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One of the most difficult things to get used to was the way that necessities didn’t just appear anymore. Food wasn’t automatically cooked and left on tables at the precise stroke of the clock; stained or torn clothing tossed into closets remained just that way; clocks had to be rewound. He had to buy toothpaste when the tube ran out.

The first time that happened to Touga, it had both amazed and terrified him. He had stood in the bathroom, holding the empty tube and trying to understand. Things went on but they were also finite, no longer looping into oblivion. When he looked into the mirror, he saw that he needed to cut his hair, and that was the piece that broke on through, leading him to have a brief existential crisis that left him unable to leave the bathroom for a full two hours. Things went on, now. His hair grew. His nails grew. He was getting older, and things were never going to be the same again, ever.

It would have been harder if Saionji hadn't been going through the exact same thing. Even just the day before, he had found his friend in the garage, staring at his motorcycle.

“It won’t start,” Saionji said. The matter-of-fact tone he used barely covered the surprise in his voice like a thin veneer. “It needs to be refueled.”

Vehicles didn’t just drive on and on here. It was strange and it was frightening, but it was satisfying in a way he’d never felt before. Things ended, but they were his. He could make a choice to cut his hair or to buy a certain type of tea, and then it would happen as he chose.

Of course, he reflected, there were nights he missed the ease of things replaced and the simplicity of drifting through a life where nothing ever ended. But there was usually something to distract him from that. Right now, it was standing in the kitchen, wearing an incongruously frilly apron and an expression that predicted death for the cooking pot of peas overflowing onto the stove, as well anything else in the near vicinity.

“Not a single fucking word from you,” Saionji said, scowling darkly.

“Goes with your hair,” Touga said, and then teasingly, “old friend.”

“You know, you haven’t changed that much,” Saionji said with annoyance, but there was a smile somewhere in the corners of his mouth that bloomed slightly when he scooped up a handful of peas and smeared them across Touga’s chest, and then fully when Touga coaxed it out with his own mouth

“Yes,” he said against Saionji’s mouth.

He reminded himself that he would have to wash his shirt tonight. He decided that he didn't mind.