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Eternal Is Not the Night

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Yuuichi's hand hovers over the tanzaku paper, approaches again and again retreats to hover once more. It's not that he is without wishes: it's not as if all his wishes have left him for having come true or, conversely, been consumed by darkness and obliterated. No, while Yuuichi may walk a darker path than many, he still has the light he brought with him when he left Japan, the one that has always brightened his way (he glances up now at the open door through which Iori wandered some time ago).

There was a time years ago when Yuuichi had a wish, a singular wish, so dark that it could only make itself known to him through a recurring nightmare. He didn't understand the wish when the nightmares started and then, as comprehension trickled in, he resisted, wanting neither the wish itself nor cognizance of it. But his own surrender to it was inevitable—and, if his uncle is to be believed, so was Iori's.

When that wish came to pass, the nightmares stopped. At first Yuuichi had feared it was because the nightmares had seeped into and overtaken his waking life, that he had fallen into the deep end of the wish when he agreed to let it come true, and that nightmare and reality had become one and the same.

But whenever such a fear crept up on him in those early days, Iori's presence would radiate undeniably. That is, Yuuichi could not deny Iori's radiance, or Iori himself—and would not now, even if he could. He knows what his uncle said: that it wasn't love between them but a primal instinct so powerful as to seem to be destiny. He knows, too, that names have a power of their own and that he was given his for a reason: "the only one." Uncle Kyuusai said it was because Yuuichi had been the only one in the clan with unawakened blood. But even once his blood awoke that was still his name, and Yuuichi has come to believe he is the only one of his kind to find the blessing in the curse: to recognize love and to know it for what it is.

Even so, Yuuichi had thought he might part ways with wishes in those early days, knowing the absolute and intractable impossibility of the mostly deeply desired one, prepared to live equally without wishes and without nightmares.

Wishes continued to seek him out, though, slipping in small and catching him unawares so that he would find himself making the wish before he consciously knew what he was doing: for window seats facing each other on the train from Sestri Levante to Portofino, for a cup of Sencha at the café in Buenos Aires, for the traffic light to change so they could make—just barely—the helicopter ride to the top of Franz Josef Glacier on their last day in Te Wāhipounamu, for the dog outside their rooms in Bangaluru to please stop barking (please), for the 1930s pancake panama hat at the stall in Camden Passage to fit.

And every morning, for another sunset with Iori. Every evening, for another sunrise. Just one more; just one more. Such a little thing and at the same time bigger than anything else, a simple wish that one day will become impossible.

That day is crawling inexorably nearer but it is not yet here—and as long as that's so, Yuuichi will continue to wish. Some might call it a waste to spend a wish on something you already have, but Yuuichi knows otherwise.

When he finishes writing, Yuuichi goes to the bamboo they set up together earlier and hangs his colorful, wish-laden strip of paper. They came here a month ago in anticipation of the local Tanabata Festival. Iori has been low on energy lately, though, so they're holding their own private ceremonies at the house they're renting for the summer. A stream runs through the back of the property and while it's too small to float lanterns upon, Yuuichi has faith it will carry the bamboo leaves he gathers up now.

Outside he finds Iori on the porch swing, looking at the stars—or he would be, if he were awake. For a moment Yuuichi stands and simply looks, fondness in the curve of his lips as he gazes at Iori. And then, gently as he can, Yuuichi sits beside him.

The swing sways only slightly with his weight, but it is enough to rouse Iori. Yuuichi smiles as Iori blinks once and then again, focusing on Yuuichi's face. He turns his palm up when Iori reaches for his hand, and they curl around each other.

And now they're both looking at the stars.

"There," Iori says after a while, and Yuuichi follows his finger to the bright blur of the meteorite's tail falling through the night. He closes his eyes, his hand curling just a little closer around Iori's before easing again.

When he opens his eyes, he finds Iori's on him. "What did you wish for?" Iori asks.

Yuuichi squeezes Iori's hand again as he admonishes with a smile, "You know it's against the custom to tell you." He keeps smiling when Iori attempts to pout, and lets Iori's gaze return starward before asking, "Did you wish this time?"

Still looking at the night sky, Iori shakes his head. "I don't need to wish, Yuuichi."

They sit awhile more, Iori watching the stars, Yuuichi watching the dark spaces between so as to better see the bright glimmers (and, sidelong, watching Iori watch).

"Your uncle told you that you would steal my life." Turning, Iori looks down from the night sky and into Yuuichi's eyes. "But you have given me the world." His voice drops down; his gaze does not. "And so much more."

Yuuichi reaches for him, brushing back strands of Iori's once-luxurious hair. His fingertips trail over skin no longer supple but still beautiful to touch. There is still grace in the movement as Iori straddles his lap and when their lips meet, Yuuichi still feels their youth, knows again the taste of mitarashi dango, lives every sunset and every sunrise from then to now, and all the time in between.