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Only a Friend?

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"So is there any certain place you would like to go?" Thoma and Gorou walked side by side on the main pathway of Inazuma city. With a small hum and eyes on the little shop of Ogura Textiles & Kimonos, Gorou tried to think of the best place to go. He hadn't been able to sit down and eat a good meal in a while, especially with making sure Miss Kokomi was not overwhelmed and helping out with anything he could at the shrine. But now he is here with Thoma and wishes to make some good memories with the other male, well who wouldn't want to hang out with him? The blonde was absolutely handsome, so friendly and dear Archons, the most selfless person that the dog boy has met. In the back of Gorou's mind, he had a thought that maybe- just maybe, that Thoma would let him take care of him. He wanted to laugh at that thought, it was too obvious that they would only be friends... and nothing else.

"What about Kiminami Restaurant? I heard from the Traveler that they had shared a Moonstadt recipe and maybe we could try that out...." his voice drifted as soft winds hit the city, Gorou's ears twitched, more sounds reached his fluffy ears. Though his full focus fell on Thoma, watching the tips of his hair flowing softly with the wind and gazing at his shining smile. Oh how Gorou felt like he could melt from the amount of warmth he felt in his heart. His tail immediately started wagging, he couldn't hold in the happiness he felt inside and oh how he was quite embarrassed about it. As long as Thoma didn't notice, he would feel a bit better and maybe not die from embarrassment.

"Oh right! It is called a pizza and super good, I've had it a few times. Whew, it has been a while since I have had a good Mondstadt meal, even longer since I have been there..." Gorou could tell that Thoma did miss Mondstadt, even though he didn't know the full connection of him and the land of freedom. He did want to know more, but didn't want to push the other to talk- "This might not be a surprise, but I'm originally from Mondstadt! Miss Ayaka says that it is obvious I am not from here, and we both think of it in a good way... others, that's a different story. Though I don't mind what others think of me, people are always going to talk." Thoma shrugged his shoulders and walked down the steps of the city, and of course making sure Gorou was still next to him.

"Hm, I personally think that you are a great person, even though your choices in food can be.... interesting." Gorou smiled softly, his eyes drifting to follow a sakura blossom that landed on the stairs. He may have seemed calm but Gorou was quite annoyed that people would even dislike Thoma, he was so great that it had the smaller male struggle to explain how amazing he was. But even he knew that it was hard to change people's minds on certain things.

"Aw it isn't that bad, it could definitely be worse!" Thoma let out a laugh, his head tipping slightly back as he did. It was clear to anyone else that he enjoyed the fluffy haired male's company.

After a few minutes more of walking, they reached their destination and ordered their meal. As they waited, they simply made small talk, both too afraid to say something that could be wrong. Gorou didn't want to mess this up, he already lost someone because of his feelings towards them. Oh how he was so afraid to make that mistake again, even as he was sitting with Thoma and enjoying their time together, a small part of him screamed at him to back away. To run. Just run. And hide forever from everyone.

The dog boy refused to run, to keep himself there. Oh how it hurt to try and open himself again to someone that he felt so connected to. Though, he did know, he just couldn't let his feelings get in the way of this friendship. It would be okay, he could do this.

At times like this, when Gorou would be so stuck in his thoughts, he would forget about his ears and tail, which would always show his emotions unless he controlled them, though even when he tried to his tail and ears would betray him. So when his ears flattened, it was only noticed by the (malewife) housekeeper who sat next to him. "Gorou?" A thought went through Thoma's mind, that maybe Gorou didn't like it here, but the thought was gone immediately as he spoke up.

Those fluffy ears stood alert, pointed straight at Thoma. At times, the left ear would twitch and point in a different direction, oh how the taller male found that so adorable.
"Yes? I am deeply sorry I spaced out. I was just thinking about something. Don't worry, how about we move to a new topic?" Before anything else could be said between the males, their pizza was placed in front of them.

Gorou wanted to drool, surprisingly it looked so good, thank Traveller and Paimon for sharing the recipe or he wouldn't been able to see this amazing meal. "Thank you! This looks so amazing." He smiled at Kininami Anna and then looked at Thoma who also thanked her before she went to go back to cooking.

"Well let's dig in!" They both grabbed their own slice and started eating, both clearly enjoying the pizza. But to Gorou? He was so happy to see Thoma have a Mondstadt dish since he did talk about not having one in a while. Both were in their own little world together, no glares or hateful whispers could break it. It was just them, enjoying each other's company and finding that they have more common interests than they thought before.

Well it only lasted for so long, until a loud, feminine yell came from down the street. "Is that General Gorou and Thoma I see?!?!" The two that were named looked from the direction of the voice and saw the one and only, best firework maker in Inazuma, Yoimiya. She ran to them and wrapped her arms around their necks, for a girl who seemed like she wasn't the strongest she had a very strong grip. It seemed like all three of them were different from how they looked. "Heya you two! I'm surprised to see you both here, but I am definitely glad. It is good to see you both away from work and relaxing!" She pulled them closer to her and made a face like she was a goldfish, which made both males laugh, it was very nice to see her and her bubbly personality.

"It is good to see you too. I was doing some tasks for Her Excellency in the city and bumped into Thoma, and now here we are." The dog boy's freckled cheeks were dusted with pink now, and only because of how Yoimiya probably thought Thoma and him were on a date- oh how he wished they were so much. Gorou hated to say it, but he knew that there were feelings he had for Thoma, but so much to unravel from that statement that he refused to even notice...

"Yup! And got to eat the best pizza." Thoma stated as he finished the last piece, which he noticed that Gorou only ate a few slices. But the other just said he didn't eat much, it was kind of like when they did the hotpot game. He sighed and grabbed the cup of water he had, taking a sip of it.

"Oo, so I didn't walk in on a date?" Yoimiya wiggled her eyebrows, sort of, at the two and gave them a mischievous smirk, "Or maybe it is a secret one~" Thoma spluttered out some of the water he was drinking as Gorou froze. This was not a date. At all. Yeah.... and nothing would change Gorou's mind, maybe.

"O- Of course not! We are just hanging out." Thoma was coughing as Gorou tried to explain, him looking worriedly at him while Yoimiya just giggled, releasing her hold on the two others.

"Oh you two are so uptight sometimes! Well more Gorou- but anyways, I was just joking!" She put her hands on her hips and let out a big smile, "Well as much as I would love to hang out with you both, I'm on my way to play with some of the kids." Yoimiya's eyes brightened as Kininami Anna brought her pre ordered meal that was all wrapped up.

Thoma finally calmed down and waved, a nervous smile on his face as he waved, both males saying bye to the cheerful girl before she ran off through the city.

"About what Yoimiya said, should we ignore that?" Thoma glanced at Gorou, hoping that he wasn't embarrassed- even though they both probably were.

"Mhm, yes, I think we both know where we stand. Which is as friends." Gorou bit his lip, looking away from Thoma, hoping he wouldn't see through his lies. But he had to hide his feelings, how could the other feel the same way? It wouldn't work out anyways, Gorou stayed at Watatsumi Island and Thoma was here on Narukami Island. The trip to get to each island was long hours and both were so busy all the time.

The dog boy would never admit it, but he was just trying to make excuses, stuck in the past as he thought that what had happen would only keep happening to him. It felt like he was cursed and yet he hadn't even tried to see if things would be different. Fear controlled part of Gorou's mind and it would not waver. But maybe there was hope that he did not see just yet....

~~~~~~~~~

Gorou and Thoma went for a walk along the beach just right of Inazuma City, just in sight of the large bridge that connects the Raiden Shogun to her people. Both males were uncertain on how to feel about her sudden change of well- everything. Though it did help with ending the war, the Vision Hunt Decree, and so much more. Everyone thanked the traveler (and paimon) for all they had done, they truly were so amazing.

At this point, the sun was setting and the sky turned into a nice pinkish-orange. Gorou always loved sunsets, it is so calming. During the war, no matter what challenge he faced, the moment he saw the sunset, all his problems washed off of him as if he was under a beautiful waterfall from Watatsumi Island.

"Wow..." Gorou couldn't stop himself from stopping and staring at the sky, his tail softly swaying and his eyes widening. He tried to always appreciate these soft moments, but it felt different this time. With Thoma at his side, he appreciated it even more and it felt more special than any time before. Oh how he wished time would stop here and now, with Thoma always by his side.

"The sunset is always beautiful huh?" Gorou looked at Thoma and it felt as the Anemo God himself stole the air from his lungs. He was completely breathless at the sight of the sun hitting Thoma's face, his hair seemed brighter and his eyes were filled with life and love. His skin glowed with warmth, and a content smile graced his seemingly soft lips. Gorou couldn't look away from the beauty of the man before him, but truly he never wanted to look away ever again. Nothing could make him want anything else in the world, all he wanted was Thoma. His chest tightened more and warmth spread throughout his body, he never had seen a sight like Thoma.

At last, he found a moment to breathe and took it quietly, "Y- Yeah... it is," as much as he appreciated the sunset, it couldn't compare to the new sight he has fallen for. But... he stopped those thoughts and turned his head back forward, no he couldn't make the same mistake again. It wouldn't end well just like before, right?

The two stood there for a few moments longer, not realizing how close they were, their hands grazed across each other. Both stopped their movements and tried to ignore the want to hold the other's hand. Thoma decided that maybe Ayato and Ayaka were right, maybe there was more. But why should he hide from it? He had always strived for what he wanted or needed, why was it different now? Why did he feel so anxious about even being around Gorou? Why was he so worried of what he thought of him? It didn't make sense. He has never cared what others think of him, yet here he is, wanting and hoping Gorou liked him. Even as a friend.

"It is getting late, I should head back to the dock, I need to get back to the Shrine and to Her Excellency." Gorou realized he would be sailing in the dark, which wasn't the best, but he did accidentally stay too late. Hopefully Miss Kokomi would be okay without him, and forgive him for not leaving earlier.

"Huh? Oh..." Thoma looked out at the sea, the waves softly hitting the sand on the lovely beach. It was so nice, but getting dark, it wouldn't be good for Gorou to try and sail now. "Well maybe you could stay the night? I am sure the Kamisato siblings would not mind you taking up a guest bedroom for tonight."

Gorou gave a surprised look, not sure how he should respond. Should he? But he was needed at the Shrine. Then again he was never good with the political side of things and that is what everything has been focused on. Maybe it would be okay if he spent the night? No one would mind right? "Are you sure? I wouldn't want to intrude." His ears flattened on his head, he felt nervous, for multiple reasons. More time would be spent with Thoma, he could just be a bother to everyone if he stayed....

"Yup! I am completely sure. Now come on!" Thoma grinned and nudged Gorou, oh how he wanted to pet his cute head- Gorou agreed softly and they started to walk to the Kamisato Estate. They both hoped this all would go well.

~~~~~~~~~

The two finally made it the The Kamisato Estate right as the moon made itself known to the people under it. The stars sprinkled themselves in the sky, making themselves known to everyone who looked up. The Estate held nothing but silence, only was the waves hitting the shore heard off in the distance. Thoma led Gorou inside and they walked to the kitchen, "Would you like some tea? Maybe a small snack? I do make some good tea, I can make multiple types as well!" He turned to Gorou who was looking around, his ears twitching slightly.

"Oh sure. Any type is fine with me." Before anything else could be said, Ayaka walked in the kitchen, a little surprised that Gorou was here -not really-

"My, Hello Gorou. It is nice to see you again, are you staying the night?" Both males were confused on why she didn't question why he was here or anything of the sort.

"Hm yes, I was going to head back to the Sangonomiya Shrine, but it was getting late and Thoma invited me to stay here for the night. As long as that is okay with you!" Ayaka smiled, anyone could see that Gorou was very adorable and very well mannered.

"Why of course. We would be worried with you out on the sea at such a late time, besides you are always welcome here." She refrained herself from patting his head, and instead looked at Thoma, "Are you making tea?"

"Ah yes milady! Would you like some as well? I was thinking of making a mint tea for tonight." Ayaka immediately nodded and went to one of the cabinets, she seemed to be looking for something as Thoma went to put the pot over the fire. "If you would like you can just sit down while I get the tea Gorou." Oh how Gorou loved when Thoma said his name, it made him so happy. Without another thought, just like a puppy, he listened as if Thoma gave him a command. Ayaka couldn't help but giggle quietly as she watched them interact. Then she found what she was looking for and turned to grab a plate, placing small cookies on it.

Moving to sit across from Gorou, she placed down the plate. "Here are some cookies that Thoma made this morning, they are amazing." Ayaka took one of them for herself and took a small bite, making sure to keep her manners as a guest was here. Thoma rolled his eyes, amused by how it was so different from earlier when she practically squealed and ate up the cookies she was given quickly.

Gorou took one as well and immediately melted as soon as the cookie hit his mouth, it was so good that he didn't even hide his like for the cookies. "Thoma! This is absolutely amazing!!!" His tail wagged, sometimes hitting the floor with a thud. Seeing Gorou so happy about his baking made him so happy, Thoma wanted to cook and bake for Gorou everyday...

"Thank you! I try my best." He could feel the knowing look of Ayaka on him and then she spoke up.

"Oh I almost forgot! I am so sorry, but we have guests from the other commissions so we have no guest rooms left. Hm, Thoma, would you be okay with Gorou staying in your room? It is big enough." Thoma knew what she was planning and as much as he respected her, he really was done with her. But he could only nod and listen to her.

"Of course, I would not mind sharing my room as long as Gorou, you would be okay with it?" He looked back to the dog boy as he filled his mouth with those cookies, he was so cute. Thoma smiled softly, his once frustration was gone in seconds.

"Hm? Uh... that is fine!" Gorou's mind was racing, this could go so wrong and he was scared. No he just couldn't let this friendship end. It is nothing, they are sharing a room for one night and that is it. It wasn't like they would be sharing a bed or anything- right? Well... would it be that bad if they did? Gorou didn't know anymore. His emotions were a mess and so was his mind.

Ayaka nodded happily, "Great!" She tried to hide her happy smile from Thoma, knowing he knew she had a weird plan. Thoma could only focus on the tea as he grabbed the tea pot and cups, pouring the pretty colored tea in the tea cups. Then he handed one cup to the other two. Of course he got his own after and sat down next to Gorou.

Then for the next 15 minutes or so, the three conversed in many different topics. They took time to enjoy each other's company before it would be time to rest.

 

"Well this was absolutely lovely, but I must retire for the night. Goodnight to you both, and I hope to see you in the morning." Ayaka put her cup away, cleaning up her things before leaving to her own room.

Gorou waved to her before yawning softly, he was getting tired, but he tried to ignore the sleepiness that overcame him. As much as he didn't want to admit it, he wished to spend more time with Thoma before he would have to leave. Who knows how long it would be until Gorou sees the other again...

Thoma noticed the most adorable yawn he has ever heard and he smiled softly at Gorou, a soft look coming on his face as he relaxes. It seemed that being around Gorou just made the other much calmer, which was... nice.

The dog boy was confused on why Thoma smiled at him, but he smiled back, as long as Thoma was happy.... he was happy as well. "Oh are you getting tired Gorou? We can head to my room once I finish cleaning up."

Then it hit Gorou once more, he would be sharing a room with Thoma for the night. It made him so nervous, so much that his ears flattened down as he walked to Thoma, wanting to help clean up. Fortunately for him, it seemed the blonde didn't notice that something was off.

"Alright that seems to be all! Follow me," and with a nod, they walked to Thoma's room. It was a bit farther from the other rooms, but as Gorou walked in, he saw a beautiful view of the ocean. The room was nice, everything was organized and clean, seemed like Thoma was all the same when it came to his own things. Gorou hid a little smile, for some reason, this made him feel like a bashful teenager again.

"Um... Your room is nice!" He looked at the bed, then at the floor. It took him a moment to try and figure out which spot on the floor he should sleep at. To him it didn't matter about if he was on the floor or not, but he could at least find a smaller spot. Gorou loved to cuddle up to a blanket and curl up when he slept, it always felt comforting, even if it was seen as childish.

Once he found a seemingly cozy spot, he walked to it and sat down. This confused Thoma immediately, "Gorou? Why are you on the floor?" Then it dawned of him- right two of them and one bed. "O- Oh! You can take the bed! I don't mind the floor." Thoma refused to let Gorou sleep on the floor after what he had said about not sleeping on anything comfortable in who knows how long. "And I won't take no for an answer." He grinned and went to the cabinet he had, grabbing out extra pillows and blankets for himself. Thoma wasn't one for extra pillows or blankets, but sometimes the siblings would overwork themselves and fall asleep while working. He would always grab a blanket for them and sometimes a pillow, but he never wanted to wake the staff when getting the blankets so he put them in his room.

With a look of shock, Gorou nodded softly, but he was still nervous and now- he felt bad that Thoma would be on the floor. He didn't deserve to sleep there. Without a second thought he spoke up, "What if we shared the bed? I m- mean I don't want you to be uncomfortable on the ground, but also if you aren't comfortable with the idea-" Gorou slapped his hands over his mouth, he couldn't believe he didn't think before speaking. This was nothing like him! What was wrong with him? Oh he felt so embarrassed. How could he ever look at Thoma after saying that?

Before Gorou could keep sitting in self-hatred he heard a light chuckle from his left. Slightly turning his head, he saw Thoma rubbing the back of his neck with a grin on his face. "I mean... I wouldn't be opposed to your idea." He could sense Thoma's nervousness, but he wasn't sure what exactly to do at the moment. Gorou took a second to take a breath and he patted the spot next to him on the bed.

"Alright then I believed it is settled." Thoma nodded and placed the extra blankets and pillows on the edge of the bed, just in case.

Thoma looked at Gorou before turning around, "I'm going to change. Would you like to borrow some clothes for the night? Though they may be a bit big on you." He scratched his cheek with his pointer finger, practically just as nervous as Gorou.

A small 'Yes please' was the only confirmation that Thoma got, but it was all he needed. He grabbed some extra sleepwear and handed it to Gorou, then he moved to the other side of the room and turned his back to the other. Both kept their eyes on something else, deciding that they should finally change. A creak of the bed had Thoma turn to look at Gorou, seeing the shorter male with his back turned. Before he even thought about looking away, he noticed plenty of scars and bruises on Gorou's back. Many scars were old and some were almost fully healed. The few bruises he saw, they seemed somewhat new, his guess was they were from one of the last battles from the war. It tugged at his heart that Gorou had to deal with the war so much. Thoma wanted to help more, but because of working under the Kamisato's it wouldn't of been safe.

He thought he had invaded Gorou's privacy enough and turned away, putting on his own clothes and he waited before he heard Gorou sit back down before turning around.

Gorou looked at Thoma and smiled softly, he had grabbed one of the extra blankets that was smaller and wrapped it around his frame. Well he did find out that Thoma was not joking that his clothes would be a bit big. But they were comfortable....

Both laid down on the bed, each on the opposite sides. It was tense in the room, but Gorou decided to get rid of the horrible feeling and he turned to face Thoma. His body relaxed as he took in the feeling of the comfortableness of the mattress. He snuggled into the blanket and closed his eyes. A smile and short laugh came from the blonde, he was glad to see that Gorou was comfortable and happy.

"You are so adorable-" Thoma regretted saying his words out loud as Gorou's eyes shot open and looked at him with what he could only assume was anxiety.

He was right, Gorou was filled with anxiety, but with it was love. Though Thoma didn't know that, and Gorou hoped that he never would. He felt so loved, and yet.... he felt as if it was a lie. That his mind was tricking him in the worst way and Thoma's words were only meant in a platonic way.

Gorou tried to say play his anxiety off and smiled slightly, "A- Ah you think so? Thank you." His voice got quieter with every word until it was a whisper, his grip on his blanket was tight and his knuckles were almost white.

Thoma nodded and smiled back, whispering with Gorou. It felt like a very intimate moment for the two, "Of course I think so. You are really adorable, but not only that- you are just amazing in all." He decided to let his words just fall out, it was late and hopefully this would all be forgotten in the morning.

Each word that fell from Thoma's mouth immediately captured Gorou's attention. It always made him feel so many emotions that he had almost forgotten about, being in the war, he didn't have much time to fall for someone. Well... except for someone special, but they were long gone. "Thoma..." he couldn't help the thud of his tail wagging and the light blush that spread on his cheeks. Or even the smile that grew bigger. "You are so amazing too."

It was not a surprise when they scooted closer to each other, Gorou could smell Thoma's scent, like pine wood burning in a fireplace with a hint of sakura blooms. Thoma felt like home in every single way. The home that Gorou never had, one that he had longed for. Maybe... as long as he was with the other, he would always be home. But his mind would never rest and he wondered if he could keep things platonic, as if they would only be friends. Would he accidentally let out his feelings when he was overwhelmed? Would he ruin a perfectly good friendship once more? Oh how he wished the thoughts would calm down as he tried to rest. "Goodnight Thoma... thank you for everything you have done tonight."

"Goodnight Gorou. It really is nothing." They smiled at each other once more before closing their eyes. Both hoping that one day they could be together, but both being too oblivious to the clear signs that were right in front of them....