Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday.
“Come on,” Reiji rumbled. He slipped on a pair of white gloves as he waited for Naoya. He was dark and elegant in his finery, every inch the head of the household in bearing. “We’re going to be late.” He added something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like “God help the man who keeps Kiichi waiting.”
Naoya smoothed down the front of his too-fine silk jacket, self-conscious in such good clothes even after repeated shopping trips to the upscale stores that Kiichi-sensei frequented. On those encounters he was dragged along in the path of the hurricane. He tried on everything Sensei directed, posed in the manner of the uncomfortably willing, but wearing it well was something else entirely.
When he looked at Reiji, he knew what it meant for someone to wear it well.
“Aoe-san,” Naoya said, and cleared his throat self-consciously. “I’m ready.” He crossed through the living room to where Reiji waited in the genkan, tapping the toe of first one shoe, then the other to ensure they were on properly.
When his own shoes were on properly, Naoya stood, moved, and found the way barred.
Reiji was blocking the door.
“What?” Naoya said, rubbing a hand over the short tousle of his sandy hair. “Did I forget something?” The defensive look made his mouth thin down to mutiny.
A hand tipped his chin up as Reiji looked at his face. The close scrutiny made the boy flush, as always. “Your coat,” Reiji said at last, and let him go. He was looking past him now, fierce dark gaze turned in the direction of the wide windows of their flat. One hand fell to the door knob. “It’s cold.”
“It’s not that cold,” Naoya protested, knowing even by that point it was useless. The immovable object of Reiji was in his path, and he could stand in that way with that calm expression for hours until Naoya finally caved and got his coat. He tried for an imploring look, but knew he’d probably only managed a sulky one. “After all, Sensei is waiting.”
All Reiji had to do was continue to look.
After Naoya had donned his coat and tucked the trailing ends of his too-fine cashmere scarf into the throat of his garment, he moved, again, to the door and found it blocked, again. “Aoe-san?” he said, confused. What had he forgotten now? A stick-pin for the scarf? He vaguely remembered Kiichi-sensei getting something like that, and knew that Aoe-san frequently wore jeweled or solid gold accessories.
Reiji’s fingers brushed over his face. “Merry Christmas,” he murmured, and tipped Naoya’s face up into a slow, sweet kiss.
The fragrance of Aoe Reiji surrounded him, the scent he always wore, gift of the year past. The firm lips of Aoe Reiji moved over him, pursued him leisurely even inside his mouth, making Naoya dizzy with a kind of hyper-aware happiness. Too much. Reiji always gave him this much.
When they broke, the door was halfway open before Naoya recovered his senses, and there was a gray felt-covered box in his palm. Naoya blinked, grinned tightly, and skipped past Reiji to allow him to lock the door.
“You can open it later,” Reiji rumbled as they walked for the elevator. “I just wanted to give it to you now.”
Naoya thought he understood.
Curbside, a limousine purred in the crouching gloom of the early December evening. As they stepped into the cold and Naoya thought to himself very quietly that Reiji had been right to insist on a coat, he felt prickles scatter over his face. Ghost residue, dusty white, lodged in his lashes.
“Snow,” Naoya murmured, turning stricken eyes to the sky.
Reiji took his arm, ostensibly to help him into the car. “Happy birthday, Naoya-kun.”
Naoya held up a hand, watching flakes melt on his palm. His fingers clenched around a gray box in his pocket and he thought about the next day, and the next. His breath was the merest wisp of fog on the air. “Thank you, Aoe-san.” The words encompassed everything.
The snow melts and becomes the rain. The clouds part and the sun is always behind them. There’s a light in this world that never goes out.