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First Kisses

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The first time he kisses Zephie, it's pretty much everything he's heard first kisses are supposed to be (which surprises him a little, since mostly his information came from Melissa teasing him about needing a girlfriend): her lips are soft and it happens so slowly it feels like a dream, except that he can feel how his heart pounds and how she leans into him, how soft she is, and her fingers thread through his hair to cup the back of his neck and Juto shivers, because that little touch is enough to make him feel like falling apart.

 

The first time he kisses Crocell, it's pretty much everything a first kiss isn't supposed to be (but it's Crocell, so honestly he would have been surprised if it went smoothly): they're in the middle of an argument and standing too close together because neither of them will back down, and Crocell smells like cinders and feels like a bonfire, giving off more heat than any human should, and when the impulse hits he doesn't think about it, just acts. Crocell yelps, then bites, but when Juto would pull away Crocell shoves him against the wall and kisses back.

 

The first time he kisses Rue, it's actually that she kisses him (which is no surprise, because honestly Rue calls the shots any time she wants to, even with the princess), and he thinks it might be a test: she's frowning up at him with this look of intense concentration, like she's trying to make up her mind about him. Then she grabs him by the collar and pulls him down into a kiss just as sharp and precise as her battle techniques, and Juto settles his hands carefully on the curve of her tiny waist and lets her lead.

 

The first time he sees them kiss each other, he's pretty sure he's supposed to feel jealous (that's the impression he's gotten from listening to ordinary people, anyway): it's really obvious just watching them that they care about each other a lot, that they'd do anything for each other. But Juto doesn't feel bad about that so much as he feels happy that they're so good together, and then Zephie looks up from between Crocell and Rue and beckons for Juto to come join them, and he slides into the tangle of their arms certain that this is right.