“—wait! Wait for me! Wait— Suzaku !”
It’s silly, now, how the trees ring with memories.
Carmine, and kohl; by the time they get to the ceremony, he won’t look even a bit like himself. It’s probably the point, Suzaku reasons as his jaw is tipped up and slick red is painted carefully on his mouth. No god would choose Suzaku on his own, plainest of all of his cousins, not without a little bit of help. He’s here because his family has always served, because his uncle served before him, his aunt before that, generations as far back as the gods themselves. Suzaku was a promise, words before he was flesh, and it’s a promise neither side can rescind. That’s why. It’s why he’s the one kneeling here instead of Kaguya or Tomohiko or any of the rest of the others just old enough to be a prize but too young for the family to miss for long.
Robes, multicolored silk. He doesn’t have enough hair to dress, and that’s his own fault, a moment of rebellion and a short knife, and the jewelled pins that were meant to adorn him are instead folded carefully into a box and put with the other things going with him. All but one.
“It’s a pity, isn’t it?” His mother’s words are quiet as she holds the pin in her hands. It’s not the most impressive; copper, for one, only plated, and worn from near constant use, tying up the length of Suzaku’s hair before—before. His hand comes up, self-conscious. He looks like a boy now, no sweet rabbit pins catching his curls to hold them out of his face. He’s getting wider in the shoulders, narrower in the waist; if they’d left this longer, he’d look like a man. Her eyes are dim when she looks up at him, her smile forced. “Still. My handsome boy; you’ll make a beautiful bride.”
It turns his stomach. He knows in the courtyard the burnt offerings have started. His robes are white. In everything but name, this wedding is a funeral.
“Mother.” There aren’t words to comfort her, not when his own heart sits so heavily in his chest. They’re silent as the servants finish painting his face, as he stands and they help him into the shoes that ring with tiny bells as he walks in them. As he steps onto the palanquin and sits, settling the stiff robes around himself. As the servants stand, bringing him to their shoulders. At the last moment, he reaches out—“Mother!”
“Be a good boy, Suzaku.” These words will be the last thing he hears from her.
The trees close behind them as they disappear into the forest. There won’t be a public procession, the way there would have been if he were marrying Kaguya, the way the only son of the chief priest would be paraded to any other wedding. The news of aunt Hokuto’s death—and her brother, her brother, missing since his own wedding—had come to the temple suddenly, the sign of a break in the family’s seals, the loss of the protection they’d bought with his uncle’s sacrifice only fifteen short years ago. It was supposed to last longer. Supposed to, but didn’t.
The clearing in the trees makes his fingertips tingle with cold lightning; this space is sacred to the gods, a place where promises made can bind even their fickle hearts. The palanquin judders as it’s lowered to the ground. His father helps him stand.
There is a stone in the clearing, a placeholder. Suzaku kneels beside it with little regard to the robes he’s ruining. Petty as it is, he wants to see something ruined. He’s ringed in protections and wards, in garlands that loop and twist and tie him to the stone. He doesn’t dare touch it, this figurehead, not until his hand is taken and placed on its cool, mossy surface, the truest reminder: he is not forced—he is not fighting—but he is not willing, either. The bells on his sleeves tinkle as he shakes.
They leave. They leave him here with his husband, his partner, this stone that he’s married. They leave him a lamp and a cup of plum wine and they take with them his whole life, all of the things that Kururugi Suzaku could have been, all of the things he won’t do now. The cicadas scream around him.
It isn’t that he doesn’t know where he is. He does. It isn’t that he doesn’t know how to go home. He does. It’s that there’s nothing but shame behind him, nothing but death before. The summer sun hangs in the sky until well after he’s given up waiting; he doesn’t break the paper chains until the last stars begin to peek from behind the moon. He rings, softly, as he stands. The stone did not turn into a god.
There’s a broken little shrine just beyond the clearing where he used to play as a child. He remembers, suddenly, the village boy he’d become friends with there, the two of them cleaning away the detritus of decades without worship. He’d been unable to tack up the roof where it was falling in, but they’d worked together happily to plant sweet-smelling flowers around the altar in the dirt. The god’s name had been rubbed away by the years; it was ancient even then, but it’s more roof than the clearing has. Suzaku makes up his mind.
The creatures in the wood are silent as he goes. The bells—Suzaku smiles ruefully. He has to hope the gods will act before he needs to hunt anything; he’ll never get close to a rabbit this way, but the ground is rough and uneven and he doesn’t dare take off his shoes. The little shrine isn’t far away, but when he gets there, there is already a shape curled in its shadows. Suzaku lifts his lamp.
The boy in the shrine yawns, stretches with his eyes still closed. Then long lashes flutter, the barest glimpse of purple peeking from one eye as he scowls into the lamp’s light. “Ah, it’s you.”
“What do you mean, ‘Ah, it’s you’?” Suzaku demands. “What are you even doing here?”
“I heard you were getting married today.” As far as explanations go, it’s easy enough—there’s no one in town who couldn’t have known, if only to explain his disappearance. Still—
“Ah. Yes.” Still. It stings a bit, being married to a stone. Suzaku peers at the boy before sitting beside him in a jingling huff. Still.
“I wanted to see you. It’s been a while.”
The words. The memory of slender fingers alongside his own in the dirt. Of his first kiss. He peers at the boy again and this time the boy is peeking back. “Lulu?”
“I was starting to wonder. It has been a while.”
Suzaku’s breath catches in his throat. It has; the years since he’d been dragged from the shrine by his father, how he’d forgot—the beating he’d caught, engaged to a god and caught kissing a village boy in the woods—it floods his chest to remember the shame of it: he’d initiated the kiss, despite Lulu’s clear disinterest, and then he’d disappeared, whisked into the safety and sterility of the temple compound. It’s on the tip of his tongue—I didn’t forget! I didn’t mean to leave!—but Lulu’s quiet, leaned against the altar. He curls his fingertips around Suzaku’s palm instead, and for the first time since the preparations began for this whole charade, peace steals into Suzaku’s heart. He leans against the altar, too, careful not to crush the flowers.
“What happens now?” Lulu’s voice is quiet, tone conspiratorial. “Your marriage.”
“Hm?” He doesn’t want to think about it. “I married a rock.”
Lulu’s laughter at that is full. “You married a rock! A holy rock?”
“A holy rock,” Suzaku concedes. Lulu laughs harder.
“How do you consummate?” Lulu asks, tears of mirth in his eyes.
“Very carefully,” Suzaku says dryly. His lips quirk when Lulu’s laughter breaks free again.
“Well, at least you know your husband won’t come looking for you, then,” Lulu says finally.
“No one’s going to come looking for me,” Suzaku mutters. Lulu’s shoulder is soft, his well-worn robes thin and threadbare but clean and nice-smelling. Suzaku buries his face into it and sighs. The day is catching up to him; he yawns into the warm cotton and smiles.
Lulu scratches at his scalp with his other hand. “I did.”
He wakes to the smell of food, his stomach grumbling loudly. There’s fish, some sweets, and a bowl heaped with fragrant red rice; it isn’t until he lifts the soft white bread of a steamed bun from its plate that Suzaku recognizes the dishes from his own table. Lulu’s got rice stuck to his cheek, caught the moment Suzaku pinned him with his stare.
“What? Someone gave it to me. They’re having a party for you.” Lulu doesn’t sound as repenting as he should, but it’s food from Suzaku’s own table, and he’s not going to turn up his nose when he’s eaten nothing but a few bites of breakfast the day before. The food’s from an offering. Suzaku pulls the chopsticks from where they’re stabbed, an eerie chill striping across his shoulders. He may even be eating food left for him, after all.
It’s still warm, though, the aroma delicate and filling; just smelling it could be enough, but he digs in anyway, and before he knows it he’s at the bottom of the bowl. Lulu hands him the next plate, and he’s halfway through it when he realizes his manners are lacking. He offers the plate with his chopsticks still in hand; Lulu steals the bite caught between them, but when Suzaku offers again, heat tickling the tops of his ears, he declines. The next bite almost catches in his throat like a fish bone, instead, the knowledge that Lulu had—his mouth—
By the time he’s finished the rest of the food, Lulu’s already eaten most of the sweets, and Suzaku laughs. “That’s why you didn’t want the fish.”
There’s a little bit of cake left, and Suzaku’s cheeks go red as he eats it. It’s his own—Lulu laughs at how flustered he is, but it’s gentle, soft. He’s so pretty here in the sunlight with the dappled green shadows of leaves playing on his pale skin, and sitting here eating his wedding feast with him, Suzaku could almost find himself wondering. He doesn’t realize what Lulu’s drinking until it’s too late, the last golden drops of plum wine tracing down his narrow throat to stain his collar dark. It’s—it was meant for—but Lulu’s face is sweet and friendly, and Suzaku’s heart has been thumping in his chest since he’d seen that familiar, beloved face last night.
“Hm?” Lulu hums, but he sounds distracted. He smells like sweet, dried wood and fresh grass and the little flowers from the shrine; beneath Suzaku’s lips his throat tastes like salt skin.
“Let’s pretend,” Suzaku whispers into his jaw, “let’s pretend that you are my husband.”
This time Lulu doesn’t freeze, not like before when there’d been so much in Suzaku’s young heart, more than he’d been able to express in anything but the childish press of his lips to his friend’s. No, this time Lulu melts, goes molten and hot and clinging, fingers pressing in at the edge of Suzaku’s collar, at the tightly wrapped belts around his waist. This time Lulu lets him catch his mouth with his own and pour love in, their lips sticky slick against one another, Lulu’s tongue tasting of soybean powder and sugar syrup and rich, smoky tea. He lets Suzaku clutch at him as he finally gets his fingers under the edges of those belts; he pushes back into Suzaku’s mouth as though they haven’t just eaten, as if he is starving. And then he pushes Suzaku back, lays him along the ground in front of the shrine where they’d shared their childhood, and peels back the layers of Suzaku’s wedding robes.
The summer sun is cool against the heat steaming up from Suzaku’s skin. He’s covered, barely, by the layers Lulu hasn’t pushed away yet; Lulu’s sitting up above him, fingers caught in his own collar as he looks at Suzaku— looks . His lips are pink, bitten; there are fingerprints in the shadows of his jaw and sucked kiss marks along his throat. Suzaku reaches up, catches Lulu’s simple belt between his hands, feeds it through the knot until his robes fall open and Lulu is all bare, sweaty, pale skin marked only with the dark of his nipples, his cock. He’s hard, desperately so, and when he shifts against Suzaku he’s surprised to know just how hard he is, himself. Lulu’s mouth opens, then, and he catches his weight with a hand on Suzaku’s stomach; as he had when they were children, he’s spent his energy being impressive, and now he moves easily as Suzaku guides him to the ground onto his own spread robes.
His cock is—and here is something for Suzaku to worship as he nuzzles into the fine down of hair at the base of Lulu’s stomach, as he traces his fingertips up the shivering inner thighs, as he breathes the thick musk, still floral and delicate despite the way it grabs at his arousal with both hands and beckons. As he touches his tongue to the shine of the tip where wet is gathering and Lulu’s whole body jerks. As he presses close kisses down the length of him just to revel in the twitching, until Lulu’s moans aren’t enough to draw him back and Lulu has to catch him with a reverent palm around his cheek. As he opens his mouth and draws Lulu inside.
It’s worship. Lulu’s face is beatific, mouth open but eyes closed in an expression that would read pain but for the steady whimpers escaping him. When Suzaku lifts away to tongue the head, Lulu’s eyes finally open, full and aching. He lets Lulu draw him up, lets him kiss the taste of himself out of Suzaku’s mouth, lets him roll and suck a chain of bruises down his body until he pauses to bite hard at the ridge of Suzaku’s hip. It—the cry it pulls out of him would be embarrassing if it weren’t for the way it makes Lulu’s eyes flare. Lulu bites again at the stretch where his leg joins his body by the base of his cock; his hair is so soft and silky and teasing. Suzaku lets him shift his leg, guiding him open, until he realizes where this is going only seconds before the soft, wet press of a tongue against place he’s never expected to be kissed.
It feels so much nicer than he’d have imagined, each tiny, kittenish lick sending sparks like popping embers up the center of Suzaku’s back until the whole of him is on fire, charring down until he’s a patch of skin, a hungry mouth being worked so tenderly that he doesn’t even notice the finger inside until it’s to the second knuckle. The understanding shakes him fully, a yawning ache opening inside him, want for a thing he’s never known before and only barely understands now; Lulu opens him up on thin fingers until it’s all he can do to press his knuckles into his teeth, to spread his legs wide and welcoming.
If there is a god at this wedding, Suzaku feels his blessing in the press of Lulu’s cock inside him. They cling together, mouths grabbing at each other’s faces until he can feel the tickling scratch of Lulu’s hair brushing against his ass. Lulu’s breath is shaking, his arms roaming as though he can’t find a place to hold on, as though he wants to hold everywhere at once, and oh, it’s so, so easy to gentle him onto his back, to climb astride him and ease him slick and firm back into his body. The angle—the air in Suzaku’s lungs punches out, tangles in the back of his throat as fireworks light behind his eyelids. When he opens his eyes, he sees Lulu, bitten and dazed and lovely. He shifts his hips and Lulu cries out, mouth wet. It’s Lulu’s hands on his hips that catches him, and at their direction he rolls perfect, perfect circles, the end of Lulu’s cock rubbing just—just—
He stains the white robes further, orgasm tearing from him in pulsing bursts as Lulu keens beneath him. His grip is tight, surprisingly demanding until, sore though he is, Suzaku rocks a few more short thrusts. When Lulu comes, he looks almost surprised at his own pleasure; his fingers stay locked until his breathing settles, though his face is still twisted in sweet agony. It isn’t until Suzaku leans up to take his mouth that he fully softens, going pliant and willing under Suzaku’s enthusiastic kiss.
When he stands on shaking legs after, he’s bare to the sun, but he doesn’t mind as long as Lulu keeps glancing over, eyes fond and wanting at the same time. They’ve crushed some of the flowers, and Lulu is poking at them while Suzaku wraps himself back up in the soiled robes. The outsides are stained with grass and streaks of dirt; Suzaku wears the stains inside against his skin with a private smile. Lulu helps him with his belt; when they are done, Suzaku turns to examine the back of his clothes with a rueful grin. There’s little doubt what he’s been doing. The little shrine seems to glow in the golden sunlight.
“You’ll have to do,” Lulu tells him, a wry smile tucked in the corner of his mouth. His fingers tangle with Suzaku’s and he tugs in gentle motions away from the shrine, away from the stone, away—
“I can’t.” And something inside him shatters to say it, but his family trusts—
“Shh. Please.” Lulu’s lips are soft against his, and Suzaku presses into him desperately, memorizing. If this is the last time—the only time—
“On the ground?” The voice is teasing, but there’s no mockery in it. Lulu frowns. “You didn’t even take him home first?”
“Shut up.” There’s a fine blush staining Lulu’s cheeks now; Suzaku turns and. And behind that man is, unmistakably. Subaru waves. The man he’s with is laughing now, fully, and. And.
“Oh.” What else can he say? The stone has turned into a god after all.