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Spring Freeze

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***

 

It was a good night for a watch. Clear and freezing. It made the visibility unparalleled and conditions hostile, ensuring anybody sneaking up on 7th Division’s makeshift camp would be both immediately noticed and absolutely miserable.

Sergeant Tsukishima wrapped the standard army blanket a little tighter around himself, regretting changing into his summer uniform as soon as he noticed the nature waking up. Hokkaido might’ve already moved into the gentle hold of the spring season, but this night, the relentless cold of winter returned, no doubt flash freezing the early leaf buds before they could ever hope to develop. It was tragic in a way, an entire generation, either dead or irreparably damaged by the inescapable march of frost they had no control over, soon to be left wilting on the branches among the splendor of the new season--

“He must be a wonderful kisser, right Tsukishima? Just really goddamn fantastic, lots of tongue action.”

“What...- Who? ” Tsukishima reeled from the mood whiplash, trying his best to remember why he zoned out of the conversation in the first place.

“What do you mean, who ? Hissed Second Lieutenant Koito, reminding him instantly. ”First Lieutenant Tsurumi! Do try to focus, Sergeant.“

“Oh.” Tsukishima was surprised to learn somebody snapping their fingers was just below mortar fire on the list of things he didn’t want right in front of his face. He should’ve known what this was about when Koito specifically requested to pair up with him for watch duty. “Yeah, he’s pretty good, bit heavy on the tongue actually.”

The tense silence that followed told him that was not the right thing to say, if he’d wanted a nice, drama free watch shift. He turned to his protege-turned-superior who appeared to be too constipated with intense outrage to actually scream, but not far from it.

“You? Kissed? Tsurumi?” Koito managed at last, stressing words as if every single one of them insulted him personally, on several levels.

Tsukishima had spent a good decade as an incredibly efficient subordinate so he opted for a noncommittal shrug and let “Who hasn’t?” die on his tongue. First Lieutenant's fondness for his men wasn’t exactly a secret, but apparently Koito, for all his enthusiasm, didn’t get that memo.

“WHEN?” Yelled Koito, then whispered “when?” , after noticing Tsukishima’s look of warning. Nikaidou had been having trouble falling asleep without the help of morphine and there was no reason to add “rest” to the ever expanding list of things the unfortunate Private First Class was missing.

“Well the last time was right after I returned from Yubari and he just kinda-”

The last time…? Oh my god, it was more than once?”

Tsukishima decided to neither confirm or deny such a rumor. It didn’t appear like the Second Lieutenant would hear him anyway, considering he has curled upon himself with his head in his hands muttering something intelligible. Tsukishima gave his back an incredulous stare. Did he really think Tsurumi was some sort of a pure hero of old, who would eventually sweep him off his feet for a true love’s first kiss or something? You’d think a year and a half of pinning after a man who weaponized flirting as an aggressive diplomacy tactic would clue him in. Tsurumi liked his relationships like he liked his guns, multiple and as means to an end. And sure, he did love his guns a whole damn lot, but only a fool would get jealous like this.

“It’s because I wasn’t at Port Arthur isn’t it?” Koito opened his fingers enough to glare at him accusingly, as if Tsukishima personally started the Russo-Japanese war too early, just to spite him. Then his eyes got a wistful, far-away look of a person remembering something he’d only ever got a far-away look at. “Nothing brings men together like a good war, Tsukishima. Tensions flying high, emotions amplified by the closeness to death, loyalties forever confirmed as you fight side by side, until one night it all comes boiling over and--” It was clear from Koito’s reddening face and glazed-over eyes that this train of thought continued on in his head, on a more private and likely slightly sticky track.

“Hm.” Said Tsukishima, who recalled war containing more bad rations and dismembered guts of people you once knew than budding romance. His excellent Sergeant sense once again decided that “It’s more likely because you can’t even talk to him without screaming intelligibly.” wouldn’t be a good addition to the conversation.

Koito snapped out of his daydream and pinned Tsukishima with an intense glare. “How was it.”

“The war? Honestly pretty terrible.”

Koito rolled his eyes as if he was being intentionally obtuse. “No, not the war, the kiss! Go into details. That’s an order.”

Tsukishima sighed, realizing he wasn’t going to get the quiet night he’d hoped for until he indulged the Second Lieutenant. It was just pouring more gasoline on the already disruptive bonfire that was Koito’s blatant obsession with his commander, but if being a soldier had taught him anything, it was to go for little victories whenever you could. So he thought back at the last time, willfully ignoring how embarrassingly well-threaded that particular memory lane was.

It’d been only a few weeks ago. He’d somehow managed to kick and crawl his way out of the collapsing mine and directly to his Lieutenant to make his report, still covered in coal and dirt. He’d been dismissed blessedly soon and then headed directly to the town’s bathhouse, eager to let it cleanse his body and soul.

It didn’t. Yubari had left him feeling hollow and wasted in a way even the lengthy soak hadn’t managed to repress. Normally the warm, weightlessness would make him relax and put things in perspective, but now it kept dragging his mind back to Edogai, left behind in the sealed off mine, his unrecovered body still floating alone, in the soot-black water.

He left worse-off, somehow feeling both drained and reeling and almost ran into Tsurumi, who’d apparently decided to take a bath at the same time by sheer coincidence. It had been deliberate, of course. First Lieutenant always seemed to have an innate sense of when his Sergeant was at a brink of a breakdown and liked to make sure he broke into his direction.

He really didn’t have to, Tsukishima would bounce back on his own and Tsurumi must’ve known he already had his unquestionable loyalty without any further persuasion. In fact, Tsukishima normally rather prided himself on not being another one of his attention starved conquests, but in the state he was in, it only took a hand stroking his cheek to make him melt into his dear commander.

“It was warm.” Said Tsukishima, finally, and turned back to the fire, glad this whole thing was behind them.

“And sorta wet.” He added, after Koito wouldn’t stop flailing at him to continue.

“You’re terrible at this, Tsukishima.”

“Thank you, Second Lieutenant.”

Koito fumed in silence for a while, but to Tsukishima’s despair, it didn’t last long. “I can’t believe you got to kiss First Lieutenant Tsurumi and you can barely even remember it.”  Whined Koito through his teeth, hands on his thighs balled into tight fists in frustration. “What a cruel, unfair waste!”

“I wouldn’t say that.” Objected Tsukishima, who’d actually spent quite a few very productive hours remembering it and consequently prolonging his already long bath times. He could afford one indulgence, Superior Private Ogata could go hang in every possible sense. “I might just not be that good with words.”

“Show me then.” Koito crossed his arms defiantly.  

“What.” Tsukishima hoped against hope he was misinterpreting this.

“Well if you’re not going to put any effort into descriptions, you at least have to do a little play by play, it’s only fair.”

“No.”

“Cmon Tsukishima, Just try your best to mimic his style and I’ll imagine it’s him. I won’t even move or anything.” Suggested Koito in a cheery voice, as if it was a great deal.

“That sounds terrible, sir.” Photographs were one thing, but he’s not going to have another face plastered over his in person, even if just metaphorically.

For a moment Koito seemed at a loss for words, then he huffed and turned away from him, shuffling to the other side of the small natural trench they were in. Tsukishima blinked incredulously. He was actually pouting. A 24 year old career officer was pouting because he refused to roleplay kissing his commander with him.

“Please don’t go that far away from the fire, Second Lieutenant! You’ll catch a cold.” He called at the slouched back.

He only got a indignant snort and a grumble which sounded suspiciously like “Like you’d care.” in return.

Gods. Tsukishima let out a frustrated sigh. Koito was a loyal, intelligent, highly competent soldier with a broad range of skills and an excellent education, a vital part of the division. It was just he could be--

“A spoiled overgrown brat, used to getting everything he ever wished for, as soon as he asked for it.” Supplied his inner voice, uncharitably. “A ridiculously overeager idiot who can barely function around a man he barely knows outside of mindless hero worship.” It continued, with some malice.

No, that wasn’t fair. It wasn’t Koito’s fault his father was an admiral or that he got a bit stupid when near the First Lieutenant. Tsukishima had seen much older and more experienced men fall all over themselves after Tsurumi as much as winked at them and It was practically a given in the 7th. Even Ogata, who was widely rumored not to experience human emotions outside of smugness, hadn’t been completely unaffected.

At least it was still only a very enthusiastic crush. Tsukishima wondered, not for the first time, if actually fighting a war by Tsurumi’s side would destroy that little infatuation or just make it worse.

“It certainly made it worse for you.” Piped in the voice again, really overstaying its welcome.

It’d been right though, damn it! Here he was, acting all wise and above it all, as if there wasn’t a Tsurumi shaped hole in his heart that hadn’t managed to heal no matter how hard he tried to cover it up with feigned indifference. Even after all this years it would still unexpectedly make him sick with longing after his Lieutenant, he really had no right judging some impressionable young soldier fresh from academy where he’d failed as a cynical veteran.

It wasn’t like kissing Koito would be such a chore either. The man was gorgeous, all long lines, contoured by soft, lean muscle and sharp, elegant features, contrasting Tsukishima’s harder, stockier build. And it definitely wasn’t him disliking the Second Lieutenant. He had grown quite fond of him, despite his frequent dramatic outbursts, perhaps even a bit too much, judging from how he'd lately make his heart constrict into a little pin every time he did something stupid and reckless. It was just the indignity of being so openly used as a Tsurumi replacement...

One the other hand, two could play at that game. Why not use this opportunity to possibly figure out how the First Lieutenant felt during their little affairs, it was information gathering, he couldn’t pass a chance like that.

“Fine.” He said out loud, at Koito’s turned back.

“I knew you’d come around!” Koito was back beside him as if nothing happened. Was he just waiting for him to give in, like he always did? Mostly did. He had definitely put his foot down at least a couple of times, rank discrepancy or not. Not like it mattered, Second Lieutenant was already halfway onto his lap, babbling instructions for what was likely a long time fantasy. Tsukishima took a firm hold of his waist to keep him from knocking them over, but it did nothing to stop the torrent of words.

“-and say something like,” Koito put on what Tsukishima assumed was his best Tsurumi face, but mostly just looked like he was in pain and trying to act coy about it. “You’ve done an excellent job, Second Lieutenant Koito, I’m very proud of you~...”

“you’ve done an excellent job second lieutenant koito i’m very proud of you.” Repeated Tsukishima in a perfect monotone.

Koito gave him a Look. “No! Not like that! You have to do the voice! He’s got that really deep, charming baritone with just a bit of rasp to it and it really gets me--” Koito bit his lip, cheeks flushing at whatever it got him like.

“I’m not doing the voice.”

“Ugh, be like that then!” Grumbled Koito, but then still closed his eyes with a soft sigh, angling his head and pursing his lips, looking as if he’d learned how to kiss from a picture book.

It was mostly ridiculous, a tiny bit endearing and overall very Koito.

“Is that your kissing face, Second Lieutenant?”

Koito’s eyes snapped open, expression of flushed anticipation replaced by one of flushed irritation. “You know Tsukishima, sometimes you can really be a bit of a-”

Tsukishima never found out a bit of what he could be like sometimes, because all it took was the slightest touch to make Koito blessedly silent again.

He cupped Second Lieutenant's cheek like he remembered Tsurumi doing to him, nails just barely brushing over the younger man’s neck in a way that had always made him slightly breathless when on the receiving end. Apparently it worked on Koito as well, judging from all the eye-fluttering and melting-into going on. Tsukishima hoped he hadn’t looked quite this flustered though, it was a bit embarrassing.

Sliding his hand further down Koito’s neck elicited an unexpected moan from the other man. Was he a bit touch starved? Hard to believe, considering just how stunning the Second Lieutenant was, but it wouldn’t surprise him if Koito had decided to save himself for Tsurumi or something similarly harebrained. Tsukishima tested this theory by bringing up his other hand in order to stroke Koito’s neck from both sides. A bit off-script, but Tsurumi absolutely loved finding and then toying with people’s weak spots, so still very in character.

It paid off, Koito’s breath hitched and he angled his head to expose more of his neck for Tsukishima, breaking his no movement promise further, by sliding fully into his lap, until they were pressed against each other. Tsukishima let out an incredulous but fond snort. Already so eager after what barely constituted light petting? Koito was always so over the top and expressive and while it tended to get bothersome pretty quickly, he couldn’t deny it was adorable in a way. Truthfully, he’d missed this ridiculous pain in the ass while he was stationed at Asahikawa.

Said pain in the ass was currently trying to climb even higher into his lap, despite it only making their height difference worse. Tsukishima sighed, Koito’s lithe but muscular body squirming against his was more than pleasant, but it wasn’t going to get them anywhere beyond a rushed grinding session. He carded a hand into Koito hair, pulling him back down to his level, using the other arm to wind around his waist and still the man. Judging from the high blush on Second Lieutenant’s cheeks he didn’t mind the rougher treatment at all, which figured. He relaxed his grip, the hand in Koito’s hair travelling back down to cradle his cheek again,  thumb rolling over Koito’s bottom lip, trying to ignore the phantom feeling of the same gesture on his own mouth. Koito immediately nuzzled his flushed face into his hand, opening his eyes for just a sliver, giving Tsukishima a content look before closing them again with a happy hum. It sent off an unexpected surge of something warm and dense straight through his chest.

Was this what he’d made Tsurumi feel? A mixture of affection and protectiveness for the lovesick soldier in his arms? He’d not been nearly as responsive as Koito was, but it very likely hadn’t mattered. His lieutenant could read him like a well used book and something about his expression must’ve showed enough to put a fond little smile on Tsurumi’s face.

It’d made those big, too-wide eyes half lidded, giving him a softer, saner expression instead of his usual, slightly too intense glare. For a fleeting moment, it’d been like the war never happened, illusion only hindered by the strangely symmetrical scar that surrounded his eyes in concentric rays, like an echo of the explosion that caused it. He must’ve been hit directly head on for an even spread like that and it was just like Tsurumi to get horrifically disfigured in an aesthetically pleasing way. Tsukishima never saw the actual impact even though he’d kept close to his Lieutenant. Mukden had been messy and frantic, he barely even registered an explosion that sounded a bit nearer than the rest, until Tsurumi was on the ground with what looked like half his face missing, a jagged piece of metal stuck into his forehead, body giving off weak little twitches and--

“So he just stopped and stared blankly over your shoulder for a bit?”

Koito’s doubtful voice shook him out of the memory, though some of it remained coiled around his consciousness like tendrils of a particularly pervasive fog. Tsurumi’s deathly pale expression turned back into a piece of snow that was particularly dramatically lit by the fire, the arrhythmic pulse of artillery quieted down to just his heartbeat, but the mixture of frozen earth, blood and gunpowder in the air remained, the smell always the last thing to go.  

He tried to to re-focus on here and now. His fists were balled tight into shoulders of Koito’s uniform, the man himself looking at him with a mix of suspicion and worry.

“It’s nothing, I just...got lost for a moment.” Murmured Tsukishima, letting go of Koito’s lapels and attempting to smooth the scrunched up fabric.

“You’re crying.” Said Koito accusingly, narrowing his eyes and batting his hands away.

Was he? Tsukishima wiped a hand under his eye and had it come away wet, but just barely. Goddammit, why now of all times? It’s been years. What kind of a fool cries during a freeze like this anyway? He wiped away the rest, already starting to feel the fast-forming frost pulling at his cheek, just like it did--

It suddenly all made sense, the early March, the late freeze, it’s been four years almost to a day, with startlingly similar conditions. Tsukishima was gripped by a powerful urge to return to the main tent, just to check he was really there, just to make sure he hadn’t imagined--

He suddenly found himself enveloped in a warm tangle of long limbs.

“What--”

“Do you think I’m stupid, Tsukishima?” Koito was muffled by the embrace, but he still sounded distinctly indignant. “My entire family is in the military, do you really think you’re the first person I’ve seen “get lost” like this?”

Tsukishima didn’t know exactly how to respond, caught between embarrassment and relief, so he didn’t and just let himself warm up by simple human contact.

“This helps, right?” He heard Koito mumble after a while, voice uncharacteristically small. “Father always said it did, but he might’ve been just trying to make me feel better.”

“It does, thank you Second Lieutenant.” Replied Tsukishima, feeling a bit awkward about it all. He was the experienced veteran supposed to take care of the still relatively fresh recruit, not the other way around. He forced himself to pull away, stubbornly ignoring how badly he still needed the closeness, but not before giving Koito’s back a little pat, hopefully communicating he’d been appreciated.

Their positions had switched during the hug, putting him in Koito’s lap instead, which allowed him to face the other man straight on. Or would have allowed him to, had Koito not decided to center his gaze entirely on nervously playing with the frills on his sword.

“So, uh...We never really got anywhere and I’d… I mean it’s fine if you don’t want to anymore, but if you do, that’s also alright...I’m just--”

“Alright.“ Interjected Tsukishima, before his face could have the chance to show any sign of just how embarrassedly glad he was for the prompt, then simply pressed his mouth against Koito’s, deciding to just lay one on him time time, without any ceremonies.

Koito’s lips were soft and full, but colder than he’d expected and it made him mindlessly determined to warm him up, give him just what he wanted, his pride be damned. He hadn’t been completely honest with Koito when he told him Tsurumi was a pretty good kisser, in truth, he was fantastic. It wasn’t that he was perfect, a bit too aggressive and erratic, a bit too teasing, but something about the combination of both did it for Tsukishima like nothing else. Dominant enough to make him want to submit to his every whim, vulnerable enough to bring out Tsukishima’s fierce protective streak. It made his mind blank and his dick hard, likely just how his Lieutenant wanted him.

He deepened the kiss, doing his best to mimic Tsurumi’s intense, possessive pace that was somehow just fast enough to overwhelm, but still too slow to fully satisfy. Koito reacted like he’d expected him to, lapping enthusiastically into their joined mouths, trying to speed everything up, take more of anything he was prepared to give him. He put a quick stop to that by slipping a hand into Koito’s scalp and grabbing a good hold of his roots to keep him still. Technically Koito’s longer hair offered a much better grip than his own buzzcut, but it was worth straying from the source material a bit, for the needly little noises it elicited from the Second Lieutenant.

Koito hadn’t seemed to quite know what to do with his hands until then, tentatively stroking Tsukishima’s sides, but now he wrapped them around Tsukishima properly, pulling them flush against each other.

It was over fairly soon, at least compared to how long it’d taken him to stop koito from squirming all over him in the first place. It wasn’t like he forgot what happened next, but he wasn’t about to repeat that in conditions so hostile they threatened to freeze his eyelashes together.

He gave Koito one last close-mouthed peck of his own, just for a good measure, then pulled away completely, his body instantly regretting separating as cold air rushed between them.

“AHh!” Said Koito, as soon as he got the chance, his eyes wide and his face red.

“What?” Asked Tsukishima. Did he do something wrong? He didn’t get an answer, apart from a continued flushed gaze. “Please don’t blush so much, Second Lieutenant, you’re wasting body warmth.” He muttered, Koito’s embarrassment rubbing off on him as well. He wiped his mouth with the back of a glove, to get rid of any residual wetness before it froze, this definitely wasn’t good kissing weather, and then absentmindedly moved to do the same for his other Lieutenant who of course forgot to bring his own pair.

That finally shook Koito out of his trance and he grabbed tsukishima’s approaching hand with both of his, cradling it to his chest instead. For a moment they stayed like that, staring at each other, until Koito become aware of himself again and swiftly let go, turning back to the fire. “You’re--you’re pretty good. I mean he is, but you’re pretty good at pretending to be him.” He told one of the burning logs.

The was a short period of silence, filled with Koito fidgeting anxiously about something and Tsukishima trying to decide if that was a compliment or not.

“Your nose doesn’t get in the way when kissing, I like that.” Finally blurted out the Second Lieutenant, as if admitting a terrible secret.

Tsukishima raised his eyebrows.“Thanks?”

They sat quietly for another minute or two.

“It’s really cold, Tsukishima!” Announced Koito suddenly, pointing at the Sergeant, as if he’d had something to do with it.

Tsukishima sighed and handed him his blanket.

Koito stared at the offered cloth like it offended him.

“What?” Asked Tsukishima, perhaps a bit snippy, but it was in fact, really cold.

“Well obviously we should share body heat, Sergeant.” Explained Koito, while spreading the strictly one person blanket over both their shoulders so it reached neither of their legs. “It’s critical thinking like this why I’m the superior officer.” He wrapped himself around Tsukishima’s arm like an attention deficient octopus and settled his head into the crook of his neck, obviously very pleased with himself.

It truthfully wasn’t the most strategic of positions. While Tsukishima’s left shoulder and some of his neck were indeed nice and toasty, he could feel his body heat rapidly escaping through his lower half which meant Koito was even worse off for having more of it. The hands around his arm felt like icicles, for one thing.

Tsukishima sighed again, then dislodged his arm, ignoring Koito’s surprised yelp of protest and wrapped it around his waist instead, pulling him closer, so the blanket at least came over their knees and their cores were in some sort of contact.  He used his other hand to bring both of Koito’s to his mouth, blowing on his fingers to hopefully thaw them a little.

Koito had once again regressed to just staring at him.

“Is this better, Second Lieutenant?” He prompted the other man, hoping the cold wasn’t already getting to him.

Koito startled, let out an intelligible yelp, then told Tsukishima something that sounded urgent but was also completely incomprehensible due to it being in a thick Satsuma dialect.

Tsukishima turned around to see if First Lieutenant hadn’t perhaps fancied a midnight walk and was now standing behind him. He wasn’t, only frostbitten earth stretched into the dark, making it seem like their little fire was the only island of life left.

He shivered and turned back towards the light. The oppressive, freezing darkness on top of his already frayed nerves was making him feel hopeless and paranoid and he was quietly thankful for Second Lieutenant’s weight on his side.

Koito had settled back against him. The slick locks that had gotten loose during the kiss and were now falling over his forehead, dark color making them look wet against his still too cold skin, lips strangely ashen. The foreboding familiarity of the image made Tsukishima hair stand on edge. Oh gods, Koito wasn’t ready for this, no matter how skilled and fearless of a soldier he’d become, he just didn’t have the experience, the reckless idiot in his arms is going to die for a cause that he had nothing to do with.

He stamped down on the rising panic, angry at how easily derailed he was tonight. This wasn’t like Edogai at all. Koito might’ve been a bit naive about certain things, but his life had been tied to military since birth, he’d seen, caused and escaped plenty of death, he couldn’t spend his time worried sick about just another soldier going to war.

That was it though, wasn’t it? Koito hadn’t seen war and despite his unnerving wish for it, Tsukishima dreaded the thought of it actually happening.

7th Division lost most its men at Port Arthur and later at Mukden, but it was hill 203 specifically, that broke them all.

Tsukishima saw Tsurumi crack a day before the actual battle, after he’d received his eight proposal for a change of strategy back from central, accompanied by note saying not to bother sending any more. It didn’t matter how clever he’d been or how far the net of his influence extended, somebody too high up to reach had decided and that was it. A glorious, heroic march across the battlefield, a flag planted against all odds, a real morale boost!

Tsurumi had them lined up before the attack, cold, impotent anger coming off him in almost tangible waves. “We’re going to die and I’m going to lead you, anybody with a home to return to, stick to back rows.” It wasn’t exactly a rousing victory cry they’d expected, but their Lieutenant's eyes were dead and a month later, so were theirs.

It’d been too much. A few of them had left after the war, veering off back to whatever precinct they’ve come from, but the rest stayed, converging around their injured commander, in desperate hope of further orders. Nobody acknowledged it out loud, but they were dead men walking, unable to just lay down and rest, instead searching for a fitting end they’ve escaped. They’d even stopped bothering with Tanigaki once they’ve learned he was recovering with the Ainu, despite it technically being desertion. He’d made it out , the unspoken rumor went, that lucky bastard ...

Tsukishima fully intended to follow his Lieutenant right back into the hell they never really left. And that was alright, it was far too late for him to die any other way, but Koito didn’t belong with them. He was still fine, could still talk about the war as if it was just a word, easily stripped of context and polished into something heroic and desirable-

“Tsukishima? Are you getting lost again?” 

“No.” He’d meant to leave it short and to the point, but then he remembered how small Koito’s voice had been. “It’s nothing Second Lieutenant, I was just thinking...” neither about your death or about our doomed existence seemed like something Koito would be reassured by “...about leaves.” he finished, awkwardly, after not thinking of anything better.

“Alright.” Said Koito, in a tone that suggested he was prepared to accept Tsukishima was the kind of a man who’d think about leaves by default, but was also prepared to give him a chance to explain himself.

“A sudden spring freeze like this can’t be good for them, won’t they just die and dry out on the branches?” It sounded stupid and pointless when he said it out loud, but Koito appeared to actually consider it.

“Actually, in cold climates like Hokkaido, even deciduous trees are hardy and used to spring freezes. They might look ready to sprout, but their buds have protective waxy scales that keep the cold out until the weather turns more stable.” Monologued Koito, as if reading from a script.

Even with the dry narration, Tsukishima couldn’t help but feel strangely giddy hearing it. He wasn’t really a flowers and spring kinda guy, but It somehow made the night feel less fateful. Nature always found a way, didn’t it.

“I’m actually surprised you didn’t know that, it’s kinda basic.” Added Koito, ruining the moment and also sounding way too smug for a Satsuma local, who Tsukishima suspected learned this from Tanigaki.

“It’s mostly pines where I grew up.” Said Tsukishima, mostly to excuse his apparently embarrassing lack of local woodsmanship, somewhat to think the new information over.

“Well in any case, they’ll be alright as long as they’re wrapped up tight.” Koito had settled his head back onto Tsukishima’s shoulder, voice veering off in a yawn. “They’re tougher than they look, a few nights of below zero is a bit of a shock, but nothing they can’t recover from.”

“That’s good to hear.” Murmured Tsukishima and pulled his other Lieutenant a little closer.

 

***