Mesi kicks his legs against the brick of the building he’s perched on, tilting his head up to look at the stars.
The wind rustles his hair, lifting soft brown curls gently away from his head. The sound almost covers the shuffling of footsteps as they slowly approach. Mesi doesn’t bother moving as Lai walks slowly up behind him. They drape a patched denim jacket across his shoulders while they join him on the edge of the roof.
Mesi looks up at them, tilting his head neatly to one side. “Oh? What’s with the sudden chivalry?”
Lai replies with a noncommittal grunt and pulls up their lightly clothed shoulders as a barricade against the wind. “You looked cold,” they mutter quietly.
Mesi hums back at them, shuffling closer. “So do you.”
They exhale sharply, and their breath becomes a thin stream of smoke that curls around their dry lips. “Don’t be difficult.”
Mesi scoots even closer so their arms are pressed against each other, both of them cold, but getting steadily warmer. “Me? Difficult? Never.”
Lai leans in as well. They are significantly taller than Mesi – a fact they love to lord over him – so it’s easier for them to rest their temple against the top of Mesi’s head.
Mesi fiddles with the edge of the jacket, leaning his head against their shoulder in thought. What the fuck does ‘why’ mean?
Though he is used to Lai’s short way of speaking, no more than three or four words at a time, sometimes it is simply too short to understand without proper context.
“Don’t be difficult, Mesi.”
He nudges them in the ribs. Not hard, but they’re both rather bony – the drawbacks of scavenging – so it is pretty sharp. “Elaborate, dingdong. I need more than ‘why’.”
Lai shifts to look down at him. “Dingdong?”
He elbows them again, and they laugh. A quiet, snort-adjacent thing. Gone before it properly arrived.
“Alright. More words. Uhm.” They pull the sleeve of the jacket across their lap to start fiddling with the cuff, mirroring Mesi. “Why are you here? On the roof? In the cold?”
“Oh.” Mesi’s exhales mingle with Lai’s, two clouds brushing against each other in dry December air. “Needed some space, I suppose.”
Mesi rests his head against their shoulder. “Did you know that people used to celebrate the end of the year?”
“You’re changing the subject.”
“They used to welcome the new year. Had loads of traditions. Like- like getting drunk. And setting off fireworks and singing and kissing at midnight and something about a ball dropping and making promises.”
Lai sighs. They’ve known Mesi for several years now. They know him and his moods like they know his eyes, and their face, and his heartbeat, and the way their breath feels when it presses the inside of their lungs, and and and.
So they do not press when he takes the subject by the shoulders and turns it so it’s facing away from whatever is troubling him. They simply breathe, and rest their head against his, and ask: “Promises to who?”
“Themselves, if you’ll believe it.”
Mesi exhales, nearly long enough to be considered a sigh, but not quite. Close, but no cigar. “Dunno. I was reading about it in the archives. They used to call them “resolutions”. It sounds kinda morbid, really. But, basically, they would make a promise to themselves for the next year. Something they said they would do, like working out more, or going on a diet. For some reason, they mainly focused around health. Guess people were unhealthy back then? But yeah, anyway. Apparently, they wouldn’t follow through on them very often.”
“That’s a shame.”
Mesi hums in agreement, nodding his head against their shoulder. “What would your resolution be?”
Lai tilts their head up toward the moon and watches their breath.
“I don’t make promises I can’t keep.”
He rolls his eyes, and nudges Lai for the third time that night. “No one says you have to keep it.”
“It’s a promise.” Their eyes dart toward him, and rest unwavering on his face. He meets their gaze steadily. Hazel eyes holding indigo. “If I make it, I keep it.”
Mesi rolls his eyes again – away from them this time – as he fits himself back against their side. “Then what promise could you make that you would be able to keep?”
They look at their feet as they think, shuffling rhythmically against the brick of the wall.
“I’ll keep you warm.”
He turns quickly to look up at them, looking as though he couldn’t decide whether to smile or frown. “What?”
“I’ll keep you warm. Next year, and every year after.”
“D’aww. Lai. That’s so sweet.”
He shoots them an impish little grin. “Never.”
They huff, shrugging their shoulders up more against a sudden breeze, bringing along a handful of snow from somewhere below them. “What about you?”
Mesi hums in thought. “Not sure yet. I’ve been trying to decide since I’d found out about them. But nothing really… I don’t know… fits? Nothing feels quite right, you know?”
“Can you make more than one?”
His eyebrows twitch, and they start messing with the edge of the jacket again. “I’m not sure. That’s a good point, though. I don’t see why you couldn’t?”
“You don’t have to, if you don’t think you can.”
“Are you cold?”
Lai’s shoulders slump. “You’re changing the subject again.”
“Are you, though? You don’t have your jacket. Do you wanna go inside?”
They tilt their head toward him. “Would you come with me?”
Mesi smiles. It’s a little, quiet thing reserved for little, quiet moments. “Of course? You don’t need to…” He trails off with a shake of his head. “Of course I’ll go with you.”
Lai gives him a little grin in return, then groans as they stand, back and legs stiff from sitting on brick and concrete. They hold out a hand to help Mesi to his feet. The gesture is met with a borderline petulant look, but he grabs their hand anyway, and allows himself to be pulled up. They throw an arm over his shoulder – being so much taller, it’s only natural – and they head off toward the door that opens to the inside of the building.
“Y’know,” Mesi starts, looking up at Lai as they duck into the doorway and the metal thuds shut behind them. “I might have to borrow your resolution.”
“Yeah. I’ll keep you warm too. That way, we’ll be warm together.”
They smile, and press him to them. “I think I’d like that.”