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For Life Not to Escape Us

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One of the wildest things I may never get used to because I’m dating a god is the fact that dates are not limited nearby. We can take a day trip to the other side of the world and be back for dinner if we want.

This however, can get a little… challenging when my friends and coworkers ask me how he’s doing, and where we went on our last date. After the first few times explaining we found a “pop up” installation that replicated Rome so well, or passing off that Australian beach as something within a couple hours of home, or that we went for fabulous Indian food leaving out that it was in New Dehli and no I’m sorry I couldn’t remember the name but I’m sure I’ll find it again, we decided that we would leave the super big trips to at least when I had a couple days off.

They all think that he’s some sort of hotshot philanthropist with his own plane and flexible schedule, and that he loves to spoil me with fabulous trips any time I have a day off or more. And I stopped handing my phone over to them if I hadn’t downloaded the pics of all my memories. I tried talking him into traveling more human style, but he would logically point out that while yes it can be a fun part of the experience I would exhaust myself that way, and then suggest that he would rather exhaust me in other ways.

My stomach does little back flips whenever his deep, deep blue eyes pierce me as he says that.

So it’s my day off tomorrow. I had to walk home alone from work, but he warned me that he would be finishing up as much as he could so he could afford to be away. It’s just as I finish packing, that there’s a knock at my front door. I scurry to answer only to see his gentle smile on the other side. I can feel my face light up like it always does when I get to see him, so dashing in his casual jacket and shirt, jeans that cup him in, really, all the right places.

His long, thin fingers gently tilt my face up a little more as he bends down to kiss me hello. Immediately I am swept up in his solid presence, lips firm yet giving. I lean in a little, already wanting to be closer. Chuckling, he stands up straighter, a light flush on his cheeks for a moment. “Well hello to you too, _______. Are you ready to go? Or are you preferring to stay in?”

I blink for a second, finally realizing he asked me a question. “Oh, um, hi, yeah… Just a minute, I’ll grab my bag.” I jerk back to go and fetch my overnight bag. “You know, you don’t play fair, kissing me like that and then expecting I can answer immediately.”

“That’s right, I forget you can rarely be composed for more than a few seconds at a time.”

A wry smile dances across my lips, “Says the man who was blushing just from me leaning in to his kiss.”

He takes the bag from me with a casual and unspoken grace and throws it over his shoulder. I’ve given up on protesting his natural kindness. “Even the most sober of men get a little drunk on love some times.” Stepping in, his arm wraps around my waist and pulls me in closer as well.

I squint in mock annoyance at him, but can’t keep my smile from broadening, “Is that what we’re saying it is this time.”

“Always, beloved,” he murmurs before swiftly capturing my lips for another kiss, this one hotter than before. Yup, there’s those stomach flips again, even after all this time. A distant part of my mind hears a snap of fingers, but all I can do is return that kiss with equal fervor until he reluctantly pulls back. Breathlessly, he whispers, “Shall we go?”

I nod.

His fingers entwine mine and he starts walking toward the door, our destination already on the other side. Really. I’ll never get used to traveling like this.

*****

The staff of the hot spring don’t even recognize that the other side of their front door looked like a Tokyo apartment for a moment. Well, maybe they did. They certainly don’t say anything at least. We are shuffled through check in and to our room, the next thing I’m aware of is the faint fresh scent of tatami beneath my feet and the unassuming lines of the furniture.

Hue confers with the proprietress briefly and then quietly closes the door. “We made it in time for dinner. She’ll have someone bring it in a half hour so we have some time to settle.” I’m still busy looking through the doors to the outside when I hear him pad up behind me until his heat radiates deep into my back. Fingertips glide along the edge of my shirt and slip under to my caress my belly. My hands cover his in stillness and my eyes drift closed as his teeth nibble on my earlobe.

“Seems more like… I’m your dinner…” The way he nuzzles into the crook of my neck is positively distracting. Two can play at this, and I playfully squirm against him.

He hugs me with a sigh and rests his head on top of mine. “Tempting though that may be, you’re more of dessert and you know it. They would be back way before I’m done with you.” I tilt my head up and see his eyes are closed with a contented smile softening his face. Looks back down at me with an arched eyebrow.

I can’t jump up like this and kiss him. So difficult sometimes. I’ll have to keep an eye out for an opening. “I think I’m going to freshen up and change into a yukata.”

“Is that an invitation?” he chimes, his arms loosening a little.

Spinning around, I wrap my arms around his neck and give him a quick peck on his nose. “No. Then we really wouldn’t be decent when they came in with dinner. I’ll be quick, promise. It was just a long day.” He reluctantly lets me go, but I feel his eyes burning toward me the whole time I head to the shower.

My clothes rustle to the ground and I start to wash up for the evening. I figure, either we’ll head to one of the baths and I’ll be ready for it, or I’ll be fresh for him, whichever is his pleasure. Mostly though, it’s refreshing to be… nope, I’m not going to think it. Not going to jinx it. We’ve worked hard to get to this point where our relationship is blessed by the King and our dates can be quiet.

And that so far since that first time, our love doesn’t seem to be endangering the whole world.

I turn the water on, but while my body is getting clean, my mind is still cluttered. Where is this all going? We’ve been together a while. I’ve loved all the travel. I don’t think I can even be more secure in my relationship with Hue. But is there more?

Mom is starting to talk about when am I going to settle down. And the ever present question of when there would be grandchildren if I don’t find someone? Can I even get pregnant by him if I want? Do I want to? I don’t even know how to tell Mom that I’m dating a man a thousand years older than me. Not that he looks like it.

Do I get a wedding? What happens when I start aging and he doesn’t? I have so many questions about the future.

But you know, I am dating a man who can see the future. Maybe I should ask him? The more I think on this, the more I fret, and next thing I know I hear Hue thanking whoever delivered the food and realize I have been in here longer than I intended. I finish up quickly, and dry off so I can join him.

While towel drying my hair, I step back out to his smile. Apparently the look on my face betrays what I’ve been thinking about.

“Did you trip over your own thoughts in there?” His thumb traces soft circles around the back of my hand, betraying a gentleness truer than his teasing words.

I briefly flash a sad smile. “Kind of.” I try to shake the poor mood out of my head and he squeezes my hand in response.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Concern outlines his voice.

“No? Yes? Maybe? I don’t know.” For once he doesn’t laugh at my indecision, teeth worrying my bottom lip. “It’s… complicated.”

“It usually is when you shift from bouncing into the washroom to looking like you’re going to cry when you return. Talking can help to untangle complicated things, if you want.” His steady offer calms me a little.

I pick up my chopsticks with my other hand, but mostly I poke at my food. “Just getting myself spun around, nothing that should be serious.”

Reluctantly, he withdraws his hand after a few moments of silence. I flick my eyes up to see his gaze so intensely sad at me; I have to look down quickly again. Guilt washes over me as I don’t even know where to start. Thankfully he softly does, “I’ve never been fond of the word ‘should’. That kind of self obligation is destructive. But clearly you find it serious, and I’m concerned.” He pauses for two heartbeats before continuing, “I won’t push. Whenever you are ready to speak about it, though, I will listen.”

Quiet blankets us, the sound of chopsticks and breathing the only things disturbing the peace. Words haltingly start tumbling out. “Mostly I’m just lost in worries about the future. I love you. I love being with you. And every day feels like a gift. Just… when I start thinking about the future I don’t understand what will happen with us. And that scares me.”

Unsure of myself, I look up to see what impact my words have had on him. A soft lopsided smile curls the edges of his mouth.

“Maybe someone could help you with those future concerns,” he gently nudges.

My fingers start wringing along my chopsticks. “That’s just it, Hue. Last time you looked into our future, the world kind of had a hard time. I…” I put them down and clench my hands in my lap.

Hue readjusts his legs so one of his feet is touching me, clearly aiming for some way to reassure me. “Why would you think that time in the tropics was the only time I’ve seen our future?” He pets lightly with it, and holds his hand in invitation to me across the table. I gingerly place my hand in his, and he squeezes firmly again until my eyes meet his again. “The future is always changing. But, I see you with me. I see laughter, teasing, arguments, making up. I see your beautiful smile and your heartbreaking tears. I see our lives entwined. For as long as you will have me.”

My teeth worry my lip again at that, for all that I’m reassured by his words, “But it’s not for how long I will have you. My life is a lot shorter than yours…” I trail off, unable to say more.

For some reason I can’t fathom, he starts chuckling, “For now it is.” I start, about to interrupt him to protest him falling from grace to be with me. “Did you know that Scorpio was human once upon a time?”

My eyes widen at the news. All I can manage is stunned silence as I realize that when he has said he wants to spend eternity with me, he may actually mean eternity. It’s like I had missed Mount Fuji right in front of me. The transition can go both ways? “Whe—Ho—WHAT?” The smile on his face looks positively devilish at that bombshell and my obvious fluster.

Hue snaps his fingers, and a nice carafe of sake and two cups appear on the table; he looks down to pour sake for the both of us, lips pursed with the struggle to contain his mirth. “It’s true. Though I wouldn’t ask him about it if I were you. If you think he’s in a bad mood most of the time now, it would be nothing compared to being asked about his past. Which he will claim he doesn’t remember.” Lifting the glass in salute to me, he takes a light sip and looks like he approves.

Too much information. If I had a stack of papers in my hands, they would be wind scattered for all the thoughts that go whizzing through my mind. After a few blinks, I can manage a squeaky response, “So, if I… I wouldn’t remember?”

A cloud passes over his face. He sets the glass back down, and his chin rests on that hand. “Maybe? I’m sure that it would depend on what the King found entertaining enough. Same thing if I became human.” He sighs and leans back again, his arm long enough to still hold my hand in his. “The point being: there’s options, there’s likely costs that would come with any option. We would have many long discussions over many weeks if not months and years before any decisions are made.”

Something unknots in my chest with him saying that and a breath I didn’t realize I was holding finally lets go as I smile. If it’s literally impossible for me to figure out all of it Right Now, “Then… I don’t need to figure it out tonight.” I swiftly squeeze his hand back and his face lights up in response. Picking my chopsticks back up I start digging in to my meal in front of me, pausing only for a moment when Hue leans forward and kisses my hand and my heart skips a beat at the care in his eyes.

“Now,” he releases my hand so he can start eating as well. “How was work today?” He knows that I’ll be looking for distraction at this point, and tosses out a topic where I can focus on something completely different. So I start chattering on excitedly about the upcoming event they have me planning, Hiyori’s up and down love life, and the sweet group of children that came in during the day.

He teases me at points and I fake pout but nothing serious because I know it means he’s in a good mood. I stick to moderation with the sake knowing better these days than to drink too much of any alcohol Hue provides for me. At one especially animated point during my story telling, I almost knock the bottle over and he catches it with a laugh. “It always amazes me how rapidly your mood shifts.”

“You were looking to cheer me up, right?”

“I just thought lighter conversation would accompany the sake better. Though if you were looking to pour more, there are more efficient ways to do that.”

I stick my tongue out at him, “Lovely though it is, I should hold back some since I want to stay up later with you. You haven’t even told me where you’ve taken me this time! Are we just here for the hot springs? Or is there something else for this area?” We’ve finished our meal and he catches my hand to tug me towards him, so I crawl on over to his side of the table; he lifts me right into his lap and buries his face in my hair. So forward, I can’t help but blush a little. The warmth is so melt-worthy though as my fingers play with the ends of his so soft hair.

“Just an art museum and extensive manicured garden in the south of Honshu that I thought you might like. And you said you wanted to stick closer to home this time,” he murmurs.

“Adachi Museum? They say it’s a living painting!” I start bouncing on his lap unable to contain my excitement. “I can’t wait to see it in person tomorrow.”

His eyes sparkle seeing me excited like this. “Careful, _______. I may be difficult to injure, but I’m not impervious,” he laughs and grabs me tighter. Unable to stop my bouncing, he turns me slightly so I’m actually straddling him. “Besides,” that devilish glint flashes across his face again, “I’d rather there were distinctly less fabric between us if you want to bounce on me so much.”

That stills me. I’m pretty certain I am incandescent for a moment at his bold suggestion. “DINNER! They have to take dinner away yet!” Behind me, I hear a snap, and his hands start roaming up the back of my yukata.

“Not anymore. Where were we?” he growls. His fingertips burn, nails urgently grip my rump.

“T-the f-futon?” Another snap.

“Fantastic idea.” As his lips suck gently just behind my ear, I start to feel my protestations fall away like my sash. Teeth graze lightly and thoughts turn away from anything that isn’t the beautiful man right in front of me. Heat blossoms from every point of contact; we don’t need words again for some time.

*****

Birds really are noisy in the countryside; I hear them long before I stir. I don’t even want to wake as the soft feel of fingers through my hair is so comforting in my doze. Morning’s twilight creeps through the windows like a rebellious teenager, and I peek one eye open to see the edges of his sharp features subdued and tender as he gazes at me.

“Good morning,” his deep voice reverberates through me. I am so very lucky to have him. Even if I am still sleepy enough to not quite be able to speak clearly.

“G’mornin,” I mumble and smile. His lips graze my forehead, and he looks back down at me.

I rub at my eyes, probably looking like a girl of about five. “You sleep okay, sleepyhead?” Awkwardly, I start petting my hair down in case of bed head at that.

“Yeah, just think the birds woke me in the middle of something.”

“Fun dream then?” His fingers just lazily drift along the top of my head. If I had fixed my bed head, that was going to do nothing for it, so I give and sigh into the shoulder cradling me.

Still, the haze of sleepiness is slowly lifting, “Don’t remember. Why, did I say anything?” I look up and see a smirk creep across his face. My muscles tense in apprehension. “Oh my god, I said something? What did I say???”

“I think it went ‘mrfle… mmmmmurmur… mmmm’. And then you clung rather tightly to my chest. I’m lucky that won’t scar, I keep forgetting you have a death grip when you want.” My eyes widen in horror, and he breaks into laughter. “You should be careful, one of those birds will fly right in to that open mouth of yours.” And he kisses it closed.

My voice sounds rather sheepish to my ear when he relents, “How long were you awake? Oh, I forget you don’t need much sleep.” I turn to try to hide my face, but he nudges my face back up with his own.

“Not long,” he purrs. “It feels good when I have you in my arms so I let myself drift most of the time you’re out.” I smile at that, but I have the thought in the back of my mind, if I became a goddess again, we wouldn’t have to sleep and I could spend even more time with him.

I nuzzle into him to buy some time to think some more. Eternity is an awfully long time though. Would we get bored of each other? That seems a poor choice not to choose that path. And everyone I know would die before my eyes. But our kids would be gods too, instead of… can we have kids if we don’t change? Do gods even have kids? This isn’t even troubling, more like I want more information.

“What’s eternity like?”

He gives me the most puzzled of looks at that. Great, I’ve said something weird now. I return to nuzzling so I can hide my face too. “That’s an awfully weighty topic to be thinking of first thing in the morning. You sure there wasn’t anything you dreamt about that’s troubling you?”

“Yeah, and I’m not troubled. Just curious. I was reminded about how gods don’t sleep much if they aren’t on Earth, and it led me down a rabbit hole again. But not bad. Just…” I don’t know how to finish that, so I let my thought trail off.

“You don’t know what it would be like to just keep going?”

“Kinda, yeah.”

His brow knits in thought as he hunts for the words to explain. “Well, it depends. You know how in Polynesia, the weather is generally a pretty constant temperature year round? Or how it rains the same time of day every day in the rainforest? Sunrise is the same time, sunset the same time day after day?”

I nod. My palm wanders across his firm chest, solid and supportive beside me.

“It’s a lot like that. It’s not that things don’t change. One day you could have a giant storm, and the trees bend and you have to lash things down. But the next day it’s clear sky and just some debris to pick up and you go on about your days again.”

My eyebrow cocks in curiosity, and he continues. “In this instance, the King is the storm shaking things up. It doesn’t change much, but it gives some excitement and destruction for a period of time.” He shrugs, “Things are rebuilt.”

“Do you get bored?” My fingers start tracing around his chest in lazy circles now.

“I have all of civilization’s books to read. And some that don’t exactly exist in otherwise written form. It would be hard for me to get bored. At least before you. Now my world is filled with you as well.”

I blush, but try to not let that distract me. “So, basically, there are things to do. And a wider range than you could get here. But there isn’t a whole lot of overall variety except for work and whatever the King cooks up?”

“And the petty machinations of lesser gods trying to politic their way into…” he lightly tosses his hair with frustration to find a suitable example. “Something. You see enough of it, you learn to ignore it. But yes.”

Cheekily I grin at him, “I guess this is why they call you the wisest man in the heavens. Your ability to rise above it.”

“Probably. In part,” he wryly smiles. “In any case, do you think we should get ready for our day? Or was there more you wanted to talk about here?”

I purse my lips with thought, “I’m sure there will be more, and probably in the next day as I figure things out. But nothing at the moment. Can I ask more questions as they come up? So long as I promise not to dwell on it?”

“I’ll always answer your questions to the best of my ability. I just want you to have a good time.” He chastely kisses me again and my lips relax into a dreamy smile.

“I’m with you, of course I’ll have a great time.”

*****

Stark lushness; it’s a dichotomy held in difficult balance between the sandy expanses and angular rocks with the immaculately manicured greenery. The rooted earthiness contrasts with the expansive blue sky above.

“It really does feel like I’m walking through a painting,” I gasp quietly to myself. Warmth floods me as I feel Hue’s cool hand grace the small of my back. I look up to see him looking tenderly back at me. His easy elegance fits so beautifully with the landscape that my heart is struck with the fact that I am *actually* dating a *god*. It’s all so otherworldly and perfect, and right here on Earth, I suddenly feel very awkward and unpolished.

Something must have flickered across my face; he turns me towards him for a moment, and as I close my eyes expecting a kiss, I feel featherweight lips brush one eyelid and then then other to sweep the top layer of tension away. Hot breath breezes past my ear, “And I am lucky enough to have the focal point of every piece of art worth anything right beside me.” I open my eyes to the gentle outdoor wind cooling my burning face as he withdraws again.

My heart could leap out of my chest any minute.

His arm snakes around my shoulders and we start an easy gait around the grounds. Green rounded mochi shaped bushes are dusted with pink, white, yellow. Water babbles in the between spaces smoothing out the sharp stone corners. There isn’t much need for conversation at this point, and the quiet natural world doesn’t lend itself to much discussion for me. Hue doesn’t press for conversation either, content to let the peace wash over the both of us.

After wandering from installation to installation for a couple of hours, drinking deep from the calm well of this museum, we rest for a bit with tea at the tea house and observe the subtle shifts of clear bitterness and sweets. The line of my sight switches to a pair of children playing on the floor in the corner. The parents look a little exasperated but as they are quiet and cooperative with each other, they leave them be. Worlds within worlds dance between the two children and it makes one side of my lips curve into a wistful smile.

Hue’s fingers interlace with mine and squeeze, and turn back to him a little startled as I’m pulled from my revelry. “You look both happy and longing,” his comment rolls across the table to me.

I take a minute to gather my thoughts into something I can express to him. As I have found often this trip, it starts with a question, “Do you want children, Hue?” My head tilts a little to the side, uncertainty flooding my heart. Do I even know if I want children?

His gaze is steady as he looks at me, searching as though my desires were all written across my face, which would be impressive given I do not know my own mind for once. “I haven’t thought about it in a long time, but I don’t think I would be opposed to it. Is that something that you’ve been thinking about?”

“Some,” I admit. “I mean, I’m not even certain… children… happen in the same way for…” my voice drops to a whisper so other patrons can’t hear, “…gods.” I restlessly shift as I sit. The edged seam in a section of the seat feels a little extra defined at the moment in my discomfort.

His voice is like the focus point of a pirouetting ballerina — even with how spun I’m feeling, I at least know that one point is fixed. “I know Ichthys is relatively close with his parents as far as those things go. Teorus not so much. It varies from… person to person.” So they do have parents. It’s both surprising and not. For all I knew, the King could have just willed them into existence. Or something.

“What about your parents? Do you have much in the way of family?” My curiosity takes over, and I lean in a little. All the time we’ve been together so far, and we’ve never talked about his family before. It really only occurred to me this second that he might have some.

“I have a couple of brothers, though I have not seen them in a very long time. I think one of them is in long term punishments for some grievance. The other I just was never close to. My mother is long passed. My father since having drifted into hermitage,” he shrugs. “I could try to find him if you wanted to meet him, I suppose. It never seemed terribly important before.”

My heart sinks a little. “I would, however,” he continues in earnest, “like to meet your parents. Some day. When you’re ready. I may not have much familial experience, but I know they mean a great deal to you.” My fingers grip his a little tighter, and I take a sip of tea with my other hand. I have no doubt that he means it with the way he’s looking at me.

“I would like that very much. It would at least get Mom off my back about meeting someone.” The sharp clink of the cup cuts to the core of my dilemma. I stumble over my words for a moment, my fingers trying to tease apart just through fidgeting. “She wants grandkids, and I’m not even sure if I’m up for that, and I love the kids at the planetarium, but the whole thing is scary and uncertain as so much of the future is and I don’t know how to tell her that much less figure out what I actually do want so I hope meeting her wouldn’t get her to start pressing for them but maybe we want to figure that out first before I bring you home or something because I know I want to spend all my life with you however long that is.” I gasp lightly for the air at the end of my ramble, and flush lightly with embarrassment for all that I said. But it’s important, and I’m mildly proud of myself for getting through it all.

His other hand obscures his mouth in a gesture that would be contemplation if I didn’t catch that devilish glint in his eye and slight shake to go with it. He clears this throat to try to cover his mirth, but the corners of his mouth and his eyes are still clearly teasing, “You know, I usually prefer other ways to get you breathless than rambling anxiety.” What was a light flush before burns all the way to my hairline.

His eyebrow arches, but his other hand reaches over and covers my hand and his. “And I certainly wouldn’t mind all the energetic practice to conceive with you.” At this point, all I can do is use my free hand to hide as much of my face as I can; as comfortable as I’ve gotten with sex, I can’t believe he’s talking like this in public and reminding me in flashes of our nights together.

The sound of his voice at this point though is like silk across my skin as it soothes, “But children, no children, as long as I have you, I’ll be happier than anyone else in the universe. I will love my family with my whole being no matter its’ size.” As I peek over my fingers, I see a flash of the stars in his eye. Gently, never breaking eye contact, he brings my one hand to his sensuous lips.

We’re quiet for a moment, just looking at each other my hand still close to his face. His breath is warm across my wrist. The world brightens a bit as a cloud I hadn’t even noticed before passes from in front of the sun, and warmth envelops me in our little cocoon in the corner of this café. I slowly pull my hand away, just so I can cup the cheek of this precious man. I manage to swallow, and the lump in my throat seems a little smaller.

“I love you,” I whisper.

“I love you too, _______,” he nuzzles into my hand for a moment, and then pulls back. “Would it help if I did some research on transitions in either direction to help us make a more informed decision?”

Vigorously I nod. My breathing slows. The sharp scent of tea clears my head. Us. We’ll make this decision. He doesn’t know what would be best and is open to exploring the options too. Tension that I hadn’t realized was clenching my shoulders releases.

“In the mean time,” he stands and reaches his hand out to me, “I would like to see the exhibit. Care to wander with me?”

His hand feels cool and smooth in mine. Resolution is as transient as seasons. My internal struggle is not gone, but the world still is brighter and I can put it aside for now. I’ve already seen the all the seasons with Hue and weathered all those changes. Storms pass, and each day is as new and different as it is the same with him.

If eternity could be like the time I’ve already spent with him, I could do that. Or we could embrace the temporary nature of the world and grow old together. Life will always be a balance of bitter tea and sweet desserts. Stark moments curving between the lush experiences smoothed around the edges with our fluid emotions.

“Absolutely!” I bounce, excitement filling me again for the journey, and start pulling him behind me toward the exhibit myself.