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like lemonade

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“Your lips are bleeding,” Korekiyo observes.

Indeed, Shuichi's lips are bleeding—they look as dry as the Taklamakan desert. Shuichi smiles, wry, and then winces. “Thank you, Kiyo-kun,” he says, pink tongue darting out to catch drops of cherry red that run rivulets in the cracks.

It is mesmerizing. Perhaps that's just Korekiyo's own bias speaking, but there's nothing quite like talking with Shuichi. Dimly, some part of him realizes that it's probably best if he offers some help, so Korekiyo gently guides him over to the sink (with his permission) to clean off his lip. “There's really no need,” Shuichi says, but follows him anyway.

As Korekiyo blots off the excess blood, Shuichi glances sideways, hands fidgeting and fisting the fabric of his shirt in place of conversation. This is the conversation that Korekiyo learns to understand, the one where it's easier for Shuichi to say things that words will not capture.

So Korekiyo smiles (not that anyone will see it, though) and instead pulls out a tube of lip balm that Kirumi always keeps in the jar underneath the sink, tucked away in the corner of the cabinet. “I believe this may help,” he says, bemused, and Shuichi flushes red when he takes it.

“...Thank you.” It's a quiet admission. It’s one Korekiyo is grateful for.

“You're welcome.”

(Later, much later, when time has slowed down and eased its belt, Shuichi pulls him down for a kiss. His lip balm, as Korekiyo learns, tastes like lemonade.)