Author's Notes: Because it's sad, and beautiful, and you know that paradise has to end sometime.
Take Your Time
By Alexandra Lucas
When he comes home, the floor is littered with paper, as white as the drifts of snow that lay outside when he went to work, pure and still glittering faintly. They were grey now, trodden into the ground and more water than ice, coating his boots in clumps that he has to stoop to scrape off before he comes inside.
They had handed the files to him a few weeks ago. He could still see the insincere, placating smile the scientist had turned on him, all yellowing, hard teeth and squinting eyes that could not hide their avarice. "Just a small project," he bit out, clicking his teeth into the rictus grin in an ineffectual attempt to seem friendly. "Such a remarkable, special little boy, yes, and so very very bright, and we wouldn't want him to get bored in that big house, we wouldn't, wouldn't we?" Leaning far too close to Gingetsu's face as though they were conspirators, stretching up because he only came to his lapels, and Gingetsu didn't bother to hide the frown of displeasure. He felt the man's breath on his neck, moist and heavy and he had to restrain the sudden urge to just lop the man's head off. Then he had thought of the boy he had left at home this morning, still heartbreakingly slender no matter how much Gingetsu fed him, only able to look forward to another day alone in the large, Spartan house. The precious hours slipping out of his fingers like fine sand, and just as impossible to stop.
[In a cage of its own choosing and unable to fly, what else can the bird do but what it was created for?]
Lan had turned them over in his hands, then put them aside to eat dinner. They had not talked about it at all, but Gingetsu had cleared a space for him in a corner of the living room, making a larger bare space and shifting a small, usually unused armchair into it for him. Lan had offered to help, was tacitly refused and had stood by, watching Gingetsu. He assured him that he wouldn't need anything else, and the next day, Gingetsu had come home to wires coiling their way across the room, printouts of technical details carpeting the floor and more curling their way out of a device he could barely recognize as his own printer. Lan was almost lost in the armchair, wires trailing about a small figure in black, one slipper dangling off a small foot and the other on the floor, a half-empty cup of tea long since cooled beside him. Gingetsu laid a hand on his shoulder, and Lan had been startled out of his chair, jumping up and colliding solidly with Gingetsu, knocking over his cup in the process and spilling tea over the paper at their feet. He had apologized profusely, more flustered than Gingetsu had ever seen him, and the blue eyes that were normally so clear blinked in hazy confusion from Gingetsu to the tea to the twilight beyond the window. He had, he explained, lost track of time.
[So sing while you can, and wait for death.]
Over dinner, he had talked of nothing else. They must have made a ludicrous pair at the table, a boy who looked no more than fourteen explaining magic and technology and teleportation to a man twice his age. When he had run out of words, he sat for a moment, collecting himself, one hand brushing absent-mindedly at his left shoulder, a finger skimming over his tattoo.
"You don't mind that they are using you?" The first words he has spoken since they sat down for dinner, and behind his visor he watches Lan keenly, weighing the minute changes in his breathing, in the flush on his cheeks.
He is satisfied with that.
[And don't forget to be happy while you wait.]
They wash up together, Lan drying the dishes Gingetsu hands to him, a comfortable silence broken only by the clink of ceramic, and the almost-silent brush of Lan's arm against his when he reaches for the next bowl. They move into the living room, Lan picking up papers and sweeping what he can over the floor with his foot, the rustle of paper blending into the hum of the small computer system that had appeared in the corner. He picks up seemingly random pieces from the mess and moves to Gingetsu's side on the couch, the sound system coming on as he does so, and the quiet strains of an aria from La Boheme fill the air.
It gets darker outside, until black fills the expanse, broken by small pinpoints of light that neither of them turn to look at. Lan's head falls to Gingetsu's shoulder, a movement in several stages that takes place over a hour, or maybe longer. La Boheme finishes, and the stereo clicks to orchestral music, and Lan's fingers find Gingetsu's arm, sliding down until he reaches his hand, twining their fingers. Lan curls himself onto the couch and more fully against Gingetsu, who shifts to accomodate him. They continue reading, surrounded by the small pool of light from the reading lamp and holding their papers with one hand.
Most of the lights in the window have winked out long since, and the stereo is silent when Lan finally puts the papers to one side and lifts his hand to Gingetsu's face. He turns to him, and there is the quiet splash of more paper hitting the floor. Lan's fingers seem too small on his face, long and slender and clad in the sleeve of a dark blue sweater that is a little too large for him, on a body that has not quite shed all of its baby fat. His eyes, however, are ageless and achingly clear as he leans forward, just before his lashes slide shut and he kisses him, sweet and warm and as soft and gentle as a breath.
[It won't be too long.]
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