“The first time I saw you,” Uruha’s mouth is full of stars, each one dripping right onto Aoi’s nubby, beige carpet. His tongue is loose, easy to catch but quick to fall, and Aoi watches him clutch the lip of the lager tight. “The first time, I was nineteen.”
Aoi is just as loose, legs splayed open and eyes somewhere five-seven-nine years ago. Somewhere with a no-kiss New Years’, with crinkled confetti still in his burnt-yellow hair; somewhere with Ruki’s knee jostling his as the younger gestures to this mountain of a boy-man. Something about ‘Kouyou, lead guitar’. Broad shoulders, hollow collarbones, strong handshake and a whiplash smile.
Aoi sighs across their lips, “Don’t tell me this.”
Uruha is half-in, half-out of a dream – hand stretched across the couch cushions where he collapsed into Aoi’s side, where Aoi is leaning as far away as he can without leaving (like always), fingertips reaching into the past when he said yes. Again and again like it was God on his tongue and not five shots of vodka and Ruki’s hand gripping his shoulder tight.
Like one last ‘this could be it’.
One last bruise, mottled reds and purples on their eyes and spines, one last ripped knuckle for a beggar’s dream.
And they would all like to think they were iron giants in that moment, the gunshot of agreement around the table, but they were so fucking hungry. And Uruha was so small, cold, starving, and so the first time he looked up into Aoi’s smile across from his shaking hands, all he could think was –
“Your coat looked so warm.” Uruha lifts a hand up and over and catches Aoi’s tightening jaw, tilting his face towards his glazed eyes, “And I wanted to be warm, too.”
Aoi scoffs lightly, but allows Uruha to cradle him, “Is that why you said yes?”
Because Aoi can remember bringing those frostbitten blisters closer to his mouth, blowing puffs of hot air as they waited for a cab they couldn’t afford alone. Uruha’s hands in his, Reita’s hands in Uruha’s pockets. An unspoken glance upwards, Uruha leaning into Reita’s easy grin while he traced dirty sonnets inside Aoi’s palms.
“’Yes’,” Uruha mouths the word, tracing each razor edge and curve. He flutters his fingers into the dip of Aoi’s inner thigh lazily, “Is that what I said?”
Aoi rips Uruha’s roving fingers away from his fevered skin with a grit of his teeth; he snatches his wrists and braces them above the younger’s lolling head, knuckles white. Aoi perches above him and he’s dark under the eyes. Midnight bruises, so dark, and Uruha can taste the countless times Aoi has said yes.
And Aoi knows Uruha doesn’t love him. Not like he used to.
Not like ripped sheets and night-drunk kisses in front of an entire crowd. Not like scrapes on their knees and running through the mouth of neon nights until they were everyone and no one at all, biting each other’s fists to keep quiet.
But Uruha thinks that might be okay, because he thinks maybe Aoi has always been a little crooked on the idea. Always a little too fast to say it, to let it rush out if only to have a marred little piece of it. Believing in it until they are both burning up and up, and suddenly those notes are spilling out so fucking fast, song after song, and all it takes is Uruha against the door or Aoi on his hands and knees and Uruha’s hand buried in his short-long-black-pink-blond-black-black hair, don’t stop.
Maybe Aoi has forgotten how to love. Maybe he never learned how.
Not really, not when ‘love’ was a free cigarette in January.
“Yes, you did,” Aoi kisses him hard, biting and taking and bleeding the lie dry.