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Lanque finds you, improbably, while you’re running some of the most boring errands of your life.

“So you just happened to run into me at Hive Depot?” you tease him. He has no response ready for you, pretending to pick at some lint on his shirt and looking away with a pout.

You pull him with you, making your way towards the omniscuttlebus station- you hadn’t expected to see him today, but, in truth, you would have taken any excuse to hang out. The fact that he was seeking you out for a change made your heart flutter, and your whole body lit up with some kind of smug joy.

“Wait,” you hold your arms out to him, pretending like he was about to say something scathing and you're interrupting him. It’s the least you can do- you know how he is. He doesn’t like to feel like the butt of a joke. “I would love to guess why you’re here,” you push at his boundaries a little bit, testing, and- success! He doesn’t pull away.

“The smell of the paint aisle? The cute shirtless blue bloods who chop up the wood for you? Ooh- maybe for the thrill of being so close to carpenter drones? I hear the concupiscent drones lack a certain thrill…” You can’t help but smile at him as you elbow him in the ribs- you love these moments where he lets you tease him. You love when he doesn’t run away from you.

“You made that up about the blue bloods,” he smiles at you, rubbing at his jaw as if to distract from his blushing at the mention of drones. But he doesn't back away from your challenge. Bingo- you were right, he really has never set foot in a hive depot before. You tell him as such, and gossip a bit about the blue bloods. You may have left out the part that they were fully clothed, but hey, you needed some reason to draw him in. Some excitement to make it seem like your day wasn’t nearly as dull as it was.

Before he can open his mouth in retort, a drop of rain hits him right on the cheek with a faint fizz. Another drops pelts you on the arm, leaving an angry, red mark behind. Too late, you remember- the rain on this planet is acidic. You hiss in pain, looking for something to hide under.

Lanque removes his jacket and brings you under his arm, shielding your comparatively thinner skin from the onslaught of the rain. Despite the threat of the weather, you feel safe here. With his arm around you, he pulls you into him, close enough to hear the beating of his heart. His whole body is tilted towards you, doing his best to shield every inch of your skin. You feel like you want to kiss him, but you can’t reach his mouth. You notice that he is pointedly not looking at you anyway, and the way he hides his blush is almost prodigious. But there’s no hiding the green flush of his ears, and with his hair slicked down with rain water, his ears are sticking out pretty prominently. He hustles you forward with an impatient jog towards the omniscuttlebus station, his hand moving from under your ribs to the small of your back.

It’s not a moment too soon- the minute Lanque removes his jacket from over your head, the telltale sign of a rain storm fills your ears- the hard patter of heavy drops hitting the roof of alcove you’ve found yourself in, the sounds of playful screaming and laughter as higher castes play briefly in the rain before seeking shelter.

You let out a tense breath- rainstorms used to be relaxing. As Lanque does his best to dry out his clothes, ringing out his shirt and shaking his hand through his hair, you walk around the station. You buy some grub cakes from a convenience stand- they have Lanque’s favorite, with the chocolate covered crickets. The dulcet tones of an accordion draw your attention deeper into the station, towards the dark stairs that lead to the omniscuttlebus loading bay. The screeching sound of the cars coming to a stop rings out all around you, the cut of the wind rustling and grabbing at your clothes from the stairwell. You feel drawn towards it, there’s got to be something down there. You want to listen to the busker.

Before you can descend, Lanque finds you, a concerned hand on your shoulder.

“It’s amazing that you’ve managed to survive so long on this planet,” he teases, “considering how much trouble you find yourself in.”

The busker? You guess you did fall into a bit of a trance. You give him your best sheepish look.

“Good thing I have you to look after me,” you say, looping your arm through his and letting him lead you away from the stairs. You hand him his grubcake, and he takes it from you gratefully. You eat in silence, walking towards the entrance again and looking out towards the road.

The rain hasn’t slowed, but the cover of the clouds has given way a bit. The whole word is awash in gray and pink and orange, like a sunset. You hadn’t considered that Alternia has its own version of a sun shower. Or, moon shower, you guess.

You listen- a few blocks away, where the city is more populated, you hear the rushing of cars and the honking of horns as traffic picks up. Trolls must be rushing home. This feels like home, with the sounds of life all around you and the light of the moons shining despite the acid pouring down. This feels like home with Lanque beside you.

His hand has found the small of your back again. He’s looking forward, his profile sharp and serious as he studies the view, but you see that his attention is on you, with his ears listening, facing you, and his body tilted, ever so slightly, to catch glimpses of you.

“You don’t have to make excuses, you know,” you say, so softly that you wonder if he can even hear you over the sounds of the city. “I’m always glad to spend time with you.”

He doesn’t respond, but you weren’t looking for an answer. Not verbally, anyway. He takes another bite of his grubcake as if to distract from the softening of his features. The softening of his shoulders. The beauty of his whole being. You love him. Your heart sings with it, your limbs go fuzzy with the feeling.

But what can you do? He’s all sea and no storm today. Nothing to betray the cold, dark depths that may lie beneath. Perhaps you can find a way to wade along the shallows. 

You place your hand opposite his jaw, encouraging him to face you. And he looks so smug, like he must know exactly what he’s done to you. You kiss him once, softly on the corner of his mouth, then once more, chastely against his lips. When you pull away, his eyes are closed, his expression blissful. He almost looks like he’s sleeping. You lay your head on his shoulder, and his hand finds its way to your hair, smoothing it and soothing at you. And you watch the rain together.