Gen can always tell.
Senkuu isn’t exactly what one would call subtle. He doesn’t slide his emotions under a rug of facades as Gen does, calling up what’s needed until he isn’t quite sure where he begins and his showman ends.
No. Senkuu grabs hold of everything he doesn’t want to show, doesn’t want to reveal, wants to hide either from himself or others, and pulls them back into the shadow of another emotion. Usually, it’s his cockiness and excitement — but no matter what emotion it is, they are always his and honest, even when they’re hiding something else.
But Gen can always tell.
Gen can always tell, especially on the nights he sees Senkuu come back from the graveyard.
Gen himself has only been once. Once, when the village went to pay their respects after the new chief was named and the village saved. A worn stone at the top of the hill, and Senkuu standing before it, the others allowing him privacy until he turned around and smirked and walked away, dragging Chrome behind him to get back to work.
Gen has only been once, but Senkuu went many times. After a frustrating day of trial and error, after a long day of hard labor. Senkuu would laugh it off and hide behind his snark, but Gen can always tell.
Senkuu missed his father.
He couldn’t exactly relate. Gen never had all that many attachments to the old world. Never had people he could latch onto and cry over being gone.
His showman’s mask and his cola. The shallowest man alive — alive, because he didn’t have anything to die for.
So the experience of longing, of wanting to help someone be at peace was foreign to him. Odd.
It appears many times, as they fight and create and overcome and set sail. He never knows what to do with it.
It isn’t until they’re far from the village, far from the replaced grave marker at the top of that hill, on an impossible ship afloat in the ocean, that he finds he wants to try.
Gen finds Senkuu lying on the upper deck. A spectacular view of the stars blooms overhead, more vivid than any starry night Gen remembered from the old world. One he’d marveled at himself, the first night after he’d opened his eyes from stone.
Senkuu tilts his head as he approaches, a smirk in place, but Gen can spot the troubled light behind confident eyes, “Gen. You’re up late.”
“Midnight stroll to clear the mind,” he waves off without a pause. He crouches and sits, as close as he dares to get. Senkuu turns back to the sky. Gen lingers on the way dark lashes hood crimson eyes, black scars wrinkled with thought. Senkuu’s eyes flit around, plotting the stars in his mind. Familiarly, as if he’s done this a thousand times by now.
Gen lets a smile brush his face. A fitting metaphor, but he somehow doubts the estimation is an exaggeration.
Senkuu doesn’t comment if he notices Gen staring. Doesn’t mention the look in Gen’s eyes as he watches him the same way Senkuu watches the sky. The silence is relaxing. No awkwardness between them, with three years of work and shared failure and triumph to extinguish it.
Senkuu lifts a hand. He closes one eye and draws a line across the sky, from one horizon to the other.
“If it were still three thousand and seven hundred years ago...” Senkuu whispers, quiet, voice sure and confident in his own knowledge. It always, always makes Gen’s heart flutter. “... the ISS would be traveling along that path.”
Gen watches Senkuu’s arm linger in the air for a moment. He doesn’t pull his gaze away from brilliant red. The arm eventually rejoins the other behind Senkuu’s head.
Gen waits. Lets a few more moments pass. When Senkuu doesn’t deign to speak again, he asks, “What was Byakuya-san like?”
They have known each other long enough now that Gen doesn’t have to clarify Senkuu’s right to privacy. If Senkuu doesn’t want to answer, he doesn’t have to. The question itself brings no tension between them.
It does bring a nostalgic smile, tained in the corners by grief.
Moments like these, rare and far between, where Senkuu lets his walls down and drops the enthusiastic cover for the softer emotions underneath, are moments Gen cherishes.
Moments he thinks himself lucky to be trusted with.
“The biggest idiot you ever met,” Senkuu says, lighthearted humor in his voice. “Byakuya was always laughing at something. Always moving. Always trying to impress the little kid he took in and raised like his own. Trying to be bigger than he was, for his son.”
Gen doesn’t look away when Senkuu’s eyes grow wet. “Dad never needed to impress me.”
Gen smiles. Hums in agreement. “He sounds like a wonderful man.”
Senkuu’s eyes flick to his. Gen almost melts under the tender softness directed at him.
Gen turns away. He finally breaks away from those bright eyes to clear his throat from the sudden tightness he felt, and hopes he hides the flush of his cheeks in the night.
He waves a hand in exaggerated elegance, “Like father like son, I suppose.”
He wonders why the hell he said that.
It earns him a laugh, though. Light and short, followed by a shuffle of clothing. Gen can only process the sound and the heat on his cheeks before his mind halts when he feels a soft pair of lips brush his jaw—
He blinks, and Senkuu is standing, brushing the non-existent dust away to deliberately linger by Gen’s side for a few moments longer.
Gen had never in the millenia of the stone world expected that.
But Senkuu Ishigami had taken his expectations and left them in the dust since their very first meeting.
“Get some sleep, Gen,” Senkuu says, turning back to the staircase.
Gen opens and closes his mouth before he falls back on his default personality, calling a pout to his face, “Senkuu-chan, you can’t just do that and walk away!”
He whines, but smiles. He watches Senkuu’s back disappear down the stairs to the lower decks.
Senkuu’s shoulders looked lighter than before, and the grin he throws over them, meeting Gen’s eyes for a single moment, is genuine enough for warmth to settle into Gen’s chest.
He’s never experienced it in his life. Such a daunting, confusing, yet sure emotion. It’s one of the most honest feelings Gen has ever known.
He turns back to the sky, Senkuu long gone, and revels in the beauty he still sees reflected in bright crimson eyes.