to heart.

„So in the end it's only an election for the public, everything is already settled up?"

„No! It's only information we got while checking out people's needs. We didn't force anyone to like our doings. Our work must have been good enough and that's why people gave us such good feedback." Shion explained with a frightened voice, clearly nervous. „The real election results may vary from what we know from the survey. Nothing is already settled. Even one mistake can change people's opinion. There is always a possibility for someone better to appear. Someone who has a better plan for selected fields of economy, education or culture. People are free to choose that person over any current member of committee.

At least I hope the other candidate's plans are not pure propaganda, but rational programs for our city... and people will choose something realistic, not some colorful dreams impossible to put into practice..."

Shion ended his statement with a tired and quiet voice. It made Nezumi feel bad since he was also the one who forced Shion into such role. Nezumi was sure that playing a politician wasn't Shion's dream. He didn't wish for constant anxiety because of other people's actions. Not to mention never-ending worry that the city he tried so hard to rebuild just crumble again because of one stupid move. Yet, Nezumi couldn't imagine anyone better than this crimson eyed man. Not like he didn't feel badly and selfish for leaving everything in Shion's hands every time conversations like this one came up.

Shion had his own battled to fight everyday. Just like Nezumi tried everyday to have more hope and believe in the others Shion worked hard to learn how be more careful and beware of the people who might hurt him or wanted to make him suffer by causing pain to the things and persons Shion held dear. They both struggled, trying to adjust to the current world and Nezumi found his decision of buying rings and marring Shion even more reassuring and heartwarming than before.

In the end they always supported each other and helped in matters where another one lacked experience. This was surely going to make them both stronger ,mentally. by simply knowing that they would have themselves not matter what.

"Alright, I got what you meant. I may have said it in a wrong way, but I know that you didn't or aren't going to counterfeit anything. If his majesty would like to hear my opinion about the current situation I would tell him that this survey of his isn't wrong. I can with my very own eyes witness that every passing day of Committee's rule is too good to change it, at least for now. Yet, we still need a year or two to see fruits or loses of current doings. The time will show if people who are now in committee are good at working inside their departments long-term or if they already exhausted themselves during those five years. I also think that the election right now is a waste of money. You really should have waited those two years, but that's only my opinion."

It wasn't like Nezumi wanted to criticize Committee choice but he rather wanted to show to the crimson-eyed boy another point of view. The reason for that wasn't to make him sad or worried. He never questioned that the crimson-eyed man was an intelligent person who just lacked some knowledge about life, literature and culture. He also didn't know if his own opinion was the perfect one. All Nezumi really wanted for Shion was to help him make as little mistakes as possible. He wasn't sure if all members of the committee were so wonderful as Shion hoped. Nezumi knew that some people could be masters at wearing all kinds of masks while waiting for a chance to stab you in the back. It would be strange if there wasn't at least one person in Moondrop who just waited to take Shion's place.

Nezumi wanted to be the pillar of truth that Shion could always use to support himself during the hard times. The person who never waited for Shion to stumble. And even when that happened, Nezumi wanted to be the one who helped Shion to get back on his feet. It never was easy for Nezumi to be so open like that, but his own words for Shion were also sometimes cruel.

Shion reacted as Nezumi predicted, lowering his head and focusing his red eyes on his knees. The dark-haired boy couldn't decide if he should stand up and comfort his husband somehow or not. The situation and his opinion weren't so bad this time, but to tell the truth, Nezumi still wasn't sure when comforting Shion was a silly action and when it was the right thing to do.

Putting golden rings on their fingers didn't change Nezumi into a perfect lover and human. He still had a lot to learn in matter of relationships with other people. Especially in how much he could spoil his husband from now on. On the other hand Shion had spoiled him so much since his return, it made Nezumi feel like an idiot for not taking better care of his lover.

When the other boy raised his head again, his face wasn't sad or even troubled. Shion looked ready for what was going to happen and determined to fight with all problems that awaited for him.

"You may be right, but we decided to stay true to what we promised five years ago. I don't know were it will lead us, but I believe it's the right thing to do. And about costs, they aren't very high in the first place. We took care of that. Everyone can download special program to vote into their ID unit or go to Moondrop and give their vote there on prepared computers."

"I see. Well, there is nothing else to do but to have those elections take place. But, my dear majesty, our lovely conversation flowed into ways so different than I intended. Even if I learned much from your explanation, there is still the matter of our soul-binding rings. Since you said that those elections aren't predetermined I guess you really don't want to announce our marriage right now and you wish to wait until you get once more the highest throne of all." Nezumi joked to reward Shion's positive attitude, yet the other man looked surprised rather than happy after Nezumi's advice.

„I couldn't do such thing... I wouldn't announce my relationship with you just after getting elected again. It would be unfair for people who voted for me. I should do it now or before next elections. It doesn't mean that I like the second option. I don't want to keep you waiting for another two or three years. I really want to say that you are..." Shion made a pause as his cheeks reddened with blush "my husband... I wish nothing more but to be able to sign proper papers as fast as possible. I was so happy when you suggested to do that...Why is everything so complicated?" Shion sighed loudly.

„Don't worry about my feelings in this matter. I don't mind if you won't tell the others that we are married as long as your heart and body belongs to this handsome, amazing man called Nezumi by the most people, by some who still remembered; Eve and 'the worst pain in ass' by Inukashi." Nezumi added little tease to his joke, making Shion finally smile back. Seeing his husband brighten up, Nezumi smirked a little, revealing his plan.

„What I wanted to say from the beginning is that you can keep wearing your ring as long as it won't cause you any problems. I'm going to take off mine when going out and while working at your beloved mother's bakery. Your amazing husband is going to do all of that just to prevent unwanted people to notice our matching rings. Is it alright with you? Don't worry, I won't cheat on you either."

„So you going to wear it for rest of time?"

„Yes, your majesty and even if this gold ring won't be on my finger, my confession of eternal love is not going to change."

Nezumi put all the skills he gained while being an actor in his last sentence, but he knew that image of him laying across the seats with hands under his head and a seductive piece of his stomach not covered by T-shirt probably messed up all his efforts. Still, Shion's face covered again with slight blush as he grinned happily at Nezumi's confession.

„Alright. But I still feel bad about this situation. It shouldn't be like this."

„Know, but your majesty is there anything perfect in this world? Beside me, of course?" He smirked to his chuckling husband.

„Thanks, Nezumi. You don't have any idea how happy it makes me that you care and try to protect me so hard. I wish I had more chances to do the same for you, but for now; I can say that I love you more than anything on this world."

„Hmmm... If that's bothering you I can reveal you a secret that your back-massaging skills are top class, your majesty, and I love to have more opportunity to experience them. I also wouldn't spurn if you do bathroom's cleaning for the next month."

„I don't mind the first one, but you are walking on veeeery thin ice with that second one Nezumi. Even beauty like you should do some chores at home. You have only the second floor to clean!"

"Well, it was worth a try, yet remember my dear prince who's cleaning a bakery with your mom everyday."

„Nezumi, that's your job. You get paid for this."

The rest of train ride went with more happy teasing and joking until both of them were tired and decided to take a nap. As Shion offered, he was the first one who stayed awake and looked after their things. Nezumi didn't sleep for too long, instead he watched the orange rays of light from the setting sun as they danced around Shion's white hair. Leaning over window glass the younger man had fallen asleep with a soft smile on his face. Gold of the ring, red of sky and pink of Shion's scar- all those warm colors looked like they were painted on canvas, making Nezumi feel at home so far away from home.

It already started to get dark when they walked across streets of NO.6. Nezumi hid his ringed hand inside his jacket's pocket. He didn't feel like taking off his ring that day. He wanted to show the city he once hated and which he wanted to destroy that the man beside him was his lover, savior and the most important person in his life. Even if he was going to take off his wedding ring tomorrow for the sake of making Shion's work less problematic he was sure that one day they were going to be able to walk like this outside without hiding. Under everyone's looks they would show that they both went to hell and back, they parted and reunited, they had their ups and downs, but decided to stay together until the end of their lives.

Nezumi couldn't help but think that it was the most cheesy thought anyone in the world ever came up with. He was glad that he hadn't said it aloud otherwise the universe could start to crumble from excess amounts of sappy love.

He couldn't help but to feel like character from sweet childish fairytale and this was the moment when the main characters found their happy and ever after.

Karan's warm hug and her happiness when Shion proudly show their rings was similar sensation. The silly and lovely kiss Shion put on his forehead before they fell asleep as well. Everything was so sappy and cliché, yet Nezumi didn't want to imagine life without those things any more.

Coming back to work wasn't easy and the reason for such occurrence wasn't their vacation. Getting used back to the city's life routine was nothing compared to people's curiosity. The ring on his finger had been noticed very quickly and Shion didn't have much choice but to come up with some reasonable excuse before his return to the work. The first explanation he made up was about changing ring into protection charm from intrusive ladies hitting on him because of his position, but that lie was too big his liking. That golden ring was too important for him to dirty it with such story. It was proof of Nezumi's love and this was the only explanation Shion really wanted to give.

„Listen, your majesty, if you want to go with this plan I can go to your workplace and act along with you. We can have a loud conversation about very hot lady who tried to catch the President of some city in her web during his vacation but he chose the city over her. While putting ring on his finger he took a vow to devote his life to NO.6 making it his only lover. You might get even more votes with such a story, don't you think?" Nezumi joked as Shion sat beside him on the couch after a meeting with diplomats from other cities. There wasn't much time because his co-workers had to take care of the guests, but Shion was sure that on Monday morning he was going to be flooded with questions.

„Well, it might work and it would move suspicion away from you, but I can't do that. Once our relationship comes to light the people who heard such an excuse would feel betrayed, knowing that I lied in a such way. Besides, I don't want to lessen importance the of that ring. You asked me to marry you with this ring. It's means too much for me to make it an item to keep away unwanted suitors."

„You know that wedding rings works in that way too, my prince? From ancient times it was sign screaming 'this one is taken, your chances to woo them are small, try the another one'. Well, it didn't work if ringed person jumped in another's pants on their own, but it was something that make unwanted suitors reconsider their choice."

„So you gave me ring because you didn't want others to consider me as easy target for a sex?"

„...Maybe."

Nezumi said, smirking secretly and making Shion's jaw open a with shock. In a second the white haired boy's face went gloomy with deep disbelief and disappointment. Seeing how his tease worked, Nezumi almost dropped his book on the floor when he crossed his arms and his whole body started to tremble with laugher.

„Don't worry, my prince. This ring is, as your said, the proof of my eternal love for his majesty, but I won't lie that I also hope that it's going to keep away criminals wanting to take purity of my beloved away from me."

Shion wondered for a while what kind of purity Nezumi was talking about. His virginity had been taken by Nezumi already, so in the end it was probably another silly joke that Nezumi made to play with Shion. He could follow this strange conversation but he had bigger problems to think about. He really had to come out with the story behind his ring. One which later wouldn't turn into one big lie and could be seen as a little piece of bigger truth. Yet, the idea for a perfect excuse didn't want to show up. Every plan Nezumi and him could think about turned out to be strange or easy to reveal as lie. The white haired male leaned his head over his husband's shoulder, huffing with frustration. It didn't take long until a warm hand sneaked around his waist, making Shion feel slightly better. He had gone through worse things so he was going to overcome this matter too.

After few moments of silence from Shion's side Nezumi shifted some of his attention back to his book, but Shion could feel that he was worried too. The younger man knew he had to find some solution from this situation before Nezumi started to doubt his decision of giving him such wonderful gift.

Shion sighed, also moving his eyes on the book hopping to find some inspiration inside it. In the end he wasn't so lucky.

The next day at work started with greetings as always. In the beginning his co-workers noticed the ring but they mostly held back with questions. During the next hour rumours about him getting married spread through the Moondrop. Shion didn't have any idea who started this, but in the middle of the afternoon more brave and curious people encountered him to confirm if gossip was true of false. They acted very polite and mostly just wanted to congratulate him but after few hours of telling:

„It's nothing like that.", „I would love to share such joyful news, but no, I didn't sign any marital documents. At least I don't remember doing that.", „We just exchanged rings with my partner. We can't marry because we are to busy with our work, but we wanted to have some item that would remind us about each other when we are apart." Shion felt drained like the sand of a desert.

Those sentences were the best he could come up with. At least they weren't purely lies. Some of his co-workers were satisfied with such answers and wanted a promise of inviting them to the wedding when it's happened. Unfortunately for Shion, not everyone was like that. They wanted to know more about Shion's lover, so he described Nezumi as:

Shy person, who don't want to be part of political world and Shion fully accepts that. He also added that he didn't know if their relationship could handle too much pressure right now; which was very funny when you knew the real Nezumi.

This answer made most of his co-workers to drop the topic and wish him luck.

There was a moment when he thought about running away and hiding inside his office until the end of the day, but when he was close, he reminded himself how bad it was going be if rumors spread further behind Moondrop's walls. This way he sacrificed the whole day to clear all possible rumors instead working on a statement and proposition of their guests from the other cities. Each time he got annoyed at such a waste of time Shion calmed himself down with a thought that nothing comes without the price. He got the ring from the person he loved the most on the world and he had to somehow pay for it. No hardship was too scary when price for it was Nezumi's love.

Walking through the corridors, he almost bumped into Mr. Kiano from the security department. He had a loud with his son who even took away some attention from Shion's ring matter. From what Shion heard it wasn't the first incident like that. The reason behind such quarrels was the critical health of Kiano's wife. The white-haired boy heard that she had a really nasty type of cancer which didn't react to the treatment, what was really rare with the advanced medical technology they had in NO.6.

Mr. Kiano's son was very angry at his father for going to work everyday instead of staying with his mother.

Well, cancer was still a big threat to the city's inhabitants. The radiation after war was still high. NO.6 was build in place that suffered from bombing less than other parts of their continent, but it wasn't a glass jar that kept them from getting sick. For past years people worked really hard to fix the problem, but everyone knew it might take centuries before they would be free from threat. Researchers worked each day since on cure for different kinds of cancer but their rare success wasn't enough. Shion was surprised when he found out that people in the city even had cancer. Unless you were a medical student or elite it was forbidden knowledge. For the prefect utopia it was like taboo. The statistic were good, medical treatment helped almost 92% of people, but the rest... The most families of the ones who had died on cancer never got to know the real reason behind deaths of their beloved ones. The others who knew where threatened to stay silent. Shion couldn't understand why the old government had hidden such truth, but he could guess that NO.6 didn't fit the image of a perfect city without diseases and suffering.

Shion couldn't help but to sympathize with Mr. Kiano situation. He hoped to never be in such position. His own current problems were nothing compared to having his family member suffer or even die from such disease.

Slowly, with each passing day the wedding situation got a little better. Shion still patrolled whole building to check out if his story settled down between his co-workers. It mostly worked.

Yet, when he got home on Thursday he saw Nezumi talking with some man holding camera in front of the bakery. The unknown man left before Shion was able to get closer, but the crimson-eyed boy was able to catch glimpse of his confused and troubled face.

„Nezumi?" Shion asked worried about what was going on.

„As you see, we had some uninvited guest who wanted to find out about your lover." Nezumi answered, knowing that hiding the situation wouldn't do anything good since Shion had already seen man with camera. As they decided, the long haired boy didn't wear his ring so it didn't look like their secret was found out. Still, Shion knew that sometimes Nezumi used to solve problems in rather drastic ways.

„Did you do anything to them?" It wasn't like he didn't trust Nezumi but he liked to be prepared in case of some nasty article on the Internet or the newspaper.

„Nothing scary if that worries his majesty. At first he just asked around me and your mother about your ring so we told him the story you come with for your co-workers. He wasn't very pleased with such answers. I went after our guests when he was checking around our royal gardens. I suggested him to think how it would be if he was spying right now on a member of the previous government. Having the Correctional Facility was anything but heaven and he should pay respect to the person who ended that hell. I said that you went through so much and even got yourself sick almost to death last year just to make people happy so you deserve to have the possibility to decide when you want to share your happiness and information about your relationship. I asked him to recall if you ever done anything to hurt this city's reputation. As you can guess he said that you never did such thing. Oh, and I added that no one would be happy when they hear that their beloved President's relationship fell apart because some curious reporter messed it up."

Shion released a breath which he didn't know he was holding, after hearing Nezumi's explanation. Well, it wasn't as bad as he had imagined. At least his husband hadn't used any sharp objects this time. Yet he wasn't exactly sure if such words would make the reporter give up or rise his curiosity even more. Maybe he should prepare himself to reveal their marriage even before elections started... Deep in his heart, Shion didn't want anything more, but he also didn't wish for his city to suffer because of his selfishness. His own numbers were pretty high from what he was told. Even losing 30% of his current followers wouldn't force him to leave the position of the leader of city, not mention of his membership in Restructual Committee.

„Did such a thing happen before?" Shion asked Nezumi, looking around their surrounding. Some people were sitting behind the tables in the fresh air. He and Nezumi were too far away for them to hear their conversation, but close enough for people to notice Shion and nod their heads with greetings. They were regulars at the bakery and Shion, who normally didn't come home so early, knew those people pretty well. They had always been very kind to him. He had to thank for such credit of trust to his mother. Everyone who met Shion's mother knew how kind of a person she was. They always believed in Karan's words when she was talking good things about her son.

Shion's own doings and hard work made people trust him, but at beginning, when wall had fallen, Karan's customers and friends had been a great support at rebuilding city. Shion worked so hard each day to repay for the kindness and faith he once received from people like them. That's why he couldn't give up so easily of his position in city, steep back into ecology department and let himself spend more time with his husband, mother and friends.

Nezumi sighed loudly before putting hands on his hips and answering Shion's question with content.

„There were four of them sniffing around since Tuesday, but me and your mom got rid of them as delicately as possible. The one reporter had a hard time and struggled to figure out how to leave since he over-ate himself with apple pies and fudge. I checked out every newspaper and most information pages on Internet without luck at finding something about Mr. Shion's lover so for now everything is under control."

Despite Nezumi's words Shion couldn't help but to be upset with situation. It looked like the possibility of someone finding their secret was high at this rate. He wasn't afraid of that, he only hoped that Safu and old doctor would forgive him for things turning out more problematic because of his own selfishness.

"Well, there is nothing else to do in this matter." Shion said to his husband. He wasn't going to give up on fixing city even after revealing his relationship. He would do the same but this time with Nezumi as his legal husband.

"Shion, you can always take off that ring. I wouldn't feel bad if you do so."

Those were words that Shion really didn't want to hear. For Shion it felt like Nezumi was rejecting his own heart and feelings.

"I want pay such price for having you as my husband." He said very serious and quiet so only Nezumi was able to hear him. "This is just another fight we had to survive. It's just like when you said to never regret of being the one that is alive. I don't want to hear that you regret loving and choosing to spend life with me because the others may don't like it. We exchanged weeding rings and now we had to cherish this decision everyday even if it's not easy."

Nezumi's concerned face soften with warm smile after Shion's speech.

"Using my words against me...You really grew up, your majesty. Alright, I won't say that ever again. I'm heading back to work now. As you know the hour of torment going to start soon."

Shion rolled his eyes at dramatical groan of his lover. The hour of torment was just time when kids ended their days at elementary and high schools. In short, it was just the busiest hour of bakery's work where clients were mostly kids and their guardians which Nezumi didn't like much. The dark-haired boy always handled the older people better, charming them with his skills he gained at West Block.

"Alright, then I'm going to start cooking dinner. Do you or mom have any special wishes?"

"You have to ask Karan herself, she didn't share her plans for our feast today. As for your gorgeous underling, he wouldn't spurn any piece of nice beef."

"Beef again?" Shion raised his eyebrow in amusement.

"What? I'm still a growing man."

"Yeah, more in width than height." He teased his silver-eyed lover. No one said that Nezumi had all rights for jokes in their relationship.

"Watch out for your words, your majesty, that reporter maybe is not gone too far to return and hear about your love story."

Shion rolled his eyes again. He decided to stop there. Telling the older boy that his threats had lost in strength over the years wouldn't be a lie, but it was still too dangerous a truth to say aloud. Shion didn't want to waste such cheerful mood between them.

They both stepped into everyone's favorite bakery where Nezumi settled down behind the cash register. Shion greet his mother and exchanged few words with her before leaving towards his room to change and get Cravat to the kitchen with him. After setting the old mouse on the table and giving him some sunflower's seeds he started to make dinner for his family. He didn't let his overtime hours at work to waste any longer. The meeting in Sunday may have shortened his vacation but it let Shion go home earlier that day. Now he was able to use his free time to cook for his beloved ones and forget about city for a moment, its people and the other worries.

It was only him, Nezumi, Karan and Cravat that mattered in that moment.

Shion set on some music on his ID unit and, dancing around the small kitchen, he took joyful looks to his hand. Two lines crossed the golden surface of the ring. He wondered if Nezumi chose such engraving to symbolize them both. Probably not, but it didn't stop Shion from thinking that way. Two of them, together... For the rest of their lives. After a moment of looking at the gold metal Shion headed to the fridge to took a large piece of beef from it.

Chapter Text

It was a normal Sunday's morning. The one which Shion loved the most. Well, he woke up with his whole right arm all numb and stiff, not to mention that he couldn't move, so it was strange for an outsider to consider such waking up as something to be liked. The reason behind all inconvenience was Nezumi sleeping on his shoulder, wrapped around him tighter than any blanket. It was an usual occurrence for the last day of the week. Nezumi already got used to the early wake up around 4 AM caused by his work at a bakery. Sundays were slightly different than the rest of week. Nezumi, as always, woke up naturally around 4 AM without setting up any alarm, but when his silvers eyes opened up and he came to realization that it was his day off, he turned around with a groan towards the warm body laying beside him and he went back to the sleep.

This was Shion's one and only chance-per-week to see his husband sleeping relaxed next to him, or rather on him. Nezumi often joked to everyone that Shion liked to cuddle like crazy and the white-haired man couldn't disagree. But only he knew that Nezumi was even worse in that matter. How else could you explain the fact that no matter which position Nezumi fell asleep in, he always ended up cuddled around the other boy, cutting the blood circulate in Shion's arm, just like today? Sometimes it was really problematic, mostly when Shion had to go to the toilet in middle of the night. Still, feeling Nezumi's physical weight was something he wouldn't trade even for all the money of the world.

Shion tried to move and look at the other man's face from an angle, one which wouldn't add his neck to the list of his sore body parts. Nezumi's arm was thrown around Shion's chest and their legs tangled in a strange way. The warmth of his husband's naked skin was enough to make Shion feel hot but he fixed the quilt around them anyways.

After a while Shion couldn't stop himself from beginning to slowly stroke Nezumi's cheek with the tips of his fingers. He loved to see Nezumi like this. When he looked so peaceful, comfortable and serene. This was the second spot from the list of his beloved Nezumi moments. The first place belonged to the times when the silver-eyed man laughed happily.

With each passing day, Shion found it amazing how much more Nezumi was smiling around everyone. In the past the other man's lips only ever curled up from smirks or dark, sarcastic comments, but that had changed lately. His eyes sparked more, his posture was more relaxed and he joked more. If Shion's feelings somehow helped Nezumi to open like this, then he couldn't be more satisfied and happy.

Shion moved his fingers again, pulling away some hair from his husband's face. The dark stands fell on the other male's skin like small rivers. They ran along Nezumi's neck, creating small islands on naked skin. Shion couldn't stop himself from moving his head slightly and planting a soft kiss onto one of those islands. When he looked back again at the older boy's lips were parted slightly, telling Shion that his lover was still asleep. Nezumi must have been really tired if he didn't wake up yet, with Shion moving around so much. The white haired boy decided to let his husband sleep a little more, which did by no means stop him from looking at the other man.

After a half hour of thinking that his arm going to fall off and putting two more kisses on Nezumi's cheek and forehead, long eyelashes fluttered open, revealing those silver eyes Shion had fallen in love with.

„Hmm, is this some kind of apology in advance?" Nezumi asked. He woke up just after Shion kissed his forehead for the seventh time.

„No, it's just normal 'I love you' kiss. I don't think I did anything that requires apology today." Shion answered, raising his eyebrows in confusion. If anything, it was rather Nezumi who had done nothing but crashing his arm for the last hours.

„That's why I said it in advance; I have feeling that today's evening is going to be disaster." Nezumi groaned, making the crimson eyed boy laugh a little.

„It's not going to be disaster. Nezumi, it's just a wedding party. A small wedding party with our closest friends as guests. We going to sit together for a few hours, since tomorrow everyone has to go to their work. We are going to eat cake, make a toast and talk a little. That's all."

„Believe me, your majesty, when I feel that it's going to be disaster then it's going to be disaster."

Shion rolled his eyes and moaned happily when Nezumi raised his head from the numb arm. Delighted to feel blood resuming circulation in stiff fingers, Shion almost missed the chance to admire his husband's naked form as Nezumi searched for his underwear thrown somewhere in the last night's moments of passion.

Shion held back a chuckle at the dark-haired boy's dramatic complaint and started to gather his own clothes. After all, they had some chores and preparations to do before their wedding party. His opinion over the upcoming evening was opposing Nezumi's and he couldn't help but to feel excited about today.

Shion had waited almost two weeks for a such moment. For day when he could finally talk about his and Nezumi marriage aloud. The number of people who were going to hear his announcement was small but Shion would be happy with every single person who he could share his happiness with.

They started preparations for the evening inside bakery's shop as always. The empty bedroom on the second floor was still left untouched and Shion didn't think that was going to change very soon. No one had any time to do anything in this matter, so Karan just rolled down metallic blinds on the shop's big windows to keep unwanted people from observing their party while both boys prepared tables and chairs.

The first guests who came were Renka, Lili and little Rose. Knowing that Inukashi was going to bring little Shion as well, Karan and Shion prepared small corner at the shop with a lot blankets, pillows and children's books. As for toys, Renka brought some with her and Inukashi had also promised to get something to keep little children from getting bored. Their guests didn't know the reason behind the meeting. Visitors were informed to just come and to not eat too much since Shion's family would have prepared dinner.

Both newlyweds wore black leather gloves in order to hide their rings. Shion wanted to surprise their friends and since Nezumi was used to wearing gloves at the West Block, he hadn't opposed his idea. The dark haired had man even agreed and told his husband that some dramatic show may save them form possible sappy-ness of the party.

It turned out to be the best idea Shion had gotten in a month or two. The white haired boy really thought that Nezumi would laugh at his plan of making a spectacle out of their wedding party.

It was just one of many surprises which happened that day. It looked like changing wedding event into some kind of Theatrical play helped Nezumi to regain some control over situations uncomfortable for him. Announcing their marriage to outsiders was one thing but acting lovely-dovely in front of their friends for a whole evening was something that made Nezumi's back run with cold shivers.

It wasn't the fear of revealing their bond what made Nezumi uncomfortable. Well, not like Shion knew his husband's thoughts, but he guessed the problem laid with fact of celebrating happiness and in sharing such joy. Each family event they had held until now somehow stressed the other man more than walking through West Block at night when it was still dangerous. It wasn't surprising considering Nezumi's past and lack of family's warmth in the early years of his life. If it wasn't for him and his mother Nezumi, wouldn't probably tried to learn what it means to enjoy free time with another people again. Shion was very grateful for that.

That's why, even if this event was going to turn out as more stressful for Nezumi than usually, Shion had already made a plan how to re-compensate it to his husband. It wasn't a new discovery that his mother and the silver-eyed man both loved the city's water trains. Equipped with that important information, Shion often asked the rest of his family to visit shops on the other side of the city just to create an occasion for all them to have fun.

„So... what's going on?" Inukashi asked once she joined the party and set little Shionn onto the big pillow in the children's corner with Rose. Shion smiled nervously, waving towards the table asking his guest to sit down.

Well, one thing was certain, their guests looked pretty confused with not knowing the reason behind unexpectedly meeting and both men wearing gloves on such a warm day. They were even more dumbfounded when Shion put his ID unit on table after he received incoming call from Kalan and Rico.

„Hello Shion. You told us to call you around this hour... Oh, good evening." The girl started after the video conversation was accepted but she paused after seeing the other people on camera.

„Should we call later?" Rico asked flusteredly.

„No, it's perfect. Me and Nezumi wanted to announce something and I really want for all my friends to hear it at once. I have only one request, please don't spread the information you are going to hear today. For now it's a secret."

The siblings, Inukashi and Rikiga were clearly taken aback by those words alone. Renka smiled gently, probably reasoning that they got engaged. Once Shion set up everything Nezumi entered the center of room in that showy way like it was a stage. He clearly had a lot of fun, seeing that their little performance worked and how their guests waited for the revealing act with anticipation. Shion had to bite his lower lip to not burst out with laugher about this whole situation and he joined Nezumi while trying to stop the crazy smile from creeping onto his face.

The moment he had waited for finally came.

Seeing his excitement Nezumi, smirked amusedly and made a theatrical bow saying:

„You may do the honors this time, your majesty."

It was the moment when Shion gave up on holding back his smile. Because of his excitement he made rushed the movement of taking his glove off and his ring almost slide of his finger. Nezumi summed it up with offended gaze. This surely wasn't in script of their theatrical play. The white-haired man chuckled apologetically towards his husband and fixed the golden ring back on his finger. In the end Shion raised his hand. He breathed out with pure joy.

„We got married during our vacation."

Nezumi also, in his usual elegant way, took off his glove revealing his wedding ring. For a few seconds no one said anything. Then, almost at the same time, the siblings from West Block and Lily screamed with excitement.

„Wow, congratulations Shion, Nezumi." Rico said through the video conference.

„I told you, it was just a matter of time." Kalan said to her brother.

At the corner of room little Shionn and Rose stopped their play, looking at the whole scene with confusion, probably wondering what was going on. Meanwhile Lily jumped closer to the newlyweds in order to take a better look at those rings.

„They are so pretty."

Inukashi and Rikiga sat on their chairs looking like stone statues and their eyes were big like plates.

„Congratulation Nezumi, Shion." Renka said and she moved closer to Karan. „They kept their engagement a secret really well."

Karan laughed softly to her friend and shook her head.

„They weren't engaged. They skipped it and jumped straight into the marriage."

"So it's not a joke?" Inukashi asked after regaining her composure. She was still unsure what to think about the current situation. It was true that her and Nezumi's relationship had greatly improved over the year, but she still held some grudge towards the silver-eyed man for leaving Shion in such critical time.

"Yes, well, we still need to sign papers, which we are going to do in the near future it doesn't cause a harm to city's rebuilding. Yet, we both think of ourselves as married. Nezumi bought rings and asked me to marry him, we put them on each other while making small vows so I don't think that a lack of our signatures on city's papers make us less wedded." Shion explained to his friend. He caught how Nezumi's cheeks covered with red at his words in the corner of his eye. At that moment Shion selfishly thought that there wasn't possibly any other person in the world to be more happy than he was right now.

Inukashi hummed, crossed her arms while keeping her eyes at Nezumi.

„I see. Well, it's hard to believe that Nezumi is the one who coming up with such an idea. But if NO.6 managed to change so much then, with Nezumi asking someone to marry him, maybe the world also isn't going to end tomorrow. It explains why you both and Karan acted so crazy cheerful for the last two weeks. If that's what you two wanted then, there is nothing left for me but to congratulate you two." The brown-haired girl gave her small blessing and Shion relaxed upon seeing her smile.

„Shion, Karan, why didn't you tell me earlier? I would bought some gift for a newlyweds as old tradition says." Rikiga groaned.

"We wanted to surprise everyone and we really don't need any gifts. Your support is everything we ask for." Shion declared. Then he and Nezumi joined the rest of guests around the table.

"Your plan worked great. You surely surprised us." Inukashi added to the conversation.

The next hour passed with small talk and eating all kinds of appetizers. Kalan and Rico disconnected after an half hour since they still had some homework left to do. At some point, Shion, Karan and Nezumi put a wedding cake and that bottle of alcohol which both boys had brought from their vacation on the table.

"Shion, my boy, you really should think about opening a trading line between our city and that town. I bet this liqueur would sell like Karan's pastry." Rikiga said after he took another slip from his glass.

„Well, that might not be such a bad idea."

„It's a great idea! NO.6 would get such an amazing, rich and natural drink. The people from that town would get money. It's amazing a deal for both sites."

Shion smiled entertainingly at the older man's idea. Maybe he really should introduce such idea to NO.6's economic department, the exchange between cities might help them both grow. The infrastructure between was already built, so there was no need to invest additional resources. The more open market became, the harder it would be for NO.6 to cut and hide behind wall again if he ever stepped back from being President of the city. Lost in his thoughts Shion almost missed a quiet conversation that Inukashi and Nezumi exchanged beside him.

„So you finally decided to admit that Shion is the most important person in your live?" Inukashi started.

„Yeah. Do you have a problem with that?"

„No, I knew you fell for him way before you noticed it yourself. I'm just going to repeat advice I gave you years ago. Remember, once you find someone you care for, then better protect them from harm with all your strength. That also counts the pain you could be causing by yourself."

„Still worried that I would run away again after all this?" Nezumi smirked coldly to Inukashi but she only waved her hand and leaned to get another snack onto her plate.

„Nah, those rings tell me that Shion and Karan tamed you well. I wish I saw your face when you were buying them. It must have been hilarious."

In answer, Nezumi groaned angry and if his eyes could kill, Shion was sure that Inukashi wouldn't have survived after giving such a comment.

„Nezumi, I hope you two lead happy life. What you have done now is a good start."

There was a little pause after Inukashi's comment, almost impossible to notice through Karan and Renka's chuckles.

"And you have become even more annoying since you turned into an all-knowing mommy." Nezumi huffed.

„I'm blessing your marriage, it wouldn't hurt for you to be a little grateful."

Shion smiled into his glass. While listening to this strange conversation he could tell that Nezumi and Inukashi had became really close friends. Inukashi's acceptance and bond with Nezumi meant a lot to Shion. Not only because he really liked the dark-skinned girl. Since she had lived her whole live in the West Block, maybe she was the person who understood Nezumi better than Shion or Karan ever would. And there might be a day when Nezumi would need a support like that.

"But to Shion and Eve being married, that's clearly a surprise... As a President of city he could find someone better..." Rikiga's words dragged Shion from his thoughts in an instant. Maybe it shouldn't make him this angry, but it was special day for both of them.

"Rikiga, it's..."

Karan was already going to answer the older man but she stopped half way when Shion raised from his chair pushing it with a loud creak. Everyone turned their heads towards the white-haired boy.

"Then who would be better, Rikiga? Some politician? Or maybe you mean I should have found some woman? I've met many people during my life and I never found anyone better than Nezumi. No one who is so intelligent and painfully honest in his opinions. Who has more grace and so much will to live shining from their eyes. Who saved, protected me and kept my soul from falling into darkness. Someone who covered me with his own body when someone tried to shot me..."

Shion continued with a cold voice until Nezumi grabbed his hand.

"Shion, there is no need to get so worked up over such small thing. You know talks like this don't bother me." In answer the white-haired man shook his head, looking deep into his husband's eyes.

"No, I had to. Today is our wedding party. You are the one who asked me to marry you, although you didn't have to. I can do at least this much for person who loves me so much. I want people to know how kind you are."

"You know it's not worth trouble? I don't care what others think about me."

"It's worth any trouble. For me it's important. You are an important, irreplaceable person Nezumi."

Nezumi sighed loudly letting Shion's hand go.

"Do what you want. It looks like you won't listen me anyway. Just don't get carried away like the last time."

Awkward silence fell throughout the room. Renka, Lili and Karan exchanged worried looks while Rikiga seemed to be embarrassed and at a loss of words. Shion also felt ashamed a little, he probably shouldn't burst out at Rikiga like that at and Nezumi was right. He had made a scene in front of all those people. He really should have bit his tongue and let that comment slide especially during such a day and party which his mother had looked forward to so much.

The atmosphere was heavy and no one was sure what to say next.

"Mommy, I need to pee." the tiny voice of Rose broke the silence. The little girl stood beside table looking at them with big eyes.

"I.. I'm going to take her to toilet." Lily offered and she took her sister's hand before leaving the room. Everyone exchanged glances once again and Rikiga cleared his throat loudly.

"Shion, I'm sorry. You know that I was Eve's fan before it turned out that he's one foul-mouthed and crude boy... Uh, I didn't meant to say you two don't care of each other... You are just such an angel compared to him."

"I'm not pure, we all have our flaws, Rikiga. And everyone in the West Block had their own ways of survive, even you." Shion cut off the man again before one more word about Nezumi could escape the man's mouth, feeling angry again. The mood in the room had become so heavy that it was possible to cut with a knife.

"I know and you are right. Shion, Nezumi, I'm sorry. And I want to apologize to Karan too, it was important evening for you all and I messed it up.

"Apology accepted, well you can add some flowers for Karan to it. And if you can pay for dinner for us all at that new restaurant they open in the east part of the city then I would be grateful. I heard they serve amazing food there. I think Inukashi, Renka and the kids wouldn't complain if you invite them too."

Nezumi smirked to the other man taking advantage of the situation. Rikiga sighed annoyedly, which surely didn't help those two fix their familiarity, but he nodded his head anyway.

"Alright, I will try to reserve table for us all on some Saturday."

After Rikiga's apology Shion finally sat down. He was still a little upset, but Lily and Rose came back from the toilet so he tried to act like nothing happened.

"Well, they say that there is no wedding without any fight." Renka said nervously which the most of present people answered with awkward smiles.

The rest of the evening passed with better atmosphere. Slowly, after conversations jumped from one topic to another the awkward scene was forgotten. Little Shionn and Rose feel asleep on the pillows with toys around them and Lily left the table to read some book besides sleeping kids, bored with grown-up's talks.

"You are really something, to get so worked out at such idiotic comment. I'm afraid of what you are going to do to the people who wouldn't like our relationship, Mr. President. That's going to be worse than Elyuria's wrath." Nezumi teased him, making Shion almost choke with egg salad.

"Anyway, thank you, Your Majesty. Who would have thought... I married such a brave knight." The older male joked more, making Shion flush from shame. Even so he couldn't bring himself to regret his previous actions.

Shion raised his eyes towards the long-haired man. He could see that behind teasing words, Nezumi wanted to say something else. The right words didn't manage to leave his mouth, so instead a little cold hand tangled with Shion's.

"Do you want more salad?" Nezumi asked and Shion nodded his head squeezing back the long fingers of his husband.

"Yes, thank you."

After every snack and appetizer had disappeared from the table and a second bottle of Liqueur had been drunk away, the guests started to prepare to get home. Shion called for a car since he didn't want to have Renka and Inukashi trying to walk home so late with tired children. Rikiga decided to go by foot since he didn't live far from Chronos.

"I hope you will be able to announce your relationship soon." Renka said to all family members.

"Thank you." Shion answered and Nezumi also smiled gently to the woman, nodding in gratitude.

It was almost 10 PM before they had cleaned out all dishes and headed to their room. Even then Shion still felt slightly hot from all the food, alcohol and atmosphere of the party.

Nezumi sighed tiredly just after doors to their bedroom had closed.
"Thank goodness that weddings are only one-time events. I didn't think such combination of sappiness, embarrassment, trouble and distress even existed."

Nezumi groaned and Shion chuckled again, nervously. Well, it was surely not how Shion and Karan planned for this party to go.

„Well, you know, some couples used to remarry after ten or twenty years after the first wedding."

Shion recalled something he once read about. Even if this time it wasn't perfect that it didn't mean they couldn't try again. The idea of remarrying Nezumi over and over again made him grin like crazy. He stagger while climbing the stairs leading to their bed and Nezumi wrapped his hand around Shion's waist. Having a low alcohol tolerance sometimes had it's advantages and he used it well by moving even closer to his husband.

„No. Forget about it. Even after we sign papers we are not going to have party like this one ever again. Shion take off your pants." Nezumi groaned when they finally got to their bed. The older boy tried to change into his pajamas but Shion's hug made that quite difficult.

"Usually is you who likes to take my pants off." Shion joked playfully, but he took his hands away from Nezumi's waist, setting him free.

"For heaven's sake! How did you get drunk? You only had two glasses of liquid." Nezumi sighed. Looking at gold ring around Nezumi's finger, Shion couldn't help himself. This whole silliness had it's charm.

"I'm drunk with love." Shion joked again while grabbing his and Nezumi's clothes and putting them on chair beside bed.

"I can't handle you when you are like this. You making my head ache." The older boy raised hand to his forehead.

"Still, you love me. You even married me." Shion continued his playful game with a melodic voice, acting a little more drunk than he really was. It was always so much fun to see how Nezumi's composure was breaking down from Shion's joyful feelings.

"Don't make me regret it, your majesty."

Those words made Shion pause, he didn't cross the line, right? He didn't want to make Nezumi angry with him. Before he was able to apologize, Shion felt warm lips on his own. The kiss was only a little longer than their normal 'see you later kiss'. Nezumi often used that one to make him stop talking.

"Alright my prince. Now get in your pajamas and go to sleep. It was enough of tooth rotting, sappy craziness for the one day. Grant that one wish to your husband."

Shion smiled at the other man softly. He would agree to do everything when Nezumi used that word.

"Alright, I'm sorry for what happened with Rikiga. I really wished for our weeding party to be better."

"Well, at least it wasn't total disaster."

While both of them sat on the edge of the bed Shion, leaned to kiss Nezumi once more. He didn't had anything in mind by doing it. He kissed the other man simply because he wanted it and because he could.

It didn't take long before they turned off lights and cuddled to sleep. It had been a long day and the entire heaviness of it finally hit Shion with all it's power, making his eyes drop close in a second. He opened them again two hours later. After a trip to the bathroom in middle of night he climbed back to the bed and it didn't take Nezumi even a minute before he threw his limbs on Shion. The crimson-eyed man smiled with affection and buried his nose into his husband's silky hair.

It looked like he was going to wake up with his arm all numb in the morning once again.

****

Nezumi sunk his hands into sticky dough just to curse loudly two minutes later. He hated making the same mistake twice and yet he let himself mess up like this again. He took his hands away and moved towards the kitchen sink. After taking off his wedding ring he leaned for a scrub.

"Why didn't I buy the fucking plain ring?" He murmured angry while trying to scrape glutinous dough from the golden band. Fresh substance pasted into lines of graving, making the ring hard to clean. Not like letting the dough dry would help much. He already tried that method once. Both ways were a pain in ass.

Usually he left his wedding ring inside a glass placed above his working space. It stayed there until the end of his work time. Today was the third time since week began when he forgot to take it off while working on that day's portion of dough for breed.

Besides him, Karan giggled softly over her own pastry, yet she didn't say anything aloud.

Nezumi was still struggling with his deadly fight when Shion entered the room, yawing loudly. Nezumi made a pause wondering what the white haired boy was doing there at such hour. Then he remembered previous evening. Right, Shion had said something about having some kind of meeting really early today.

„Good morning mom, good morning Nezumi." Shion moved half-asleep in an attempt to kiss his husband before he noticed that Nezumi was leaning over the sink with madness in his eyes.

„What are you doing?"

„I'm cleaning the proof of our love, your majesty."

„Maybe it would be better if you take it off before you start to work on dough."

„Clever idea, Shion. I'm going to remember that advice the next time." Nezumi answered sarcastically.

„Nezumi usually secures his ring into the glass over there but he forgot to do it today. Or maybe he didn't forgot but it's his heart that just doesn't want to be apart from the 'proof of your love'." Karan joked making Nezumi red. He started to scrape the ring even harder, wishing for this ridiculous situation to finally end. He almost wanted to groan aloud annoyed when Shion smiled widely beside him, happy like a child who just got his beloved candy. The younger man leaned forward and kissed Nezumi on the cheek before moving away to get some piece of yesterday's pasty in order to prepare breakfast for everyone. While Shion finished, Nezumi managed to clean his ring completely and he put it into the glass with a loud jingle.

"So you keep yours there during the day?" Shion asked with strange tone of his voice.

"Yes, as we agreed I'm taking my ring off so you can govern in peace."

To Nezumi's surprise Shion only hummed to himself and stopped asking questions on that matter. Any person who didn't know Shion wouldn't find such behavior strange but Nezumi could feel with every piece of his existence that something was already going on inside the other man's head. He just hoped that his natural husband wasn't going to reveal their relationship only because Nezumi kept his ring inside the glass for a few hours. Shion had been unpredictable former occasions.

The matter of ring wasn't even mentioned during the next week. Shion only observed Nezumi strangely when the man was putting his wedding ring back on. It surely looked suspicious for the dark-haired man.

Shion, who's mouth sometimes couldn't stop talking, didn't say a word more about glasses or rings.

Maybe Nezumi shouldn't pay so much attention to it. Maybe he was acting like a paranoid but he couldn't stop thinking that such silence would to turn into something bad. Despite of his bad gut feeling, the week passed normally. Nezumi even forgot about Shion's strange humming, guessing that it didn't mean anything after all.

Then one day Shion returned from his work early with wide grin pasted on his face and sparkling eyes.

"Mom, can I steal Nezumi for a moment?"

"Sure, darling." Karan answered, taking Nezumi's place behind the cash register and just like that the dark-haired man was dragged into the baking room.

"Shion, what are plotting?" The older male asked as they were walking through the corridor.

"You 'll see."

Shion went inside the room and he made his first steps towards the shelf. He took Nezumi's ring out and paused for a moment.

"Maybe I better give you this first." Shion reached hand inside his trousers pocket and took out a blue box, similar to the one which Nezumi had gotten at the jewelry shop.

"It's for you."

Shion practically pushed box into Nezumi's hands. The older boy slowly opened the gift having no clue what Shion could buy for him at jeweler shop.

He saw a white chain with a strange pendant. It looked very solid, a lot of force would have to be used to break its chains but it wasn't showy.

"It's for your ring. If you press here the pendant opens and you can easily hang the ring in like this without taking the whole thing off."

After demonstrating his words by putting together wedding ring and necklace Shion hung the chain between his hands, showing it to Nezumi. The older boy found the gift unnecessary. Hiding the ring inside the glass was enough. Shion didn't need to waste his money on flashy accessories like this.

"You think that it's redundant thing, right?" Shion's smile faded away when Nezumi didn't say anything.

"Yes. But it's not like I don't appreciate your intentions."

"Nezumi, I don't know how long it will take for us to hide our relationship. It's sad that you had to take off something you have bought by yourself. Something that reflects our love. It doesn't matter if you put it away into glass, shelf or box. It's not fair. I'm selfish, I want to see you wear your wedding ring. I want us both to wear it during the every minute of the day. That's why I bought this necklace. Even if you can't wear your ring on finger, you can still put it in the pendant and have it hang hang close to your heart."

Nezumi felt his face heat up. At least Shion looked more flushed than him. Nezumi's heart was racing inside his chest like crazy and he couldn't help but to reach for Shion's gift. He stopped his hand before his fingers touched the necklace.

"Maybe you could help me to put it on?" For that one time he really didn't mind that his voice sounded so soft. He loved this sappy boy with all his heart for his cheesy actions.

At Nezumi's question Shion's face brightened back up. Nezumi turned around to give his husband better access to his neck. Soon the wedding ring landed on his chest and then Nezumi had turned back the other man. He placed hand on Shion's cheek slowly stroking the piece of scar there before guiding them both closer into a kiss.

"Thank you. I might use it more often beside my working hours, it's quite comfortable." He said after they broke away.

"You are welcome. All that matters for me is that we both could wear our rings, no matter where."

"Oh, no matter where you say?" Nezumi teased the other boy but he wasn't sure if Shion was going to understand his implication. To his luck Shion did. Well, he was fast leaner, wasn't he?

"Not there! Beside it would be too small!" Shion fought back, completely blushed, even on his neck.

"That what makes it more interesting." Nezumi let himself torture his husband a little more.

"It's not physically possible and you know it! Anyway, I have to get back to work. I took two hours off to get your present. We have a meeting with the NO.5 delegation in an hour so I might be late for dinner..." Shion shot out the words nervously, kissed Nezumi fast and ran off still red on his face.

Nezumi let his eyes follow after Shion with an amused smile playing on his lips. When his husband had disappeared completely, he reached to the ring which was now hanging on his chest. The metal was cold but Nezumi felt incredibly much warmth from it. He looked at it once more before hiding the whole necklace under his shirt and heading back to the bakery's shop with a soft smile on his face.

****

It looked like a summer that was going to be crazy, just like the year before. The June had only started and it was already very hot. Even Nezumi stopped working on the motorbike he bought because as he said 'this family somehow refuses the beauty of a car, after you had to drag 25 kilos through the town.'

Besides the motorbike Nezumi found some small trailer and he tried to hook those two things together until the heat drained most of his strengths. Even Cravat was cooling himself inside a plate which Shion had changed into small pool with water.

The crimson-eyed man was really worried about possible problems for the city if such temperature went on. In that case, the Committee would need to add finding a way to save city's crops to their usual tasks. Lucky, the weather forecast promised temperatures to go down soon.

Shion was making a list of things to do during the next week at work but he couldn't concentrate. The overwhelming heat was only one reason behind Shion's distraction. The second one laid with it's head on Shion's hip. Just like Shion, Nezumi was shirtless, only in his boxers, chest covered with sweat and reading one of his favorite books. They both simply enjoyed some peaceful time with each other that day until their favourite TV shows would start.

The wind slowly moved closed curtains, which they had kept this way a lot lately. They didn't want to push their luck and let some passionate reporter see them together like this. To Shion's frustration, they reduced their touches and more private talks to their bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and home's corridors. They had become more careful while spending their time in garden, on the balcony or simply outside their house during shopping and evening walks.

"Oh, we're admiring the view?" The teasing voice pulled Shion away from his thoughts. His eyes must have been frozen on his husband for some time right now. Nezumi rolled himself from Shion's lap in order to lay on his stomach. While propping his head on hand he watched Shion with an alluring smirk. He really liked Shion's gift and that's why Nezumi's wedding ring was now swinging from his neck like some kind of hypnotic charm.

"Always." The white-haired man admitted and he leaned to kiss Nezumi softly, earning a pleased hum from his husband. It didn't take long before both of them resumed their previous doings. Shion was about to finish his preparations for the next week and join Nezumi with reading his own book when he got a new message from his Restructual Committee account.

Well, it wasn't something he wanted to receive on a late Friday afternoon.

"You going to get wrinkles by frowning so much. Troubles in paradise?"

Shion sighed loudly and nodded his head.

"Next week we are going to have some pandemonium at Moondrop. It's about a topic... well, most of Committee didn't want to deal with it... But old elites found a way to harass us with it..."

"Shion. More specifics, less babbling. It's too hot today for a long narration."

"Right. Well, you know that that prostitution was treated as illegal in NO.6. Yet, we both know that city wasn't as pure as most people imagined and there were people who used poverty of the West Block to satisfy their lust and strange deviations."

Shion started to explain, yet Nezumi again shot him with displeased gaze.

"I'm trying to make it short. Usually you complain about my lack of narration"

"Alright, alright, your majesty. You had to forgive your squire who's dying here from those tropical temperatures. I didn't want to leave this world before learning the reason behind your future wrinkles"

Shion huffed amusedly before he once again started to explain the situation.

"After the wall fell we really tried to eliminate prostitution from the West Block. The idea was simple, to give a decent job to everyone so they wouldn't need to sell their bodies to survive."

"I guess this did not fully work."

"You are right. Percentages of such cases decreased, but the act of prostitution didn't disappear like we hoped. There are still some people who seek out such things and others who are providing them. The social department worked hard to help purveyors but some of them are still..."

"Whores..." Nezumi threw in nonchalantly, making Shion a little angry. He didn't like when someone was generalizing things.

"No. Some of them are still afraid to change their situation. They are afraid to do anything else and how the rest of city's society going to treat them. Often they just feel too dirty to start anew... But they are one group we know about. The other ones are people who simply like... working like that." He explained the last part with heavy heart. He really wanted to believe in sex as an expression of love, attraction to another person or at least desire to reproduce. Doing it for money still didn't sound right to his mind.

"It's not news, Shion. It's not like everyone has the same needs and preferences as another. I knew someone from theater who had enough money to live decently in West Block but still whored themselves like crazy."

Nezumi said this like it something normal as the sun rising on the sky everyday. In the end he had probably seen such situations in the West Block many times before. For Shion, on the other hand, it was still a new matter. For most people who were raised in NO.6 it was a troublesome topic, something from which was better to avert your eyes and pretend it didn't exist.

"I know. I'm not judging them. Still, as a member of committee I can't ignore this matter. We had to decide if we are going to still treat prostitution as illegal and create new penalties or rather legalize it and make new laws. Those laws which should protect them from harm and being forced to do work like this. As you can guess, the opinions are divided and the old elite is using this matter to show that we aren't even capable of keeping order inside the city."

"It doesn't sound too nice." Nezumi answered, this time with a hint of worry which Shion welcomed with a delicate smile.

"Yes I know, but we will get through it."

Soon after Shion ended, Cravat squeaked softly from his homemade pool.

"I wonder how long he will be able to hold on with us..." Shion sighed sadly looking over to the old mouse.

"Don't pity him. He's doing his best in order to postpone your sadness after his death. You should be proud of him, he's quite a fighter."

Shion smiled softly, thinking about the other man's words for a little longer. In that case Cravat, and Nezumi were similar. Both of them always clung to life with everything they got.

"You can always get another animal. I bet Cravat and the others who already passed wouldn't mind."

Shion nodded at Nezumi words. Right. By being lost in grief for too long he could be missing a chance to help some animal in need.

"Well, maybe you are right, at least I can give some another living being home and security."

"If that's how you look at it... Just don't bring any dog from Inukashi."

"Why? Puppies are cute and dogs in general are really smart." Shion asked surprised since it was true, he still could remember the days when he washed dogs in the West Block and how wonderful those animals were. Even after years when they visited Inukashi, Shion liked to play with her dogs for a little.

"But they are annoying, loud and cling for your attention no matter what you do." Nezumi huffed.

"Then maybe you like for me to adopt some cat? I heard that people mostly divide on those who like dogs or cats." Shion laughed brightly. It would be ironic for someone who have so much of a connection with mouses and rats to like their archenemy, but Nezumi tilted his head slightly giving Shion's idea second thought surprising the younger man.

"Well at least cats don't meow without an important reason and they are cleaner than dogs. They only like and trust you if you really earned it. Still, I can already imagine you mopping around again when the time of that animal would come to its end. Maybe it would be better for you to take in some parrot, I heard they live long."

"They do, you are right. That's why I don't think they should be considered as home pets. They life for too long. We might die before said parrot and then who would take care of it? Beside, don't you think that taking bird's freedom is bad?"

"You are taking every animal it's freedom by making it yours, there is no exception. And about your other worry... Even fireflies might over-live us if we just die tomorrow." Nezumi said with a tone of his voice as if quoting from Shakespeare. "If matter of freedom bothers you so much take in a fish. Their brain is small. They wouldn't mind if they swim in your room or somewhere else as long as they get food and clean water. Still, remember that they die fast too. I bet you would cry even for a damn gold fish."

Shion felt a little embarrassed by how true Nezumi words were again. Still, he could feel a lot of Nezumi's care during this small conversation.

"You could get a tortoise, too. When we going to be on our deathbed we might have enough time to make soup from it. It would save you from being worried about finding a new guardian for it, honey.

Instead of getting irritated over Nezumi's proposition about eating their fictitious home tortoise, Shion's mind focused on something else his husband had said. He knew that people used to eat all kinds of animals, but he rather didn't wanted to be forced to eat an animal who was part of his family. Yes, he knew that the way he thought about some animals was hypocritical, but he wished to never be so hungry and forced to eat something that he consider as home pet anyway.

"What did you just call me? He asked confused. He hoped that Nezumi wasn't making fun of parasitic bees now. It would be a rather unpleasant way to tease him and Shion was always sure that Nezumi wouldn't hurt his feelings like this. Shion must have just heard him wrong.

"Honey. Or maybe it's too cheap title for his majesty?" Nezumi smirked at him playfully.

"But why?" Shion pressed, a little more hurt now.

"Don't sweethearts and spouses give each other cute names? My dear, hard working husband deserves some lovely name to be called by."

So his interpretation of Nezumi's intention was wrong. Shion felt like idiot by thinking that someone who loved him so much would joke about him in a such way. His previous confusion and hurt was replaced with joy and heartwarming warmth in the blink of an eye. Even if this was another way of Nezumi teasing him, Shion was happy by being called the names which were usually restricted for married couples.

Well, they were spouses right now, but the idea of Nezumi calling him honey hadn't crossed his mind even once. Silly joke or not, it was nice to hear such cute name beside the ones that Nezumi usually gave him during the conversations.

"Do you realize that you already called me by lovely names almost from the beginning of our relationship? It's nothing new, Nezumi." Shion voiced out his remark while trying to not look too happy because of one silly word.

"And you are breaking your handsome husband's heart. I worked so hard to think of a perfect name for my beloved but he discarded it and me away. Oh, I, poor soul, useless and unwanted. I lost the reason to live!"

Nezumi rolled dramatically on the bed, covering his eyes with his arm in theatrical way. Shion really wanted nothing more but to hold the other man tight at that moment. Still, instead of moving even closer and start cuddling with his husband, Shion began to laugh brightly. It was a truly precious moment. He only wished that Nezumi hadn't started with a word that Shion associated with hard times that Elyurias gave him and NO.6. With any other name he wouldn't have felt so confused at first.

"I don't mind if you call me names, you know that. I love everything you come up with, but really? Honey?"

"Would you rather prefer darling?"

It was a lot better, but then Shion recalled that was how Karan always uses to call him. It would be awkward if Nezumi also used that name during their private moments. It was really funny thought.

Shion was so filled with joy that he decided to tease his husband too. Even if his chance for success was very low.

"My mom calls me by that. Do you want to be my second mom? I can call you mom if you want... even during that..."

Right after he spit out his joke Shion, felt ashamed like never had in his life. He had once read about strange names used during sex. He never understood how such things could make people more aroused and after making up his mind that such knowledge was fruitless in their case, he had decided to forgot it. Now it looked like something perfect for their teasing fight, but after Nezumi started to laugh like crazy rolling again on bed Shion knew that his idea backfired at him.

"No, thank you, I'm going to pass that proposition. So what do you say about sweet-pie? Or my little snake?" Nezumi wiped eyes which had started tearing from excessive laughter and looked at Shion with his best catchy smirk. The white-haired boy knew he was losing their little game. He felt too embarrassed and it didn't help that Nezumi had once more called him small.

"I'm not little." Shion fought back but he sounded like a little child rather than the President of the city.

"You are smaller, at least compared to your handsome husband. Or maybe I'm mistaken? I don't recall you growing more than ten centimeters tonight." Nezumi teased him again, the sparks in his eyes told Shion how much the other man was convinced about his win.

And Nezumi was right. Even so, Shion tried to think about anything that would tip the balance of this conversation for his advantage. The years of learning how to deal with people who were often more experienced than he was finally paid of. He could win this fight. It was just a simple notice, something his brain recorded by the chance, nothing that was really important for Shion until now. Since Nezumi always said that during the war you can use everything you got Shion decided to to win that battle at all cost.

"You may be higher than me but there is some matter where you are smaller from two of us."

"And what is it, your Highness?"

Shion pointed his finger on Nezumi's boxers. The long haired boy looked at him amused and maybe a little pitiful.

"Mine is around one centimeter bigger. I already noticed that a few times when we pumped them together." Shion knew he must have been red like tomato when he said that but yet he didn't let his voice to waver.

Nezumi was quiet, lost in his words. He had also noticed, to their surprise, that they were the same size, but maybe the idea of him being smaller never crossed his mind. Not like it was important and that difference was very small. Shion had never said anything about his discovery out but it was real, an unchangeable fact.

It was the most ridiculous fight Shion had had in his whole life but at the same time it was much fun. At the worst Nezumi would be pissed off for a few days but the white-haired boy knew that his husband wasn't person who would deny the reality. No matter how silly and strange reality it was.

Nezumi cleared his throat and smirked towards his husband like Shion's previous commentary didn't matter anything.

"Well, you know all that really matters is technique, not size?"

Shion almost jumped on the bed from excitement. He had an answer for Nezumi's comeback. It felt like he and Nezumi played chess and Shion was about to scream checkmate for the first time in his life.

"I don't think my technique was bad two days ago when you screamed my name and wanted more." He smirked to his husband, a bit surprised by his own courage. He knew that he played with fire yet he couldn't stop himself.

Nezumi, who understood that he lost the battle, looked over to Shion with a shocked face. The dark-haired man was defeated on the field which he thought he was the best. He couldn't believe that Shion beat him by using their intimate moment. It was just impossible. Even Shion couldn't understand how it was possible for him to say all those things aloud to Nezumi. To the man who was once feared and called devil of the West Block. Who was able to immobilize Shion in seconds without even breaking the sweat.

After few minutes of being in shook those beautiful silver eyes sparked with that determination Shion loved so much. The white haired man could feel strange butterfly inside his stomach when Nezumi's smile started to become dangerous.

"You cheeky little brat." His husband started with a low, playful voice, giving Shion goosebumps on the entire body "I'm going to show you what the real technique entails and then you are going to beg me to never stop."

Nezumi sprinted towards Shion but the white haired boy was already jumping off the bed and running down the stairs. The adrenaline was rushing inside his body and he was torn between hoping for Nezumi to catch him fast and being chased longer. It was strange but the second option looked somehow more exciting this time. He desired for Nezumi to run after him. Shion wanted to know everything about his husband with all his heart, to see him in every possible situation.

"You need to catch me first!"

His lungs almost wanted to jump from the chest as he ran towards the doors. His wishes were fulfilled and he was able to hear sound of steps running after him. He wondered what Nezumi was going to do after he got caught, because it was only the matter of time. He couldn't compare to Nezumi's physical skills. The early Summer heat around them was almost too much, but Shion still ran with a smile on his face and hoped for Nezumi's threats to become true.

"Shion! You damn idiot! Don't run off naked. What if someone sees you? Damn it! You won't get up for a week after I'm done with you!"

Shion couldn't hold back the laugh broke by heavy breaths. He knew that it might be dangerous for his reputation, but bakery was already closed. Chance to meet someone in their garden on such hour was low. Besides, he still had his boxers on.

He was already running down the stairs leading to the first floor and next towards the shop.

"Heeeelp, pervert is chasing me!" He yelled still laughing as he burst into shop with full speed. He knew he would feel embarrassed for weeks if his mother heard his screams but he couldn't help himself. He wanted to see Nezumi's reaction on such silly words.

Running like bolt he caught with corner of eye his mother talking with Inukashi and little Shionn. Instead of stopping in shame Shion ran out of the building, hearing Nezumi's and Inukashi's horrified screams. Shion was already far away in the garden while Nezumi retreated strategically back into their room, so they couldn't hear when little Shionn asked:

"Mommy, what's pervert?"

"I'm going to kill them both." Inukashi screamed once more red on her face. Next to the frustrated girl Karan laughed loudly with tears falling from her eyes.

"You had to forgive them, after all, it's their honeymoon. Personally, I hope they are going to stay like this forever."

The rest of evening passed as an awkward dinner, Karan chuckling at Shion's attempt to explain what's pervert is to little boy and saying sorry to very, very angry Inukashi. Well, Shion was the only one who tried to apologize. Nezumi, on other hand didn't feel any remorse since, as he said, it was Shion's silly idea in the first place. Besides, was not his fault that Inukashi and Junior decided to visit their home.

Seeing the abashment of Shion, Nezumi also tried to use the current situation to make his husband pay for his sassy-ness earlier. Still, that didn't mean that Nezumi's face didn't also turn red each time Karan looked at them both with her sweet smile.

Shion couldn't find the words to describe how happy he felt even if he tried. Maybe even all Nezumi's books would fail this trial. He was just simply grateful for his current life, for each day was full of all kinds of emotions. Nezumi didn't fulfill his threats, still annoyed but Shion laid down into bed that night with smile on his face nonetheless. Before the land of dreams welcomed him, he couldn't choose which cute name would fit his husband best.

Chapter Text

It was week after that Cravat passed away. Shion felt like an important chapter of his life had ended. The one filled with the smell of a dusty room underground, learning about the nature of the world and trying to find out who that boy with silver eyes who had entered his room in stormy night was.

It was all in the past now.

The little mouse found its rest beside his other companions under the tree in the garden. Cravat hadn't been able to run much around the house lately but his absence during the last passing days had been painfully clear. Karan also fondly mentioned all three mice now that the last of them had found it's peace.

During that day's dinner Shion, Nezumi and Karan talked about adopting some new family member in the future. The conversation was similar to the one Shion had had with Nezumi. They asked Karan for help but woman's opinions were divided. In some matters she agreed with Shion, in others with Nezumi. The evening passed without a making any final decision and Shion's mother went to rest while both men took care of cleaning the dishes.

Karan had looked really tired during dinner which worried Shion. In his opinion she overworked herself too much. It's wasn't the first time that Shion thought about how his family opened the bakery for far too many hours each day.

„Nezumi." Shion started conversation. Nezumi hummed in answer as he walked around the kitchen with already drained dishes, putting them inside cabinets.

„I really think you two should rearrange your working hours. With your break during afternoon it's still 11 hours of you two working in the bakery. 11 hours from Monday to Friday and 8 hours on Saturday. It's too much. I can see how tired you two are when weekend comes."

„This is bit much, coming from someone who can spend 14 hours at work." Nezumi scoffed at his husband, waiting for Shion to take the dirty dishes from his hands.

„It doesn't happen often. Lately I'm working around 8 hours from Monday to Saturday. Compared to me you two are workaholics now." Shion said his opinion, drowning plates inside sink. The current situation made him feel like he's now the most lazy one in his family. He mostly sat and fought with papers at work. It was nothing compared to the physical labor Nezumi and his mother did almost everyday.

„It's not that bad, Shion. We don't even need to leave the house. One step into the first floor and I'm already at work. Believe me, working in the West Block was a lot more worse if you didn't have connections or talent like mine. Beside, does his majesty think I'm too weak to handle this kind of job?" Nezumi put his hands over hips sounding slightly offended.

„I know you aren't weak. You are still young and your body can keep up like this for many years, but mom isn't. She shouldn't overwork herself at her age. Beside, there is no need for you two to work so hard. We have enough money."

„Well, it's not my decision, my prince... Your dear mom is one in charge here. She wants to bake and maintain the doors to her shop open as long as possible. I bet if she could she would keep the bakery open 24/7. She wishes for everyone, even those who don't have time in the morning to step by, to have an opportunity to buy and enjoy her pastry. She's stubborn. There is no way she would leave the baking to me. You know she loves that part of this business. I can take care of the shop on my own, but with current selling rates she wouldn't manage to bake enough to fulfill current demand. She needs help in that field, too. Do you think I haven't noticed something off with our working hours? Hoping to please my beloved Prince, I not once asked your dear mother to end her shift early and take a break. As you can guess she kept an eye on the shop until it was open anyway."

Nezumi's explanation gave Shion even more concern. It was true that some Bakeries in the city were open until late evening but they had more than two employers who didn't need to work at baking and selling at once.

„If she wants to keep it open for so long then maybe you should close the bakery on Saturdays and maybe even on Wednesdays so you two could rest? If that's not case then you should hire someone to sell the pastry during the afternoon. This way both of you can reduce your work hours. I bet the bakery can afford for that."

„It's good idea, but you would need to reveal this plan to Karan by yourself. Maybe she's going to listen you. But remember my sweet pie... Hiring someone going to decrease the number of places for both of us to exchange our affection."

Nezumi had a point. Shion didn't like idea of hiding with their relationship even more. Yet, this was the more important than his own desires. He worked hard to make everyone lifes better and he was just a normal human being who thought about his family first before everyone else. He wanted the best for his mother and Nezumi. This situation was going on for far too long already.

„Yes, you are right. We may need to be more careful inside our house if we hire someone. I might not be able to kiss you so casually everyday but yours and mom's health are more important than anything. Beside, life is short, you two should enjoy your lives more."

„Don't misjudge the situation, you mom really loves working around the bakery. I heard her story about, quote: 'her finally starting to enjoy her life to its fullest after she started to bake', more than enough. Besides, you take care of most housework so she can visit her friends and spend weekends resting or talking with us. She's using her time in the way she wants to. No one is forcing her to live like this."

Shion knew his husband was right. He was optimistic but he couldn't help but to imagine his mother collapsing from such busy schedule one day. Nezumi had his limits too. In the end, the three of them were just humans and their bodies need enough rest like everyone else's.

„I know. Yet, I can't help but to feel bad when I see the two most important people in my life overworking themselves like this."

„Alright, alright, we're going to talk with your mom if that makes you stop to dwell on this subject until eternity. As for your concern over my modest person, I'm going to get my deserved rest during our next vacation. This should be good enough." Nezumi added with hint of happiness in his voice. He really looked forward some break from the city's crowds.

„Right." Shion nodded. He knew it wasn't solution. Simple vacation wouldn't help for long. He had probably made a very worried face since Nezumi's soft smile also faded away.

„Just don't tell me that you can't leave your work because of some important matters." The older man asked his husband, expecting bad information. Shion shook his head. It looked like acting gloomy only leaded to misunderstanding. This was getting him nowhere. Maybe it was time to approach the problem in his usual way.

„No, I already informed everyone that I'm taking two weeks off around August. We can start to plan our vacation more precisely... Talking about vacation. What would you say about buying mom a stay at NO.2 renewal centre for her birthday? A week there sounds like perfect idea for her to gather some new strength after all those years of hard work." Shion proposed. It was at least a good beginning of the bigger plan of how to make his mother's life less tough besides making Karan rearrange her work hours.

Nezumi kept quiet for a few moments, giving Shion's idea some thought. They finished doing the dishes and Shion was already preparing himself to clean the floors while waiting for his husband's answer.

„You can even buy a two week's stay for her here. She deserves it and I can handle the bakery by my own now. But, there are a few problems with your plan. Firstly, getting your mother to agree to such vacation. She might not want to leave the bakery in my hands. Second one. Shion, would you like for her to find you a new dad?"

Nezumi teased the white-haired boy. Shion stated to laugh softly at Nezumi's train of thoughts. Well, renewal centres were surely known as places for older people to jump into passions of love. Still, Shion would never think of something like this on his own. Maybe because his heart always belonged to Nezumi, he never thought about such places as romance spots.

„I wouldn't mind that as long as she's happy. Still, if that was her desire, she would already be finding someone. I never was against her finding a new love after my father left, but she never seemed to be interested. Considering such past, your presumption has low chance to happen."

„There is a still possibility, your majesty, she may still find her other half far away from these lands." Nezumi raised his hands dramatically to his heart. Shion grinned widely at such sweet performance.

„But I can agree with you that Karan deserves a good break. Sometimes, I think your mother is a robot." Nezumi added with more serious tone. Such a comment only make Shion sure that he had to talk to Karan soon.

„If you agree with me, I'm counting on you to support my suggestions. I think we can talk to mom on the next weekend once we're all having some free time. I feel like it's going to be a long conversation."

„Two against one... You're playing dirty, my prince." Shion was really taken aback by Nezumi's joke. It sounded pretty bad, spoken aloud. He was only concerned about the health of the two most important people in his life. Seeing Shion's reaction, Nezumi leaned closer and gently patted his white hair with slightly wet hands.

„Hey, don't take it seriously. This may be the best solution of eliminating the workholic drive in your blood line. My coalition with Karan worked in your case, now it's time for two of us to convince her. So, what next brave task do you need for us to complete now that dishes are cleaned, your majesty?"

„I going to clean the floors and set up the laundry, you can rest for now. I'm going to join you soon."

Taking chance of Nezumi sliding his hand about his waist Shion leaned even closer. Without thinking they found a nice position to exchange a few short and playful kisses beside drying dishes.

„If you insist. I'm going to wait for you on the couch. What do you say to hot bath together later?" Nezumi smirked asking his question while slowly moving towards the stairs.

„It sounds great." Shion hummed, happily melting at Nezumi's proposition. His muscles already started to relax at the imagination of sitting against Nezumi's chest inside a tube full of warm water. Taking the mop in his hands, Shion began his corridor cleaning at the doors of Karan's room. Seeing his mother resting in a big armchair with a book soothed Shion's worry. She seem happy just as Nezumi said, but it didn't prevent Shion from wanting to help her a little more. Employing someone at the bakery seemed to be the best idea to archive that. Having his solution, Shion started to clean the floors with a lighter heart.

Despite it being vacation time, the Restructual Committee had a quite busy schedule. The old elite attacked them through articles, conferences and other possible ways like crazy for the past few weeks. Even if members of the committee weren't occupied by them, there were still the matter of Prostitution -which wouldn't get resolved as easily as Shion had hoped- countless meetings with delegates from NO.4 and NO.5, some people's complains about the new education program and other significant topics.

Walking through Moondrop corridor, Shion sighed loudly, envying the ones who were able to go on vacation already. They were mostly service staff. The rest of the committee had to deal with all problematic matters just like him. They were all supposed to have a really important meeting that day. They had planned that one for weeks and all members of committee were supposed to attend it.

Shion didn't sigh this time, instead groaning loudly from the frustration. They had planned it for so long but almost half of the committee members were still on their way to the NO.6. They had gone to NO.2 for diplomatic missions but because of the weather their return had been delayed.

This was bad, they really needed to solve some important matters that couldn't wait. Abandoning their previous plans, Shion had no other way but to lead the meeting with only half of committee members present. If they were be lucky, the missing people might join conference later... Shion looked over a holographic list of subjects he had prepared especially carefully, sacrificing many hours.

This time he released a low frustrated groan, mentally adding all possible curses and directing them at airports and weather.

„Oh, I see Mr. President is in a bad mood today." the woman's voice made Shion turn around. Alice from the social department joined him on the corridor leading to the conference room.

„Who wouldn't be? We have important topics to work on, but everything is against us. Any words from Toya?"

„He called me last time around 4 hours ago before they got into plane. If everything turns out well they might be here in two or three hours."

„It's not what I hoped for, but better three hours than more. If we re-order the discussion topics we might get to leave the matters which require everyone be present at the end of the meeting."

„Well, it wouldn't be a problem if we had more time. I don't know what the previous elite is thinking. Every survey shows that their attacks don't work. Civilians know the truth, they can't be blinded by ridiculous arguments."

"I hope so. Yet, we can't leave all the rumors they spread around alone. By giving them enough, time they can turn into real problems."

"Uh, you can be a real pessimist sometimes Mr. Shion." the woman smiled cheerfully and Shion answered her with a small grin. If only Alice knew Nezumi better. Shion was nothing compared to the dark-haired male.

"At least I made you smile, Shion. Good. Being a dark cloud-full of worry doesn't fit your image and grave, gloomy meetings are always the worst ones. Besides I wanted to give you this..."

She handed Shion a blueish envelope. First the white-haired man looked at the piece of paper, just to rise his eyes at his co-worker, watching her suspiciously.

"You know I'm the last person who could give you bribe. Come on, open it." Alice laughed brightly. After hearing, her words Shion smiled apologetically and looked inside the envelope. He found a nice-looking wedding invitation inside.

"I hope you are going to come. Just let us know if you want to bring someone. We would book more seats in the restaurant. Oh, and if you want to come with your other half then I can find you two some quiet corner. After all, I don't want my spotlight to be taken away by Mr. President's mysterious lover." Alice joked, smiling brightly, but Shion frowned anyway. Well, maybe if he were to bring his mom and Nezumi no one would guess that Shion attended a friend's wedding with his husband. On the other hand it was frustrating. He couldn't even go anywhere with Nezumi lately. Not mention if they really did employ someone to their bakery even casual private talking with the dark haired man may also become hard.

"Hey, hey. You really don't need to make such face. It was only a proposition. You look like you want to jump through the window."

"I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to. Once again congratulation on your wedding, Alice. I'm going to gratulate Toya after the meeting. I will try my best to show at your wedding."

"Thank you. Well, it looks you don't have it easy yourself. I know you don't want to say anything about your lover, but is everything alright between you two?"

Shion was surprised by Alice's question. His relationship was like dream beside the fact of decision to hide their love. He wasn't sure how to answer his to friend's concern.

Shion and Alice quietly entered the conference room and sat on their usual places around a big oval table that could fit around fifty people.

"Yes, everything is alright. You don't need to worry."

"I see. Let's say I believe you." Woman rolled her eyes and if she hadn't already been sitting she would strike a more dramatic pose.

"No, it's the truth. It's about current situation... I really can't put my relationship in the first place right now."

"I see. Just don't let someone who you love slip away. You may lose this person if you always put the city on top priority."

Shion answered his friend with a gentle smile. Her words were full of care and Shion knew they weren't only a beautiful mask she used to get closer to him. No. She was the one of the first people who joined him at Restructual Committee. He could remember how hard she had worked with him during that first year after the wall fell. When they distributed, food she even fainted from over-working but even then, she still insisted to stay and help others. She was always grateful that none from her family was taken away by Elyurias or city fights when wall fell. Because of that she wanted to somehow give her thanks to her luck or destiny which was so kind to her. She found her answer in helping those who weren't as lucky as her.

She was different than Shion, who had created the committee because of the many deaths he saw. Because Safu asked him to change the future of people like them into a better one. If that didn't happen, surely he would help NO.6, but rather from some quiet corner than sitting at the centre of the whole government.

Maybe in the end, Alice would fit being President of the city better than him.

If there was a person inside the committee who Shion fully believed, then it was her. He had even considered telling her about Nezumi once or twice, but while Alice had a golden heart, she also talked with everybody on everything. Chances for her to accidentally spit Shion's secret out were high.

Too bad, it might be helpful to have someone stand by his side when others asked him private questions.

"It's not a case. In the end it's a person who put NO.6's future into my hands in the first place."

The woman looked at Shion, lost in her words, surely surprised by such an unusual answer. Before their conversation could be continued, the other members of committee joined them in the conference room.

"Good morning Mr. Yamada, Ms. Okina." Shion welcomed his co-workers. Leaving conversation with his friend for another time, Shion turned on his holographic screen. Just like he had said, he began to reorder the list of matters of discussion before the rest of the committee members were going to show up to the meeting.

It didn't take them very long to gather, yet Shion had a moment to look around the conference room. After his office, which was placed on the same floor, this was the room he spent second most of his time. The building of the Moondrop had surely changed since he had been there for the first time. Back then, corridors looked much the same as the ones inside Correctional Facility. They used to give Shion unpleasant shivers at the beginning. Well, corridors didn't change that much, besides fact that they were now decorated with big printings of images showing the most beautiful places in NO.6, other cities and some spots of nature which hadn't been destroyed by the war. Yet, it was enough change to not have Shion associate them with corridors of Correctional Facility anymore.

The biggest transformation had occurred inside office rooms. Shion supported every individual's desire to make each room feel more personal and less artificial. Natural plants, flowers, carpeting, pictures. Every of them were welcomed warmly by Shion. The conference room still looked kind of artificial because most furniture were made from glass and cold-looking metal, not to mention that the walls and ceiling were white. Yet, to Shion's luck, the room had been kind of devastated after revolution five years ago, so when they set up inside Moondrop a good two years ago, he had been able to propose cedar wood floor, giving the space a warmer look. Two big flower plants beside the big windows helped a lot too.

Well, even homely atmosphere couldn't help that day's meeting. People were nervously arguing over every proposition. Shion tried, as always, to be a voice of reason but after two hours, he got a headache. They still had even more difficult matters planed to work on that day but the easy ones already caused them so many problems. The next few hours of such fights started to appear as a very painful and slow experience. Even Alice looked like she wanted to bite their co-workers after she had explained that such a solution would backfire to the city's inhabitants life instead of helping, for the fifth time.

Shion tiredly moved his eyes to his left side hoping to find some relief in the view beyond the windows. It was only a temporary help before Shion had to join back into the discussion. During the third time of Shion trying to scare his headache away by looking at the city's panorama, he saw something unusual. Behind the other side of window a cleaning lift with an android had arrived. This part was a normal occurrence. The strange thing was that beside robot stood some man in work clothes. He hastily rummaged in a suitcase and he started to unplug some parts from the cleaning android. Shion wondered why a man was fixing robot on such height and why he didn't have any safety lines attached to his suit. This surely was dangerous.

Somehow all conversations inside room became unimportant. Shion couldn't help but to feel something wasn't right.

Then the man on the other side of the window stopped working inside bag and raised pulling out something very similar to gun. Within seconds, the barrel of the machine was pressed to the window. Another second and the heavily reinforced glass of the conference room overlaid with a pattern looking like a crossover of spider's web and stained glass. Through the round hole created by the machine, a flashing object fell on the table. Shion stood up fast from his chair while red light of item blinked faster and faster.

"Everyone, down and cover!" Shion shouted as loud as possible to the other people in room. He only managed to cover his head with his arms before a big force pushed his body backwards, hitting the wall beside him.

When he regained his consciousness, an unbelievable sharp pain in his head, right arm and left leg blocked his mind. His scream mixed with two others in the room. He tried to calm down and open his eyes.

"Shion, Shion, are you alive?" Alice cried somewhere in room.

He once again tried to open his eyes and move his head slightly towards his friend's voice. Before he could even see them, Shion felt small pieces of broken glass everywhere. Blood was running down his cheek from a large cut above his eyebrow. He tried to clean it away but he couldn't move his right arm.

Shion looked towards his right. There was blood everywhere, big pieces of glass were stuck in his upper arm. With his hazy mind he made a note that those shards could be sticking in his head right now if he hadn't covered himself. Awful pain welcomed him once more when he tried to move his fingers. Beside blood, glass and bodies of his co-workers Shion saw clear sky where the window had once been placed. That lift outside window was hanging perpendicularly down on one line.

The seconds of silence were interrupted by another male scream.

"Mr. Umeri. Please hang on!" The new voice full of suffering came from the man on Shion's right.

Shion tried to rise up a little on his left arm, but when he moved the pain from his left hip made him scream again. It felt like something was holding his leg.

"Shi...on, don't!" Once more Alice cried painfully. Shion looked towards her to see the woman's legs being stuck under fallen piece of the door's frame. Next to her, another three people laid motionless. He unconsciously tried to move again, wanting to help his friend, yet another sharp pain from his leg stopped him. Shion finally direct his eyes to his legs. The larger piece of conference table was rising above him like some kind of umbrella with it's metallic leg stuck into his thigh muscles, penetrating his whole leg. Shion took in this view and he couldn't understand what he looked at for a moment. One thing was sure, once he moved, a little glassy piece of table started to rock on sides with it's metallic leg hurting his leg's tissue. Shion's body froze in shock. In all pain, smell of blood and dust he knew that making any motion might cause him to bleed out if his artery was pierced too.

The crimson-eyed man heard sound of running on the corridor before another female scream filled the room.

He moved his head towards the door to see his assistant Rei and another staff member from their floor. The woman was screaming hiding her face inside her hands. Mr. Kannono, who stood beside her turned white as a sheet.

"Kannono..." Alice screamed. The man ran to her and tried his best to set her free from her trap.

"Mr. President. Do you hear me?" Rei walked closer to him after she stopped screaming. Tears started to run down her cheeks.

"Rei, what happen-... where is security?" Shion tried to think straight and calm his breath. Why were those two the only ones who got to them? It wasn't right.

"Someone attacked the first floor too. We heard explosion here. Security was already on the way here when around twenty armed people stormed the first floor. They killed people. Guards focused their attention on getting here when they attacked them from behind. Through the building communication we heard they had weapons." This was the moment when the girl started to shake and cry again. "They've broken into the fourth floor already. They may come here soon too."

Shion's whole body was filled with panic at hearing this.

"What are you doing here?" He screamed at his assistant frightened. They had to run. He moved his head to see Alice frozen in fear. Not much far away from her the injured but conscious members of committee half laid on the floor. Besides those three none of the other twenty-four people moved.

"Kannono, Rei. Evacuate yourself to my office. It has armored doors with a lock, the code is 2793, repeat code."

"But..."

"Repeat code Rei, it's an order." Shion asked his assistant once more. This was a really bad situation. They didn't have much time and he didn't want to see them die.

"2793." Girl answered almost breaking into cry once again.

"Good. Take Alice, Umeri and Okina with you and hide there until help comes. If you meet someone else from staff take them to my office also, but once you close doors don't open them until it's safe. If it's possible, make announcement on the staff's private line and tell them to hide inside offices like mine on upper levels."

"We can't leave you here!" Rei shouted but her voice was lost in loud scream of Alice as Kannono freed her legs.

"You have to! If you move me without medical help I might bleed out before help comes. There is no time. Go! Help Kannono and run!" Shion screamed and another sharp pain blurred his sight. Rei started to cry louder but she nodded and ran towards Alice, starting to drag the other woman towards the destroyed doors. Kannono and Okina, who were in better shape, lifted Umari from the floor. The white shirt of the last one was crimson red around his stomach area and Shion saw a small reflection of glass there.

"Shion, hang on, we will find someone who will get you out of here." Alice screamed towards Shion before the five of them left the room.

"No! You might be killed if they made it to this floor! Don't come back. I will be alright!" He screamed but the last part could easily change into lie. The blood was still slowly leaving his body through numerous cuts and injuries. His mind was getting dizzy. He could only twist his head around without causing himself more pain.

After a minute or two everything was deadly silent. Shion saw Mr. Kiano from the security department two bodies away from him. The man had large piece of glass stuck in his eye.

Shion's breath was starting to get erratic, he was still in shock but his mind began to realize that his co-workers, his friends, may be already dead. They had pieces of metal and glass stuck in their bodies. They were burned from the explosion, too. Shion's own hands were burned in a few places. If not for his superfibre t-shirt under his elegant work shirt he might have ended like them. He knew he had to calm down even if it wasn't easy. Panic would only make him bleed out faster.

At the bakery, that day was really a boring one. Nezumi even started to consider getting a book from their room. The broadcast on TV wasn't interesting and he already checked the other channels only to find replays he saw three or four times already. He really should tell Shion that NO.6 needed some new travel shows.

The last thing he sold was one set of "heaven mix" which they called six kind of cakes that melted in your mouth, almost sending you to another dimension. Well, this catchphrase had been said by little Shion and Karan added it into their menu.

Anyway, since Nezumi had taken care of last customer the bakery was empty. Summer time was only nice for their business in the early morning when they sold pastry to people who hurried to their work and after 1PM. This was the hour the most of teenagers chose to eat something sweet during their vacation time. Karan had already told Nezumi to not bake anything more that day so he had a lot time for himself.

Having Shion's worries in his mind Nezumi had told his mother-in-law to have some rest. Not like the woman had listened to him. She used that time to clean the tables and chairs until they almost shined. Good that he and Shion cleaned everything else the previous day. Nezumi sighed at Karan's stubbornness but he smiled softly anyway. They truly needed to sent their mother on some kind of vacation and make sure she wouldn't be able to work there.

After the third repetition of that coverage about East block's crows Nezumi had enough and went for his book. He was already on the stairs when he heard the frighten scream of Karan. He ran back into the room to see the woman covering her mouth with hands and looking at the TV screen.

When Nezumi raised his eyes he saw big letters saying "the Moondrop attacked". The screen played a montage of people running in panic inside the first floor of the building. The screams filled the shop and Nezumi saw armed people shooting towards Moondrop guards. His experienced eyes could see that the attackers were holding back. Just like they didn't want to waste their bullets, but that didn't mean that they were less brutal by any means. He saw how some random Moondrop visitor was stabbed with a knife without second thought.

The images they saw on TV came from the building's security cameras and there was no way for all of this to be some kind silly joke or montage.

"Shion." Karan whispered afraid, snapping Nezumi's attention to the most important matter. Yes, Shion was working here. But he had his office on the tenth floor. There was no way the aggressors would make so far away into building when special forces of the city were going to began their counter-attack. Shion not often talked about how well-trained the city's protection was.

Then Nezumi saw something that took the solid ground from under his feet, showing him how much he was mistaken.

There was another video clip recorded from outside of the building. It was a recording of some explosion breaking the window from inside. A quick shot showing the room which Nezumi knew from Shion talks. The camera followed a man who fell from lift because of explosion impact and his lifeless body hitting the ground.

Nezumi couldn't believe what he had just seen. This must have been another crazy dream and soon he was going to wake up with Shion laying in bed beside him.

Because there was no way something like an attack on the Moondrop could happen. There were no weapons inside Shion's city. No bombs or suicide attacks or Shion being attacked like this.

And yet the images that flashed the screen didn't change, Karan stood beside him, looking terrified like never before.

"The assault on Moondrop started with a bomb attack executed by Honda Gishi ID-number Qw-60425. His target was the 10th floor of the Moondrop where the Restructural Committee held a meeting. We still don't have information regarding the state of the members after the explosion. The second wave of assault was directed into Moondrop's main gates. Our current information about losses isn't confirmed but we estimate there are 21 people killed and 40 injured. The special force just entered the building and are currently trying to evacuate the civilians." The reporter's voice filled the shop's silence, informing Shion's family about the cruel reality.

Nezumi's body moved on his own, leading him inside their room. Here, he grabbed his superfibre scarf and Shion's winter hat, upgraded with the same material. Before leaving their bedroom, he took his ID unit, old knifes and a high level access card Shion once made for him from a desk's drawer. He never used the mentioned card and he didn't know if it would even be useful now but he pushed it inside his pocket anyway.

Karan already waited for him at the top of stairs.

"Nezumi, are you going to go there?" She asked, clearly worried.

"Yes."

Nezumi didn't understand his own doings. He should just wait for the special forces to clean those assaulters away and get Shion home healthy and safely. But Nezumi knew that wasn't the case. There had probably been an explosion inside the room where his husband had had meeting. The city's building was over taken by chaos. Something deep in his soul was screaming for him to run, to not waste a single second because something bad was going to happen.

He believed in Shion. In the strong Shion who saved him from crumbling and burning in the Correctional Facility. The Shion who wore his superfibre shirt everyday even when he was literally boiling in two layers of clothes since summer had begun. His husband was a fighter and he hasn't going to let himself be killed just like that.

But Nezumi didn't know where Shion was. If Shion was alright, he would have already called him or Karan to spare them worries. This was alarming. Nezumi just hoped Shion had lost his communication unit or Moondrop's connection was cut off. He couldn't even think about the idea of something happening to Shion.

Nezumi's heart screamed, painfully afraid, inside his chest. It filled him only one thought, the need to go to the Moondrop no matter what.

"Nezumi... Try to not go in there alone, go with the special force if that's possible." Karan said, running after him towards the doors. "Please... I don't want to lose any of you... Promise me to be as careful as possible... and Shion, bring him home safe as always." the woman grabbed his arm for a moment, giving Nezumi her support.

"I will." Nezumi answered shortly. He had wanted to throw some dramatic line like 'We're going to be back at dinner' but the words died in his throat. He was simply afraid of losing the most important person in his life.

Not letting his feelings slow him down, he ran towards the garden. He jumped on his motorbike before looking at Karan who stood in the shop's doors once more.

"I'm going to call for car. Go."

Nezumi nodded to his mother in law and turned on the machine.

His mind was blank for the whole ride towards the Moondrop. Until he got closer to the crowd gathered around the building. Without wasting time, he ran towards the first policeman who tried to keep people away. He took the special card from his pocked and showed it to the man.

"I have special pass from President of the city, I need to go inside the building."

The policeman looked at him in shock, not knowing what to do.

"Hurry up, check it or let me go through, people are being killed while you hesitate." Nezumi screamed angrily. but at least his words somehow worked and the man moved in order to scan his card. When policeman saw the information, his face twisted with confusion.

"Sir, follow me."

They pushed behind safety tabs and the dark-haired man was led towards two people in suits loudly debating with heavily equipped soldiers.

"Sir, this man demands entrance inside the building. Is he one of your subordinates?" The policeman asked the armed man. The annoyed and nervous eyes glanced at Nezumi for a moment before returning to a holographic map of the whole Moondrop. Some places were black, but other shone in a blueish color and yellow dots were moving inside them.

"I don't know him. Get him out of here." The soldier ordered and policeman was about to grab Nezumi's arm but the silver-eyed boy jumped even closer to someone who looked like special force's general.

"I have an access card given by President Shion himself. I need to get inside the building if he wasn't evacuated yet." Nezumi pushed towards the big man.

"You! You are Nezumi, aren't you?" Another male joined them. Nezumi noticed it was Shion's co-worker Toya. Shouldn't this man be at the meeting with Shion? If he was here then Shion should also be around.

"Shion, where's Shion?" Nezumi moved closer to the man, skipping all honorifics. At his question, Toya's face turned pale and he looked abashed. He opened his mouth just to cover it with his hand and turn his eyes away. Once more the wave of terror washed over Nezumi's body. He wanted to scream at the man to finally speak up, while the heart in his chest beat madly from fear.

"Last time he was seen he was still inside the conference room. We got this information from his assistant. He ordered all who survived the explosion to evacuate and hide inside his office." The other male answered Nezumi's question. It was the man he had met at that festival. If Nezumi remembered correctly, he was called Tori.

"Where is he now?" Nezumi calmed down a little and cursed at Shion's heroic disorders. Well, at least it sounded like he had been save and alive after the explosion.

There was a pause and Tori looked over his co-worker who nodded his head. Beside them, the man from the special force was ordering action through his communication unit. Nezumi turned his attention to him for a second. The special force was able to evacuate other civilians but it looked like at least ten ambushers made into higher floors of the building, killing another five people. Hearing that, Nezumi started to lose his patience.

"His assistant told us... He was too badly injured to go with them. They couldn't move him because he was trapped. We got this information around ten minutes ago before general Yamato told them to end connection and stay quiet..."

At those words, Nezumi's heart shrunk again. This looked very bad. Shion had been shot in his leg once and he had still run through the Correctional Facility like nothing had happened. If he couldn't leave the conference room, his injuries must have been pretty bad. Even other people couldn't help him in leaving from that dangerous place and now Shion was like a defenseless animal against its predator.

Nezumi heard enough, he was just wasting time. Shion could get killed at any moment if assaulters got to the tenth floor. The silver-eyed male turned around towards the soldier, not waiting for Tori to finish.

"Is there a way to get on the tenth floor before assaulters would get there?"

"I cannot answer that question."

This was madness. Didn't these idiots understand that his white haired, ridiculous and dear husband was in danger? This damn special force was as special as Rikiga's ass! First they had let armed people get past the first floor and now they wouldn't let him get inside building. Nezumi was already prepared to attack the general in order to get to Shion. Yet, he knew that rushing like this would lead to him getting shot by cross-fire between the enemy's and NO.6's forces and even his superfibre cloth may not be enough to protect him.

"Your people didn't stop those damn killers. The enemy is close to killing the president of the city! So yes! You going to answer that question! I have permission to get inside building whenever I want! Or maybe you are hoping for the head of the Restructual Committee to be killed?"

"How could you?" The man moved away from his holographic map and was about to grab Nezumi's collar if Toya hadn't stood between them.

"Nezumi, please. I know Shion is like a brother to you but you must understand, it's dangerous for a civilian to go inside. You would only get yourself killed. I also want to get there because Alice is trapped inside Shion's office as well."

"Yes she's inside the office because Shion protected her and others, but he stayed inside the fucking conference room and those people have weapons! They're going to kill him! That's why one of you are going to tell me if there is another way inside the building or I'm going in through the main gates, whether you want it or not."

"You damn brat! You are no soldier!"

"I wasn't a soldier when I destroyed the Correctional Facility with Shion either. All I had was the superfibre coat you see here and a knife. This is fucking pointless. You are wasting my time." Nezumi didn't care any more. He was going to reveal all his secrets if that were to help him at this moment. He was about to ran towards the main door when his arm was grabbed by the soldier.

"Wait. I don't know who you are to the President but if you wish to die so badly, then I'm not going stop you. Give me your ID unit."

Nezumi pulled out the bracelet from his pocket and the man took it away. He clicked his own unit and after few seconds Nezumi a saw plan of the whole building on the hologram of his own bracelet.

"Here you have the entrance to evacuation stairs. You can get inside by using this card of yours. But I'm going to warm you, we don't have sensors there. We couldn't even use this route to evacuate people because it doesn't have access to all floors and we can't know if enemy units are hiding there. All my men are trying to save people through the main gate and stop the assault. I can't send anyone with you. I'm going to turn on your localization and inform my men that a person like you went inside so they doen't attack you. I'm connecting you to our channel so you can communicate and inform us about everything you encounter. If you manage to get to Mr. President, try to evacuate him. Keep us informed about your every steep."

During the time when the soldier set up his ID unit, Nezumi covered himself with his superfibre scarf and put Shion's hat on his head.

"You can't let him enter like this!" Tori screamed to the soldier.

"He have special access given by Mr. President himself. My procedures says that he can go inside Moondrop even in situation's like this. I can dissuade from going there, but I can't stop him even if he going to be killed in the end."

The fight between both men continued but Nezumi was already putting is ID unit back on his wrist and he ran towards the back stairs. He wasted too much time. Something inside him screamed that he was truly late.

Standing before heavily guarded doors, he put the card Shion made for him inside the access hole. He was welcomed by a dark corridor lighten by red lights. He looked at the map, Those stairs only lead to 3rd, 6th or 11th floor. After choosing one of them, he would need to find normal stairs or an elevator to get to Shion. If he had had the time, he would curse loudly at such amazing architectural idea.

Damn, fucking city full of idiots!

But he stayed quiet, running towards the eleventh floor since this time, Shion's life was on the line.

He didn't want to lose anyone else. He almost didn't remember his family, it had been painful when Gran died... If something were to happen to Shion Nezumi wouldn't know what to do. It was truly like a nightmare. Or maybe it was time for him to wake up from this beautiful dream that Shion build for both of them, back to cruel reality.

Nezumi's eyes burned at such thought. He blinked nervously few times. Damn NO.6! No, he had to keep himself together. He was going to get to Shion. After finding him, Nezumi wanted them to move to somewhere safe while this damn "special" force was going to clear the aggressors away. Or maybe he and Shion simply evacuate thought the route he was using now...

When it all will have ended, he was going to beat up everyone in this damn city who was responsible for security. How did those fuckers even get weapons?

This was a matter to deal with later. For now, he had to focus.

"Shion, hang on." Nezumi whispered, running up the stairs.

For around half an hour Shion struggled to stay awake. He knew that if no one helped him he was going to die simply from blood loss. His mind was slipping away like someone had stolen all his strength from him. He didn't let himself panic. Special force was positioned not far away from the Moondrop. They should arrive at this floor soon. They weren't equipped with guns because other cities didn't let them keep any, but they were trained in close combat with cold steel and their armors were resistant to every known weapon the city had once had. It may be harder for them to win against armed enemies, but once at least two or three members of the special force got their hands on the enemy's weapons it would be over for their enemies. Everything would be alright. He had survived worse in Correctional Facility.

'But back then I could move.' The quiet voice in his head tried to destroy his attempt of staying calm.

Then Shion heard heavy steps far away in the corridor. Three pairs if he wasn't mistaken.

"This should be right floor. With luck we got them all. If not, you two know what to do. Once we make sure that there are no survivors we are going to announce our victory and take the city back."

There was some kind of nervousness mixed with crazy amusement in the voice Shion heard from the corridor.

And they were getting closer.

And surely it wasn't that special force Shion counted on.

He closed his eyes. Playing dead wasn't the bravest tactic but it could buy him some time if his enemies wouldn't start to shoot at corpses anyway.

"Gentlemen, look at this. This is the Restructual Committee. The ones who took from us what's rightfully ours. A group of dirty rats who thought they are better than elite."

The unpleasant voice got inside the room. Shion tried his best to calm down and take breaths as small as possible hoping that his enemy wouldn't look much at him. It was hard since the words of the unknown man made him furious. This was one of the people who probably killed his co-workers.

Three people took loud steps on the broken glass before they stopped and looked around the room.

"There are only twenty of them." The previous voice changed into an angry one.

"But, sir, we were told that they were all going to be here today."

"I don't care how it should be! Half of them aren't here!"

"Maybe they moved somewhere else?"

There was a muffed sound and Shion somehow could guess that owner of the unpleasant voice probably kicked one of his dead co-workers.

"Then go find them!"

"Yes, sir." With those words one person ran off the room, leaving his two companions with Shion.

"Twenty of them. Fuck, it's not even half of them... But wait..."

Both people began to move once more and Shion heard their steps growing louder.

"It may be not so bad, look what we have here. This damn mutant." The cheerful creepy laugher filled the room.

"With this head over our plate we may not even need to get them all."

Shion could feel their presence hovering over him.

"Who would have thought such garbage could take away our holy city. But in the end he met the end he deserved."

The unknown man leaned closer and kicked the metallic bar which stuck in Shion hip with full force. The white haired man couldn't hold his loud scream as his body shook in pain. His eyes snapped open and from his harsh move the lost the piece of glass made one more cut on his other leg.

His scream was filling the place in duet with another wave of laugher. The solder standing beside the middle-aged man pointed his gun towards Shion.

"Oh, he's still alive. This can be fun. Let see what the amazing President of NO.6 is going to do now that he's facing the real owners of the city."

Shion's body tried to get away from the torment, but every struggle created waves of pain. He tried to calm himself down despite all the suffering he felt and his mind searched of any possibility how make it out of such a situation alive.

"So, Mr. President... You are a perfect example of what this childish committee was, a piece of pathetic garbage."

"Why are you doing this?" Shion breathed out. This question sounded so silly. Like a line from the books which Nezumi laughed at and called cliché, but at this moment when Shion's body struggled with pain he couldn't think of anything better.

"Because it's our city, you damn brat. We let you play with it for a while and now we're taking back what's ours. Well, as for a little worm like you, you made it pretty annoying. But look." The man leaned to grab Shion's face and force him to look towards the corpses laying beside him.

"We defeated you all anyway. Now I'm going to make you pay for the trouble and humiliation we have gone through because of you and your useless comrades. Since you are still alive, I'm going to make the last moments of your life as unpleasant as possible."

He let go of Shion's face with a satisfied smirk.

"My people are killing your beloved workers. It was an interesting show to watch when all this crap from outside the city screamed in fear when we entered the Moondrop. And those guards... Well, they took out nine of us before we cleaned them away. But just like you all, they were horse-shit in the end."

The man leaned in once more to grab the metal bar and started to circle it in a slow mention, causing Shion to once again scream in pain. When the man let go of the bar the heavy glass attached to the table's leg jerked against the whole thing, making Shion feel like his muscles were being thorn away from his bones.

"You are not very talkative, Mr. President, but I can say, I like you better this way. When you scream like this."

Shion's face became wet as the tears flew from his eyes, mixing with drying blood. Shion couldn't understand. How could someone torture another human like this?

"Sto...p it...!" He screamed.

"See, how little you need, to make the mighty and wonderful Shion beg?" The man laughed happily to the soldier who still held his gun towards Shion.

"And we were afraid that such a dirty mutant would stop our plan. What a joke. Well, that scientist's kid really messed up by stealing one of our weapons a few months ago. The weapons we fixed together from pieces gathered in deepest parts of the city with so much trouble and pain. There was no way to create new ones so we had to be careful and wait for a good chance to get the city back. The bomb we found this year was the last piece we needed but then this kid who was a former elite tried to kill this mutated shit. In the end it was nothing to worry about! They were just a band of brainless trash."

"The current security department didn't even check the source of the weapon that the brat had, like they should. They bought the kid's silly story about finding the gun in his parent's house. Unbelievable." The other man laughed, too.

While two people seemed to make peaceful conversation above Shion's, body something like a painful groan sounded on the other side of room. Both men fell quiet for a moment. The groan repeated.

"Oh, looks like someone else is also alive."

"Good. Let's show Mr. President what's going to happen to him soon."

The solder went towards the window where Shion's female co-worker laid on the floor.

"No..." Shion cried and his vision once more blurred away, more than previously. He couldn't feel his leg any more and it looked like the puddle of his own blood had become significantly bigger.

"Don't." Shion moaned again, but no one listen to him. Soldier stopped beside the woman and in the next moment her head was covered with red blood.

"Don't worry, Mr. Shion, we have enough bullets saved for you. You should feel lucky, they were also very hard to find."

Shion wanted to howl. They wanted to kill him just like this. One shot in the head. The panic and horror seized his entire body and he barely held on to his consciousness. He wanted to run away, but he couldn't. No one was coming to save him. He's going to die. He wanted to scream for his mother, for Nezumi.

A loud cry shook his body.

He was going to brake his promises, Nezumi was going to be left alone. He didn't want this. He had just married Nezumi. They were going to go on their vacation soon. He wanted to see that lake where Nezumi married him once more. He wanted to taste his mom's warm pastry. He wanted to hug them both once more.

Shion tried to fight, to get up but it just caused the room fill with another wave of cruel laugher.

"Ne..zu...mi..." Shion called for help. He wanted to wake up. He wanted for Nezumi to save him from this nightmare.

He could already barely see that the man above him froze and leaned towards him with anger.

"What you did just call me, you little shit?"

The hit landed on his stomach first but its energy was reduced by his superfibre shirt. The man kicked his chest a few times but after Shion didn't look like the hits worked, he moved to Shion's face. After the third hit, the white-haired man's mind started to fade into black and his mouth filled with the strange taste of blood.

The next unbelievable pain chased away darkness for a few moments. Shion felt like his right hand was being cut away from rest of his body. His face now fully covered with tears. His scream was stifled by the blood he had in mouth.

The man above him stood on Shion's right upper arm, forcing the glass pieces to drive deeper into his flesh and there break into smaller ones.

When man moved away and Shion's scream died down the gun was already back above him. The red laser of the weapon was placed at Shion's dirty and bloody forehead.

"Kill him." It was the last words the cruel man said.

Shion wanted to make any sound, but he wasn't able to form a single one. He was going to die... This mind was slipping away into darkness as fast as his tears fell from his eyes.

After loud shooting sound, the darkness finally took him away.

Chapter Text

It was just a 11th floor. It sounded like nothing but for Nezumi stairs seemed to stretch out infinitely, not letting him reach his goal. With each passing step he thought it was lucky that this evacuation route wasn’t connected to every floor. He just passed the 7th level and no one had attacked him yet.

Maybe it wasn’t just simple luck. If assaulters knew that stairs weren’t connected to every floor then they may see the evacuation route more as a cage than a perfect path to overtake the building. Stairs were closed to the ones who didn’t have a passing card after the Special Forcehad blocked them from Moondrop’s main computer. It was simply too much trouble with too little benefits. Nezumi knew such dark corridor like this wasn’t the main objective of the ambush. Random people who worked inside Moondrop also weren’t the main target.

It was the Restructual Committee who they really wanted.

The Committee was the heart of NO.6, just like main computer inside Correctional Facility which Nezumi had destroyed five years ago had been. It was simple fact, you have to defeat the king if you want to win chess, killing other pawns may just add more satisfaction to your victory.

Right now, Shion was king, and Nezumi knew he couldn’t waste a second.

Beside getting access to Special Force’s communication channel and map, Nezumi got one small earphone. Thanks to it, he could hear the soldier’s conversations and he was updated on the current situation in other parts of the building. They weren’t nice news. The Special Force had only reached the 6th floor and they were fighting with aggressors there. When being cornered by the city’s force, attackers were using staff members as shields, letting the other ambushers run deeper into the building.

Nezumi gritted his teeth at sounds of shouts straight into his ear, quick harsh commands and rare noise of shooting weapons. This was crazy. Special Force had already disarmed around ten enemy units and three of them had been killed. The city’s soldiers got their hands on weapons they took away from ambushers and they had the clear advantage in situation, yet those damn idiots didn’t give up. They fired their last reserves of bullets trying to hurt and destroy as much as possible. Because of this, when Special Force took enemy’s weapons, they had almost nothing to shoot with.

It was ridiculous chaos.

How was it possible to be crazy enough to think this would have worked? That the aggressors would survive this attack and rule city? Did they think people were going to agree with something like this?

Even without some members of committee the established structures of city wouldn’t give up so easily. No.6 would try to stop and judge them. It wasn’t like five years ago when government was responsible for the deaths of city’s civilians and Shion was seen as someone who could help the situation.

Nezumi would laugh like crazy himself if he heard about plan like this from someone. This was more of a suicide mission than his and Shion’s sneak in into Correctional Facility. He would, but once again he heard scream when someone from Special Force took a risk and launched attack towards an enemy who was holding a hostage. The noise of firing and more screams caused Nezumi to bite his lower lip hard. He couldn’t stop thinking about Shion. He really knew that he should focus all his senses on his surroundings but the lack of any information about committee members only added fire to his imagination. He tried to push away fear from his mind with the slight pain of biting his own lip yet it didn’t help at all.

Not letting his lungs take a break after long run, Nezumi pushed himself towards doors with another control panel where he could input the pass card. The system flashed in green colors for a second. Nezumi hid behind the frame of doors while two wings of metal wall split, making him a way into Moondrop’s corridors. After fixing his cape, he would have to thank Karan for adding some buttons to it later, Nezumi grabbed the profiled haft of his knife, preparing himself for an attack.

The seconds passed slowly like never before, but Nezumi knew that too rushing might only get him killed which surely wouldn’t help Shion. After around half a minute of silence Nezumi entered the 11th floor. In the corner of his eye he noticed that most of doors leading to offices were closed and some places were dirty with blood. He went into one of open room just to confirm his biggest fear. There was a corpse laying on carpeted floor. Someone had not been fast or smart enough to run and hide. For Nezumi a precise answer for person’s death’s cause wasn’t that important.

‘They made it into 11th floor.” The dark haired man thought, with hitching breaths almost letting panic win over his mind.

Another scream filled his ear from the remote earphone. Nezumi raised his arm and he was about to throw the item away in an act of anxiety when he heard steps behind him. He turned around in the last moment, evading the incoming attack. The blade of a knife, big enough to look like small sword, swung thorugh the air, almost cutting Nezumi’s arm. The next, second he was hit with a gun’s barrel in the left side of his head. The world spun around and the long haired man’s vision blurred before he slashed his own knife towards the aggressor. Instead of getting up Nezumi let his body fall towards the floor in order to attack the enemy’s leg. Lucky his act wasn’t blocked by opponent. The edge of his weapon cut through the other man’s trousers spilling red blood onto the office desk nearby and on Nezumi himself. The noises of screaming embraced room’s space. The shouts from the lended earphone on the ground mixed with the painful cry of his enemy. In a moment of slight confusion Nezumi’s face was hit again by a desperate movement of the wounded opponent.

 

The metallic taste of the blood filled the silver eyed man’s mouth when he landed on the ground. The other man didn’t waste even a second and grabbed his gun. Nezumi’s hand tightened around knife as he tried to get up and run away from the barrel pointed towards his chest. He was too slow to fully avoid the shot but somehow he managed to roll enough so the bullet hit his shoulder which was under the super-fabric cape. After this last desperate attack the enemy’s leg gave in. Nezumi used that moment to fight back again, ignoring the dizziness before his eyes. Not like he had any other choice. He jumped towards the other man’s hand holding the gun, trying to take it for himself. During the following struggle another bullet was shot, this time into the ceiling, when Nezumi pushed armed man on the wall. It took only a moment for the enemy’s eyes to fill with fear when a knife flew towards his neck, stopping on his pulsating aorta.

The gun fell from the assaulter’s hand yet Nezumi didn’t reach for it. He knew it was a trick, a bait to make him lean down and get him killed. Instead Nezumi grabbed the opponent’s hand, which was still holding a knife, to eliminate any possibility of attack towards him. Without any guilty he kicked open the slash wound of his enemy with his knee, causing another scream, which filled the empty office. Not giving the man any chance, Nezumi hit him in the head as hard as he could with some kind of metallic award that laid on a shelf beside them. One hit was enough to make the assaulter fall on the ground.

Nezumi stood above his enemy for a moment, fighting now with his own ragged breath and pain. His hand was still clenched around the metallic item waiting for his opponent trying to get up. His hit wasn’t strong enough make any blood show up. Too bad, because sign of blood would let Nezumi to be sure that he knocked out his enemy for good. Anyway, the body of other man laid still without any sound. The long haired man kicked his opponent in order to make sure he was unconscious. There was always possibility that assaulter just deceived him with such acting. Everything was quiet and the only noise in the room was Nezumi’s own fast breathing.

“Shit! Fucking shit!” Nezumi hissed angry at himself. He shouldn’t be so weak! He had almost gotten killed by surprise attack!

The long haired male hid the knife back inside his pocket. He didn’t let go of the metallic statuette yet. Nezumi leaned to grab the gun from the floor while not letting his eyes wander off from the enemy. He pointed the weapon towards the motionless body. Shion wouldn’t want for him to kill another person, but this was the only way to be sure that this man wouldn’t attack anyone, even him, later. It was always safer to eliminate everything that could bring harm in the future. This was a reasonable choice to make yet Nezumi withdrew his stretched arm before leaning himself against wall. Having his back secured, Nezumi checked quickly insides of weapon to see how many bullets remained there. Only four. Better four than nothing. Hissing angry he leaned to take his opponent’s knife too before running into the corridor once more.

The stairs leading to the other floors weren’t too far away. He made a little stop behind a vending machine to check out if no one else was patrolling corridor. His heart almost stopped when he heard quiet muffed cry and some whispers. It took few moments for Nezumi to realize that he was hearing people who hid inside an office on the other side of wall. Someone people were still alive. This gave him small hope. Maybe Shion managed to free himself and hide as well.

No, he shouldn’t let his hope bloom. Chances for that to have happened were very low. Shion would have already contacted someone after finding a save place.

For a moment Nezumi wondered if he should call Special Force and report a the situation on the 11th floor. He gave up on that idea very quickly. He decided that he would gain nothing from such action. Thanks to conversations exchanged between soldiers Nezumi knew that city’s force was still struggling on the 7th floor. Still on the damn 7th floor!

Yet, Nezumi somehow could understood why they were moving so slow. From his previous fight he understood that their opponents weren’t simple amateurs. They clearly knew what they were doing. Knowing that made it even harder to believe that they had agreed to such a suicidal mission. Did they really hate the committee’s reign so much? How was that even possible when Shion even cared for every fly so long as it was inside the city.

Nezumi shook his head. He had to move. The screams from his fight had frightened the people who were hiding inside office, but they had already started to calm down over the time which Nezumi had spent waiting for another enemy to walk between him and stairs leading to 10th floor.

Not wanting to waste any more time, he rushed towards a crossing of corridors, stopping only for a brief moment for another checkout before entering the stairs.

He had been to the 10th floor a few times in the past while visiting Shion, but he had always arrived from the elevator’s side. Once he slipped his feet from the last stair the smell of explosion and dust hit his nose and throat. The long-haired man stretched his neck but it didn’t help him in figuring out where he was.

Before Nezumi could lean to check building’s map on ID unit, he heard a scream that froze the blood in his veins.

His legs started to move before his brain fully understood what he was hearing. The terrifying sound died almost too soon. Nezumi was still far away from it’s source. How loud must it have been for him, who was corridors away, to hear it?

He recognized that hated scream. After Shion almost left this world on his bed in the West Block Nezumi didn’t want to hear it ever again. Its sounds already pierced his heart painfully back when he wasn’t yet in love with Shion as much as he was right now. It was the last thing he would ever wish to hear. And yet, now he prayed for one more scream so he could find the conference room. While letting out loud, shaky curses Nezumi struggled through the never-ending corridors.

It wasn’t rational, to run like crazy when he had access to the building’s map on his wrist. Yet, he closed his fingers more firmly around the taken gun, his other hand reached towards the knife in his pocket and his thoughts didn’t let his legs stop running.

His helpless mind ran fast, fighting between the idea of stopping and checking map and keeping going until he saw a familiar picture hanging on a passing wall. Finally he knew where he was but that didn’t take any less worry from his heart. No, he still felt like he would pass out from lack of air and overwhelming fear.

Nezumi passed another crossing before he finally saw a corridor with rubble made by an explosion.

What happened next was like twisted dream. The crushed stones, glass and other materials slipped under his feet as he entered through the hole in wall where previously a modern-looking door had stood. He barely noticed anything else beside red light that was pointed down on something between a mass of glass, metal, stone and small flash of white hair between all this mess, lying bodies and splashed blood.

Just not like him to act without second thought, Nezumi shot towards the outstretched arm of an armed man. He knew he should save the limited bullets he had yet he didn’t do so. His mind was like a blank paper page when a shot flashed out and ended just like Nezumi had wished; inside the enemy’s upper arm.

The wounded enemy shot another two bullets around the room before his gun flew from his hand. The man shrunk down in pain, holding his bleeding arm while his companion looked at the whole scene with big shocked eyes. Nezumi didn’t wait for such chance to pass. He charged at the wounded man in order to take him down since the other assaulter looked unarmed. Such assumption could easily change into his biggest mistake but the long-haired man didn’t have time to rethink his action. Before his opponents understood what was going on, the sharp knife which Nezumi had taken from the enemy on the 11th floor, dove into the leg of the shot man. In between screams of both frightened assaulters Nezumi raised some piece of fallen shelf and hit the enemy’s head as hard as he could, knocking him out.

The second man stepped back, leaning towards the wall, looking at Nezumi with terror in his eyes and searching for an escape route as he watched his companion fall down, joining another body lying on floor. Nezumi made one steep move towards his remaining enemy preparing himself for the next attack. Yet, the following moments didn’t go as Nezumi imagined. The other man only started to scream and curled beside the broken wall instead of fighting back.

Just then the rest of surrounding reality hit Nezumi. Once he wasn’t in danger he started to notice the people’s bodies lying inside the room on the floor. His shaky hand closed harder around the gun like it was the only stable pillar on the ending world. Somehow he was afraid to lay his gaze on the floor. He knew that flash of the white hair he saw while entering the room wasn’t his imagination. Assaulters were pointing their weapon at Shion before.

Nezumi turned slowly around and he wanted to call his husband’s name but that one important sound didn’t want to leave his lips. When he finally moved his eyes towards the floor his legs almost gave up under him. Shion laid between glass and pools of blood, dirty from the explosion. His crimson eyes were closed and as if to make up for lack of such special color in Shion’s features the other vast part of his body was covered with red. His face, hands, arms and legs were cut here and there by remains of the explosion. His left leg looked like meat on a skewer.

This must have been a nightmare. Nezumi tried to scream, hoping that would wake him up. Yet, no scream, not even a whisper left his mouth and the nightmare continued.

„Shion" Nezumi somehow forced his husband’s name through his throat. There was no answer. It must have been another bad dream like many before. The ones that would leave him breathless, wet from his own sweat and fear. Shion would say some sappy words while making relaxing circles on his back. Yes, he needed to wake up and everything would to be back to normal.

No, this was reality. Nezumi’s chest already tried to explode from a mix of grief and terror at Shion’s motionless and silent image.

'It can’t be possible. This can’t be happening again. This time it was supposed to be different.’ The thoughts flashed through Nezumi’s mind unhalted.

He was about to check on Shion when with the corner of his eye Nezumi saw the second ambusher jumping towards the gun laying on the ground. In the rush of adrenaline Nezumi took his own knife and pierced the enemy’s hand to the wooden floor before it reached for a weapon.

The man shouted in agony, clearly not used to such pain. He tried to free his wounded hand but Nezumi took a big piece of broken glass and used it as a second knife. Nezumi’s own hand was hurt by the sharp it’s edges but he didn’t care. Once both hands of his enemy were pierced to the wooden floor he wanted nothing more but to bring to the other man even more pain. He wanted for him to look just like Shion. He picked the gun back up and pointed it towards the convulsing enemy. He wanted to shoot him, but something in his soul once again told him to stop. Something was telling him this was not the time. That maybe Shion was still alive and right now Nezumi was wasting valuable seconds.

Nezumi looked at the screaming enemy with pure disgust and ran back towards Shion. He leaned down beside the white-haired man not noticing that he accidentally cut one of his knees.

Afraid of what he was going to find, Nezumi moved piece of glass before Shion’s lips, at the same time checkinghis husband’s neck for a pulse.

„Shut the fuck up!“ He roared annoyed by the enemy’s endless screaming and whimpering when he was trying his best to feel Shion’s pulse with his fingers. The light of hope started to burned in his heart when the found out that Shion’s skin was still warm. Still, Nezumi knew it could also be a cruel joke played by fate to show him how little separated him from saving the most important person in his life. When glass clouded with Shion’s breath Nezumi couldn’t hold back. He shook his husband’s shoulders enough to not hurt him.

„Shion, Shion. You have to wake up!” He shouted, trying to be louder than screaming enemy. For a moment nothing happened and Nezumi decided to focus on finding a way to move Shion. The bar piercing the white-haired man’s leg was the biggest nuisance. He knew that he shouldn’t try to pull it out. After preparing one of the guns to lay beside them in case of attack Nezumi started to take off his belt and wrapping it above Shion’s leg wound. He had almost finished when a weak moan escaped from the younger man.

„Shion!“ The dark haired male once more leaned above his husband’s face. He wanted to thank all possible gods when the crimson eyes opened slightly.

„N…” The other man tried to whisper after his consciousness noticed what was going on.

„Shhh… Don’t talk. Save your strength on staying conscious. Do you hear me? You need to stay with me. I’m going to get you out of here. Don’t die on me, I won’t forgive you if you do that.“ Nezumi said softly, feeling his eyes sting. Shion couldn’t die in a place like this. Nezumi didn’t know what he would do if Shion had woken up only to say some kind of goodbye to him. The red eyes looked at him so sad and tired that Nezumi almost couldn’t stand it.

„Do you hear me!? I going to get you home so don’t dare to give up!”

At the sign of tears gathering in Shion’s eyes Nezumi started to move again. He quickly warped belt around Shion’s leg.

„I’m going to crash the glass from table. It might hurt, but bear it and stay with me.“ Nezumi explained and started to cover Shion with his super-fiber coat. He took gun into his one hand and the other placed on metal bar in order to steady it. Then he began to smash it until all glass fell away.

Even with his try to not move the metal part Shion let out painful cries before Nezumi finished his task finally.

The older boy didn’t have time to feel guilty. After shaking away fallen pieces of glass from the super-fiber coat, Nezumi turned on his ID unit. While waiting for the Captain of Special Force to answer he leaned towards some fallen member of committee, taking his belt too. In that moment he didn’t care if person he robbed was alive or not. There was nothing else inside the room that he could use as band. Shion’s upper arm looked more like cutlet before cooking than anything else. Nezumi tried to cut off thr flow of blood above the awful wound there too. Such action wasn’t fully safe but the dark haired male rather decided to take a risk instead letting Shion bleed out.

At least the opponent which Nezumi priced to the floor had stopped screaming. Silence was like the breath of fresh air. Not to mention that the dark-haired male still kept most of his focus at the hole where doors once were. He wasn’t sure if this floor was save after taking down those two people or not. He and Shion could be easily attacked again at any moment.

"H… h…rts…” The white haired boy moaned, his eyes were kind of glassy and almost absent, bringing Nezumi’s attention back. He looked at the other man’s face, devastated, covered in blood and swollen like something hit it very hard. Nezumi didn’t want to think about Shion’s appearance. It only lead to unstoppable anger towards the ones who had done such things to Shion and there was no time for that.

„I know it hurts… Just a little longer.“ Nezumi answered with a soft, broken voice, feeling salt on his lips. Before he let himself notice that he was crying the ID unit connected him to the chief of Special Force.

„Civil unit, I’m listening to you.”

„Enemy was already on 11th and 10th floor. I managed to put down three assaulters and get to President. His state is critical. He needs medical care as soon as possible.“

„We can’t send medical units there. We only managed to secure 8th floor for now. You need to wait.”

„He can’t wait! He lost too much blood. I’m going to evacuate him by myself if I have to. I’m asking for the elevator. I know you turned it off.“

There was a silent pause in conversation. Nezumi felt anger boiling up inside him. They didn’t have time to get back through the same route he had used. Not mention that his ability to fight would immensely decease while caring Shion. There was only one way to get out safely and fast; the elevator.

„Turn on your camera and show us the situation.”

Nezumi groaned angrily but he did as he was asked. Well, he could understand the Special Force’s captain. The man wanted to make sure if Nezumi was telling the truth and his request wasn’t some kind of trap.

Nezumi raised his ID unit and moved it scanning the room. He rather wished to not show Shion in such state but it was only way to make elevator move again.

„The medical team is going to wait for you on the first floor. Keep your connection open, once you get to the elevator doors we going to turn it on for one minute. Is any other member of committee conscious?“

„I don’t think so.” Nezumi answered fast. Not like he cared about anyone beside Shion in that moment. He wasn’t able to carry on more than one person at the time so it didn’t matter if they were alive or not.

After considering for a few seconds, Nezumi quickly took away another belt from lying men. If situation was any different he would laugh at how much his skill at taking another man’s belt off fastly had increased during the year. But the current situation wasn’t happy enough to let such thought arise. He needed something to wrap Shion’s hand after putting him on his back. Carefully he placed Shion’s arms on his shoulders and moved other man’s body to a sitting position. Shion’s body, like water, tried to fall down on the floor with loud painful moan.

„I’m sorry.“ Nezumi whispered. God, how many times in the past had he told Shion to not apologize? That the white-haired boy said those words only to make himself feel better. Once more Nezumi felt like the biggest hypocrite on the world. Those two words couldn’t take away any pain from Shion. They didn’t make things any easier to bear for the crimson-eyed man.

Nezumi leaned Shion on his back fully, wrapped both of his husband’s hands so he wouldn’t fall in case of an attack, covered them both with super-fiber coat and rose, placing his own hands under Shion’s knees. The metallic bar raised up, still stuck inside Shion’s leg. The white-haired male cried once more into Nezumi’s shoulder from the sharp pain before falling silent.

„Shion?”

There was no answer this time. Not even the smallest moan.

The panic almost overtook Nezumi again. Shion had probably passed out. There was no time to waste and yet Nezumi wished for a few more seconds in order to check if his husband was still breathing. Hunched, with one hand around the gun and the other under Shion’s wounded leg, Nezumi began to leave the room.

“Damn, fucking mutant, die, you and your fucking soldiers.” Nezumi picked up from the second assaulter’s pained breathing. Nezumi’s hand on the weapon clenched harder. He really wanted to shoot hat man, at least in the leg so he surely wouldn’t run. Because Nezumi hoped that the Special Force would catch everyone who prepared that day’s ambush and no matter if Shion survive or not, Nezumi was going to make their lifes worse than hell.

Nezumi was being torn apart by anger and terror. Every step he took on the dusted corridor felt like the floor was about to crumble away from under his feet. Shion was laying motionless on his back and from time to time, some of his blood would drip down on Nezumi and his clothing. The long haired man’s backside was starting to become wet and the reason for that wasn’t his own sweat. He didn’t want to let his mind figure out the reason behind all this wetness. He pretended that he didn’t see the arms of his husband before his face, wrapped in belts and covered in red.

'Maybe Shion is already dead? Maybe I’m carrying a lifeless corpse.’ The dark thoughts clouded his mind. He couldn’t feel Shion’s chest rising to take in precious air. His breath didn’t ghost Nezumi’s neck. He tried to move slowly in order to not hurt Shion more. Maybe he should hurry up? Maybe it didn’t matter anymore if he moved faster?

Elevator. Elevator. Elevator.

This was the only thing he let himself think about while ignoring tears falling from his eyes.

Nezumi turned into the corridor that ended with the elevator. There was only one crossroad ahead. He moved past it and he was about to call through his ID unit Special Force’s Captain when he heard two or three pairs of fast running steeps. He quickly moved around. He and Shion were almost covered under tent of super-fiber material but Nezumi anyway pulled himself between source of incoming steeps and his husband.

„Request for an elevator. Repeat. Request for an elevator to evacuate President of No.6.“ Nezumi said short and clear as it was possible to his ID unit.

„Elevator is going to be operative in 20-30 seconds.” Nezumi heard the answer but still he gritted his teeth in frustration. The sound of steeps was getting louder yet the door behind them stayed closed.

'Faster, faster for fucking sake!’ Nezumi thought holding the loaded gun in hid outstretched arm. The assaulters were faster. Two armed men emerged from the corridor’s crossroads straight at them. The one of them was the man which Nezumi knocked out on 11th floor. The second man started to shoot towards them and Nezumi didn’t hold back and fired from the stolen gun. It only mattered to repel the attack until elevator doors would open. Not like his and Shion’s position was any good. Well, you could even call it the worst of possible since their only shield was super-fiber coat. Two of the enemy’s bullets missed, three were reflected by the protecting material but one scratched Nezumi’s leg. The long-haired man tried not let his instinct win and lean his back over the elevator door. It could be dangerous move for his husband’s body.

After three shots from one gun and five from another Nezumi was out of bullets. Assaulters noticed this right away and moved to trying to attack Nezumi in closer combat with full speed. It was then that the doors of elevator finally opened with a loud ding. The silver eyed boy had no other choice but to turn away from opponents in order to get inside elevator’s cabin. Just then super-fiber cape was jerked back by the hands of their enemy who was trying to drag Shion and Nezumi straight into his sharp knife. With his only free hand Nezumi threw the gun into the opponent’s face and attempted to push another man away from the cabin as much as it was possible with Shion on his back.

He wasn’t even sure which number on the control panel his hand hit. All that mattered was that the doors closed and separated them from danger. The first man tossed a sharp knife into cabin in his last chance before elevator’s gate closed. Looking at the cold blade Nezumi thanked heaven that it wasn’t a grenade or likewise or else they would be dead.

Nezumi barely could catch his breath. It took him one good moment to finally look at elevator’s control panel. Thankfully it was 3rd floor. Any floor that was secured by Special Force was his promised land. During his fight Nezumi lost somewhere earphone he was given. Well, maybe it didn’t matter anymore.

Nezumi’s legs started to almost give in under the stress, Shion’s body and bullet’s wound he recently got. Instead of thinking that Shion hadn’t moved or even slightly groaned during whole fight Nezu