It was a warm, sunny afternoon, and Shin's gentle laughter filled the air, blending with the soft babble of water over rocks.
The memory was like an ache, throbbing in Shin's chest and making him want to weep. The house was big, and dark, and full of the echoes of thunder and the lightning flashes of an angry, spitting sky. Half the bed was empty: Gou was still in the bath, and for a moment Shin considered joining him, seeking refuge from the tumble of memories in his brother's warm, hard body.
But Gou was wrapped up in some crisis of his own, some message or vision that Shin wouldn't dare to interfere with. So he shut his eyes, and let the memories come, and with them, tears.
* * * * * * *
"What's funny, Shin?" Yuda gave him a sidelong look, curious, amused.
Shin blushed a little. He hadn't meant to laugh out loud.
Yuda didn't need to repeat his question: he coaxed Shin's response out with his eyes. Pale blue and strangely fragile looking among his strong features and flame-red hair, it felt as though he could look straight into Shin's heart, and tease out any secret he chose.
"Angel kisses," said Shin, softly. "I was remembering something Kira told me once. That on earth, humans say that sometimes when new humans are made, they are kissed by angels on the nose," he touched his own perfect nose with one finger, "and cheeks, and that's where freckles come from. So they're called angel kisses."
Yuda laughed, a rich, deep sound like the rumble of thunder.
Shin wiggled his toes in the water, and smiled.
It had been a lovely afternoon, first a long walk in the forest and now resting on the riverbank with Yuda, soothing their tired feet in the stream. Shin was filled with a happiness he couldn't describe, dangling long legs into the cool water, swishing his feet from side to side, and every now and then managing to accidentally brush Yuda's bare foot with his own.
"So," Yuda's voice, like melted chocolate, flowed towards Shin as he reached out with his hand. "Do you have freckles yet?"
Shin felt the blush spread across his cheekbones yet again, and didn't dare to meet Yuda's gaze as he felt his hand picked up, his index finger gently stroked.
"Nope," Yuda answered his own question. "Maybe I didn't kiss it long enough."
Shin blinked, his heart pounding. He had the feeling that something was being asked of him, but he didn't know what it was.
He waited for Yuda to laugh again, to drop his hand, to break the moment.
It didn't happen.
Instead, Yuda pulled Shin's finger to his lips and kissed it, just a fleeing, ordinary touch, a pale reflection of his healing kiss, but it set Shin's soul on fire just the same.
"Nope," said Yuda. "Maybe it doesn't work on fingers."
Shin looked up at him, big amber eyes wide and innocent.
Yuda smiled at him, scanning his face with those knowing eyes. "I'll need to take these off first," he murmured, perhaps to himself, and Shin's eyes closed instinctively as Yuda removed his glasses. Then he felt the flutter of lips on the bridge of his nose, across his flushed cheekbones, the touch of gentle fingers stroking his temples, threading through his pale green bangs.
"Oh," he whispered. "Oh. . ."
"No freckles," said Yuda sadly, smiling.
Shin dared to open his eyes, darted out the tip of his tongue to moisten dry lips. "Maybe," he heard himself say, "maybe it takes a while."
Yuda tilted his head to one side, his fingers still in Shin's hair, stroking his jaw with his thumb. His expression was soft, but there was something in his eyes that Shin hadn't seen before. A heat, a passion that was so intense it would have frightened him in anyone else. But this was Yuda, who loved him and cared for him, and made him feel better than anything else in the heavens.
"In that case I think I'll cover you in freckles," he said. "All over."
Shin held his breath, unable to move, or think. Then Yuda laughed, pushing Shin to the ground and covering his neck and shoulders and chest in a flurry of tiny kisses, taking advantage of his surprise to tickle him unbearably about the ribs. Shin felt the tension flow out of him in a gasping breaths and giggles, feebly and uselessly fighting back, until he lay exhausted and squeaking for mercy. Yuda straddled his thighs triumphantly, his fingers resting softly against the flesh they had just tortured, whispering over the thin cloth of Shin's shirt.
"You're beautiful." Shin's hair had come loose, somehow, and Yuda spread it over his shoulders, laying each strand down carefully, reverently. "So beautiful."
"And you," said Shin, and then he saw that look in Yuda's eyes again, that intensity, a spark of indigo in the sky-blue. The sun glinted off his headband, his hair stuttering like a flame in the breeze. Beautiful somehow wasn't a big enough word to describe how Yuda looked in that moment. Shin knew he'd remember it forever.
Yuda leaned closer, looking at Shin curiously, as if he were examining a flower or a butterfly. "I can't help it," he whispered to himself, "I simply have to kiss you."
Shin waited, breathless, for the soft lips to descend on his nose again, or his cheeks, his neck, his shoulders. But it didn't. He gasped as Yuda's kiss blessed his own lips, the soft touch of his hair brushing against Shin's face, gentle fingers cradling his head. He couldn't tell whether it was Yuda's magic that made his body tingle and his heart sing, or something else.
He opened his eyes to meet Yuda's calm, questioning gaze, and suspected it was something else.
"Will you let me?" Yuda's voice was soft, but deep and full of authority. This wasn't a coy request as much as an expression of need.
"Yes," whispered Shin, not really knowing what he was agreeing to, but unable to refuse anything, anything at all, that that voice asked of him.
Yuda gave a little smile, an acknowledgement of Shin's innocence, and dipped his head to kiss him again, even more softly than before, but with the faintest flick of his tongue, and a quiet surge of magic.
Shin let out a moan, and parted his lips to encourage Yuda to slip his tongue between them, taking the kiss longer, deeper, snatching their breath and heating their blood. Yuda's fingers slid under Shin's shirt, tenderly caressing the skin he'd just tickled. It didn't tickle anymore. It glowed and came to life under Yuda's touch, making Shin quiver with pleasure. For a moment he held his body tight, perhaps the last moment of innocence, the moment of choice. Then he let his own desire surface, his own heat and passion. He wound his fingers through Yuda's beautiful, wonderful hair, and surrendered to him, not meekly or with acceptance, but with a want, a longing that made his chest ache. Yuda moaned warm approval, accepting Shin's gift in a shower of kisses and tiny licks, across Shin's face and down his neck, peeling off his shirt to kiss his chest, his ribs, flirting with his nipples. Every now and then Shin could feel the pulse of magic, thrilling skin that didn't need healing but glowed and warmed under Yuda's lips, every tiny hair quivering, every nerve ending bright with sensation. Then Yuda moved lower, and took off the rest of Shin's clothes, revealing his body, lean and angular, slim hips and flat belly, narrow waist. Shin blushed under Yuda's gaze, knowing his sex was hard and glistening wet at the tip, proclaiming his need more rudely than seemed decent in the context of Yuda's soft caresses and tender kisses.
Shin's eyes snapped shut and he gasped as Yuda kissed the very tip of his erection, a wisp of magic and Yuda's soft wet tongue lapping at him, circling the little slit, gently pushing his foreskin back to reach the ridge around the head, licking and kissing and licking until Shin forgot to be shy and simply let himself dissolve under Yuda's touch. Although, in fact, he hadn't touched him yet, not with his hands. Just his lips and tongue, nibbling and licking and kissing and then Shin suddenly felt he was about to come, and tugged softly on Yuda's hair to warn him, but he wouldn't stop. He soothed Shin with a hand on his belly, and took half his length into the wet cavern of his mouth, sliding his tongue along the underside, lips firm as he drew back again, and then plunged down to swallow him completely. This time Shin saw stars; his mind filled with a feeling he had no name for, and he came, flooding Yuda's mouth, arching his back off the grass and gasping for breath.
Yuda licked him clean, kneeling between his thighs, stroking his tummy softly, soothingly, whispering his name in his deep, glorious voice. "Shin, you're so beautiful, so beautiful, so beautiful. . ."
"I. . ." Shin tried, but no words would come. He wanted to take Yuda in his arms, to hold or be held, but he couldn't move, languid with pleasure and the tender caress of Yuda's hands.
"Shhh. . . be still. I'm not done yet."
Shin opened his eyes, and saw Yuda watching him, a tiny smile on his face. He leaned back on his heels and started to undress, slowly and gracefully, revealing his sleek chest first, his taut stomach, and then he knelt up to push his clothing off his lower half; revealing well muscled thighs and his own erection, perhaps a little thicker than Shin's, arcing proudly up from a soft tangle of crimson curls. And then he was naked, the late afternoon sun dappling his skin golden, his hair falling softly over his shoulders and at the nape of his neck, and he settled back on his knees between Shin's legs, his hands resting lightly on Shin's hips.
"Okay?" Yuda asked quietly, and Shin nodded.
"Can I. . . I want to do something for you," Shin whispered.
"In a little while," said Yuda. "There's still some places I haven't kissed."
"But. . ."
"Shhhh. Just let me show you," he said, and before Shin could make any protest, he felt a gentle hand on each inner thigh, stroking the silky skin and gently pushing his legs further apart.
At first, Shin thought he was going to kiss his balls, and braced himself, because they were impossibly sensitive and prone to ticklishness, and he was almost frightened of the touch. But it didn't come. Instead, he felt the whisper of Yuda's breath lower down, across the sensitive ridge of flesh below his balls. Yuda's hands smoothed back to Shin's hips and encouraged them to rock back, tilting his pelvis. Suddenly Shin realised what was about to happen and cried out in fear and surprise and glorious anticipation, and then Yuda's lips were fluttering over the tender skin of his anus, his tongue was flicking and teasing, and his nose was brushing against Shin's balls, no longer on edge with over-sensitivity but beyond it, welcoming the touch and anyway nothing, nothing could ever feel as good as Yuda's lips just then.
The blood rushed back into his cock, and he was hard again in an instant, as if he hadn't just come forever into Yuda's mouth. Yuda's tongue was bathing the petals of his anus, stabbing gently at the little hole, and eventually, entering him, just a little, a touch of magic in the kiss to ease the way. It was impossibly wet and unbearably good, making Shin's thighs quiver and bringing little mewling sounds out of him he'd had no idea he could make.
A careful finger entered him then, and the last vestiges of Shin's rational thought got together to tell him where this was leading. This was a choice, a gift, something he needed to be sure about. He realised Yuda was waiting, holding one finger still inside him; he looked down into Shin's eyes, and asked the question.
"Do you want this? Do you want me, Shin? Here, now? Like this? Is this what you want?"
He wanted it more than he'd wanted anything in his life.
"Yes," he breathed. " I haven't. . . not before. Not ever, with anyone." Not out of fear, but to make a gift of it, to make sure Yuda understood.
Yuda smiled. "I know," he said.
"I want it to be you, Yuda."
Yuda's eyes softened, and he brushed Shin's hair back from his face, kissed him lightly on the lips.
The finger inside him moved, and found a part of him that Shin hadn't even known existed. It pulsed ripples of pleasure through his body, making him harder than he'd ever been and ready to do anything, *anything* if it would make Yuda do it again. For what seemed like a long time, Yuda kissed him and stroked and flicked with that finger, until Shin was crying out with an almost unbearable blend of joy and need. Then Yuda stopped, reaching for something in his clothing. Shin took a few much needed lungfuls of air, and watched him as he produced a little vial of liquid.
"Healing potion?" he asked, and his voice must have sounded a little nervous, because Yuda laughed fondly at him.
"No, baka. Just oil. The finest oil in all the heavens, but. . . just oil. Don't you trust me?"
"With my life," said Shin, without hesitation. "Always."
Yuda smiled. "You are the sweetest creature," he said.
He took his time, preparing Shin with kisses and warm oil until he wanted to beg, he needed Yuda inside him so badly. And when Yuda was finally satisfied, he told Shin to keep his eyes open, to look at him all the while, to tell him if it hurt even in the slightest. But it didn't hurt. It felt tense, at first, tight and harsh and impossible, and then Yuda was inside him, slick and hard, and he was kissing him, tongue and lips on fire with magic, and it felt better than anything. Yuda waited until Shin started to rock his hips, urging him to move, and when he did move it was slow and long, and the kissing didn't stop, except for the occasional gasp of breath or deep moan of pleasure.
Shin wrapped his legs around Yuda's waist, and tangled his fingers in crimson hair, watching Yuda's eyes turn darker and darker with passion, more purple than blue by the end. He gasped as he felt a hand circling his erection, pulling firmly on it, answering an ache he hadn't even realised he'd had, so intent had he been on all the new sensations flowing inside him. He was close, all of a sudden, very close, but of course, Yuda knew.
"For me, Shin. Come for me."
Shin shook his head. "Together," he whispered.
Yuda smiled. "Alright then," he said. "Together."
His rhythm changed, and it was no effort for Shin to fall in with it; he felt so close to Yuda that he could read every message his body was giving as if it were his own. At the instant that Yuda pressed deep inside him for the last time, he let his own pleasure come, so that he flooded their bellies as Yuda flooded his insides, and together they sank into bliss. Shin held his lover tight - knowing for the first time that Yuda was his lover - and showered kisses over his shoulder and neck. Yuda gasped and tears sprang to his eyes at the feel of them, and he pulled Shin upright, into his lap, burying his face in the luxurious fall of green hair and rocking him gently.
They recovered, slowly, with long kisses and the caress of the cooling breeze on their skin, and lay back in the grass, a tangle of limbs and hair, listening to the burbling of the stream.
Shin thought it would last forever.
* * * * * * *
Gou returned from the bath and slid into bed beside him, tense and brooding. Shin curled into his bath-warmed body, seeking comfort, but at the same time realising that Gou's need was greater than his.
"Rest, brother," he said.
"Something terrible has happened," said Gou, pulling Shin closer still, stroking his hair with one steady hand. "Something. . . I don't know what, but. . .."
Shin closed his eyes, the dried tears stinging his face with their salt, and held his brother tight.
They took refuge in each other, then, a tangle of need and desire, and eventually, wrapped securely in his brother's arms, Shin slept, grateful not to dream.