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Rose, Poppy, Camellia

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"I used to like roses."

The tea had been bitterness threaded with honey, but Takamichi had drunk it all like a good boy and now he felt too tired to sleep.

"You had a pink robe with roses. I thought it was red, the flowers were so big."

Takamichi can remember it well, the heavy fabric falling away from Tomomasa's shoulders like petals from a stamen.

"Ah, my garish youth."

"You're not that old now."

Takamichi crawled into Tomomasa's lap. He fit differently all those years before, didn't need the arm Tomomasa curled around his back to keep him upright.

Takamichi slid his hands inside their opposite sleeves, fingernails scoring his skin.

Tomomasa tutted, and rapped Takamichi's arm with his fan. "Hands out."

Takamichi did. He remembered that tone of voice as well.

Tap. "Hand up; left hand."

Takamichi's sleeve slid down, baring his raised arm and the dark scratches Shirin's rosevines had left behind. He looked at Tomomasa instead. "They itch."

Tomomasa's breath smelt of the wine Takamichi wasn't allowed to have, not on top of the tea. The tea explained his unsteadiness, the way he'd slid from proper posture to leaning against Tomomasa's broad chest. This robe had camellias painted on it.

Tomomasa took hold of Takamichi's wrist. "This might help."

It didn't. Takamichi squirmed-- Tomomasa tightened his hold on both his wrist and back-- as Tomomasa licked across the scratches.

"You don't make it easy to wait."

Takamichi found he'd closed his eyes, found it hard to keep them open. He wanted to ask what Tomomasa meant, but the question slid back down his throat. "I like camellias."

And if he said anything else, Takamichi didn't remember it in the morning.