The call of sea has always been strong. Tugging in his blood, beckoning for him to sink into the dark depths, never to see light again. Kanata knows this well, tries to combat it by flopping into the fountain, staying to soak until someone eventually finds him and pulls him out.
Other days, when the pull is impossible to resist, he finds himself taking the bus to the coast, sand squishing in between his toes, watching the deceptive calm of the surface. Kanata forces himself to just look, just taste the salt air on his tongue, feel the breeze in his hair, and dip his toes in - once. Just once.
He does not know if he will come back if he goes into the water alone.
The call is strong, after all. It thrums in his blood, beckoning and beckoning. Kanata is helpless to the pull.
Today, he is ‘lucky.’ He is not alone - the children are behind him, shouting as they bury one of their twin friends in the sand. Souma and Kaoru are bickering somewhere while they buy shaved ice. With everyone so near, he will not lose himself.
Kanata is waist-deep in the water, eyes closed, focusing on the sounds of the waves. The sea has a big ‘voice’ but often times Kanata has trouble understanding what it is trying to tell him. Even after countless hours in the fountain, in Chiaki’s bathtub, is not enough to truly understand.
There is one thing he does understand. The call. It sings in his bones, come Kanata, come swim, come to me and he follows even though he knows he cannot float. The sea knows everything and that is why it wants him. That is why it calls. It would only make sense, for a monster like him, to cleanse all his sins in the water, to repent for everything by drowning.
Kanata closes his eyes. Takes a deep breath. One step. Two steps. Perhaps three more and the water will be up to his chest. A few more, and his feet won’t be touching the ground, and then -
“Whoa, Blue.” Strong arms encircle him and gently tug him back . Kanata’s eyes flutter open. He tilts his head back to look up at him when his back hits a warm solid chest chest.
Ah. There he is. The ‘sun’, himself.
Chiaki’s grin is particularly wide, perhaps to offset the worried wrinkles around his eyes. Wrinkles that Kanata put there. Wrinkles they won’t talk about. For a second, guilt swirls in his gut.
Chiaki lets out a laugh then, as if he can see right through to Kanata’s thoughts. “Remember you can’t swim silly! If you go too far out, I’ll lose you!”
“...Mmm.” Kanata relaxes in Chiaki’s hold. Even with the cold seawater slicking his skin, he is still radiating so much heat. “Do not worry, Chiaki. You will not ‘lose’ me. I was just enjoying the water.”
It is fine though. Chiaki is just ‘warm’ enough, seeping through Kanata’s chilled skin and curling up in his chest. He sways happily in Chiaki’s arms. “Puka, puka…” This feeling, this warmth, always glows like a gentle star whenever he’s around any of his precious ones.
But with Chiaki, it just burns.
Kanata has been burning for a long time now. Ever since that day on the hill, when Chiaki swore to him, starting a small fire in his heart.
Chiaki exhales, swaying along with Kanata. His breath brushes against Kanata’s ear, making him giggle. “Well, that’s good!” He squeezes him tightly, in a quick hug. “Let’s go, Kanata. Hakaze brought shaved ice for everyone.”
Kanata lets him pull away to take him by the hand. The wrinkles on his face are gone. He does not know if he is disappointed or not - it would have been nice to ‘kiss’ them away. But Chiaki’s smile is blinding in that normal heart-stopping way of is, adding more kindling to the fire, so Kanata is content.
He looks behind him, where the sky and sea meet, the horizon flashing at him in warning. One day, the sea will take him. Deep inside his heart, he knows this. It is his fate, and his punishment.
But not today, he thinks as he squeezes Chiaki’s hand reflexively. He does not want to go. Not yet. Kanata will do everything in his power to follow this cherished back until he can no longer.
Besides. If the ‘sun’ wants him on land, on land he will stay.
For now, the call falls silent.
(When they are at a safe distance from the sand, the water only coming up to their knees, Kanata takes the chance and slumps against Chiaki, pushing all his weight on him. Chiaki lets out a startled shriek as they fall into the water with a loud splash. Kanata laughs in his face when they surface, Chiaki spitting out sea water and shaking his head like a dog.
Chiaki’s eyes flash playfully behind his soaked bangs.
“Why you little - “
Kanata turns to escape but Chiaki tackles him full-force, knocking the wind out of him. All the worry rushes out of him in that whoosh of air. Now there is only the two of them laughing, and Chiaki’s heart beating soundly against his back, and the sun shining merrily on their skin.
On the sand, the first years are pointedly not looking at Chiaki wrestling Kanata back into the water. It’s nothing they, unfortunately, haven’t seen before, The Aoi twins, Souma, and Kaoru are gawking openly. “Please ignore them,” Tetora says with a forced cheerfulness, placing the shaved ice on a tray. “We can eat Leader’s share if you want!”
Shinobu looks up once, then immediately looks back down at the sight of his Leader straddling his other senpai. At Yuta’s whisper of “They know they’re in public, right?” his cheeks flame bright red. They know. They all know.
Midori grimaces at the sweet “Chiakiiiii~” that comes from the water. “I really hope they drown.”)