On nights like these, when the sky no longer turns green and the clock on the lounge wall clicks over to 12:01 without so much as a stutter, Minato finds himself fully appreciating the beauty of the stars, the grey-black clouds, the sky as a whole, instead of the horrors of it. If he squints, if he cups his hands around his eyes and remembers pouring over books about the world when he was young, he can pick out the constellations.
He starts with the easy ones - there’s the Big Dipper, there’s Orion, - but then Ryoji will take his head, take his hand, tilting it up, up, up, pointing and whispering. Somehow, possibly from habitually rubbing them all over the fabric of his clothes all day, or not doing much of anything at all, Mochizuki’s hands are impossibly soft, and fit beside, fit between Arisato’s like a glove.
“Look, Minato,” he’d say, his voice muffled by his scarf and, if it was especially obvious, what could be interpreted as nervousness.
“There’s Cepheus, and if you follow your finger-” he moves Minato’s hand as to where it points in the sky in a stuttering, slanting line, “You can see Scorpius.”
In the haze of Ryoji’s hand on his shoulder, their breath against the window, the cold air on their cheeks, Minato doesn’t just see, but he reads the night sky like a borrowed paperback, something cheap and easy to pass around, a bible to be followed for children and to be looked upon fondly by adults.
“Do you see there?” Ryoji asks, and Minato is crying, but he doesn’t understand why. “That’s Antares - she’s my favourite. It’s the brightest one in Scorpius, the 15th brightest in the whole sky.” And he sighs, like Antares is a lost lover, like she is a fond memory scribbled onto the back of a polaroid - or between the pages of a worn paperback. Within the static, as they stare Antares down, Minato finds his voice.
“They’re all so…” And in that split second, he struggles to string together the words, because Death himself is looking at him, seeing him as if he too is a star to be committed to memory, captured between his palms, framed on his dorm room wall. “They’re all so beautiful, Ryoji.”
Unexpectedly, “Yeah,” he replies, nonchalant in a way unlike him, but fitting. Once again they gaze up at the sky and find their fingers interlocked, one of Ryoji’s reaching up to wipe Minato’s eyes, to cleanse the universe, his universe. A wave of exhaustion hits them both, having spent their energies loving and living like they deserve to, like they should.
The word doesn’t feel like a name, it feels like a statement, when he uses that tone.
“Will you- Do you want to sleep in my room tonight?”
Barely suppressing a full-faced grin, Minato says the most truthful, most meaningful thing he’d said in a long time.
“I’d like nothing more - except, maybe, you.”
It doesn’t stop Ryoji from playfully pushing him as they amble their way down the hall, slow and clumsy like drunken men, but also overwhelmingly giddy like the lovestruck teenagers they are.
“I am so glad you’re here with me,” Minato chokes out, sobbing into the pillow, “I don’t- I don’t mean to be so- so emotional, it’s just- I-”
Although skinny, Ryoji’s arms and body radiate warmth unbefitting of Nyx’s Avatar, and he swamps the impossibly short Minato in one fell swoop, disturbing the covers as he wraps his arms around him.
For a second, he freezes, and Ryoji is struck by the notion that maybe this was a bad idea, maybe Arisato didn’t want this - until he doubles down and sobs harder, gasping against Ryoji’s neck. And it’s alright, it’s okay, Ryoji whispers, shuddering slightly himself, pressing a hesitant kiss to the top of Minato’s head, the feelings he’s trying to push through getting lost in his hair, wound up in the wires of his earphones.
When all of his tears have dried up, they lie on their backs, staring up at the cracked ceiling while shoulder to shoulder. How the night is fleeting, how the sweet melodies of Lady Belladonna echo through their ears, how inescapable one’s past can be. Minato thinks of the fractures in the plaster like they’re the constellations the two of them mapped out earlier, their own pocket galaxy, something that’s entirely theirs.
Without him knowing, however, Ryoji had swung his arms behind his head and turned to look at Minato, a look of utter adoration on his face, his cheeks pink and his hair sticking up at the back.
“Maybe I was born to meet you,” he murmurs, the words flowing off his tongue like silk, foreign and yet like he’d said them a million times before.
Minato beams, and promptly turns over to fall into Ryoji all over again, like the first time.
Moonlight filters through the moth-eaten curtains, filling their faces with a luminescent, ever-present light. “If you were,” he returns, and Mochizuki can hear the smile in his voice, “It’s probable that so was I.”
“I love you, you know.” Billowing yellow in the wind, the sun itself clouded over.
“I know. I love you too.” A blue summer’s sky, darkened by circumstance.
Neither of them speak for the rest of night, after all - everything that’s needed to be has been said. Sometimes company says enough on it’s own, and after months of nightmares and restless nights, the two of them sleep well, tangled together like a well-loved pair of headphones.