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I stayed with you

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Yao had expected a few things for his first longer stay in Russia. It was Russia, after all, and Ivan was Ivan. He had seen both do a few confusing things.

He had however not expected his new boyfriend running away from him, his bodyguards and Yaos bodyguards. Finding him in an abandoned house a little outside of the village was again fitting for both Russia’s and Ivan’s weirdness.

The door was hanging slightly ajar and as he stepped inside, he immediately spotted the big footprints left behind in the layer of dirt and dust.

He followed them upstairs and into a room that was bare except for a wardrobe and a bed which both had seen better days already.

And it was bare of any Ivan, too, at first glance.

“Ivan?”

Yao received no answer but as soon as he stepped a little further into the room, he saw him.

Ivan was lying behind the bed on top of a rug that was undeniably as worn down as the rest of the house.

“There you are! Playing Hide and Seek like a kid, I can’t believe it!”

“Am I not allowed to be childish once in a while?” Ivan asked. “Who isn't childish every once in a while?”

Yao was standing in front of the bed and bowed slightly over it. “It’s one thing to be childish and another one to leave without a trace and breaking into abandoned houses. You’re 22, not twelve, you can’t just go off on an adventure.”

“I wasn’t going on an adventure.” Ivan averted his look and turned it back onto the ceiling.

“You also can’t just run off to sulk,” Yao said. “That’s not a mature thing to do.”

“You sulk a lot, Yao.”

Yao now knelt on the bed to get closer to the other. “First off, that’s not true and second, even if – You just ran away! The others are worried! Sheez, don’t you ever think about the consequences of the things you do?!”

“I don’t,” Ivan said. “It’s a really neat thing in my opinion, don’t you think so too?”

“I think it is absolutely immature and idiotic!”

Ivan sighed. “Yao, you’re only 30, have you forgotten all about your childhood?”

“I’m not 30 yet!” Yao objected.

Ivan laughed but then carried on unwaveringly. “Not having to think about consequences or tomorrow is such a nice part of being a kid. Being immature isn’t a bad thing.”

“But you aren’t a kid anymore. You’re an adult and have responsibilities. You can’t just shrug them off whenever you like it.”

“Who says I can't do that?”

Yao opened his mouth to say Your common sense, but then froze. He frowned as he closed his mouth. He turned around and sat down properly on the bed while he tried to think of a better reason to convince Ivan.

“Yao?” He didn’t turn around to look at him. “Yao, it is not very mature to sulk.”

“I am not sulking!” Yao said and swirled around.

Ivan laughed loudly. Once finished, he put his arms out for a hug. Yao did not take him up on it.

Ivan dropped his arms, shrugged and laid down again to stare at the ceiling.

“You really worried the others,” Yao said. Maybe Ivan hadn’t realized how upset his friends had been over his disappearance.

“I guessed I would”, Ivan replied and Yao furrowed his eyebrows.

“Why didn't you tell them where you were going?” he asked.

“I don't know,” Ivan said. Suddenly, he frowned.

Yao raised an eyebrow but did not know else to ask. What question was there to ask when Ivan apparently didn't know an answer?

A gust of wind managed get inside the room through the desolate windows.

Yao just wanted the two of them to get back home , so he pulled his phone out to tell the others were Ivan was. Then they could stop searching and worrying about him.

As he stared at the screen however, he couldn’t bring himself to it. Something was going around his head.

“You did a pretty good job at hiding. Have you done this before?”

“Yes.” It was silent for a while until Ivan said: “I never told anyone before.”

“That you ran away before?”

“No. I mean that I never told anyone where I’d go when I wander off.”

“And why didn't you?”

“I didn't want to be found. Not by my father. Or my mama, either.”

Yao slowly put the phone back into his pocket and turned to look at Ivan, eyes wide open and eyebrows arched in surprise.

Ivan however was looking at the ceiling with a kind of lost, surprised look himself. As if he didn’t understand what he just had said, either.

“Your parents have been dead for a while, haven’t they?” Yao asked.

“A little, yeah. I think ... I don’t know how many years it has been. My memory always gets hazy when it comes to them; I know mama died before father, so if she has been around, so was he. And I know that if I am thinking about anything business related, it has to have been after his death. No, wait, sometimes I don’t know if I didn’t do it for him, either …”

“I understand what you mean,” Yao said. “It's been hazy for me, too. Years go on and on and the past melts together ...” He sighed. “But that wasn't why I was asking, I didn’t want to remind you of that. I simply thought that it must mean you haven’t run away in a while.”

“Oh, I did,” Ivan said nonchalantly. “It’s just that Vicki got fed up with it pretty quickly after I knew her for a while and … she worried about me. So did Irina then and so I kind of stopped it. I don't like making them sad, so today I usually take my alone time when they’re not around anyways. But today ... Today I just ...”

Yao saw Ivan struggle to put something so overwhelming that it made him cut all ties with everyone for a while into words.

“It's okay if you can’t explain it,” Yao said. “I can guess.”

“I don't think you can," Ivan said.

Yao snorted. “I've been around this world a little longer and know a thing or two.”

“You've not been around me for longer, though.” Ivan said. When Yao looked at him, he looked away.

He preferred to not respond to that. If Ivan wanted to get into a huff, then he should get into a huff.

Yao wrote a message to Viktoriya that he had found Ivan, but there was no reception. Oh the joy.

“Ivan, I think we should really go back,” Yao said. “Do you think you had enough alone time yet?”

“No,” Ivan answered.

Yao sighed. “If we don’t get going, you will have more than enough alone time lying in bed with a flu!”

Ivan laughed. A few moments later, he said: “Today is a bad day.” He sat up and climbed onto the bed. Before Yao could do anything, Ivan wrapped his arms around him.

“Thanks for finding me, Yao.”

“You're welcome,” Yao said. While the first touch had been cold – Ivan had been here for a while too – his body heat slowly began to warm him up.

Yao ignored how they should get going in favour of revelling in the comfortable warmth.

“You don't understand me,” Ivan said in a rather sad voice, “but that's okay. I don't understand me either. It’s nice to know that you're going to stay around me even if you can’t do anything with me.”

He was warm on the outside but Ivan’s words let a cold creep into his bones, heavier than any cold breeze could ever do. Yao turned to face Ivan and he did look sad, too. Eyes half lidded and not even the ghost of a smile on his face, he looked sad and tired. Their eyes locked and a few moments passed when Ivan leant in closer. As he closed his eyes, so did Yao and Ivan pressed a gentle kiss to his lips.

His lips - and presumably Yaos own - were so cold a shiver ran down his spine. “Alright, let's get home, before any of us catches a cold,” Yao said and Ivan smiled.