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(you are) (like a maelstrom)

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Maybe it’s the color of his hazel-hazel-hazel eyes.

Hazel isn’t a color Kamui had seen often in Nohr. She has seen her share of the light and brilliant shades that the people of Hoshido seem to love - ever present in the ball gowns of Nohrian royal parties or the brilliant flowers of Camilla’s garden - but she can safely say that hazel (so intense and so striking and almost golden when she stares at it too long) isn’t a color that she’s too familiar with.

The hazel eyes blink at her. The curve of his eyelashes is elegant, mesmerizing almost. She shakes the thought away.

That’s her little brother.

Takumi’s hazel eyes blink at her, and she can’t look away, even when he stares (and stares and stares).

“Is something wrong?” he asks. Teasing. Amused.

A newly repaired relationship would her adopted brother is still something she is getting used to. They tiptoe, like a dance, and it’s as exhilarating as it is difficult. The mesmerizing hazel of his eyes doesn’t help, not when she wants to get lost in the color and watch them be directed at her (only her, all the time).

The bridge between them is like this: it is a tightrope. He’s on one side, spindly arms outstretched and trying not to fall.

(He stumbles sometimes, when he teaches her how to use a bow and breathes his instructions into the shell of her ear. When she’s on the receiving end of a cut to the arm, and that attacker is found with an arrow lodged so terrifyingly perfectly in his heart. When he stares at her with this intense and unreadable look in his eyes and she’s breathless. Breathless. He stumbles like this and she can’t breathe past the aching, racing, throbbing of her traitorous heart.)

Kamui is on the other side of the tightrope. Her arms stretch to her side like wings, and she wants to fall off if it means the earth will swallow her up, in browns and ochres (and hazel). It is with that thought that she knows the word brother will sit in her like poison, seeping into her tongue and into her blood until it ruins her.

He ruins her.

“No, Little Brother. There’s nothing wrong.” She tells him her perfect lie through a perfect smile. He raises a skeptical eyebrow, scrutinizing her. The only other places she can look besides his eyes are his cheeks (high cheekbones, elegantly shaped), his nose (thin and regal, like the prince he is), and his lips. Her mouth feels dry at the thought, but that doesn’t stop the breath stealing urge to trace the delicate dip between his lips with her tongue.

“Then don’t stare so much. It’s weird.”

“You’re weird.”

He laughs. It’s a mixture between a scoff and genuine amusement, and he rolls his eyes at her fondly. Takumi shakes his head as he walks away. She finds her breath easily once he leaves, but she already misses his hazel eyes on her.

He was never one for magic, but the scent of the centuries-old kind that envelops her like a greedy fog makes him wishes he was.

Takumi wants to be able to quantify the richness of the air that surrounds her in words, the one that makes him dizzier than he’s ever felt before. He wants to say more than oh, it’s the manakete blood in her veins, and say something like: it strikes him both like an arrow to the chest and a blow to the head, makes him so disoriented that he can’t breathe right and can’t see right, except for crimson and the scent of magic.

He can’t explain magic unless it is in terms of what it does to him, just like he can’t explain her unless it's in terms of what she does to him. She can be a fire tome, fingers like red hot brands every time she touches him. Wind, stealing the air right from his lungs. Thunder, like the shock that jolts up his spine when she looks at him with her unreadable look, the one that makes his mouth dry. He tears his eyes away from her when she does that and takes a long drink from his glass.

(It doesn’t help.)

(He only really wants to drink her.)

Kamui sits across from him during dinner sometimes. Those nights are just a lot of: dizziness. Blurriness. He’s never been drunk before, but he imagines the feeling to be just like the one that beats down on him whenever she is near — only not as fulfilling, and nowhere near as sweet.

She sits across from him now, happily eating her dessert, and he barely touches his food.

“Are you not hungry, Little Brother?” she asks in amusement, crimson eyes twinkling. Little Brother. He swallows thickly. Takes a long, measured sip from his water before he responds.

“I suppose not,” he lies sincerely. The stomach twisting urge to tangle his fingers in her hair, to push her against the wall and devour her isn’t hunger. Not the kind she is talking about.

“That isn’t a no, is it?” she teases. “Eat up. We have a battle tomorrow.”

He smirks. “Is that an order, Big Sister?” Teasing eyes on her, and she pouts childishly. They feel the same age sometimes, and it’s times like these that he feels the least guilty for imagining his fingers in her hair and her teeth on his tongue. (The harsh reality that quickly follows is ice water, necessary but painful all the same. He knows he has a problem.)

“Just eat,” she tells him simply, returning to her own food.

Kamui chews thoughtfully on her red bean cake, and Takumi wonders what it might taste like on her lips as he pokes at his own. Sweet, probably. Her eyes glance up at him briefly, concern in their crimson irises. He only sees the delicate curve of her neck as she swallows, and licks his lips.

There is something sinful in the way rain clings to his hair. Face. Eyelashes. Neck.

Kamui watches in half conscious amazement, a cloudy sense of want fogging over the rest of her mind. Behind every blink, she can see the water running down that slender curve of his throat, and wants to lick her lips just like she wants to lick the water off his skin. She settles for the first, tasting the rainwater on her own lips. (It tastes just like the rainwater on his skin, she reasons to herself. The thought triggers a dull ache in her lower abdomen. She presses her legs together.)

Takumi scowls at her, shaking water from his hair.

“Why are you just standing here?” he asks incredulously. Water trails down his eyebrow, following the smooth line of his nose. He grabs her hand (he feels like fire, and she can’t feel the water soaking through her clothes past the searing warmth of his skin on hers) and starts dragging her to the nearest form of shelter. “Let’s get out of this rain!”

Some fumbling footsteps and a set of thoroughly drenched clothes later, they have taken refuge in Kamui’s tree house. (It doesn’t hit her that they are alone in a room together until too late.) As soon as they are through the door, Takumi lets go of her hand and collapses into a nearby chair. His clothes soak through to the cushions, but Kamui is too busy trying to process the new coldness surrounding her hand to berate him.

“I’m soaked,” the grey haired boy complains. Kamui looks over at him. He is indeed soaked. Rain water still beads over his face and hair. In the lantern light that spills over her room, the water shines like fire opals. Mesmerizing and dangerously enticing.

“You also look terrible, by the way,” he snorts, pulling himself out of the chair. Solid footsteps sound as he approaches her, leaning over to pick up a strand of her rain-raggled hair. Kamui’s pulse jumps into her throat, and she stares, wide eyed, straight ahead. Stubborn raindrops cling to the line of his jaw, and she holds her breath and counts.

One. “We’ll dry up,” she says smally. Shakily. She hopes he passes it off as a result of the cold.

Two. He arches an eyebrow at her. “You sound cold, Sister.” Searing fingers press against her forehead, and she gasps, stumbling back against the door as her knees become weak.

Three. He follows her fall, trying to catch her with a hand at her forearm, but only ends up with his hands by her shoulders, palms pressed against the door. His feet plant themselves on either side of hers, caging her in. He towers over her leaning form, and all she can see is the rainwater that still sticks to his neck, beading and falling so tantalizingly slow.

“S-sorry,” she hears Takumi stutter. His voice sounds far away, and she barely registers it. It feels like tunnel vision. She reaches her hand out and brushes fingertips against the swell of his throat, catching a drop of water as it falls down. Takumi gasps, backpedaling so fast that he falls onto his back. Her eyes widen as she realizes what she did.

“I’m taking a walk,” she blurts, turning on one heel and speeding out the door.

It’s still raining outside.

(She stands on her porch and lets the water soak into her clothes, hair, skin, bones. The cold sensation doesn’t erase the burning feeling of his skin under her fingertips.)

She catches him in the middle of the sparring yard. The sun beats down on them both, so unbearably hot that the yard is empty. Everyone is using this unnaturally hot day off to do better things.

“Spar with me,” she says. (Sparring is not one of those better things.)

“It’s hot,” he tells her. He is wearing leggings and a loose fitting tunic in face of the heat. Kamui is also out of her armor, in a similar tunic and leggings. (Except her tunic is not loose. It clings to her hips and hugs the swell of her breasts.) He stares only a little.

Takumi also wishes there were sleeves on her clothing, so he wouldn’t have to worry about his eyes tracing the slender definition of her arms or memorizing the constellations of light freckles that scatter themselves over her porcelain skin. (But he doesn’t wish that at all, because she is resplendent in even just her tunic, the true prowess of her sword wielding skills shown in the muscles that curve under the skin of her arms.)

“Spar with me.” she repeats, unimpressed by his excuse.

“I’ve had more sparring practice than you,” he continues. “What makes you think you’d stand a chance?”

“Are you willing to prove it then?” she presses, stepping closer. The scent of magic tickles his nose.


Crimson eyes flash. Takumi almost doesn’t step back fast enough when she twirls around, spinning into a perfect hook kick toward his head. Her foot catches his bangs as he steps back, and Kamui falls back into a battle ready stance, arms raised. Dust dances around her, like a maelstrom and her eyes fix him with a challenging gaze.

“Are you sure you stand a chance?” she asks him, sly smirk pulling up at her own lips. His traitorous heart skips a beat at the sight, and he isn’t sure if it’s for his attacked pride or his spiking heartbeat that he raises his own fists, poising to defend.

“Don’t be too upset when you lose,” he warns. With an almost invisible speed, he spins, aiming a back kick to her chest. Kamui is fast, dropping below his kick, catching him mid-recovery with her arm behind the crook of his knee. It’s times like this that he marvels at the raw power in her arms, wonders if picking up a sword himself would allow him an ounce of the same strength.

Takumi is pulled back by her grip, and as she winds her fingers into the collar of his tunic, he knows he is done. She flips him with an easy grace that makes him feel like he is flying. Then his back collides with the ground. A firm foot plants itself on his chest. Two rows of (perfect, pearlescent, kissable) sharp teeth grin down at him.

“You’re too easy when you get cocky.”

He wraps his hands around her ankle, throwing her off balance and jumping into a crouching position. He sweeps her to the ground, pins her. Her arms may be powerful, but he’s naturally stronger than her.

“So are you,” Takumi breathes. His breath rustles her bangs. They’re close, almost unbearably so.

(He sees the sweat beading down the elegant curve of her throat and wants to taste it.)

She glares up at him.

(He doesn’t, but swipes it away with the pad of his finger. Kamui’s breath catches.)

Dust swirls around him like a maelstrom. He leaves with a racing heart and spinning head.

She pulls him up to her tree house by the fingertips, brushing against his palms every so often as she turns around to beckon him faster. He rolls his mesmerizingly hazel eyes at her. She grins back.

“Inviting people to your tree house all the time like this is weird, you know,” he deadpans. She pushes her door open, tugs him in.

“You only say that when I invite other people,” she shoots back, collapsing into her downy bed. He leans against the footboard. She can see the smirk that threatens to pull up at his cheeks, sees the way his lips twitch.

“I just said it now.” He sniffs at her, turning his face away.

“But you’re smiling.” She giggles softly, tugging at his fur wrap. He turns his head to glare at her. (It’s half hearted at best. The way his lips threaten to twitch and stretch into a smile makes her stomach do the oddest flips and jumps. She loves it when he smiles. Even more when it’s for her.)

Leaning up into a sitting position, she nimbly grabs his wrist, pulls him face forward into her plush sheets. The sheets poof around him, sending her into another flurry of light laughs. He turns onto his side to narrow his eyes at her, but the smile is there. (It’s stunning.)

(She wants to trace the smooth curve of his mouth. With her fingers. With her lips. With her tongue.)

Her hand reaches out almost unconsciously, catching the corner of his smile under her thumb. His breath hitches. She traces the swell of his bottom lip, grazes her fingernail over the soft divot of his upper lip. Takumi's skin is soft and she wonders: does he tastes like the apples they ate during lunch? They were tangy-sweet and crisp.

(Kamui licks her lips in anticipation. Hunger. His hazel eyes stare further than her eyes, and she can feel him in her head, making her dizzy. Anxious.)

She presses her hand over his lips. His eyes stare holes into her skull. Her own eyes drift shut and she kisses the bony ridges of her fingers. (He is all she can smell, the scent of pine trees. Pine trees and bow polish. Kamui wants to drown in it.)

When crimson eyes flutter open, hazel ones are closed. She holds either side of his face, following the angle of his jaw under her thumbs.  Her heart is racing and running and skyrocketing, and she loves it.

“You should smile more,” she mutters, tugging the corners of his slack mouth into an upward curve. He doesn’t respond, but leans into her touch. Her breath leaves her.

“Is that an order, Big Sister?” he mumbles sleepily, leaning his cheek into her hand. His eyes are still closed. She watches him like a mortal watches a miracle. (He is a miracle. His eyes are autumn before winter rains down on it, and his hair is the color of the snow clouds that blow away in the presence of spring.)

“I love it when you smile,” she breathes.  The smallest of smiles pulls at his lips. They fall asleep with their faces inches apart.

Autumn arrives in a series of crisp winds and the smell of cold. Kamui shivers in the cool, midnight breeze, her summer tunic doing nothing to shield her from the fall chill. Somewhere between the overbearingly warm nights, the graveyard shift has become progressively colder.

He throws his fur wrap at her, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. (It doesn’t work; he rolls his eyes despite himself.)

“What’s this for?” she asks, bundling the fabric in her hands and stroking the soft material. He stares at her fingers.

“You’re cold.”

“Aren’t you?”

“Not like you are.”

She pauses. Throws the wrap over her shoulders, tying it around her neck like a cape. “Thank you,” she tells him smally. Takumi crosses his arms, rubbing at his bare skin and trying to look nonchalant.

“Anything for you, Big Sister.” The term of endearment is automatic. (Just like the twist of his stomach that follows it.)

They walk around the camp in silence.

“Do you mean that, Little Brother?” she eventually asks. (Another term of endearment. Another knife to the stomach.) Her crimson eyes are trained forward, but he still stops in his tracks. Somehow, she knows just when to stop: a step ahead of him.

“Mean what?” he echoes, brows furrowing. He wants to reach out to her, but she feels so far away, even when she’s just feet away. She feels like she could turn to air if he so much as brushes her shoulder. She feels like a ghost. “Of course I’d do anything for you.”

“No,” she mutters, almost to herself. A sigh pushes past her lips, and she lifts her head up to look at the sky. Just like every autumn, the water serpent begins to poke its head up from the east, only to head westward as the season passes. “Do you mean it when you say Big Sister?”

His heart drops to his stomach. His blood runs cold. Kamui turns around to face him, her fingers fiddling with the tie of his fur wrap around her neck. She pulls it loose, letting the material evanesce off her shoulders like morning dew off of cherry tree leaves. In the light of the moon, her porcelain skin almost glows.

(She could be made of moonlight and have hailed from the sky, and he wouldn’t be surprised at all.)

Kamui looks at him expectantly, crimson eyes never leaving his as she throws the fur wrap over his own shoulders, fingers brushing against his collarbone as she carefully ties the strings off. His skin burns where she touches it. When she smooths down the fabric over him, pressing away the wrinkles and folds, her hands linger. They are heavy on his shoulders.

“Do you mean it when you say Little Brother?” he asks, just as breathily, just as quiet as her. Her crimson irises quiver. She ghosts fingers against the exposed skin of his neck, making him shiver, before turning away. (He almost follows her touch, almost leans into her and winds his arms around her, pressing her back against his chest.)

(The only thing that stops him is her sigh, heavy like the weight of her hands on his shoulders.)

“That’s the question, isn’t it?” she laughs hollowly. With a deep breath, she shakes whatever thoughts she has from her head, then dutifully marches forward. Kamui doesn’t look back once, and Takumi feels something in him twist.

His hand finds her wrist before his mind tells it not too, and he tugs her backward, pressing her close to his chest with his arms around her torso. She’s stiff, but he can feel her heart racing. (Or maybe it’s his own heart.)

“And what if I answer no?” he mutters. Breathes in the scent of magic that permeates her very presence. His eyes drift shut, and he presses his cold lips against the warm skin under her ear. She shivers. “What would you answer then, Kamui?”

Kamui swallows thickly.

I wouldn’t,” she exhales, breathless and soft. It sends shivers down his spine.

Crimson eyes stare into hazel.

Kamui takes a long sip of her wine, eyes never leaving his. The wine is Nohrian, something she had bargained endlessly and aggressively for, and leagues better than the rice wine that Hoshido boasts. When she licks the residual sweet liquid off her lips, she sees Takumi’s jaw twitch. (Her heart skips a beat when it does.)

(It can’t be one sided, she tells herself. He licks his own lips and her head spins. It can’t be one sided.)

“Is there a reason you’re still here?” she asks. They’re in the dining tent. The only ones in the dining tent. She is here because she wants to finish her food. He is done.

“Why does it matter?”

“It just does,” she repartees. “I’m not going to share my wine with you.”

“Who said I was here for that? Maybe I find the campfire too crowded or the camp too loud.”

“You have a tent,” she points out.

“There’s no one else here,” he points out.

“You have your own tent.” She rolls her eyes, taking another sip of her wine.

“You’re not there.”

“Of course I’m n— wait, what?”

Her heart has started beating wildly, erratically, and she regards him with wide eyes. His response is that of irritatingly impassive eyes. (They’re exquisite even then, an earthy, all-consuming hazel.) In one fluid motion, he leans across the table, plucks the wine glass out of her fingers. She is too late in reaching her arm out to stop him from downing the last sip of the violet liquid.

Takumi licks his lips similarly to how she had, eyes never leaving hers, and she feels something hot trickle down her spine. He leans on the table with his elbows, regarding her calmly.

“Better than our wine,” he notes, setting the glass down beside him. She doesn’t see the teasing twinkle in his hazel eyes. (Her gaze is trained on his mouth, licking her suddenly dry lips. The blood rushing in her ears and the incessant heartbeat in her head makes her dizzy.)

He doesn’t get to continue his musings any longer, not when her fingers are twisted into the neckline of his tunic, when her mouth is slammed his and she is running her tongue across the seam of his lips, stealing the residual taste of wine from his very breath.

(She’s reeling, spinning; so dizzy that she’s surprised she’s still upright.)

(He anchors her with: his hands, cradling her face like she could disappear at any moment; his fingers, tapping and rapping staccato symphonies that fill the quick spaces between her racing heartbeats; his breath, sighed into her mouth and against her lips when they pause for air, only to plunge back in again.)

The way her melts against her, leaning into her touch and tilting his head to better meet hers, is like a wax candle to a flame. But she also feels like she’s on fire, like her every nerve ending is set aflame by the sensation of his fingers ghosting along her jaw and finding purchase in her hair, pulling, tugging, carding.

When Kamui pulls back, her vision is still hazy with hazel eyes and desire, and she lets her hands linger, lets them chart the hills of his collarbone and the valleys of his lips. He gazes at her with half lidded eyes. (It’s adorable. He’s adorable.)

“If I go to my tent, will you be there?” Takumi asks distractedly, fingers busy playing with an errant strand of her hair. His eyes drift shut and he presses the strand against his lips. The picture of contentment. It makes her heart stutter.

Kamui doesn’t answer him, just moves her hands to either side of his head, gently ghosting her nails along his scalp as she pulls him toward her. She places a chaste kiss against his brow, and then leans back into her seat. When his hazel eyes flutter open, they are greeted with her small smile, a single index finger pressed against her lips.

They are barely past the door of her tree house before he is throwing her up against it, fingers winding themselves restlessly into her hair and the sound of his bow and her sword being thrown haphazardly to the side. Their lips meet like fire and gunpowder, and he feels his mind go into momentary over drive before it fades away to a comfortable, hazy buzz. Kamui gasps when he teethes at her bottom lip, and her slender fingers flitter up to his head, playing with the bands that tie up his hair.

She tugs away the ties expertly, and the feeling of her fingers threading through his hair is divine. Slender digits bunch up his hair, pulling his head back so she can access his neck, planting greedy, open mouthed kisses against it. She likes using her tongue, he has realized, shuddering as swipes the aforementioned muscle against his throat. The shudder trickles down his spine, a hot, shiver-inducing sensation that swirls in his lower abdomen.

(While she is all lips and tongue, kisses down the span of his throat and chest, he is teeth and fingers. Fingers in her hair, tapping at the bare skin of her hips beneath her tunic. Teeth nipping at her lips, at the skin over her collarbones.)

(She would respond to his teasing bites with lips along his jaw, tongue brushing against the shell of his ear in a way that makes a low, shuddering moan his only possible reaction.)

Her mouth reaches the top of his collar, where fabric covers the span of his chest and collarbone, and she releases one hand from his hair to begin pulling at buckles and sashes, skillfully tugging his armor away. Every dull thunk of another article hitting the floor is music to his ears, and he quickly begins copying her. (She’s always in the lead, somehow: first born, first to kiss the other, first to pull away the buckles and ties that hold up the armor that suffocates and separates them.)

(He vows to catch up to her. Someday. She’s within reach.)

Once the odd pieces of armor litter the ground, Kamui pushes herself off the door. She guides them toward her bed, and he is the one that stumbles and falls back against it first. The downy sheets billow out around them. Neither notices, especially when Kamui’s fingers begin lifting up at the hem of his shirt, dying to pull the fabric up over his head.

He lets her tug his shirt off. Her palms and fingers spread out against his bare skin, and he shivers at their searing heat.

Kamui quickly finds where she left off: lips against the flesh right above his collarbone. She takes a page out of his book this time, kneads the thin skin over his collarbone between her teeth. As a jolt runs up his spine and his fingers tighten at her hips, he wonders if this is how she feels when he bites her. Breathless. Enthralled. Ravenous.

He drags her up by the chin, crashing his lips against hers again. When his fingers brush almost hesitantly against the buckle of her skirt, her hands find his; she loops his fingers under her belt, helping him unbuckle the mechanism herself.

(He'll never catch up to her, Takumi laments. She's like wildfire, uncontrollable and rapid, greedy and capricious. He's in love with all of it, but he's doomed to be the one following and not the one leading.)

"Are you nervous, Takumi?" she chuckles against his lips, breathy and hot and low. He presses his palms flat against the bare expanse of her porcelain white thighs.

"A-are you?" he breathes. Stutters. She can probably hear the quiver in his voice.

"I love you," she tells him suddenly, crimson irises boring into his. Past the thin haze of desire that glazes her eyes, there is only honesty. Pure and unfaltering. His heart skips a beat.

Slower this time, Takumi tilts his head up. Brings their lips together like the slow crescendo swell of a symphony before everything explodes in a movement of powerful fortes. (There is no part of that symphony that he likes any better than the other; they are all music to his ears — to his heart and his soul — and fill him up with the same intoxicating warmth every time.)

(She makes him feel like a symphony: pounding hearts and rushing blood and the sound of their breaths in synchronized duet.)

(She is a symphony. Passionate staccato when she swings her sword around the battle field. Mezzopiano legato when she drags him to the field and makes him count clouds and stars with her. Entrancing decrescendo when she whispers i love you's in his ear like no one else is there.)

"I love you," he tells her. His lips brush against hers with every syllable. Every breath. It tingles wonderfully. "So what reason is there to be nervous?"

Kamui trails her fingernails down his bare chest. He pulls her closer, so she's lying flush against him.

"There isn't," she replies. Her fingers hook around his belt. The lust in her eyes makes his mouth dry. (The love in her eyes makes his heart swell. There's always love in her eyes.) Takumi kisses her again and inches his fingers up her shirt.

He takes the lead, eagerly pulling the fabric up off her shoulders. Her fingers fumble with his belt, gasping and dizzy from his lips and teeth across her stomach.

(She has to catch up to him this time. When she does, her bare skin pressed against his feels like sin.)