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Moonrise

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With a soft noise of accomplishment Fauntleroy puts the last of the homemade decorations on the pile with the others. They really should have started earlier, but this week had been busy. Too busy for party preparations at least.

Bizarro had tried to help, but she had slunk off to bed around eleven, still exhausted from her previous night out. Fauntleroy had told her not to worry about it. They would rather have her help tomorrow than tonight anyway.

Brujon had offered to help by taking himself out from under Fauntleroy’s feet and promising to dress nice tomorrow. Both gestures that were much appreciated. Especially since he had gone to crash wherever it was Glorieux had installed himself at the moment and that greatly improved the chances of him showing up in decent time as well tomorrow.

Quietly, not wanting to disturb Bizarro, Fauntleroy gets to their feet. They’ll hang the decorations tomorrow. The living room is already all neat and tidy and they have the whole morning for it. Well, they also have to do some baking, but—

The sudden notification sound of their phone makes Fauntleroy start. It’s a friendly sound, but way too loud in the evening quiet. They grab it, hastily putting it on silent before actually looking who the message is from. Claquesous? They blink at the text in surprise, with just a little flutter at the edge of it that they refuse to examine more closely. Not now.

The message reads merely: *Open up.* Which means, presumably, that Claquesous is outside right now.

Fauntleroy hurries to the window and sticks their head out, glancing down towards the street. A shadowy figure looks up at them, standing just outside the circle of light of the nearest streetlight. He must do that shit on purpose. Really.

The figure doesn’t move, but Fauntleroy’s phone lights up in their hand. Claquesous somehow always still manages to get hold of ancient phones with buttons and he can text blindly with those.

*Bring a coat.*

Fauntleroy gives him an exasperated wave through the window and ducks back inside, darting to the hallway. They shrug on their coat and step into their shoes. Their loafers, not their boots, because whatever Claquesous wants they are not going to let him drag them out on something work related right now. They still lock the door behind them though and they trot down the stairs with muted anticipation twisting in their stomach.

Claquesous is waiting for them right by the door of their building and he’s only wearing a half-mask tonight, which means Fauntleroy gets to see the minute change in the expression around his mouth as they appear.

“Evening,” he hums.

“Night,” Fauntleroy says deliberately, looking at him curiously. “What is it?”

Claquesous stays silent, glancing down at the phone he still has in his hand. The tiny screen shows nothing but the time.

23:59

00:00

Claquesous’ dark eyes, barely visible in the sockets of his mask, dart back up to Fauntleroy’s face. “Happy birthday.”

Oh for fuck’s sake. Fauntleroy lets out an incredulous, but very amused breath and Claquesous nearly grins.

“Thank you,” they say, rolling their eyes, but smiling. They never did believe in checking their smiles as much as their friends do. “Had to be first, did you?” they snort softly. That’s just like him. Dragging them all the way out of doors for it as well.

Suddenly something occurs to Fauntleroy and their face falls. “Hey, this doesn’t mean that you’re not coming to my party, right?” they say suspiciously.

“I promised I’d come,” Claquesous says, raising his hands placatingly. “So I will.”

“Good,” Fauntleroy says firmly. This is important to them, having all of their friends together. They’ll take the inevitable bitching and breakage in stride, as long as they’re all there.

“But I can’t give you your present then,” Claquesous continues.

Well that’s suspicious. “Why not?”

“Cause the moon rises at a quarter to one.”

Fauntleroy stares at him. “The moon…” they say uncertainly. “What—?”

Claquesous turns to the side, his body language indicating for them to follow him and Fauntleroy does. Apparently there’s no car parked anywhere, because Claquesous just strolls down the street, hands in his pockets.

“Where are we going?” Fauntleroy presses. They can only imagine that Claquesous wants to take them somewhere to watch the moonrise. And that is, well… Not something they were expecting at all. Certainly not from him. But perhaps they should have, Fauntleroy can’t help but think. Because actually this is exactly the sort of stuff he does. Seemingly showing little to no interest in something at all and then suddenly—

Fauntleroy stomps the flutters in their stomach down, trampling them together with the flash of self-doubt. They should have worn their boots after all. “Where are we going,” they repeat. “Sous, seriously.”

“I thought you liked surprises,” Claquesous hums and he sounds a little teasing, but also…uncertain? It’s an odd thing to hear in his voice, but Fauntleroy is sure they heard it.

“Maybe I do,” they say. “But still.”

Claquesous looks further down the street and gestures upwards, silently indicating the vague shape of a tall building towering over the street in the dark. It’s an ugly thing, filled with cheap office spaces. Fauntleroy can’t stand it. It’s the highest building in the neighbourhood and it always seems to spoil the— Their eyes widen as the penny drops.

“You didn’t,” they hiss, a sudden spark in their voice and Claquesous grins. His other hand emerges from his pocket and dangles a set of master keys in front of them.

Fauntleroy’s heart dances within them and Claquesous actually laughs as they hurry their steps. They have always wanted to get on top of that building. The least that tall monstrosity could do is provide them with a view. And Claquesous remembered.

It’s good that out of all the Patron-Minette the two of them are definitely the quietest, Fauntleroy thinks as they sneak into the building. Because keys or no keys, they still obviously shouldn’t be here.

Claquesous has clearly done his homework, however. He knows the security codes for the alarm and he seems to know the way too. Fauntleroy follows him through the winding corridors and up staircases, waiting with poorly repressed anticipation whenever they have to wait for him to unlock a maintenance door.

When the final door swings open and they feel a breath of night air on their face, Fauntleroy feels like their chest is all filled up with giddiness and secrets.

“After you,” Claquesous hums, holding the door open for them.

Fauntleroy grins at him and darts out onto the roof. They glance around in delight. The sky is wide and black above them, only faintly dotted with stars, and they are so high up they can see everything. Fauntleroy glances back at Claquesous, who moves exactly like they imagine a shadow would. He gestures to a box-like construction a little towards the edge of the roof, probably meant for covering up the mechanics of something or other, and Fauntleroy sits down on it. They draw up one of their knees and look towards the eastern horizon that this seat so conveniently faces. Claquesous is nothing if not detail-oriented. They wonder how much planning went into this.

Part of them also wonders if he would go through all this trouble for any of his other friends… But it doesn’t matter, really, he did it for them tonight. They’re here now, and the moon will soon be rising.

Claquesous has sat down next to them, sitting forward with his elbows on his knees. His posture is attentive despite his silence, but it’s not tense. Fauntleroy lets the silence between them last, looking at the dark sky and listening to the night-time sounds of the city, until Claquesous hums softly beside them. They look and there is the moon.

Fauntleroy takes in a slow breath. Ever since moving here they’ve never been high up enough to see the moon emerge properly from beneath the horizon. It’s one of the few things they miss…

They nudge against Claquesous happily and he makes an amused noise. He doesn’t really touch people, but Fauntleroy knows by now that he doesn’t mind it when they initiate, as long as they don’t surprise him with it.

“Should have been a full moon, shouldn’t it?” he says, slanting his head slightly.

“No,” Fauntleroy says fondly. “This is perfect. It’s waxing.”

“Is that good?” Claquesous asks, and Fauntleroy can hear that he’s pleased.

“Yes,” they say decidedly.

They watch the moon rise, flooding the night with silver light, and Fauntleroy feels validated in all their wishes. This is a perfect place for this. It’s like the moonlight is seeping into their skin. When they glance over at Claquesous he is watching thoughtfully, silver light glinting in his eyes. There’s a lock of his hair just caught behind one corner of his mask and Fauntleroy wants to reach out and fix it. Instead they look away again and murmur softly:

“You know that Artemis wasn’t originally the deity of the moon?”

Claquesous doesn’t answer, but he shifts slightly towards them in response. He’s listening.

“In Greek Myth there is an actual goddess of the moon,” Fauntleroy continues. “Selene, sister of the sun and the dawn…” They trail off, the brightness of the moon slowly fading out of focus as their eyes try to take in the entire sky at once. The night feels so wide tonight.

“Does she have stories?” Claquesous voice is measured, barely an intrusion on their scattered thoughts, but Fauntleroy knows he never asks unless he really wants to hear. The fact that he does want to hear makes something happy coil behind their ribs.

“Not too many,” they muse. “There’s the story of the young man she stole.”

Now Claquesous actually looks at them and Fauntleroy grins at the fact that they know he is quirking an eyebrow right now, mask or no mask.

“Selene is one of the virginal goddesses,” they tell. “Or supposed to be anyway. But she fell in love with a beautiful young shepherd named Endymion. He fell asleep while tending his cattle and Selene saw him in his slumber. He was so pretty resting in the shadows that she never wanted to stop looking at him. So she climbed down from the heavens by her strings of moonlight and carried him back into the sky with her. She laid him to sleep in her bed and pressed a kiss on his brow that would ensure he would never wake again, so she could admire him forever.”

The look in Claquesous eyes is not entirely readable, but it is at least partly amused. “That’s kind of terrifying, Faun,” he remarks.

“I know,” they snort softly. That’s partly why they love it to be honest. Also, as far as Greek myths go, this is nothing.

“Pretty though,” Claquesous says and Fauntleroy smiles happily.

“Yeah…” They glance up at the moon again an then around at the vast view, unmarred by the ugly building, because they are on top of it, and a smile takes over their face. “Thank you, Sous,” they say softly. “This…this is great.”

Claquesous makes a gratified sound at the back of his throat in response, but it isn’t enough. Because Fauntleroy is all full up with moonshine and midnight surprises and they don’t know the right words to express what they’re feeling right now. They want to tug on Claquesous’ collar, make him bend over so they can kiss his cheek. Just this once. Just tonight. But his mask reaches halfway down his cheeks and they don’t know how to ask him for this… In fact they don’t dare to open their mouth at all right now. There are too many confused words hidden behind their tongue. But right at that moment Claquesous rests his right hand on his knee and in an impulse Fauntleroy wraps their fingers around his.

“Thank you,” they repeat and they don’t mind the slightly shocked silence on Claquesous’ part, nor the fact that he seems to have frozen in place for a second. They were expecting that. As long as he doesn’t mind that they—

Suddenly Claquesous moves, very nearly startling them, but he doesn’t pull his hand away. He turns it around, the palm facing up now, and for a moment, he squeezes Fauntleroy’s hand.

Fauntleroy can feel their breath twisting into a knot in their chest.

Claquesous rubs his thumb over their fingers once single time before he quickly lets go again. “Bon anniversaire, Bouquetière,” he says and his voice is soft.

Just a little too soft and too different for Fauntleroy to process right now.

So they quietly let their released hand slide out of his, hugging their arms tight around their waist instead. They look back up at the moon again, knowing Claquesous is doing the same, and softly bite their lip to stop the undefined happiness inside them from brimming over.