Shion had been walking for so long, he didn’t know if the sun in the horizon was rising or setting. He couldn’t even think hard enough to figure out which direction was east or west, what was up or down, or any other piece of basic human knowledge. There was only one direction he was focusing on, and that was forward. Left foot forward, right foot forward, remember to breath. Left, right, breathe. Left, right, breathe. Those were the only coherent thoughts running through his head.
There were a few more.
But every time Shion even dared to think too much of them, his breathing would cease entirely. He wondered if he would ever learn to resperate properly ever again.
The sun was high in the sky now, so he assumed it was noon or close to. Shion’s shoulder was truly beginning to ache, his duffle bag digging painfully into the skin. What if he wasn’t home? What if he had a performance? Shion couldn’t bear the thought of living another day without seeing him. Without hearing his voice. It was enough for a boy to go mad.
The earth beneath his feet was hard and flat and made his feet ache. The hot wind tousled his hair under his hood.
Left, right, breathe.
Eventually, he passed the West Block market square, bustling with life, even more than before. Shion adjusted the leather mask around his face, coming just below his eyes. He couldn’t risk being recognized by any of the people or vendors. He didn’t have time to small-talk.
The crowds faded into homes, and then to junk. He was close. Shion could practically see electricity bouncing off of his skin, he was so anxious.
Everything was so strikingly familiar. Before he had time to prepare himself, he stood in front of Nezumi’s door.
He froze for a long moment, his mind completely ragged from panicked thoughts. He couldn’t gather his mind. Left, right, breathe.
Shion forced air in and out of his diaphragm. Then he simply knocked.
And knocked again.
After ten minutes, he gave up completely. The knot in his gut only tightened and tears threatened to accumulate. What if Nezumi didn’t even live there anymore? Had he moved entirely? How would Shion ever find him if that was so?
No. Shion straightened up and pulled his last resort from his pocket. Nezumi was going to kill him when he found out that Shion picked his lock, but he didn’t care. He inserted the two lock picks into the lock and tried to remember everything that the Dog Keeper had tried to teach him over and over.
He was still listening for the satisfying click when he felt his bones rattle as he was struck across the head from behind. The blow knocked him forward and he painfully slammed his nose on the metal door. He could already feel the blood start to pour as he whirled around.
Before he could even register the turn of events, a hand was gripping his throat, holding him against the door. Shion couldn’t see it, but he felt the blade of a knife pressed to the skin of his neck.
“Identify yourself,” growled a voice, and if Shion was able to express any bodily movement, he would have melted.
That was Nezumi’s voice. Those eyes were his eyes. Even his hand, which was tightening around Shion’s only source of oxygen, felt warm and familiar. The feeling of his skin was euphoric.
“N-Nezumi...” Shion choked, his words hardly intelligible.
The hand fell instantly and Nezumi flinched back, like Shion’s skin burned him. Shion gasped and coughed, trying to catch his breath for the millionth time that day.
Nezumi’s face was completely unreadable. His jaw was clenched, his fists tight, but there was no fire in his eyes, like there usually was when he was in fighting mode.
“Shion,” he said simply. No tone. No implications of affection or distaste. Like he was just now realizing who this strange boy was.
Shion’s stomach plummeted. Nezumi wasn’t happy to see him. Not at all. It was his worst nightmare.
“Look,” Shion begam, and then Nezumi slapped his across the face.
It didn’t hurt, but the sting came from a special place in Shion’s chest. The action nearly brought tears to his eyes. “I deserved that,” he admitted.
“Two years.” The words squeezed out from between Nezumi’s teeth. “Two years, I waited.”
And then he stepped forward and grabbed Shion. For a moment, Shion’s defenses spiked, sure that he was going to be assaulted again.
But then he felt Nezumi wrap his arms around Shion’s neck completely and burrow his face into his white hair.
This time, the tears had free reign over his eye ducts, and spilled over his cheeks as he allowed Nezumi hold him for the first time in seven-hundred and eighty three days.
“Where have you been?” Nezumi whispered.
Shion figured out his response, waiting for the hug to end. When it finally did, Shion leaned forward once more and kissed him. Right on the mouth.
Nezumi reacted immediately, one hand slipping around his waist while the other cupped his jaw. Shion couldn’t believe a man, so aggressive, so closed off, could be this gentle and soft. He still wasn’t used to the velvet of Nezumi’s lips, and he was positive he never would be, nor would he ever want to be. He wanted to be forever overwhelmed by it.
The kiss didn’t last long because Shion just had to pull back. He had to look at Nezumi’s face, to see how it changed.
His beautifully long hair was pinned up as always and remnants from his stage makeup still lingered on his skin, but the rose in his cheeks and the brightness in his eyes was all natural.
“Shion,” Nezumi said again, running his thumb across the length of Shion’s bottom lip. God, he loved it when he said his name.
“Hi,” Shion smiled.
Nezumi’s face suddenly clouded over. “What’re you doing here?”
Shion couldn’t help but frown, disappointed. “I - I needed to see you.”
Nezumi nodded slowly. “How long are you staying?” His tone was so neutral that Shion couldn’t tell if he was going to be a potential burden or blessing.
“A few days,” Shion said slowly. “A week, maybe. If you’ll have me.”
Nezumi walked past Shion and unlocked the door. When he stepped into his flat, he left the door open for Shion to follow.
The flat was exactly as Shion imagined it to be. Just by looking at Nezumi, one would imagine his house would be clean, or at least an organized chaos. But it was a chaos-chaos. Books and papers on almost every surface, the same cluttered bed in the same corner, the same couch and coffee table. Shion felt a painful wave of nostalgia pass over him. This was home.
“Not much has changed,” Shion said, taking it all in.
“Yes, but only because I haven’t had a dim-witted white-haired boy to clean up after me and alphabetize my books,” Nezumi said, smirking to himself.
Shion put down his bag and shuffled his feet. It was quiet in the apartment. Much too quiet.
“I hope I’m not imposing,” Shion said timidly.
Nezumi took off his scarf and flopped onto the couch on his belly, one arm hanging lazily over the side. “You’re not imposing. This is your place, too, y’know.”
Shion shrugged, trying to ignore the nagging feeling of guilt.
“Hey,” Nezumi called to him softly. Shion walked over to the couch and took a seat. Nezumi’s head was an inch away from his thigh, his slate-colored hair tugging loose from its bonds, and his hands were playing with the fabric of Shion’s pants. Did Shion deserve something so calm, so comfortable?
“I’m glad...that you’re here.” Nezumi kept his eyes and voice low. “Glad to see you.”
Shion laid his head back and closed his eyes. “Yeah,” he whispered, “Me, too.”