Oh my God, I am having the worst day, and I’ve barely been up for three hours. Ugh. So much for a day off…. I hope you’re all feeling better than me today! Anyway, enough of that. Here’s “Poinsettia”, part 19:
They hadn’t mentioned the kisses. Not the first one, and not the ones that had followed. Settia hadn’t proved poisonous, more the opposite; alluring and sweet as he was. But just as it had felt incredibly natural, like with everything else that went on between the two of them, it had just happened and then that was it.
Afterwards, there hadn’t even been a trace of awkwardness. Mizuki had prepared his dinner, worked on his thesis and allowed Settia to continue resting, before turning in fairly early. The next day he had gone to uni, pleased to be wished a nice day by Settia who looked much better. He’d even allowed himself a couple of hours in study hall after his classes ended, before coming back home. The rest of the day had carried on as usual.
And although this marked the third night of them sharing a bed, nothing happened. As if the kisses had never happened.
Now, the calendar read December 19th, and Settia had perked up. When Mizuki returned home from school, he was surprised to find the man dressed and alert on his bed, sitting cross-legged with a wide grin on his face.
“Thanks. You’re looking better?”
“You know what we’re doing today?” Settia didn’t bother answering the previous remarked. He seemed to be bursting with energy.
“I have no idea.”
“Yes you do!” Settia stood, coming over. He placed his hands on Mizuki’s shoulders, looking intently into his eyes. Mizuki’s heart raced. He had somehow gotten used to the way Settia would declare his “love”, and he had accepted what had happened between them as something natural. But he didn’t know where they stood, or what they were supposed to be…
“What did you buy me?” Settia urged.
“I haven’t even been to the store today, what are you-“
“Not now! The other day!”
“Oh. You want to put up the ginger bread house?”
“Bingo!” Settia’s grin was so wide it reminded Mizuki of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland, just not as creepy.
“Alright. I guess we can do that, just let me eat something first?”
“Eat? But there’s candy and…”
“We’re supposed to decorate with that right? Not eat it. I’ll just fry up some leftovers, and then we’ll start. You want anything?”
Settia shook his head. “Water is fine.”
“Settia….” Mizuki hesitated, fishing out the frying pan from the cupboard. “You don’t have to eat, do you?”
The man shook his head. “No.”
“But you ate saffron buns….And cake?”
“I enjoyed it. I can taste things you know. I just don’t have a sense of hunger.”
So even though he was human… It was as if he was a kind of doll, with his stunning beauty and flawless humanity – even if it was an act? While Settia had been ill, Mizuki had been poring over the book from the university, but he’d found nothing about myths or stories, aside from the history of Poinsettia itself, and how to cultivate it etcetera.
“So…” he said, “Let’s say you’re who, or what you say you are. Is this…common?”
“What?” Settia dug through the bottom cupboard, searching for the plastic bag holding the candy for the decoration of the gingerbread house.
“Poinsettia, the human form?”
Settia didn’t respond. It was like he pretended not to have heard the question. Instead, he was digging through the bag filled with chocolate Santas, marshmallows, skittles, candy canes and all kinds of sweets.
“Do you really have to eat first?” he looked up, those green eyes of his pleading.
Mizuki lowered the frying pan onto the stove, sighing. “I suppose we can just get this over with first.”
“Yay!” Settia sprung to his feet, bag in hand, looking as excited as a child on Christmas morning. Mizuki laughed quietly. “You’re really easy to excite, you know that?”
Settia sent him an inscrutable look, saying nothing, still smiling.
“Alright so…” Mizuki grabbed a pack of sugar from a shelf above them. “You get all the parts out of the box and arrange them – carefully. I’ll start melting the sugar.”
“Don’t burn yourself.”
“I won’t don’t worry.”
After some time of impatiently stirring the sugar in the pan, it melted sufficiently for them to glue the parts of the house together, carefully not to burn themselves on the molten sugar. Finally, Settia used a whisk, and draped their construction with strings of golden sugar.
“You’re really good at this, aren’t you?” Mizuki watched in awe. Settia had started drawing perfect diamond shapes on the roof with white frosting made from powdered sugar and egg whites.
“I’m a natural,” the other man smiled, looking at him across their budding masterpiece. Mizuki had started sticking dark red and purple skittles on the side that had already been decorated with frosting – his motions were quick and precise, to get the candy on before the frosting hardened.
“Have you done this before? “
“Of course not.”
He reached for a candy cane, breaking off the hook at the top, sticking the stem onto one of the corners of the house. “Me neither,” Mizuki chose not to pursue the questions in his mind. “But this is really nice…”
“Yeah,” Settia replied, lip quirking. He stopped applying frosting for a moment, and just looked at him. “Yeah. It is.”
In the end, their little gingerbread house stood on the small table in the middle of the room, on a tray covered in tin foil and cotton, surrounded by chocolate Santas. They’d build a fence out of popsicle sticks, a chimney from marshmallows, which were also aligned along the top of the roof itself, making it seem like a thick layer of snow had descended upon the small sugary cottage.
A small lantern, for tea lights was placed at its side, casting a flickering orange glow over the scrumptious-looking masterpiece.
They regarded it in something like awe; proud of what they’d made.
Mizuki chewed on a bit of broken candy cane. “How am I supposed to use the table for anything now?” he wondered out loud.
“You’ll figure it out. Work around it. ”
Mizuki popped the entire candy cane between his lips, sucking thoughtfully.
Settia leaned in close. “You’ll spoil your appetite.” He took the candy from Mizuki’s lips with his own; allowing them to brush against Mizuki’s ever so briefly. The student felt shivers shooting down his spine.
“Don’t surprise me like that…” he mumbled.
Settia licked his lips. “You taste sweet, Mizuki.”
“That’s the candy, you dork.” Mizuki shook his head. “Honestly… What are you supposed to be? Some kind of enchanted Prince Charming?”
He’d said it as a joke. Because Settia was so mysterious and unreal, and no matter what he did it came off as wholehearted and too good to be true. Like something out of a storybook.
“You’ll learn the truth soon enough,” Settia said, speaking as if that was a certainty.
“What does that mean?”
But the red head had gone silent, settling down on the bed yet again, the candy cane hanging from his lips.