Darkness was floating around him, shrouding both him and the motionless body laying mere centimeters away. His view was blinded by the brigth light of an unknown source, and he felt himself suffocating. Was it the heat, or the panic prickling his eyes and twisting his insides?
Fire was omnipresent, like that old unforgotten day of his childhood. He didn’t know where he was anymore and started groping around, searching for any clue, something that could help him understand the consequences of the recent series of rushed events which continued to mingle in his mind. His heart dropped when his right hand found an inanimate arm on the still cold floor. He didn’t need to move any further to understand what he had in front of him.
The still young boy tried to cry for help, to scream in desperation, but nothing came out, his throat was too dry, like that cursed day of his distant childhood.
A sharp pain suddenly hit his back yet he didn’t try to resist, knowing that it was too late for trying anything in order to rescue themselves.
Hakuryuu slowly opened his eyes at the feeling of the morning sun on his face. Unlike the other times, he woke up progressively without his heart bursting or his throat hurting. He gently sat on his damaged bed before glancing at his alarm clock, considering the hour. It’s been a while he hasn’t slept that much, but it has also been a while he hasn’t had that nightmare.
Said nightmare seemed to fade like any other dream, and not to sting like it was a pained memory. He felt strangely calm about it, contrasting with the other times where he ended sobbing on his matress, and he didn’t understand why.
Before having any more thoughts about it, loud bangs could be heard from the front door, indicating that his cousin came without doubt to wake him up.
When he opened the door to Kougyoku, who could be compared to a storm at the moment, she forced him into the bathroom quickly because they apparently planned to see each other so he shouldn’t make her wait too much before her classes. Hakuryuu snorted at the thought that he does too have classes on the afternoon and didn’t make such a fuss about it, even though he needed to advance on his master thesis.
Naturally, and unfortunately for the brunet, his cousin needed to go to countless shops before going to that new cafe she wanted to try out so much because “it’s the most popular in town since it opened and hasn’t it a nice decoration? I’m sure it’ll be amazing, I feel like we have to try it the fastest possible.” Hakuryuu didn’t question her determination, knowing she was as stubborn as him when she wanted.
During this whole exhausting expedition, an inexplicable feeling of nostalgia lingered in the back of the young man’s mind, mixed with gentle sorrow unconsciously accepted. As his sibling pointed it out nicely, he was out of it, as the only time he spoke was to ask things considered as ‘too cryptic for the hour’ by Kougyoku, like “did you already have those kind of dreams that feel really nostalgic even though you didn’t experienced what you actually dreamt of?”
After having arrived at the cafe and having been placed on a table, Hakuryuu went to the bar to order. Flicking through the list of hot drinks, he didn’t immediately notice that someone from the staff was finally in front of him, waiting for him to pick something.
"Can I help you?"
The four words mentioned by a gentle yet comforting voice were enough to make his thoughts stop. The blue eyed young man slowly raised his head, encountering a warm smile that was way too familiar. After a moment of silence, he slightly chuckled at the redhead in front of him.
"It doesn’t suit you at all."
"Well, sorry about that but it’s a permanent dye, so you’ll have to wait a bit to see my natural colour."
The answer was direct but amused, with a pinch of fondness in it.
"I don’t understand why you changed, blond hair suited you perfectly..Alibaba."
The two youngsters stared at each other for a moment, before new broad smiles broke on both faces.
"I understand better why I had this dream last night" was Alibaba’s remark to break silence.
”..And why I felt so peaceful about it when waking up” added Hakuryuu, already assuming they both experienced the same thing.
”..We’re indeed too calm about this whole situation. But believe me if I wasn’t at work right now I would have jumped on you.”
"It’s been a long time you haven’t annoyed me, indeed" he chuckled before slightly nodding.
They both grew up separatedly in this life, but they could clearly recognize each other as they remembered everything they went through.
Alibaba glanced quickly at Hakuryuu’s hands before showing slight relief. “I see you have both of your arms…that’s good”
”..That’s awkward, we need to talk. Properly, I mean, not standing up with the cash desk separating us.”
The former blond laughed slightly. “I’m starting my break anyway, we can go on a walk in the park next to the cafe. Did you come alone..?”
"No, but I think she’ll undestand, if she hasn’t already."
They both were fairly quiet until reaching said park, feeling a bit uneasy. Again, Alibaba was good with making conversation.
"You know, it’s not the only life we had since..that time."
"Really?" Hakuryuu was quite surprised by that, as he didn’t remember anything, nor dreamt of it.
"Yeah, I just didn’t get really lucky. Kept looking for you, but you were always out of reach. You never made things easy did you?" A sad smile was drawn on the gold eyed boy.
Hakuryuu didn’t know what to answer and kept looking at his feet.
"You maybe don’t remember because it wasn’t the right time. Or just because it didn’t matter. It seems we both mostly remember our first life anyway. Can I hold your hand?"
"What?" the abrupt question was disconcerting to say the least.
"Your hand. Your left hand. Can I hold it?"
Despite feeling the heat rising to his cheeks, the brunet nodded in response. Feeling the warmth coming from Alibaba’s hand was a familiar feeling he had forgotten, which brought memories of long nights in Sindria when neither of them could sleep.
"I’m studying law. Right now, I mean, currently." At least, nobody could blame him for not having tried to continue the conversation, Hakuryuu thought.
"How fitting of you. I work as a part timer in the cafe to pay my studies, actually. I study psychology."
"That doesn’t really suit you though."
Alibaba laughed openly at Hakuryuu’s dubious expression, provoking another rush of nostalgia for the latter.
"I know, and it’s tedious, I’m quite fed up to stay in front of a table all day long filling my brain with theories…but you know how I am, I prefer to help people directly if I can do something, and I thought it was the best way to do so…"
Hakuryuu’s eyes fell on his feet once again, before he squeezed Alibaba’s hand.
"Well you don’t have to apologize for anything here really…"
"No." Determined blue eyes met golden ones. "I am sorry. For everything. I know it has nothing to do with this life, but…if I didn’t lose my mind at that time, maybe everyone would have been saved…maybe you wouldn’t have gone through all this to find me."
"It wasn’t that simple, and you know it. I don’t think there was any real solution. And, you know, it’s not like I was that lonely when I was searching for you." Despite his cheekiness, Alibaba’s voice was wavering.
"I know. I’m sorry too, if I could have helped you somehow…" He let the sentence linger, then gulped to try make it easier to talk, which was unsurprisingly useless. His vision blurred, and before he knew it he was embracing the person he thought he couldn’t reach anymore.
This genuine action provoked an outburst in Hakuryuu’s mind and heart, filling them with those burried memories of cold evenings watching Sindria’s sea, those numerous warm days of training, and those silent nights of consolation.
"Look at us, both crying like babies…"
"It seems we didn’t change that much on that aspect…"
Gentle chuckles could be heard, almost covered by the sounds a busy city night. Hakuryuu kissed lightly Alibaba’s forehead. “I’m taller than you now.”
"Only a bit!"
They both laughed again, feeling more relieved than ever.
The two young boys continued talking about everything and nothing, filling the holes of their lack of information about each other’s current life. They talked about how some things didn’t change, like the fact that Alibaba was still orphan and how Hakuryuu’s mother was as odious as ever. He still had his sister Hakuei, whom he didn’t see often because of her work, and got along very well with Kougyoku, but it seemed like his two older brothers never existed in this life, although he could still feel the gap left by their absence. It was the same case for Cassim and Mariam. They laughed about how famous Sinbad was as CEO of a renowned avdertising company, and about how he didn’t seem to have changed either.
They talked about everyone they knew, noticing that everybody was still quite the same as before. It seemed that they were the ones who changed, having matured and left all rencor and venomous hatred behind.
They never clearly expressed how they felt, lacking of time and having other concerns as priority. They would then be content with the rare moments of intimacy they had together, trying to forget their future.
But they now had the time of a whole life for that, and that’s why Hakuryuu’s calmly raised his head to gently and briefly meet Alibaba’s lips with his, but didn’t do anything more, nor did the former. They stayed a moment eyes closed, forehead against forehead, enjoying each other’s presence and nothing more. There were still issues to solve, and challenges to go through, but that’s not what mattered at the present moment.
They walked slowly towards the cafe, as Alibaba’s break has finished for a long time, although none of them cared.
They would surely be scolded and hit by Kougyoku when they’ll come back, first for having let her alone, then for not having told her why. But it didn’t matter to Hakuryuu, as his cousin’s deadly kicks was the only worry he would have for now.