Advent calendar, part 18

 

18

Slowly, Mizuki stirred awake. The light streaming in from the window revealed that it was already morning, maybe even early afternoon.
I overslept. He groaned.
“Mmh?” Settia’s voice split the silence.
Everything came back to him. Mizuki turned his gaze worriedly to the other man. “You’re awake? How are you feeling?”
“Better,” Settia replied hoarsely. “Throat is dry though.”
“Here,” Mizuki reached out for the half-full glass on the table by the bed. This time, Settia took it, and drank by himself. It seemed some of his strength had returned. Relief washed through the student.
“By the way, haven’t you overslept?” Settia glanced at the clock.
“Yeah. I guess I did.”
“Aren’t you going..?”
“No, I…” he felt his face turning scarlet. “I don’t want to leave you again. I should have noticed yesterday that-“
“Give it a rest,” Settia pushed himself off his elbows, sitting up. “You’ve done everything right. I’m fine now.”
That was a lie. He still looked pale and fatigued.
“Go to uni,” Settia urged. “It’s only for a few hours. I’ll probably sleep most of the day anyway.”
Mizuki felt insecure. “Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. Thanks for being so concerned though.”
“Noel is gonna have a field day…” Mizuki reluctantly stood from the bed.
“Hm? Noel?”
“He’s a friend from uni.”
“His name means-“
“Yeah I know. I thought you’d like that.” Mizuki gave half a smile. “Sure you’ll be fine?”
Yes,” Settia sighed. “Get dressed already.”

***

As expected, Noel had teased him about being late. He’d also insinuated that it had something to do with the friend Mizuki had mentioned earlier. When he had enquired why on earth Noel would assume something like that – with burning cheeks no less, his friend had simply replied “You look a lot happier lately.”
Maybe that was true? His disposition had probably changed a lot of the past two weeks, much thanks to Settia’s appearance. It was odd, how close they had gotten. Somehow, it didn’t feel real.
As he walked home that afternoon, Mizuki mused over recent events, and how he didn’t feel as stressed anymore, not about his thesis, although he probably should be. And strangest of all; how little the hustle and bustle of December irritated him lately, maybe because he was far too preoccupied with his own personal mystery. It was cold out, so he was careful when he reached the door, only opening it to a slight minimum, to make sure he didn’t let out too much heat as he slipped inside.
“I’m home.” He said softly, placing his bag on the floor, hanging off his coat in the hall and walking into the room where Settia was still in bed. He looked better though. The color of his hair was brighter, the spikes not as flat. His skin wasn’t as pale either.
“Welcome back.” Settia greeted him, sitting up in bed, smiling. “You look cold.”
“I am. It’s pretty cold again today. Slippery too.”
Settia pulled aside the covers, scooting over towards the wall. “Come on then, get in.”
Mizuki hesitated – he had wanted to start dinner, but found himself lurking over to the other man after all, getting in next to him. It felt way intimate, even though he was fully dressed. Settia’s warmth radiated against him when their hips touched under the cover.
“You had a good day?” Settia asked, tilting his head slightly so it rested against Mizuki’s.
“Myeah, all things considered.”
“How was Noel?”
Mizuki snorted. “As expected. And you?”
“Much better now,” Settia assured him. “That thing you put in the water really helped I think.”
That was the cue he needed. Mizuki took a sharp breath, and inhaled a pine-like scent; Settias’ scent. “About that….The florist said it was a remedy for sick plants…”
“Yeah?” Laughter seemed to bubble underneath the surface as Settia responded.
“So, does that mean…. Are you really telling the truth?”
“About?”
“You know!” Mizuki had a hard time voicing the words out loud. “Are you really….A plant?”
Settia laughed for real this time. A soft chortle escaped his lips, still chapped. Mizuki reached out, brushing his fingertips gently over them, and onwards, up his cheek bone. Compared to the dry lips, Settia’s skin was soft, smooth to the touch, but it felt very thin, brittle somehow.
“Yesterday,” Settia said, his voice falling a slight notch, “You were afraid for me, weren’t you? What was that you said..?”
“That…cold can kill plants…”  Mizuki turned his gaze away.
“Yes. So perhaps you already know the answer to your question.”
“Is that a confirmation? Are you really Poinsettia? “
“What do you think?”
He was teasing.
“Augh, you’re so….” Mizuki grumbled. He turned to look at him; at this mystery person at his side, only inches away.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m human now.”
Their faces were awfully close together. His hand was still resting on Settia’s jawline.
“Poinsettia….” He started. “Is poisonous…Isn’t it?”
“A little bit.”
His breath was warm on Mizuki’s skin.
“…you too?”
“Want to find out?” Settia countered, his lips curving slightly upwards as he touched them to Mizuki’s own.

**TBC**

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