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Five-Seven-Five

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Allen rolled the brush in the plate of ink next to his untouched paper. The expanse of white against the table mocked him, as if to remind him how long he’d been sitting there without a trace of productivity. A cool, autumn breeze blew through the open temple window, and he shivered, pulling his layered kimono closer. He wished he’d thought to bring a blanket with him before sitting down to compose. If he went to fetch one now, he’d lose what little focus he had left.

As he lifted the brush from the ink and pulled back the sleeve of his kimono, he heard a familiar voice floating on the wind. “Allen,” he called, teasing and mischievous. Allen put the brush back into the ink and sighed.

“Lavi, I told you I’m busy this afternoon. I can’t play with you right now.” He kept his gaze on the blank paper in front of him, hoping against hope that he’d find his inspiration before Lavi decided to intrude.

His hope shattered as he felt warm fingers tickling the back of his neck.

“Allen, I’ve waited all day. It’s lonely.” Lavi knelt behind him, resting his chin on the top of Allen’s head.

Another sigh blew past Allen’s lips, and he indulged himself, leaning back against Lavi’s warm embrace. He’d been sitting so long, his fingers were going numb from the cold. “I’m sorry. I just need another hour to focus. I can’t seem to find inspiration to write this haiku.”

“Mmm,” Lavi hummed, tails swishing back and forth as he looked down at Allen’s lack of work. “Haikus are short. Why is it taking you so long?”

Allen’s lips twisted in a frustrated frown. He was curious of the reason for his art block as well. “They’re not so easy. It may only be three short lines, but all the words are important. You can’t just put words together and make a haiku.” Allen silently wondered if he was trying to convince Lavi of his reasoning, or himself.

“Sure you can.” Lavi sat next to Allen, leaning against his left shoulder and held up his hand. As he spoke in stilted words, he counted each syllable on his fingers—

“Allen, stop writing.
We should fuck on your futon.
Haikus are boring.

Allen snorted out a laugh as Lavi finished his improvised poem. “Maybe I should leave the writing to you. You’re much more eloquent than I am.” He kissed Lavi’s cheek, but made no move to leave the table.

Undeterred, Lavi snuggled in closer, tucking his face against Allen’s neck and not-so-subtly breathing in his scent. “You’re not giving up yet, are you?”

“If my tea going cold and the lack of blankets hasn’t stopped me, I don’t think you have a chance. Sorry, Lavi.”

Lavi huffed in response, pulling away from Allen and watching him with a perturbed look. Allen did his best to ignore the kitsune, knowing that if he gave an inch, the feisty spirit would take a mile. He wanted to write, and nothing short of a disaster would get him away from the table. The standstill lasted another couple minutes before Lavi let out another displeased noise and left. Allen turned to watch him go, stomach twisting uncomfortably. Lavi may have left him alone like he’d asked, but the unpleasant feeling in his guts made him realize it was not what he’d wanted.

The blank page felt twice as empty then, and Allen shivered against the cool autumn air. Sliding his brush through the black ink, he waited for inspiration again—something to take hold of him and not let go.

His silver eyes flickered to the large window, shutters opened in spite of the weather. Earlier that day, he’d hoped the bright fall foliage would inspire him, but the brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows felt dim and lifeless in the moment. Any flames of inspiration had guttered out the second Lavi disappeared.

As Allen lamented his fate, movement to his side caught his eye, followed by a loud clunk of metal against wood. Lavi had returned—a steaming pot in one hand and a thick blanket in the other. “Lavi? What are you doing?”

The kitsune looked less upset than he had earlier as he settled in next to Allen at the table. “Helping you finish your haiku.” He poured the hot water into Allen’s half-empty tea pot, freshening the cooled tea, then fussed with the blanket, covering his and Allen’s legs with it. “The sooner you finish, the sooner you can play with me. And you complained about being cold.”

Allen’s heart melted at the sweet gesture. Smoothing a hand over Lavi’s cheek, he kissed him again, this time on the lips, and sighed into the touch—so warm and soft. He always forgot how hot Lavi was, no matter the temperature. “Thank you.”

Lavi smiled, pleased that his work was appreciated, then laid down next to Allen, his head pillowed in his lap. The blankets curled around them and Lavi’s warmth radiated through even the thickest layers of Allen’s clothes. “Wake me when you’re done? It’s too boring to watch you write.”

With a chuckle, Allen settled his fingers into Lavi’s hair. The autumn wind didn’t feel as cold as it had only moments earlier. “I’ll wake you before the ink dries.”

Humming, Lavi closed his eye and relaxed against Allen. As Allen continued to pet his red hair, Lavi quickly fell into a light sleep, purring in Allen’s lap. The intimacy struck Allen, his head clearer than it’d been all day long. He let his gaze linger on Lavi’s softened features, relaxed in sleep, then turned his attention back to the paper in front of him.

He hesitated for a moment before grabbing his brush and inking the best haiku he’d written in months:

“Autumn foliage
Is most beautiful when you
View it with your love.