The nights were bitter and at their coldest in the winter.
Ritsu hated it; he hated the ache he felt where the chilling air touched his skin, he hated the murky nightlights and the winds. It made his fingers feel as stiff as bones, his nose, his ears bitten red. His warm breath froze in the air above him, the shingles of his roof digging feeling like rocky ice digging into his back, the cold seeping through his clothing.
But, the warm body lying on the roof of his house beside him made it more than bearable.
Shou hadn’t said a word for a while, lying completely still, his arms cushions under his head as he stared straight upwards. Ritsu knew he was struggling with something, could see it on the way his eyebrows knit together and his teeth worried his bottom lip. But he could feel it, too, a sort of crackling energy in the air that seemed to wrap around Ritsu, dripping into his bones and warming him from the inside out.
“Ritsu,” Shou finally spoke up, his voice sounding strained. Ritsu let out a low hum, turning his head to look right at him. Shou didn’t meet his eyes, his gaze pinned to the stars above them. He drew in a breath, gasps getting stuck on the frost in his throat. “If…” He gulped, eyebrows drawn together. “If I told you something. Something huge.” He looked over at Ritsu, his eyes warm and unnerving and comforting. Shou’s bottom lip was bitten between his teeth. Rising eagerness made Ritsu’s chest feel like it was going to cave in.
“If I told you something that could.. That could change this. Us… What would you say?”
The stars above them, hidden behind clouds that dappled the sky like paint, were unblinking eyes staring down at them. The cold stole the air from Ritsu’s lungs. “Uh,” He struggled to find the words, swimming around in his head. “I mean… I don’t know.” He shrugged, tried to be oblivious, to pretend that he didn’t know what Shou meant, tried to pretend his heart was beating against his ribs. “It depends on what it is.”
But Ritsu knew.
He knew what Shou wanted to say, to really talk about.
They had known each other for a long time, had been dancing around each other for months, years, never really able to find the words. They always spoke in intertwined fingers, warm touches, chaste kisses that always, always went unsaid. In laughter, in their conversations, phrases and silent words that were imbedded in the warmth of Shou’s body lying right beside Ritsu.
Ritsu figured they never needed to put a name to whatever this thing they had was. Because emotions, affection, feelings were something soundless that he didn’t know how to describe. They made him feel vulnerable.
Love was dangerous. It was tantalizing, with a charming drawl and beckoning eyes, hidden claws like daggers and fangs that could tear him apart.
Ritsu didn’t want to what they had, was afraid to give it a name, and had assumed Shou was the same way.
Now, seeing the way Shou seemed to recede back into himself, the energy that had warmed him to the very core slipping from Ritsu’s bones and leaving ice in its wake, made Ritsu realize he might be wrong.
“But,” Ritsu said quickly, Shou’s eyes, hopeful and aching, latched onto his face. Ritsu didn’t return his gaze, couldn’t bring himself to. He watched his words freeze in the air. “I would, ah, I would… tell you that, I mean. if you’re trying to tell me what I think you are then, then I-I’d say. I’d say I feel the sa–”
Shou’s laughter made him fall silent, made his bones melt in his body and the city lights around them feel as warm as the sun. Ritsu glanced at him out of the corner of his eye, taken back by how the blush tinging his face and his bright smile made the stars in his skin shine.
“This is the first time I’ve ever heard you stumble over your words so much” Shou hummed, “or seen you this flustered. It looks good on you.”
Ritsu didn’t know what to say to that, instead reaching over and entangling his fingers in Shou’s hair, pressing his lips to his.
Ritsu didn’t really want to put a name to this, whatever it was, but if he had to for Shou’s sake, he’d call it love.