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sweeter than red

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i. 

A gust of wind brushed Adonis’ cheek. People shrouded, speaking loudly, arms linked, walked past him. Never through him. He was too large - too conspicuous to not catch the eye. Across the street, his gaze was pulled to soft blonde hair. 

Is that… Narukami?

Adonis crossed the street prudently, quietly, eyes on the familiar figure in case he vanished. Arashi’s head hung low, nose buried in a flyer speckled with rosy hearts and red bubbles. Adonis paused a moment. Unlike whispers of the heart bouncing and joy spilling over like bubbling tea around them, Arashi’s shoulders were sloped, curving like a sad willow tree touched by a wind it couldn’t follow. 

“Narukami?” Adonis ventured. Touching the water with a slight hand for a ripple. Arashi spun around - the ripple turning to waves almost too quickly, and shoved the flyer away. Stuffed into a coat pocket.

“Adonis-chan!” Lips pressed together hurriedly into a merry smile. “What a surprise!”

A pin prickled in Adonis’ chest. “Narukami… What are you doing here? Is something the matter? You don’t look your usual self.” 

Periwinkle eyes looking back at him flashed a sheen Adonis couldn’t understand. Arashi twirled the single frayed thread hanging from Adonis' dark scarf, wrapping a starlit sky, a galaxy, in majesty.

“You want to know~?” Arashi asked in a low voice. Still smiling in that elusive way, like webs of satin clinging to Adonis’ fingers when he tried to catch them. “Then! Will you listen to a selfish request?”

Adonis’ mouth opened before he could think. “Yes.”

Arashi released the thread into the wind. “There’s a delicious dessert I want to try, but it’s a limited Valentine’s day special… Will you come with me, Adonis-chan?” Head tilted, and a light whisper of words true but unsaid trickled in the air between them like a teetering droplet - am i asking for too much? Is it weird..?

“Of course. Is it nearby?” Narukami, you don’t ask for enough. 

Arashi’s face brightened, lips parting into a grin in true, pure, honest happiness - cheeks tinged in roses glistening with dew drops.

“It’s a few minutes from here. I’ll treat you today!”

Adonis remained still, even as Arashi glided past him with a breathy chuckle. Glanced back at Adonis after a few paces, eyes cradling constellations that Adonis wanted to learn the names of. To watch and lose himself in.  

“Adonis-chan?” Arashi brushed the tip of Adonis’ elbow. Endearingly. 

“Sorry, I got lost in thought. I would still like to go.”

“Lost in thought? That’s rare for you. What were you thinking about?” Arashi laughed. A sunlit harp.

“I was wondering what kind of dessert it is that you wanted so urgently, Narukami. But I am pleased you are eating good food.” 

“Typical Adonis-chan. Is that all?” Typical. Adonis matched his steps to Arashi, paying no heed to where they were headed. Only that they walked together. 

ii.

Arashi’s beckoning, soft, often baffling words were a riviere of gems. 

Adonis wondered how they were seated without a moment’s wait among the streams of couples already queued outside the pâtisserie. He did not bring it up. When the plates of opéra cake drizzled in chocolate sauce, garnished with sugary hearts were in front of them, Arashi’s elation was palpable. Infectious, even.

They finished quickly. Arashi glowed and exclaimed with small murmurs and minute expressions, taking each bite like a figment of a dream being assembled. 

Adonis watched, hearth-warm eyes on wintry nights. He didn’t like to talk when he ate, anyway. But this memory felt important. So one by one, the minutes were sewn onto his heart.

iii. 

“Adonis-chan, you didn’t like it?” Arashi asked, tone saturated with delight and hints of something more, something else. 

“It was delicious. It is a shame that you can’t eat it more often,” Adonis replied, but the taste was already a memory tucked away. “I am glad you are more yourself now, Narukami. Thank you for treating me.”

Arashi cut him off, sliding in front of Adonis, arms crossed. “Is that all you have to say? I thought you’d be happier! You ate like a robot!” Arashi’s flushed cheeks inflated, a theatrical pout softening the aural pine needles. “After all the trouble I went through!”

“I said it was delicious…” Adonis repeated. It had been, hadn’t it? “Besides that, Narukami, isn’t it I who took the trouble of accompanying you?” 

The songbirds went quiet.

“You’re really an idiot, aren’t you…” Arashi’s arms hung loosely. Adonis remained wordless, not knowing when the sprays of joy and flushed delight had gone tepid and opaque. But even in the biting cold, florets blinked in hot colours across the crosswalk.

Arashi turned away. “I waited there for you. I knew you were practicing with UNDEAD till late, today. I knew, without a doubt, you would come to cheer me up, Adonis-chan.” 

The pieces aligned. So that’s why we didn’t have to wait in line... 

Adonis thought he should be angrier that he was tricked, but he wasn’t - the drops of Arashi’s joy were still pulsating, clear in his mind’s eye. 

“Narukami…” Adonis sighed. No ripple. 

Arashi.”

Clouds parted. Arashi was looking at him, clearly. 

“I won’t know how you feel until you tell me. Next time, please ask me directly without any façade. You don’t have to trick me to spend time with you. To fulfill your selfish requests. I will not refuse you.”

Arashi let out a deep breath, a gust from parting wings. And pressed something to Adonis’ lips. “Chocolate. For you.”

Adonis let Arashi push the chocolate through his lips. A tapestry of flavours spread over his tongue - not all from the chocolate. He could taste slivers of the time Arashi spent, tartness from oscillating confidence and hesitance, richness from the moments leading up to now. A beautiful, rambunctious medley. 

Swallowing the melted heart, Adonis felt his face warm. Arashi smiled a wicked smile. It felt too easy now, when Arashi’s hands were on his back, waist, shoulders. When Adonis’ arms were around Arashi. 

"Adonis-chan?”

“Mmm?”

“I better get a cute White day present.”

“Mmm.”