People always said that those with a lot in common fell in love. Or that opposites attracted. But what was to become of those in the grey area in between?
Yuki and Izumi lived in the grey. Not like minded. Not hot and cold, but moody and tired respectively. They weren’t compatible, by any means. Not with each other, and not with anyone else either. So perhaps it was fitting, that winter, that they lived beneath the overcast sky and amidst the fog and flurries. Because rosy wasn’t for meant them.
It was cold, on the streets. Breath clouded and damp hair froze. Izumi hardly minded, sitting on an iron bench that chilled through the denim of his jeans, drained whatever warmth was left from his fingertips. There was hardly more than a layer of frost lacing over the world, and it seemed that the quiet scattering of snowfall disappeared before it landed, because it never stuck and collected into a thick blanket. Instead, it lingered in the air, content to make a melancholy, twilight atmosphere amongst the glowing streetlights and and hazy lavender sky.
If he squinted hard enough, ignored the blur of frozen, sticky eyes, Izumi could conjure up a sweeter, warmer picture. The grey of the city seemed a little less harsh with even an illusion of Yuki standing across the street, wrapped in a familiar indigo knit scarf and matching winter gloves. His hair looked soft, blonde locks littered with fluffy clumps of snow, even if his eyes were dark. The piercings in his ears had healed and weren’t red and bloody anymore. Izumi was stunned when he had done them himself, a safety pin in hand. Though, lingering on the sidewalk, gazing absently past, he didn’t look happy. That was the one thing even Izumi, who knew every curve and angle of his body, couldn’t imagine. A smile. Soft crinkles at the corners of his eyes. Izumi didn’t love him any less for it, though.
When he blinked, brushed a crunchy, icy clump of hair away from his eyes, Yuki was gone. Disappeared through the flurries. It wasn’t a surprise; he’d long since moved to a different city, after all, but it still stung somewhere deep down. Ever since the airport, his heart had been dislodged, uncomfortable and so distinctly wrong. Ever since Yuki had lifted Izumi’s head from his shoulder, wiped away his tears, and boarded the plane without looking back, everything had been wrong. Not that it had ever really been right; it was always grey for the two of them. But the glimmers and hints of a rose colored world, waiting just behind the clouds, were a promise long broken now.
The apartment Izumi trudged back to was wasn’t lonely. Memories lingered in every corner like shadows and cobwebs, and pieces of Yuki were just as plentiful. A pair of silver studs on the dresser, untouched, a near empty bottle of shampoo in the shower, a cd player tucked beneath the television. The only things Izumi ever dared disturb were the worn, grey hoodie and the bottle of cologne.
A scalding shower melted the ice from his hair and fingers, though it couldn’t touch the numbness buried in his bones. Even the tears that streaked down his cheeks, masked by rivulets from the shower, could hardly ease that. And once he stepped out, the water running cold as the snow outside, dried off, and threw on whatever was lying around, always the hoodie, the etched pang of hurt was gone again. Numbness settled a little deeper into his heart, just like it did every night, creeping further like tendrils of reaching frost on a window pane.
The bed always smelled Yuki, the sheets creased and mused. Izumi never touched the left side, not since the day he left. So, he crawled into the right side, nestled beneath the mess of blankets thrown over the top, and breathed in the lingering mist of cologne from days before. When he fell asleep, golden light was just starting to peek over the horizon, pale and cool the way only morning sun rays could be. It was all blocked out by dark, heavy curtains.
Izumi woke to the heavy weight and warmth of an arm draped across his chest, to soft locks brushing the underside of his jaw. A cruel, haunting dream if he ever knew one. His heart fluttered, even amidst the hurt, but the sensations didn’t subside. Warm, even breaths washed over his throat, and a leg was tangled between his. It all felt so achingly familiar. “Yuki?” he croaked, voice still hoarse and sluggish with sleep. Even as the name fell from his lips, he hoped this wasn’t some terrible trick, some lovesick illusion his mind conjured up. Izumi didn’t dare open his eyes, too afraid to see nothing but a cold, empty bed beside him. Just like usual.
The breath in Izumi’s lungs caught, seized, when the body pressed close to him shifted, rousing. His eyes burned, moisture and heat prickling there. His throat burned, felt clogged and knotted. The normal cold weight of melancholy lightened, relentless hope surging up in its place. It was foolish. Childish. But, as a cool, metal stud brushed against his skin, he couldn’t fight down the lurch of anticipation. “I let myself in.”
Yuki. That was Yuki. There was no doubt, even with the sleepy tinge to his voice that was normally settled in Izumi’s quiet tenor, moody darkness more suited to Yuki. Though, just to be sure his mind wasn’t playing tricks on him, Izumi cracked open an eye, glanced down to find a familiar frame nestled against him.
The arm around his waist tightened, almost desperately so, and Izumi let it. A dozen things to say came to mind, but they all felt too small and insignificant, so he held them back on careful lips, instead nuzzling into Yuki’s hair. He breathed deep, intoxicated. The scent of him was so much better in person, deeper, richer than a mere bottle of cologne. The slight hint of crisp snow, of salt, of sweat and tears and warmth, just couldn’t be replicated. It was soothing and assuring in a way nothing else could be. It was his oxygen, and Izumi had been starved and gasping for too long.
He wouldn’t have to see Yuki in the snow any longer. Instead, he could see him in all the places he belonged. In bed, in their apartment, in quiet Sundays and lazy mornings. Even if it was only for a short while, snow could be snow again, and Yuki could be there, whole and warm and solid. No longer a swirling mirage in the flurries. No longer in the snow.