The following day, December 11th, Settia was obediently waiting for Mizuki outside the shopping center. He was easy enough to spot, standing in front of a massive display of lights shaping all kinds of objects, from the typical sled and reindeer, to Disney figures. His red hair was even brighter in the hue of the millions of lights, and definitely appeared to be glittering. He was attracting all kinds of attention from people – girls in particular as they passed him by, sticking their heads together and giggling excitedly. They probably thought he was a model or something. Mizuki sure would’ve bought into that if he didn’t know better. That’s what he thought as he made his way over, offering a slight wave towards his companion – ignoring that his own wits was somewhat lacking in presence lately.
“Hey!” Mizuki panted, finally reaching him. “I hope you didn’t wait long?”
Settia shook his head. “It’s fine,” He replied. “I met someone I knew, so I had someone to talk to.”
Mizuki glanced in the direction of the vendors, thinking he was fairly certain who this person had been, but clamped his mouth shut. Meanwhile, Settia’s breath was coming in rapid bursts of white smoke in the afternoon air, and his skin looked paler than usual.
“Are you cold?” he asked, slight concern audible in his voice.
Settia shook his head, teeth chattering. It wasn’t very convincing.
Shaking his head, Mizuki placed his hand on the man’s shoulder, leading him towards the entrance. “Let’s get inside. I’ll treat you to some cocoa, okay?”
Though he didn’t seem to particularly enjoy the hot drink, Settia gulped it down, clinging to the cup as if wanting to absorb as much of the heat from the beverage as he could.
They were sitting at the food court, on a bench, shoulder to shoulder. Slowly, the color was returning to Settia’s cheeks.
“I definitely think you need a new jacket.” Mizuki grinned, nudging the other male.
“Yeah. To be honest, I’m not good with the cold.”
“I kinda figured. That makes two of us. I guess we’re both used to higher temperatures, right?”
“You may say that.” Settia smiled, lips curving upwards.
“Can’t you like….tell me more about yourself?” he urged. “It’s kind of strange to have you living at my house without knowing anything about you at all.”
“There isn’t much more to know.” Settia replied secretively. “Like I said, I’m on a mission.”
“And will you tell me what it is?”
“In time.” Mischief glinted in Settia’s green eyes.
“What else? How old are you? What do you do when you don’t force your…friendship on strangers?” he chuckled.
Settia stood, dragging him to his feet. “Never you mind. Come on, I want to get a coat.”
They prowled the mall together, searching through a number of stores before finding the biggest, thickest coat possible – the price tag was enough to make Mizuki’s head spin, enhanced by the endless jingles and carols sounding from the overhead speakers all over the place, the screaming children and the sour faces in line before them. Settia however, was all smiles.
“Isn’t this fun?”
They finally left the store, Settia already zipping up the coat, as if he was cold even inside.
“There’s one more thing I want to do,” he said, dragging Mizuki towards a hardware store. “In here.”
Mizuki followed him inside, and was surprised to see that this hardware store looked more like an outlet or something; there was all kinds of stuff on the shelves from office equipment to kitchenware, and even a huge table full of potted Pointsettias. For a moment, Settia seemed to be fawning slightly over them. A crooked smile crossed Mizuki’s face. “What, you’re longing to be with your own kind?”
He nudged him playfully, not bothering to dwell on how sincere that question had been on his side.
“Maybe,” Settia picked up one of the plants, his eyes sparkling. He stroke gently over the leaves, and turned, smiling; “But you’re fine too.”
Mizuki chewed his lip, turning away. Maybe Settia was an alien. Who said these things so easily?
“What are we looking for anyway?”
“Aren’t you holding one?” he glanced quizzically at the plant in Settia’s hands.
“Not like this..” he laughed putting it down. “Come!”
They maneuvered through the aisles, going deeper into the store until they came upon the section of lamps and various types of lights. “One of these!” he picked up a metal star with a cord – a so-called Advent star.
“Didn’t I tell you that I-“
“You hate Christmas. But there’s nothing wrong with lights, right?”
“uh…” Sometimes he was certain the other man was able to see inside his mind – Mizuki had after all, admitted to himself that lights were a bonus to the whole season.
“You don’t hate stars.” Settia’s voice was persuasive, his feet already moving them towards the cash register. He looked comical – his small frame drowning in the massive coat as he placed the package before the cashier and paid. Mizuki shrugged, following behind him.
That same night, the star hung in the small window looking out towards the street – illuminating the room. Mizuki had to admit it was kind of pleasant.
“You’re right.” He said. “I don’t hate Christmas stars.”