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Day 16: During Their Morning Ritual(s)

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Eiji opens his eyes, his vision blurry and his body heavy. He rubs his eyes and struggles to keep them open. Eiji looks down to see Ash in his arms. The sight makes Eiji smile. Ash's face was pressed against Eiji's chest. Ash was wearing nothing but his black boxers. His golden locks brushed against Eiji's neck and chin. Eiji could feel Ash's arms wrapped tightly around his lower back and he could feel Ash's legs tangled with his own. The warmth emanating from Ash's body made Eiji feel so good, so warm. Ash was safe in his arms and nothing in the world could be greater than this feeling, this feeling of being with the one person in the world who makes him happier than anybody else. Eiji wanted to wrap his arms tightly around Ash and sleep with him forever, never letting go.

Of course, they can't stay in bed forever. Eiji pulls away slightly from Ash, enough to be able to see Ash's sleeping face. Ash still held on to Eiji. His expression was so calm, his breathing steady. He looked like a painting.

Eiji slowly moved some of Ash's golden locks away from his face, tucking his hair behind his ear. Eiji cups Ash's cheek and gently rubs his thumb around in circles on his cheek, feeling the smooth skin.

"Ash," Eiji whispers, his words softer than the fluffiest of clouds. "Ash, wake up."

Eiji pulls his hand away from Ash's cheeks and shakes Ash's shoulder.

"Ash," Eiji singsongs. Ash groans and snuggles close to Eiji, his arms squeezing even tighter around Eiji middle. Eiji can feel Ash's hot breath through the thin cloth of his worn-out gray tank top. The hot and steady inhale and exhale of Ash's breathing drew Eiji deeper in slumber, the idea of going back to sleep extremely tantalizing. Eiji pinches himself as a feeble attempt at pushing away the heavy and foggy sleepiness blanketing him.

"Ash," Eiji says, a bit louder this time, but still soft enough to keep the delicate quiet of their bedroom intact. Eiji rubs Ash's arm up and down as he speaks softly. "Come on, we have to get up."

"No," Ash grumbles, tightening his hold on Eiji. "It's too early."

Eiji can't help but smile at Ash's moaning. Ash was being very clingy, but Eiji wasn't exactly complaining. Eiji shifts around so that his back is pressing against the bed and fumbles around for his phone with one hand on the nightstand behind him. He turns on his phone and squints at the sudden brightness.

"Ash, it's already half past ten," Eiji says as he sets his phone back down onto the nightstand. Eiji begins prying Ash off of him, his movements hard enough to counter Ash's grip, but gentle enough not to hurt him. Ash squints at Eiji, making a high-pitched whining noise as Eiji pulls himself away and gets up from the bed. The loss of Eiji's warmth makes Ash unconsciously curl into himself. Eiji reaches over and runs his fingers through Ash's silky soft hair, moving the stray locks out of Ash's face in one fluid motion. Ash can hear the smile in Eiji's voice as he speaks.

"Brush your teeth and I'll make you breakfast."

And with that, Eiji slips his fingers out of Ash's golden hair and walks away to head to the bathroom. Ash watches helplessly as Eiji walks away from him, taking his warmth and light with him.

Ash closes his eyes for a moment before reopening them. He groans as he sits up, rubbing his eyes and frowning. Ash gets up from the bed and shuffles over to the bathroom. Eiji was standing in front of the sink, brushing his teeth. Eiji spits into the sink and rinses his mouth with water. Ash sidles up beside Eiji and grabs his toothbrush. He lazily brushes his teeth. Eiji lingers by the sink next to Ash.

"What do you want for breakfast?" Eiji asks, looking fully awake already. Ash speaks with the toothpaste still in his mouth.

"Coffee," Ash says before continuing to brush his teeth. He stares into the mirror, his eyebrows scrunched together, his jade eyes swirling darkly.

Eiji rolls his eyes at Ash's grumpy response. "You need to eat something with your coffee."

Ash shrugs. "Anything's fine."

"Alright," Eiji says, walking out of the bathroom and over to the open plan kitchen. He takes out two bowls and sets them onto the counter. Then, he takes out some flour, eggs, butter, salt, sugar, baking powder, chocolate chips, pure vanila extract, and milk. He takes out some blue and yellow measuring spoons and a measuring cup. Eiji grabs his phone and puts on some upbeat classical music. He dances alongs to the music as he makes the pancake batter.

Just then, Ash ambles into the room, still in his boxers. As Eiji drags a small chunk of butter around in the pan on the stove using a spoon, Ash walks up behind him and wraps his arms around Eiji, nuzzling his face into Eiji's neck. Eiji smiles as Ash's breath hits his neck. Eiji holds Ash's cheek with his hand.

"Ash," Eiji giggles, breathless. "That tickles!"

Ash only buries his face deeper into Eiji's neck. Eiji shakes his head, an absolutely radiant smile on his face. He grabs the bowl full of pancake batter and pours some of it onto the pan, watching as the batter sizzles. Once the pancake is finished cooking, Eiji places it on a plate using his spatula. He repeats the process five more times, finishing all the pancake batter. Eiji turns off the stove.

On the counter were two plates with three pancakes each. The pancakes were a perfect fluffy golden brown with chocolate chips speckling the surface. Eiji grabs some maple syrup and pours some over his pancakes, the sticky, viscous liquid slowly seeping into the pancakes and lazily dripping down the sides of the pancake.

"Do you want maple syrup?" Eiji asks. Ash nods, his nose brushing against the skin of Eiji's neck. Eiji pours some syrup of onto Ash's pancake and closes the bottle before setting it aside. "Anything else?"

Ash shakes his head. Eiji tiptoes to reach the cupboard. He takes out a small container and sprinkles some powdered sugar onto his pancakes before putting the container back into the cupboard. Eiji grabs a knife and slices a small chunk of butter onto the top of the pancakes for each stack of pancakes. He sets the butter down on the counter. Suddenly, Eiji feels Ash's hot breath against his ear.

"Feed me," Ash murmurs, his lips barely brushing against Eiji's skin. Eiji blushes, the sensation of Ash's hot breath combined with the sincerity of his request warming Eiji from the inside out.

Eiji grabs a fork and presses the cold metal against the top pancake on Ash's plate. The fork slides slowly and easily through the pancakes, splitting them open and revealing the white, fluffy texture within the golden brown exterior. Eiji holds the fork vertically and inserts through the top of the cut out syrup-drenched stack and brings the bite up to Ash's open lips. Eiji watches as Ash lets the fork slip into his mouth. He closes his mouth and lets Eiji pull the fork out as he holds onto the pancake with his teeth. Ash closes his eyes, letting the pancake melt on his mouth for a few moments before slowly chewing. The pancake was perfectly fluffy and soft and sugary and chocolatey. Taking a bite out of the pancake was like taking a bite out of heaven.

"What do you think?" Eiji asks, his voice low and tentative, his eyes wide, his mouth still. Ash takes his time answering, savoring the bite as he chews slowly before swallowing. He opens his eyes, his jade irises wide and sparkling with stars and supernovas.

"It's delicious," Ash says, staring deeply into Eiji's brown eyes.

A smile creeps up onto Eiji's face, his eyes sparkling like diamonds laying under the sun. Eiji's voice is soft and so braced for rejection as he speaks and the pureness of it pulls hard on Ash's heart."Yeah?"

"Yeah," Ash replies, resting his head on Eiji's shoulder and taking the fork from Eiji's hand. Ash gets another bite of pancake onto the fork and raises it up to Eiji's lips. Eiji blushes, taking the pancake and smiling as it hits his tongue.

"What a relief," Eiji sighs, leaning against Ash. "I was worried it would turn out bad."

"Everything you make is delicious," Ash says, taking a bite of the pancake. Eiji grins.

"Even my natto?" Eiji teases. Ash pouts.

"Everything except natto," Ash replies, making Eiji laugh. As Ash watches Eiji laugh, he feels something heavy and steady settle into his heart. This moment, this morning, this safety and security; Ash never wants it to end. Ash wants to stay here with Eiji forever, in their own little world, away from the darkness of the world, bathing in their own special, gentle light, warmer than the sun's rays.

Ash and Eiji's little world was temporary for now, but someday, Ash would make it permanent.

Permanent safety...

Permanent happiness...

"Want another bite?" Eiji asks, holding the fork up to Ash. Ash stares at Eiji before closing his eyes.

"Yeah."

It's perfect.

Ash lets the pancake melt his mouth, savoring the taste. Eiji smiles.

He's perfect.