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Place of Hope

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“This is where we had our first kiss.”

Sorey’s comment brings Mikleo out of his thoughts and into the present. He turns to look at the other seraph as he stands in the circular overlook of Lastonbell, in the very same spot all those centuries ago where he had first announced his plan to sleep for the good of the world, the good of their dream.

Mikleo hums and smiles. He looks away and towards the town, with all its people closing up shop and winding down for a lazy summer evening. “It is.”

Sorey chuckles. “You were crying, too, during it. I remember that.”

“I was not.”

“You totally were.”

Mikleo’s face heats up in ways he wished it wouldn’t. He crosses his arms over his chest. “W-well, so what?”

“It was sweet,” Sorey murmurs, and Mikleo doesn’t miss the soft look on his partner’s face as he reminisces. It makes something in him soften, too. “Up until that point, I wasn’t sure what you really thought about the decision I made. Then you just took my face in your hands and kissed me and cried, and it—kind of told me everything I needed to know. It was nice.”

Mikleo chuckles quietly. “It was an awful kiss.”

Sorey laughs. He loops an arm around the water seraph’s waist and pulls him in to his side. “It was,” he agrees. “But I think we’ve gotten better in that department.”

“You think so?” Mikleo hums and looks to pools of green.

“Yeah.” As if to prove it, Sorey leans in and steals a kiss under the falling sun. They part slow, leisurely and Mikleo feels his nerves sing. “You know, I always thought that when we did eventually kiss, I would be the one to kiss you first.”

Mikleo chuckles and pats the back of his knuckles against his lover’s chest. “Shows what you know. I’m full of surprises.”

“Apparently,” Sorey murmurs around a wide smile.

Mikleo hums and leans in close. “Just like this,” he whispers low and kisses him again, this time deeper. His hands wrap around the sides of Sorey’s cloak, pulling him in until they are flush. Sorey makes a small noise in the back of his throat that might have been a whine.

When they part, it’s as slow as before.

“Sorey?”

“Hm?” The seraph’s eyes are still closed.

Mikleo smiles and steps back, bringing Sorey’s attention to him quickly. He takes the ex-Shepherd’s hands in his own to squeeze. His eyes fall between them. “This is…a little late to say, but I wanted to thank you. For keeping your promise to me.”

Sorey blinks. A smile, warmer and softer than before, stretches onto his face. He steps forward to slip his arms around his lover, bringing him in close again. “Well, I wanted to wake up. I wanted to come back to you. Besides, it was the least I could do after you promised to wait for me. You know?”

Mikleo raises his eyes with an unreadable look and a hum. He smiles. “This the first time I’ve come back to Lastonbell since that night.”

“Really?”

Mikleo nods. He sighs with something heavy and looks away again. Out of the corner of his eye, the water seraph could almost see the invisible question mark floating above Sorey’s blank look. His fingers idly fiddle with the black lining of the white cloak Sorey wears—so similar to his Shepherd one from centuries ago.

He wonders where to begin.

“It was hard. Lastonbell just had too many memories.”

Slowly, Sorey’s hold on him softens. Sorey pulls back a little. “Oh…yeah.”

Silence stretches between them until Mikleo can see a shadow has crossed over Sorey’s face. His green eyes, glinting like emeralds in the sunset, seem especially sad. “Sorry. I hope…I hope I didn’t ruin other places for you, too—“

Oh.

Mikleo shakes his head quickly. “No. No, Sorey. You didn’t.”

Sorey presses his lips together tightly and nods.

Mikleo exhales. He recognizes that look; he knows it too well since Sorey’s woken up. He has traced it with his fingers and memorized every downward curve each night he finds Sorey crying, countless apologies falling one after another from his lips for all the years he’s missed he’s missed he’s missed.

He raises his hands to cup his lover’s face. He forces Sorey to look at him. “Sorey,” he says firmly. “Going to sleep didn’t ruin everything between us. It didn’t ruin me. Remember that. Okay?”

“Yeah,” Sorey rasps and he blinks hard. “I-I’m workin’ on it.” He takes a deep breath, but it feels so laden, so heavy.

Mikleo’s thumbs brush the other seraph’s cheeks.

For a long moment, neither of them speak. They breathe and let the sun set behind them, painting the world in soft reds and violets. Then Mikleo whispers, “Hey.” He leans in like he has a great secret. “How about we make some new memories, then?”

“New memories?” Something eases in the tension around Sorey’s eyes. He watches Mikleo with something like hope. “You…mean here? In Lastonbell?”

“Yeah.” Mikleo smiles. “After all, the night hasn’t yet begun.”

Sorey thinks. He nods. “Okay. What should we do…?”

“Anything you want.”

Sorey takes a slow breath in and out. It only takes a moment. “Ice cream.”

It’s not what Mikleo is expecting.

Sorey,” he chides and he pulls on the front of Sorey’s cloak, trying not to laugh. He doesn’t miss the way the setting sun highlights the other seraph’s long brown hair like gold and his eyes like emeralds. “Neither of us have been to Lastonbell in literal centuries, and the one thing you want to do here more than anything else is have me make ice cream for you? But I can do that anywhere.”

“Maybe that’s why it’s a good idea,” Sorey says in his defense, color returning to his cheeks. “Because we can have it anywhere, but we’re going to have it in Lastonbell.”

“Does having an ordinary thing in an extraordinary place suddenly make that place special?”

“I don’t know,” Sorey answers with a shrug and a small smile. Mikleo’s glad to see it. He pulls away with a playful huff and a roll of his eyes. “But I do know that anything I do with you makes it special. And I think that’s enough.”

Mikleo looks to Sorey sharply. His face burns redder than the sun could paint it as evening comes. “That’s cheesy.”

“It’s the truth,” Sorey says and his grin is wide.

Mikleo is so glad to see it.

He takes Sorey’s hand. “C’mon, you sap. Then let’s get some ice cream. We’ll make Lastonbell a place of hope and fulfilled promises. How does that sound?”

Sorey chuckles. He squeezes Mikleo’s hand. “Okay. Now that’s cheesy.”

“What can I say? I’m just full of surprises.”

Sorey’s laugh after that is bright and warm like the sun on their backs.