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It’s easy for Yukito to lose track of time.

He’s always been like that. He knows, now, why that is, at least in part: knows that he shares the arc of his existence with another entity, more him than the fragile shell of a personality that makes up his own sense of identity. Especially over the last few months, when his existence felt like a veil fluttering in a wind, like something that might disintegrate entirely no matter how long he slept and no matter how much he ate, it’s been all but impossible to hold his attention to anything at all. That’s been easier, at least, since he learned the truth; knowing the reality of his existence has given him more than enough to distract his thoughts, but at least he no longer feels like he might collapse into dust at the weight of sunlight on his skin. There’s a whole host of other things to think about that come with his recovered strength -- the source of it, for one thing, and the weight of guilt from that that Yukito can feel sitting in his stomach as if he’s swallowed a lead weight -- but that’s not what he’s thinking of either, for once, as he sits against the edge of the planter outside the front gates of his school. His head is lifted, his gaze cast up towards the pale pink of the blossoms drifting through the air around him like snow; and it’s Sakura he’s thinking about, if of a somewhat different variety than the petals floating around him.

“Yuki!” The voice is clear and loud, with volume enough to carry itself to the forefront of Yukito’s distracted thoughts; he blinks, trying to orient himself back in reality as he lifts his head to turn and look towards the speaker. Touya is rounding the corner of the front gates, slowing from a jog to a walk as he draws closer; his hair is tousled around his forehead by the haste of his motion, his breath coming with force in his chest. He draws to a stop alongside Yukito, breathing hard but showing no more signs of his exertion than the rate of his breathing and the flush on his cheeks. “Sorry I’m late.”

Yukito flashes a polite smile and shakes his head. “No, not at all. I’ve only been here a minute or two.”

Touya frowns at him. “You and Sakura left a half hour ago.”

“What?” Yukito looks down to check the watch strapped to the inside of his wrist and frowns. “Oh. I didn’t realize it had been so long.”

Touya’s frown is still in place, the weight of his mouth drawing at the concern tensing the corners of his eyes. “Did you lose time again?”

Yukito shakes his head sharply. “No,” he says; and then, to correct himself: “Well. Not right now.” He lifts his head to smile up at Touya, aiming for the most reassurance he can find for the expression. “I’m just being absentminded, this time.”

Touya’s frown eases, some of the tension at the corners of his eyes gives way. “As long as you’re sure.” He straightens his shoulders and reaches out to offer a hand to Yukito in front of him. “Ready to go?”

Yukito nods. “Sure,” he says, and he reaches up to take Touya’s outstretched hand. There’s a shiver of self-consciousness along his spine, like an echo of Sakura’s words from the hour prior; but Touya closes his grip without hesitating, and pulls to urge Yukito to his feet, and then the contact is sliding free without any lingering awareness under the touch. It’s the same way it’s always been, as if nothing has changed between them at all; even the tilt of Touya’s head is familiar, as he shifts to direct them down the sidewalk.

“Let’s go.” Yukito nods in agreement and turns to fall into step alongside Touya; and they both fall to silence, giving up the usual easy rhythm of their conversation in exchange for the scuff of their shoes against the pavement. Yukito can’t think of anything to say -- everything feels strange, weighty and loaded with meaning he can’t seem to strip from it -- and Touya seems content to move forward in silence, his hands in his pockets and his gaze fixed on the sidewalk in front of him. Yukito catches the other glancing at him a few times, when he sneaks a look sideways through the fall of his hair; but Touya just smiles and looks away again, and Yukito is left to fumble through the tangle of his own thoughts once more.

He can’t seem to get traction on any course of action. It had all seemed so simple, in the shadows of the maze with Sakura smiling over the truth she was laying out with all the directness of youth. It seems simple when Yukito thinks about it at night, with the dark of his room to keep his sleepless thoughts company and to strip away the necessity of action from his decisions. He knows how he feels, that fact he can be certain of; and that means he ought to give it voice, even if just to make sure Touya knows too. But the decisions that seem so easy by darkness show impossible complexity by daylight, as if they’re winding a maze of thread around Yukito’s tongue to stop his speech ungiven, to seize his heart with impossible panic. He can’t find the words to frame the truth of his feelings, can’t see an opportunity to bring them up; and that’s aside from the guilt that he can feel tightening against his heart every time he so much as glimpses Touya’s face. Touya has already given him the impossible, has already sacrificed so much of himself for Yukito’s sake; how can Yukito ask for more, now, when he’s already stripped Touya of his own power for the benefit of his strange, half-formed existence? He can never repay the other, can never clear this debt; it seems like unthinkable greed to ask for Touya’s heart as well, to even give voice to desire beyond the need Touya has already satisfied. Sakura had offered hope as easily as the smile she gave to ease his own unhappiness at refusing her; but what seemed like sisterly insight in the moment feels like an illusion, now. Sakura thinks Touya feels the same way; but she also believed her own feelings for Yukito to be more romantic than otherwise. Maybe she’s wrong about this too, maybe she’s seen Touya’s friendship and--


Yukito jumps, startled in spite of himself by the sudden sound of his name. He looks up at once, blinking hard to orient himself back in the present moment. Touya is watching him, his gaze fixed full on Yukito’s face and his mouth pulling on a resigned smile; he doesn’t turn away, this time, when Yukito meets his gaze.

“Touya,” Yukito says, feeling himself flush with more color than he can explain with surprise. “What is it?”

“What has it been,” Touya corrects him. “I’ve been trying to get your attention for the last block.” Yukito glances over his shoulder, surprised by how far they’ve travelled from school already, but Touya is still talking. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Yukito shakes his head hard. “I’m fine,” he says, and couples it with the best smile he can muster. “Really. I was just lost in my own thoughts.”

“Must be like a maze,” Touya says; but he’s continuing without waiting for more. “I wanted to know how things went with Sakura. I heard there was an accident from some of the other students.”

“Oh.” Yukito can feel his cheeks flush, color sweeping out over them in clear view of Touya’s level attention on him; he ducks his head forward in an attempt to hide his reaction, but he’s sure the expression is clear all the same. “It was fine. She said she got caught up in a little trouble but everything was over by the time I...became myself again.” He shrugs uncomfortably. “Her friends walked her home. I was going to take her but she said she didn’t need me there.”

“Sakura refused a chance to spend time with you?” Touya asks, sounding a little surprised and mostly amused. “That’ll be one for the record books. I don’t think she’s ever--”

“She confessed to me.”

Touya falls as utterly silent as Yukito’s words go in the back of his throat. Yukito keeps his gaze on the sidewalk in front of them, keeps his lips pressing tight together, but he can feel Touya’s eyes lingering on him and pressing against the back of his neck like a touch. His steps slow, the rhythm of his forward stride stalls itself out-of-motion, until he’s standing in the middle of the sidewalk, still with his head tipped forward and down. He can’t bring himself to look up at Touya next to him; it’s only in looking sideways at the dark of the shoes stopped alongside his own that he even knows Touya is still there.

There’s a long pause. It feels like an eternity to Yukito, as if he’s traded in all his scattered minutes to stretch this one single period impossibly long. Finally Touya heaves a sigh, the sound so weighty that Yukito can’t help looking up to see the other’s face. Touya is lifting a hand to his hair to push the dark of it back and off his forehead; he looks abstracted, gazing off into the distance with focus enough to say that he’s seeing something more engaging than the pink haze of the sakura trees lining the smooth of the sidewalk before them.

“I was wondering when she’d get the nerve to say something,” he says, his voice soft enough to make it clear the words are for himself and not for Yukito. His hand falls, his head turns; his gaze catches and holds Yukito’s as if it’s magnetized. “Did you reject her?”

Yukito blinks. “Of course I did,” he says, feeling as if he’s saying the sky is blue. “I care about her but not like that.” He ducks his head forward and feels a sheepish smile tug at the corners of his lips. “I don’t think she cares about me like that either. Not really.”

Touya hums a low sound of what might be agreement in the back of his throat. “What did you tell her?”

Yukito lifts his shoulders, hunching around himself as if in defense against the weight of the memory of the dark room, of Sakura’s wide eyes, of the tremor of sincerity on her voice; of the pang of guilt in his chest as he offered what was a rejection, in the end, however kindly he framed it. “I told her that I wasn’t her most important person,” he says, aiming the words towards the toes of his shoes. “And…” His voice catches, his throat tightens; he has to struggle over a breath to make it through the next words. “And that she wasn’t mine.”

There’s a span of silence; a few seconds, in reality, Yukito thinks. It spans an infinity in the space of his head, in the hum of his thoughts rushing too fast for him to lay hand to. He can’t think, he can’t speak, he can barely breathe; for a moment all he can do is stand there, his head ducked forward and his gaze fixed on the petals coating the sidewalk. It’s impossible to go on, speech is wholly beyond him; and then Touya takes a breath to speak.

“Who is?”

The words are gentle, for something with such force. Yukito can feel them ring through him, an earthquake enough to throw free the spiraling hysteria of his thoughts. His mind clears, his panic fades; his shoulders relax at once, falling to comfort at his sides as all the strain in his body gives way. He blinks, seeing the details of a single sakura blossom on the sidewalk before him with surprising clarity; and then he huffs a laugh, surprised at how warm the sound tastes at his lips.

“I think you know already.” He lifts his head and his gaze at once to smile up into the steady focus of those eyes on him. “Don’t you, Touya?”

The corner of Touya’s mouth catches, tugging up as if to match the dip of his lashes as he looks down at Yukito before him. “I think I do.” He reaches up, his hand lifting from his side to touch against the fall of Yukito’s hair and urge back the weight of it from the other’s face; Yukito blinks hard against the heat of emotion threatening the corners of his eyes with damp. Touya’s fingers feather into his hair, the touch weighted with delicate intent as he smoothes the strands back behind Yukito’s ear; his eyes linger on the motion, tracking the gesture as if it’s something precious, as if he’s skimming his fingers over something impossibly fragile. Yukito can see the line of Touya’s throat work over his unvoiced words, can see the shift of Touya’s lashes as his gaze goes soft, as he takes a breath as if to brace himself.

“Yukito,” he says, and his gaze slides sideways to meet Yukito’s wide-eyed stare. Touya’s eyes flicker down for a moment, skimming across Yukito’s face like he’s reorienting himself with the other’s features; Yukito can see his whole expression going soft, as if he’s melting just for the familiarity of Yukito’s face before him. “You didn’t notice, before.” Touya presses his lips together and swallows; when his gaze comes back up to meet Yukito’s Yukito can feel the connection between them like it’s a physical thing. “But I…” A pause, as if he’s waiting for something; and then, all in a rush: “I love you, Yuki.”

Yukito’s breath spills from him at once, set free of a tension he hadn’t known he was holding. “Oh,” he says; and his voice is breaking and he can’t collect it, his hands are shaking and he can’t still them. “Touya.” He feels like he’s going to cry, he feels like he’s going to shout; and he’s moving, his body acting on its own accord. It’s as if his limbs have taken on a strength of their own, as if he’s being possessed by that other self while still remembering his own identity even as he acts: as he drops his bag, and lifts his hands from his sides to press his palms close against the familiar lines of Touya’s face. Touya’s lips part, his lashes dip; and Yukito comes up onto his toes, and draws Touya down to him, and presses his mouth close against the soft give of the other’s lips.

They stay there for a moment. Yukito’s hands are still shaking, he can feel the thrum of them running up the whole of his arms and into his tight-tense shoulders; but his grip is unshifting, his hold is certain. Touya is warm against his palms, his fingers -- his lips, where Touya’s mouth has gone soft with surrender to the urging of Yukito’s own. Touya’s hand at Yukito’s hair trembles for a moment, like he’s thinking of drawing back and away; and then steadies instead, as his fingers slide closer instead of farther, as his palm curls in to press Yukito’s hair close to the side of his head. Yukito can feel the line of his glasses caught under Touya’s palm, can feel the heat of Touya’s breathing spilling against his cheek; and he can feel Touya, the startling soft of his mouth and the glow of his skin and all of him, canting in and down towards Yukito before him. He lingers for some span of time: a year, a heartbeat, a lifetime; and then he draws away, gasping an inhale as if it’s the first breath he’s ever taken, as if he’s trying to remember how to go through the motions of existence in a life so fundamentally new. Touya makes a soft sound as Yukito pulls away from him, his lips parting on the loss as his lashes flutter to return his heavy-lidded attention to Yukito’s face, and Yukito seizes on that desperate inhale and speaks.

“I love you too,” he says; blurting over the words as if they might be interrupted, as if Touya is paying attention to anything other than him. “But Touya, I’m...I’m not real. I’m not even human.”

Touya shakes his head fractionally, the motion stalled out by the weight of Yukito’s palms pressing against him. “You are real,” he says. “You’re here with me.”

Yukito’s breath gusts from him; he can’t tell if it’s a laugh or a sob. “Only because of you,” he says. His hand slides from Touya’s face and back to curl against the other’s neck; Touya’s lashes flutter, his head dips forward in overt surrender to the contact. “If you hadn’t given up your power to save me I wouldn’t be here now.”

Touya ducks his head into a nod. “I know,” he says. “I’m glad.” He lifts his head, lifts his gaze; his attention draws back up over Yukito’s face, his eyes so soft Yukito feels nearly like he’s intruding just seeing that affection so clear on Touya’s face. His hand draws up to stroke through Yukito’s hair again; the motion is more sure this time, less breathlessly hesitant, as if he’s gaining certainty from the lingering contact. “I’m glad I could keep you.”

Yukito’s inhale catches in his throat. He’s sure, this time, that it’s a sob. “Touya.”

“Yuki,” Touya says, his voice layering that one word with more warmth than Yukito has ever heard before; and he’s ducking in without waiting for more. His hand comes up to catch at the dip of Yukito’s back, his fingers brace just against the curve of Yukito’s neck; and Yukito turns his head up, and shuts his eyes, and lets his attention to time give way.

He has more important things to focus on at the moment.