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Warm & Woolly

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"I thought I'd find you here."

Hiraga whips his head up and away from his devotional so quickly that it almost cracks his neck. His dark eyes are wide with surprise and his lips parted a little at the sight. "You...You weren't supposed to --"

"Honestly," groans Roberto, arms folded over his chest, "did you think I wouldn't give chase after what transpired in the chapel? That I would let you go without so much as a goodbye?"

In fact, Hiraga fled the church in such a hurry that he forgot to dress warmly, remembering that the weather had turned colder that week. His hands tremble as he tries to hide them beneath his book, but an observant man like Roberto undoubtedly spotted it already.

"I won't let you ruin your career because of my selfish, irrational feelings," he murmurs and clutches his devotional. "What I said at vespers was unnecessary and too spur of the moment, probably driven by the wine we had at communion earlier. Please, for your own sake, disregard all of it and forget about me."

Roberto sighs again. "Forget about you, just like that?"

Hiraga is a man who investigates miracles, but he doesn't expect one this time around.

"We're partners, friends," he continues and takes a seat beside Hiraga on the bench. "More than that with all we've been through together. I do adore you, Hiraga. Everything you confessed to me at vespers resonated with my own sentiments. I lo..."

"No!" Hiraga shouts suddenly, garnering unwanted attention from other passengers waiting for the same train. Huddling into the collar of his coat, he says more softly, "I'm sorry, but I can't allow you to throw everything away on my account. Your vows are more important than my attraction to you."

Roberto shakes his head. "It's more than that between us and you know it."

Hiraga bites his lower lip. "I was inebriated; that's why I spouted the nonsense I did."

"Ugh. You didn't even dress properly or pack enough for such a trip, besides. Look at you," Roberto says with more sympathy than he does scolding, moving to undo the scarf around his own neck and wrap it around his friend's instead. "You'll catch your death of cold if you linger out here. Let's return to the Vatican."

"I can't go back." Lowering his head, Hiraga bites into his lip so hard that he draws blood, not caring as it trickles down his chin. "I broke my vows."

"Saints' sake, you're bleeding! Stop biting your lip," Roberto gently chides him and removes a handkerchief from his coat pocket to dab at Hiraga's split lip. "Your lips are chapped as is this time of year. Don't make matters worse by...Hiraga?"

Huge crocodile-sized tears well in Hiraga's eyes, the like of Roberto has never witnessed, and as they start to fall, Hiraga's pride as both man and clergy crumbles to dust before him. Gasping to catch his breath between sobs, Hiraga apologizes profusely, "I have no place in the Church anymore, don't you see? I broke the vows I made as a priest! You cannot do the same! I won't let you!"

"Calm down," bids Roberto, taking Hiraga into his arms and catching him unawares. "What vows have you broken by professing your love and devotion for me? It isn't as if we were made one in flesh."

Hiraga blushes deeply at the mere mention of it. "T-That's looking at my sins objectively, but --"

"Objective, nothing. You know I'm right," Roberto reaffirms for him, rubbing soothing circles into his back. "Don't you?"

Sniffing and gripping Roberto's strong arms, Hiraga whispers, "I suppose you do have a point."

"Love unconditional isn't anything to be ashamed of. It's what we promote," Roberto says in a gentler tone of voice, smiling as Hiraga finally looks him in the eyes. "Besides, there are many other ways of affirming one's love aside from intercourse."

Warning bells blare in Hiraga's head as Roberto gives a look that could enamor the Devil, tucking fingers beneath Hiraga's chin and lifting his head more.

"Shall I show you?"

The warm, woolly fibers of Roberto's scarf tickle Hiraga's neck as Roberto leans down following his slight nod. Kisses have come and gone in his life prior to priesthood, but there's something magical about the way Roberto pushes their lips together with the perfect amount of pressure. It's safety and uncertainty at the same time; a beautiful paradox that sets his heart racing and his rationality fleeing. Eventually, he finds the tenacity to push back on Roberto, and after a few minutes, they both jerk away gasping.

"So, you'll return with me, won't you?" Roberto asks him in a ragged voice, squeezing his arms a little. "As my intended, this time?"

Taking the hand offered to him, Hiraga smiles with his eyes red and his face tracked with snowflakes and tears. "If you'll still have me."

Laughing a little, Roberto stands and sweeps him off the bench, bearing him down the platform landing with that roguish smile that Hiraga has come to adore. "I would have no other, il mio moroso."