By the time Shion stomped the snow off his boots on the kitchen mat, he couldn’t feel his feet anymore, and he was fairly sure that some of his toes were in the process of freezing off. He dropped the grocery bags on the table as gently as he could, what with his icy hands still covered with mittens.
“Boo.” The word was warmly breathed against his ear, which felt like it was rapidly morphing into an ice cube despite being partially covered by his beanie. Point was, he was cold, and said breath was almost unbearably hot. Though the latter possibly had something to do with the owner of the voice.
“You’re absolutely nuts, going out in this weather,” Nezumi said, shoving the groceries further aside and ripping off Shion’s beanie. “Didn’t you listen to the weather report? Or is a snow storm close enough to a typhoon for you to throw open the windows and run outside screaming?”
“Very funny.” Shion wrung his hands together in a futile attempt to warm them. “It’s mid-winter; people have their winter breaks, so it’s busy in the store. Mom can’t just leave to buy more ingredients herself. Besides, I’m not sending my mother out in this weather.”
Nezumi’s fingers were by now on Shion’s cold ears, very gently rubbing away the cold. “Shit, you’re freezing. Forget about your mama, she wouldn’t send you out in this weather either.”
“Well, it’s been done.”
“Yeah, and so are your appendages. Seriously, your nose puts Rikiga’s to shame.” Nezumi squeezed the nose in question to prove his point, and Shion had to admit it was so cold that Nezumi’s touch felt like a burn. “Idiot.”
“Aw, Nezumi, you almost sound genuinely worried.” He was trying to sound sarcastic, but Nezumi actually did sound concerned.
“Damn right I am. If Karan finds out I let you go out to freeze to death in this weather, I’ll be denied her muffins forever.”
“I see you have your priorities straight.”
Nezumi hummed in agreement and proceeded to take off Shion’s mittens, only to glare disapprovingly at his white fingers. He muttered something under his breath as he wrapped his hands around Shion’s, gently blew warm air on top. The numbness was slowly subsiding.
“Oh, you’re back!” Karan dashed into the kitchen, pausing momentarily to take in her all but frost-covered son. “Goodness! Are you okay, Shion? Your lips are blue.”
“I’ll be fine.” Shion nodded at the grocery bags. “I got your flour and sugar, and the rest of the list.”
“Oh, you’re my hero. Thank you, honey.” She affectionately ruffled Shion’s already messy hair. “I’ll set aside a tray of muffins for you later. Raisin?”
“Sounds great,” Shion replied before Nezumi could. “Thanks, mom.”
“Of course. I’ll let Nezumi warm you up,” Karan said with a not so subtle wink. “Oh, Nezumi – you did give Lili an extra muffin, didn’t you?”
“Sure,” Nezumi said, pointedly avoiding Shion’s surprised look.
Karan beamed. “Great. Now if you boys will excuse me, I need to take these out of the oven…” She passed them with a little hum to take a fresh tray out, while Shion just stared at Nezumi in growing wonder.
“You’re helping out my mother?”
“Well, not anymore, am I?” Nezumi rubbed their hands together. “Currently a bit occupied trying to warm up His Foolish Majesty.”
“Sacrifices have to be made for muffins.”
“You know I like the cheese ones better.”
Shion laughed. “Of course you do.”
“Hm.” Nezumi pressed a sudden kiss on Shion’s hands beneath his own. “You know, your lips are kind of blue.”
Shion knew he just had to ask one short question now, but something else had caught his attention as his brain was catching up with the situation. “You were helping out my mother.”
Nezumi sighed in defeat. “What, your ears froze off or something? I just said so, didn’t I?”
“No, I mean… You weren’t here when I left for shopping this morning.”
“Well spotted, ten stars. Your point?”
“My point is that evidently, you must have left the comfort of a warm home yourself to come over here. To help out my mother in her bakery.”
“Ah, now you are all wrong.” Nezumi smirked. “Your mama drives a hard bargain, got me roped in the minute I arrived here. What is in it for me to come over to work on my day off? No, I admit I had ulterior motives.”
Shion smiled in return. “Warm me up?”
“If His Highness insists.” Nezumi cupped his face and pressed his lips against Shion’s, almost unbearably warm against the cold. Almost, but not quite enough to pull away – not by a long shot.
“So,” Shion eventually said, a little out of breath. “You braved the cold only to come over here and warm me after my trip to the stores?”
“Never hesitate to point out the obvious.” Nezumi sighed. “What else could be in it for me?”
“Muffins?” Shion suggested.
Nezumi slumped against his shoulder in response and groaned. “I concede. Yes, clearly I’m just here for the muffins, the biggest one standing right here in front of me.”
Shion blinked. “That’s not even an insult. You like my mom’s muffins, for one. And I don’t think it’s accurate to compare a human being to a muffin, because…” He caught Nezumi’s glare at that moment and thought the better of finishing his sentence. He wasn’t entirely sure where it had been going anyway, not with Nezumi’s warmth against his body, seeping through his winter coat, and not with Nezumi’s hands still warming his own. And definitely not with the long, soft kiss that brought all sensation back to his lips.
All in all, there were worse things than going out in the freezing cold, especially if there was a reception like this, Shion thought to himself as he wrapped his arms around Nezumi.
Karan had long left the kitchen, but the smell of freshly baked bread and muffins lingered in the air. Seeking more warmth in a second, third, fourth kiss, Shion made the mental note to ask her to set aside some cheese muffins as well.