The Deboss had been defeated, Daigo had come back safely and life had gone back to normal for most of them. Or it would have.
Souji stumbled into the Spirit Base. “Ian is gone!”
“Oh yeah. He left this morning. He didn’t tell you?” Daigo asked from where he was getting ready to leave and go off somewhere himself, along with Utsusemimaru.
“No, he didn’t! And apparently I was the only one he didn’t say anything to. That idiot!” Souji was angry. “And I’m unable to reach him. He didn’t take his communicator or phone or anything. Do any of you know where he went?”
Scratching the back of his head, Daigo replied, “Ah, I’m afraid not. I thought he was being pretty brave, just going off without any means of communication.”
“Brave? He’s a stupid coward,” Souji balled his fists. “If he shows up again, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind!”
If he shows up again.
The thought somehow gnawed at Souji.
Below all of his anger laid a multitude of fears and insecurities. He thought he and Ian had moved past all of this nonsense. After that final battle, after Ian had praised him and had properly acknowledged him, they had also acknowledged each other. What they had, shared and felt. While dragging each other back to the forest to find Utsusemimaru and Nobuharu, they had consumed those feelings for each other.
Nothing more than a few fleeting kisses but still. Souji had been so sure that once the final battle was over, they would continue on that path.
But he couldn’t continue all by himself. A relationship needed two people.
At night, he was lying awake in bed thinking about things, wondering about the reasons for Ian’s actions. On some nights, he ended up blaming the other and got angry again. On other nights, Souji would give himself the blame.
Maybe Ian had just done all of it to reassure him. To give Souji something to hold onto when faced with a possible end of the world. When faced with possible death.
It seemed like something the other would do.
But it also seemed like something Ian would do would be to run from his own emotions. During the battle, things had just moved too fast and there had been no ways to escape, so Ian had not had any choice but to face things and act on them. With everything over, though, the other had been given more than enough opportunities to run away.
And that was probably what the other had done.
An answer dawned on him when his senior from the kendo club at school approached him one day. “Hey Rippukan, how are things going with you and Rin-chan?”
“Katsuyama-san? We’re friends, if that’s what you’re asking for?” Souji blinked.
“Tsk, not like that. Come on, you dating? Some people are speculating that you’re going to get hooked up and you’re going to produce the next kendo ace for your family’s dojo and all that,” the other male nudged him and smirked.
Souji blinked. “Huh?”
“Wow, so there really is nothing? Everything sure is getting worked up over nothing then.”
Marriage. Heir. Family.
Those were things his own family rarely ever brought up. Or hadn’t brought up until now but when he thought about it, people around him had talked about it a lot.
Nobuharu frequently talked about his family. And he also talked about getting married and starting his own family as well. The other also seemed to be dating someone quite successfully but wasn’t telling anyone about it. Although his sister seemed to know.
Amy also talked about marriage sometimes and about being the heiress to her family and all the expectations that had been put onto her as a result. Gentle was being the opposite of his name for that reason once again. Especially now that the fighting had ended and Amy could focus on her studies again instead of Kyoryuger activities.
Thinking about the others made Souji wonder about Ian. None of them really knew much about Ian’s family or background. The only things Souji knew were that Ian was from England but had Japanese roots. And also that the other was an archeologist, who had travelled with a friend before said friend had been murdered by the Deboss Legion.
Souji had seen the scars on Ian’s body, something not many people apparently had.
Looking up at the sky, Souji wondered where the other might be. And what he was doing and whether or not Ian was okay. He really hoped the other was okay.
Days passed like this and turned into weeks, which turned into months and eventually even into years. Souji had entered university by now and was moving towards officially becoming an adult at the ceremony in January, despite having turned 20 already.
It was on the way home from class that he thought he saw a familiar figure ahead of him.
Before he could think, he had broken into a run. Without even confirming the other’s identity first, he grabbed him by the shoulders and spun him around.
“You idiot! Where have you been all this time?” Souji grabbed Ian by the collar and then sought out the other’s eyes. They were hidden behind long bangs but visible. “Do you know what I went through thanks to you?”
“Boy,” ah, even hearing the nickname was making his insides tighten painfully.
It had been so long.
“You idiot. I should punch you for what you did. Clobber you with one of the wooden swords from the dojo.” He didn’t have one on hand now but knew where to get one. “Idiot.” His voice broke a little bit and Souji tried to bite back tears.
“Say something, Ian!”
Ian looked at him, something that was a little out of character for the other. It showed that the other was taking this seriously. Souji could see a myriad of emotions there. Ian was atypically unguarded. Something about that unnerved Souji.
“What happened to you after our final fight?”
“My family found me and took me back to England,” Ian finally got out and then he pulled Souji into an almost bone crushing hug. “I wanted to get in touch but I couldn’t. They wouldn’t let me. And then we made a deal.”
Many of Souji’s fears that he’d had over the years turned out to be true. He wrapped his arms back around Ian and then pushed him away a little bit. He could feel Ian stiffen under his fingers but before the other could pull himself completely away from Souji, Souji stopped him and just kept Ian a small distance away from him.
“Ian,” Souji tried to find words but none would come out.
So he did the next best thing that he could think of. He crushed his lips against the other’s.
They melted against each other, bodies fitting together just like they had all those years ago in the forest at the foot of the Deboss stronghold. The kiss did not hold any less emotions either. Both of them were desperate once more. Desperate for each other.
“Even after all these years, are you willing to take me back?” Ian asked.
Souji looked back at the other, “I am the one who should be asking that!” He hit Ian’s chest - gently. “There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think of you, dumbass.”
“Same here, Souji,” hearing the other say his name still sent shivers down Souji’s spine and he held onto Ian again, afraid that if he let the other go, he would vanish again.
Ian nuzzled him. “Well, I guess my family will have to uphold their end of their deal then.” He looked at Souji. “How about your family, I hope nobody will come after me with a sword if I ask them to give you to me.”
Looking at Ian for a moment, Souji then laughed softly. “I’m not letting you or my parents talk to each other until I have checked you all for weapons.”