To say that she celebrates his birthday would be an overstatement. Sakura hasn't seen him in five years, and if not for the occasional creeping feeling that someone was watching her, she wouldn't know whether he was living or dead. Not that that would make a difference. He was alive in her heart, and thus still a viable aspect of her existence. So she lights a candle on her birthday and lets it burn down, taking care not to let the light go out until the very end. They had never established a birthday for him before they parted ways and it hadn't taken her long to decide that she would share hers with him, as she had done with everything else.
The ritual began only a few months after they parted, and she had stayed awake the entire night simply to watch the candle burn. Although the flame burned orange, the candle wax was blue, and towards the early morning her tired eyes could be tricked into thinking the flame was the proper color. It was not a lie she could easily tell herself as it led to little fits of melancholy, but as long as she restricted herself to one night a year she felt it was acceptable to be a little selfish.
She began replicating the ritual on Christmas during her first year in University. She supposed it was a way of warding off loneliness – she was away from her family and the few classmates who had remained her friends, and although she got along well with her new classmates, none of them were proper replacements for what she had lost. So she lit the candle in the window and watched it burn, occasionally taking her eyes from it to stare at her reflection in the dark glass. If her image occasionally blurred into his, causing her to gasp and blink and reflexively touch a hand to the windowpane, she had only herself to forgive or to blame.
It didn't take long to go from lighting a candle twice a year to five, and from five to fifteen. Soon it became a habit, and whenever she was feeling particularly strong, brave, or awash in her memories, there would be a candle lit in the window.
It was three years after she first lit the candle that she realized that he was there. She stood in the kitchen of her apartment, slicing up vegetables for dinner, occasionally glancing over at the candle burning in the window. She was alone in the apartment, as she had driven her roommate to the airport that morning. She had just laid the butcher's knife down to wipe at her eyes – she wasn't crying, there was no reason to cry on such a day – when she caught his scent on the air, familiar after all these years. She sniffed, tilting her head away from the celery and nappa melange, and suddenly he was at her back, pressing lightly against her.
She did not say his name. Neither did she turn to face him. All she did was lean ever so slightly back into him, until his heat seeped into her bones and she could feel the quick drum of his heart against her neck. Two pale hands fastened on the counter to either side of her, hemming her in. It was then that he spoke, soft and low and close to her ear so that his untrimmed bangs brushed her chin.
I saw the candle, he said, and it explained everything.
It's for you, she whispered back, knowing he would understand.
I can't stay long. Do you... ?
He did not specify what it was he thought she wanted. Whether for him to stay or to go; to fight, to talk, to kiss. At the end, words had failed her anyway. It had always been her actions that they had relied upon.
Watching his reflection in the darkened mirror, she brought her hands to his, slipping her smaller fingers within his own. They rested there for just a moment, before she released him and slowly trailed them up his arms. Eventually she had to turn. He realized this as soon as she did, and just as she turned to face him, he deftly extinguished the candle.
His ungloved hands rest on her hips, and she can feel the faint brush of his lips against her neck. He presses them against her, opening his lips against her neck until the wet solidity of his tongue against her shoulders makes her shudder. Her hands trail down, tangling with his and squeezing when excitement shoots down her belly. She breathes deeply, inhaling his scent as he slowly drags his lips up her throat.
Sakura, he whispers. It is just once, and it is enough. Words failing her, she gripped his left hand and it is as if all their years apart have culminated in this one moment. All the days spent apart and the nights wasted alone; all the memories that became dreams that became beacons with which to light her way. She pulls him behind her, barely breathing until he is on the other side of her bedroom door. It is all he needs by way of invitation. As soon as the door is shut behind him he spins and pins her against it, hoisting her up until he is all that keeps her suspended. He finally kisses her, and in the back of her mind she knows he cannot taste her, but not for lack of trying. There is no finesse in his touch. They both are unschooled and desperate, and it is one of the most powerful experiences of their lives. He laps at her lips with his tongue yet it is her teeth that catch his lower lip, making him groan. All throughout, Sakura's head spins. He's so warm and she had forgotten the way he smelled, and this kiss is already nothing like the one he gave her so long ago, that she can only remember accurately in the hazy, half-dreaming state she attains on rare mornings. So she tilts her face and kisses him harder, hoping to make up for her lack of response the first time he had kissed her, hoping he will understand all of her non-verbal commands.
He pulls back long enough to suck in a ragged inhale, and Sakura takes advantage of the momentary lull to begin unbuttoning her blouse. Even though it is dark in her room, there is light enough to see his eye widen and the color that creeps along his cheekbone. Was he embarrassed? Or had he thought that she would be more shy? There was no time for that. He would leave as soon as she shut her eyes, she knew it. Yet before he left she needed to be with him, and to experience something that would direct her dreams for the next...however many years it might be. It could be her lifetime, if she was unlucky. Even so, she needed something to hold onto when she lay alone in the dark.
His fingers nudged against hers when her blouse was halfway unbuttoned, and for a moment she thought he was trying to stop her. Yet when she looked up she saw the helpless desire in his gaze, and relaxed. He had come. He was prepared. She was proven correct when he continued where she left off, letting her blouse fall open. Not to be outdone, Sakura reached for his.
In a few more moments they stood together, half-naked and unafraid. Sakura knew she should be embarrassed to be so exposed, but she couldn't look away from him, afraid to waste even a moment on anything that would distract her from Ogami. Neither did he look away from her, not even to let his eyes dart down to where his hands already began to stir. Long fingers trailed up her ribcage, leaving shivery excitement in their wake. Sakura wondered for a mad moment whether he was using his power, and if it would even matter. Yet then his thumbs brushed against her nipples and even the brief contact was enough to stiffen them into rosy peaks; gently flattened when he took her breasts into his hands.
His warm palms against her straining nipples was enough to make her gasp and break the sanctity of the moment. Ogami brought his mouth to hers, kissing her deeply, snaking his tongue past her teeth until she moaned. His thumbs flicked once more against her nipples before his calloused fingertips traced light circles around the puckered flesh. Sakura was at once hyperaware of how cold the room was compared to Ogami, and it was with this in mind that she kissed him fervently. All other thoughts were lost with their promise, to be taken up again when he left.
It was only by lucky chance that Sakura managed to twine an arm down his chest brushing against the bulge at the end of her reach. Even the accidental touch was enough. Ogami hissed, twisting tightly at the bud between his fingers. What had been a gradual, manageable flame of desire then became a bolt of lightning, and Sakura lost her head. Bringing her elbows up, she pushed Ogami backwards, climbing on top of him once he had fallen to the bed.
Shhhh. Let me. It should have been harder to disrobe him. It should have been far more terrifying to look down and see him splayed out below her – but this was Ogami, and it had been three long years. Sakura leaned down impulsively, dark hair falling around them like a curtain. She laid a final, lingering kiss on his lips, only now beginning to feel like they were getting any good at it.
She could feel him underneath her, straining against her. For a moment, she remembered all those tests he had gone through, especially with the seventh and final flame. Had it used her image to tempt him? Either way, it had taken his sense of smell, leaving him with only hearing, sight, and touch. Yet it seemed he could still desire this – desire her – with only three of his senses. She should reward him for such loyalty...
Sakura brought her hands down his chest, pausing only to take his own nipples between her fingertips. When his gaze did not waver, she assumed he did not find the same pleasure in it that she did. So she continued down, wiggling her hips against his erection. Ahh- there was a reaction. His eyes hooded and he pulled his lower lip in between his teeth...she wanted to make him do it again. If possible, she wanted to evoke even more of a response than that.
Without warning, she lifted her hips and yanked down his pants, pulling them down to his knees. Glancing up, she saw something more than surprise and a little apprehension in his eyes – and his arousal certainly had not dimmed, even with the spontaneity of her action. So, her impulsivity turned him on? That she could certainly work with. Smiling, she cupped his erection between her hands, heart leaping when his hips twitched and he bit back a groan. Her hold grew firmer, and his erection grew, defining itself within her touch. It evoked an answering pulse between her legs, and she licked her lips; her gaze flickering up to his. His lips were parted, and there was a dark glaze covering his eyes. She could read the plea within them as easily as if he had uttered it, and so she slowly pulled his briefs down until he was bared before her.
Upon seeing him for the first time her mind flashed white, and she had to fight down the momentary urge simply to straddle him and sink down, changing the moment from something deliberate to primal. The moment passed when she felt his hands on her skin, judging her hesitation for fear. That would not do. She brought her hands to him, trailing her fingertips down his length. It was such a paradox – while the skin without was smooth and warm, the blood within kept him hard as iron. She wrapped her fingers around him, wondering at her daring and the pulse between her thighs. Breathing deeply, she tried to still the blood thumping in her veins. It felt as if her body were directing her, leading his cock to her thighs in fulfillment of their biological function. It will happen, she promised herself. Just not yet.
She pumped him slowly, watching the foreskin slide down; revealing the mushroom-shaped head and the clear drop of precum that leaked from the tip. The sight of it was exciting and foreign, arousing and strange. She repeated the action and Ogami's hiss of pleasure brought her out of her reverie. She had nearly forgotten to check her efforts, and wasn't that an important part of improving? Her hand continuing its rhythm, her eyes flicked to his face.
Sakura had seen him with with hooded eyes and tense mouth hundred of times, but always in battle, never in lust. The difference was staggering, and it was the final blow to her sexual fortitude. She needed him. Unless he took control of this right now, she was going to fly apart into one thousand pieces, and would never be put together again. Inadvertently her grip tightened, causing him to groan in pleasure. Ogami, she whispered. Rei. Please.
After that the world went dizzy and strange, and Sakura found herself lying naked on her bed more quickly than should have been possible. Ogami hovered over her, kissing and stroking her into a submission that she had offered up years ago. His mouth fastened on her nipple, sucking and sparking little flashes of heat down her body. Her fingers tangled in his hair at the same time he curved his around her hip, pulling her to him and causing the room to swing from side to side. Once her legs had fastened around him, Sakura found it easier to ground herself. At the very least she could focus on the heat between their legs and his erection that bridged between them, aching to be inside of her. With a clouded single-mindedness, Sakura wanted nothing less.
Her friends had told her that sex hurt the first time, and that no matter how prepared you were, it took you by surprise. They were right. There was pain when he slid inside her, and for a moment Sakura felt irreparably breached, as if she'd lost herself in some unspoken yet intrinsic way. Yet there was also Ogami's ragged exhale against her temple, and the low, quiet sound he made as he fully sheathed himself, and the smell and taste and weight of him after so many years apart. It was those aspects that Sakura chose to focus on, in the moment before Ogami's lips nudged hers open and the sting in her womb subsided into a fusion of pressure and speed and that velvet heat that had fascinated her earlier. After that, she willingly traded all sense of self for the sensation within and without. The creak of the bed, Ogami's skin rubbing her own, the hand on her hip, and his cock pushing up so deeply inside of her caused heat to coil in her womb and threaten to set her body aflame. Yet it was the maddeningly slow kiss that he maintained all throughout their coupling that tipped her over the edge. His mouth moved against hers so deliberately; so at odds with the increasing tempo of his hips that she was undone, and came in gasping cries and clenching hands and one sharp buck against him. It seemed to be what he had been waiting for. As soon her body tensed under his and she whispered her devotion against his lips, he dragged his mouth from hers so that he could rock against her harder, forsaking his attempt at control in an effort to join her. He came as she descended, biting down against her collarbone so that he could not cry out his own adoration, and leave her with a memory of unfulfilled promises.
When she awoke the next morning, he was gone. All that remained were the marks he had left on her body, and the smell of smoke on her pillow. Sakura was unsurprised. She allowed herself only a moment to bury her face in the pillow, breathing deeply. He had come. He had loved her. It was more than she had ever anticipated, and now that she had it, the memory of it would have to be enough.
When she finally made her way into the kitchen, heart-sore and thirsty for her morning tea, the candle was lit. It had burned half way down, navy wax pooling about the base, marring the white of the windowsill. Tea forgotten, Sakura stared for a long time at the flickering, blue flame. Was it a promise that he would return? Or his final goodbye?
Or perhaps it was simply the only way he would allow himself to tell her that he loved her?
Sakura did not know. She simply stood and watched the candle burn, waiting until the light drowned in its wax, and went out.