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Inquiring Minds Would Like to Know

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Nezumi's mouth is coarse and frivolous and occasionally (often) annoying, but it is warm and solid and familiar. In another lifetime, Shion could afford the luxury of time and effort to replicate the subtle slide of Nezumi's tongue, to swallow his reprimands with the merest touch of teeth and muscle. Perhaps it would be a social custom or an exploration of sexuality or an impassioned attempt at intimacy rather than a scientific exploration. In another lifetime.

Shion is used to thinking in terms of variables. The first time, the independent variable is the introduction of a different kind of physical expression. The dependent variable is Nezumi's reaction. It is easy to push and test the limits of the realms of acceptability, and if Shion were more clinical and Nezumi more honest, it would have broken someone's heart.

It is easy, then, to systematically categorize the indicator as the presence of a symbolic gesture. When Shion echoes this in his mind, long after Nezumi's eyes have fluttered shut and Shion's jaw begins to throb and ache, he wishes he could come up with something more sublime, to relish in some sort of poetic justice. But Shion's mind is not trained for that abstract thinking.

Repeat it, Shion reminds himself. If the objective is to falsify the tentative hypothesis, then the only solution is to experiment for the purposes of reliability and accuracy often lacking in the social sciences. (Only, there isn't much opportunity if the variable is never constant, if the measurements are lost in the fumbling of adolescence and the invariability of impulse, is there?)

(Is there?)

"Shion," whispers Nezumi, and Shion fills in the empty spaces with words like if you wanted me, just say it or ask me not to go or you need to work on your technique some more, little snatches of regret that Shion accounts for the damned, damning part of his mind that feeds on sentimentality and little productivity.

Fact: it is not Nezumi that breaks away; it is Shion that sighs into the kiss and presses his palm against Nezumi's chest. If Nezumi's expression shutters into itself, or if his lips twist in something a little more pained, a little more agitated, then it is beyond the scope of Shion's ability to measure it. Because, if anyone else asks, if he could bring himself to assert--

He can't imagine anything more after this.

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"Your books make me feel sad," says Shion, as he fusses at the well-worn leather, the serenity on his face at odds with his nervous tension.

"Your face makes me feel sad," says Nezumi, not unkindly, even as he bops Shion on the head and (slyly, sneakily) lets his fingers trail lower to rub at his cheek.

"Mhm," says Shion, frowning even as he surrenders the book to Nezumi, "I don't like these kinds of stories."

"The greatest love story in the world," says Nezumi, picking up the proferred item with an almost-fond expression, "and it had to be a tragedy."

"It's still pointless," says Shion, folding his hands on his lap, sulking. "They could have avoided a lot of things."

"Yeah, well, it's not exactly smart to think a sleeping person's dead."

Shion looks contemplative at that, and he grabs on to Nezumi's sleeve, considering. "If I fall asleep," says Shion, eyes glittering with barely concealed mischief, "you can always kiss me awake."

Nezumi lets out a short, sharp bark of laughter, but he looks pleased, all the same. "I never pegged you as the romantic type."

Shion beams. "I blame you entirely."