Advent Calendar, part 21

 

21

Although Mizuki felt worried about being outside for too long, Settia hadn’t been able to convince him entirely that he was okay. Not after how sick he had been. When they went to bed that night, he had been relieved that Settia’s skin was warm against his own, and that his breath was rhythmic and regular. He’d crept even closer to him, and fallen asleep, inhaling that peculiar scent of his.

When he awoke on Saturday, it was already past noon. Settia was awake, but not up it seemed. He lay beside him, just gazing at him. Mizuki blinked a couple of times as he came to, yawning.
“What are you looking at?” he mumbled.
“You. I want to remember you like this.”
“What, sleeping? I’m probably drooling and everything…” He wiped the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand. “What do you mean by that anyway?”
“You look cute, Mizuki.”
As usual, he was cryptic. Mizuki didn’t pursue it. He noticed that he was feeling more refreshed than he had in a long time. Yawning again, he asked. “You been up long?”
Settia shrugged. “A while.”
Mizuki rolled over on his back, gazing up at the ceiling, keeping half an eye on Settia, sitting upright next to him. “So, what are we doing today?”
“Are we doing something today?”
“Aren’t we?” he could hear the disappointment in his own voice. He had gotten so used to these antics of Settia’s – no day being like the next, and all these new impulses he had been subjected to. He felt warm at the thought of the night before, skin budding beneath the covers at the thought of pale lights, cool air and Settia’s arms around his waist.
“What do you want to do, Mizuki?”
“Uh…” he didn’t know what to say. He had just taken for granted that he wouldn’t be the one to think of something to do.  “I don’t know what there is to do?”
To be honest, he was thinking that he wouldn’t mind staying with Settia like this all day, but he didn’t voice that thought out loud.
“Hang on,” Settia stood from the bed, looking rather peculiar with his hoodie, barely covering his underwear, and woolen socks that went way up towards his knee. He picked up Mizuki’s laptop and brought it back to bed, starting it up and looking up a search engine.
“Let’s see what’s happening in the world, shall we?” he smiled, moving closer to Mizuki, typing away on the keyboard.

In the end, it was decided that they were going to go to a nearby school, where the students were putting up a play. Mizuki was a bit skeptical towards going to a showing of “A Christmas Carol,” but considering it was free, and Settia seemed really keen on it, he agreed.  By the time both acts were over, he had to admit that the students were impressive, especially the younger ones.
They walked home afterwards, hand in hand beneath rows and rows of pine and tinsel garlands strung between the buildings in town.
“Noel calls me Scrooge,” he said, smiling slightly.
“He does?” Settia arched an eyebrow, but didn’t look very surprised at all.
“Don’t pretend you’re surprised.” Mizuki nudged him hard in the ribs through his coat. “Like you didn’t bring me to the play with some kind of ulterior motive?”
Settia stopped short in his tracks, grabbing Mizuki by both hands and stared at him, green orbs digging into Mizuki’s with an intensity he’d never before experienced.
“I didn’t.  Mizuki, whatever change you’ve gone through this December…. You’ve done that work yourself.”
He was squeezing Mizuki’s hands hard in his own.
“Changes..?”
It dawned on him. “This mission of yours…?”
“I never meant to impose, or force you into anything… I just wanted you to see that there was more to Christmas than just consumerism and stress.”
“But I told you that I-“ he wrung his hands from Settia’s grip. “Didn’t I tell you that I don’t celebrate it?”
He felt sort of cheated. Sort of upset all of a sudden, that everything they had done together was apparently in order to force traditions he didn’t celebrate onto him?
“I didn’t want you to think that I came here to make you celebrate Christmas.”
“Then why did you?”
The tone had changed between them.
“My mission was to lighten your spirits, and make you see the good things, not only about the season, but in people themselves…”
“And you did that by lying to me?”
“I never lied!” Settia grabbed his arm, pulling Mizuki towards himself. “I didn’t know how to tell you. And I really wanted to do was to help you out, like I said.”
“I still don’t understand what you mean by that…”
“I wanted you to see the beauty of everything. The season and the people and traditions and all.”
Mizuki still felt conflicted. Wasn’t that basically the same thing? But the look in Settia’s eyes said something else. The other man seemed to be pleading with him.
“I love you, Mizuki. For you, for being so kind to me, and for being this amazing person who’s been stepping out of your comfort zone to be there for others…”
Mizuki swallowed. He wanted to argue. He’d gone along with those things because he didn’t have much choice. But he had chosen to do so, on his own accord. He had learned and grown through some of these experiences, and thoroughly enjoyed them all. His anger subsided as fast as it had arisen, his mind calming down a little.
He still had so many questions.
With a deep sigh, he placed a gentle hand on Settia’s cheek, leaning in to kiss him softly. “Let us go home.”
He wanted to believe him.

**TBC**

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