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~Hikaru~

༻Chapter 30༺

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

{I sit by the windowsill, looking around the barren, new apartment. Still there’s hardly any furnishing, but what there is is—it’s certainly something. Much like the gallery of before, overly detailed, delicate, although thank the gods not nearly as gaudy. But still rather strange…befitting of our strange new home.

I’m still not sure what to think of it all. This is certainly the nicest place I’ve lived in since I was a child, when Mama was a mistress. I should be happier about that, but…

Oddly enough, I find the small size of this place its one bright spot. At least it’s compact and cozy enough, so perhaps eventually this place might feel warm, lived in…

Yes, that’s what I don’t like about it. It feels so…artificial, right now. Indeed, much like the world of a painting; something to be looked at, and not lived in. But, I want a home that’s—well, a home…

Ah, maybe I’m being too harsh, we haven’t been here that long after all…

I look out the window, and merely sigh. The sight isn’t any more encouraging.

Colorful buildings surround us, but there’s not a spot of greenery. Down below, numerous people walk, all wearing the most ostentatious clothing possible.

I lay my head down on the windowsill, arms crossed, on the verge of tears.

What am I doing here? Why am I here?

I know, I know it’s for him—I love him so much, and yet…

Suddenly, I hear the small clanking of the lock being opened. I stay perfectly in place.

“Jéyu bon, Hikaru!” Alex greets as happily as ever—no, that’s wrong. Far happier than usual.

“Sâlêzj…” I mumble about as enthusiastically as I can muster. So not terribly.

“…Are you all right?” he asks, his tone quickly shifting to concern, as I soon feel his hand upon my back.

“Y-Yeah…why?”

Alex merely sighs.

“Lift your head up, love,” he says, “I bought some things for you.”

“You really didn’t have to…”

“But, I did, so! I think you’ll enjoy it!”

I sigh, too full of emotions—both grateful he thought of me, but also pessimistic that this could make me feel any better. And then the guilt at already looking down on a gift just for me.

When I see it though, those mixed feelings wither away.

“Alex, this is—!” I begin, not even bothering to finish my words in my excitement.

On the table sits exactly what I’ve been practically dying to see: a plant—and not just any kind, but lavender flowers in full bloom.

“Good, I hope?” Alex says, adding onto my unfinished though.

“Yeah…very much so,” I smile, maybe a little too excited at finally seeing some plant life again. The calming aroma of the lavender filling the air only helps make it even more wonderful.

“I know there’s not a lot of trees and such here, so…I hope we can get even more plants to make up for it a little bit—oh!” he exclaims in the middle of his sentence, “I also got you a book about how to grow them! That book of yours is only about their medicinal use and stuff, right?”

“It is,” I say, turning around to him. “…Mâzjêr vrémond né, Alex.”

At this, he pulls me into a deep hug.

“I really do want you to like it here, Hikaru.”

“I…do,” I lie.

“No you don’t. Your opinion didn’t change that fast—did it?”

“…No,” I sigh. I guess I can’t lie to him that much…

“It’s an incredible place here, Hikaru…” he whispers. “It’s…such an amazing world compared to that little provincial town.”

I wince a little at his choice of words. That “little provincial town” was my home for six or seven years—his home his entire life before now. It lay on a big hill, going up beautifully into the sky. It had a big park, and a lush forest not far away…

And there, I could go outside without the worry of the incessant noise driving me into a painful, maddening frenzy.

I hope this isn’t a sign he’s becoming like them. But maybe I’m overthinking it.

“If you say so…” I mumble.

Alex pulls away from me, keeping his hands on my shoulders, and a bight grin on his face.

“Did you know there’s an Asàshían district?”

“A…what?”

“There’s an entire district here full of immigrants from Asàshí, like you! I guess there’s a bunch of food and things from there too, from what I heard!”

I blink at him, a little dumbfounded.

I’ve never actually met someone else other than Mama and I from there, not since we lived there. And even then, that was a decade ago—I have some memories of the sights, the sounds; but as for people, I don’t think I’ve retained anything at all.

“Well…I would like to visit there, I think…” I say.

“See, that’s the spirit!” Alex replies chipperly. “I’m sure there’s even more things you’ll like, I just haven’t found them yet. But I promise, it’ll be wonderful here!”

I sigh. I still have my doubts, but—

“Yeah…I’m sure it will be,” I reply, not entirely it believing myself.}

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

Suzette and I walk through the gently sloping meadows that seem to only steadily go upwards, higher and higher. It’s a welcome change from those old dreams of Solzédniê, back in a world of brick and plaster.

“Are you feeling well today, Hikaru?” Suzette looks up to me and asks, for some reason wearing a small frown.

“Well enough, I suppose—why do you ask?”

She looks down to the ground and sighs.

“Oh, no reason.”

“You’re thinking about the dreams again, aren’t you?”

Suzette pauses.

“…Were you and Alex truly happy?” she asks softly.

“That was…the start of the hardest period in our relationship—but yes, we both were truly happy. We made it through it.”

“Ah, all right then…”

“Are you all right, Suzette? It seems like you ask something about this every few days. Do you still think—”

“No, I do not think I am responsible for what Alex had done; it is merely just…

“Does…everything appear too perfect?”

“What do you mean?” I look down to her, completely confused. But rather than show her face and maybe give me a glimpse of her thoughts, her eyes remain down to the ground, hidden from me.

“You and I have experienced no issues, yet it appears your relationship with Alex was…a tad more rough.”

“You really do have a strange idea of ‘no issues,’” I sigh.

“H-How so?”

“Like that one evening, where I—”

“Do you still feel poorly over that?”

“Not as much, but even so—”

“That was but one instance, yet I am not at all dissatisfied now—are you?”

“I couldn’t be further from it.”

She squeezes my hand a little tighter.

“Then that is wonderful to hear…”

I pause for a moment.

“Are you…” my voice trails off, trying to find the right words. “You’ve never really experienced something like this…have you, Suzette?”

“Hmm?” she says as she looks up to me with wide eyes.

“You have some memories of Alex, but—not all of them, do you?”

“No, yet I have seen enough.”

“But his life isn’t your life.”

“…Yes?”

“So then…” I begin, somewhat disturbed by the realization, “It seems being in a relationship where you’re happy is—maybe frightening, to you.”

“I am not sure I understand…”

“Your husband was incredibly cruel, and it seems like anyone else—”

“There was none other,” she whispers, “No one else…particularly wished for anything to do with me. Even before I was to be wed…”

“Exactly,” I sigh. “You have never experienced that kind of love as yourself. It sounds like you even view my relationship with Alex as being darker than it was.”

“But I know you were unhappy, you loathe Solzédniê…”

“I completely promise you, it was a small obstacle and little more. I mean, surely—surely you remember the first dream, if we had the same one. Of…our last memory together.”

“Y-Yes, I do,” she whispers.

“How…did he feel, in that moment?”

Although it’s not quite what we’re talking about, I can’t resist the temptation to at least ask…

“He was regretful,” she mumbles, “That he could not give you a happier life.”

Yes, I remember…

“And he was amazed by you.”

“What?”

“That in spite of everything, you attempted to be optimistic, you wished to meet him again…it does not appear he ever told you, but he did not believe in reincarnation. He admired your optimism.”

I pull her a little closer, not sure if I want to laugh or weep. But that’s not quite the point right now.

“Do you remember how I was?”

“From what I recall…devastated,” she mutters.

“Yeah,” I sigh. “It was…crushing watching him go. My only person in the world, the idyllic life we built for ourselves, rotting away…”

“Sâ pšyku vrémond, Hikaru…”

“No, no need to be. It was a long time ago, and you were the one who suffered most regardless…” I say.

“So, look back,” I continue, “We were happy until the very end. What hurt was our joy coming to an end.”

She sighs.

“I understand worrying…clearly,” I go on with a shake of my head, “But worrying that we’re too satisfied…I couldn’t be any more grateful.”

“Of course,” she gazes up to me, “It is merely…oh.”

“Frightening?”

She frowns.

“What is truly frightening is how perceptive you have become as of late…”

“I guess now you’re the one who’s influencing me.”

At this, to my relief, she chuckles.

“Well, it is heartening to see you become more positive.”

“I’d just rather worry about…worrying things, I guess.”

“Yes…” she slows down a little, with a small huff.

“Is that a bad thing?”

“N-No!” she says, “It is just…dreadfully hot today, and all this walking is a tad strenuous—it is not you.”

I’ve been attempting to ignore it, but she’s right. Even with us being in a higher elevation, and in northern Soléiâ no less, it’s still increasingly hard to bear—although we are about in the height of summer, after all. I guess it’s inevitable.

“There’s trees in the distance—do you mind waiting to rest until then?”

Normally I don’t mind settling anywhere, but right here, in the middle of the meadow, Lady Sun will surely just scorch us to a bright burning red. Well, at least myself—although I imagine Suzette would only fare marginally better.

“Yes, I can manage,” she smiles. “And I suppose that is logical—to only worry about truly concerning things, that is…

“I suppose I am merely just frightened because this feels too much—too much like a faerie tale,” she chuckles nervously, leaning in a little closer in spite of the heat. “You are correct, I suppose…the longer we are together, the more I cannot help but consider how we shall end. And if no one shall come to harm us, then…I suppose I wonder if you shall come to view me so poorly too.

“I-It is not because anything you have done, please do not think—!”

“I don’t,” I interrupt her, “Not at all. I’ve wondered similar things about you for a very long time.”

“…Is that so?”

“I’ve never had a friend like you, Suzette—well, maybe aside from Alex. You went out of your way to take care of me without a second thought. I truly believed you would come to hate me like everyone else…but here we are.”

“Why would I ever hate you?”

“That’s simply what I’m used to.”

“Ah…yes, I see,” she says. “Once more…we truly are alike, it appears…”

“Indeed.”

“All right, then—I will stop commenting on the dreams, stop becoming so concerned.”

“No, you don’t have to stop talking of what worries you,” I sigh, “I just hope it doesn’t overwhelm you, although…”

“Forgive me,” she says softly.

“For?”

“I remember growing a tad frustrated with you after we first came together because you were so worrisome—yet now I have become far worse…”

“At least we’re talking about these things now, instead of letting it fester,” I smile, although she doesn’t see it.

And to this—she brings my hand to her lips and plants on it a small kiss. I stare at her, and in return she looks up to me with a wide, happy grin.

“Since it is a tad difficult to kiss you, when we are walking together such as this—shall that suffice?”

“Of course,” I laugh, and put my arm around her, pulling her into my side.

I can’t say I don’t understand her worries, clearly—and indeed, even just the small, simple life we’ve built for ourselves right now…I can’t believe it.

After all those years never so much as letting myself admit that I loved her, and believing she couldn’t love me when I finally did—

It is too perfect.

But for now…even in spite of myself, and increasingly herself, I want to try to bask in the perfection.

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

After what feels like far too long, her and I at last reach the line of trees, our first sight of shade all day. Finally, we might actually get some relief…

The closer we get, I also notice something else—

“That lake,” Suzette says, “I have never seen one so clear, I do not believe…it is utterly beautiful here.”

“My thoughts exactly,” I say as I look upon the water that sparkles in the dapples of sunlight. “It’d be perfect for swi—oh, well, never mind,” I say with a slight sigh, realizing what I’m saying.

There’s a good chance she can’t swim at all; and besides, that would entail—

“You know how to swim?” she asks while gazing up to me.

“When I’ve told you wandering alone can be boring, I’m not sure you realize how sincerely I meant that.”

And this, she laughs lightly.

“I can imagine, with as long as you have lived this way,” she replies, before pausing. “What…is it like? To be entirely submerged within water?”

“Hmm…” I try to think, as we walk up to the edge of the lake.

I take a deep breath, looking at the scene before us—the green leaves, the shining glassy lake, and her by my side…its magnificence is almost overwhelming.

But I soon return to my thought.

“It’s hard to say for certain, but I imagine flying is quite similar. Floating on the water, you become weightless, having it surround you…I don’t know how else to describe it.”

“Is it pleasant?”

“Extremely—well, I think so.”

I look down at her, and she merely gets upon her knees near the sand, and gazes out towards the lake.

“Need we any more water for drinking or bathing?” she asks softly.

“No—and such a still lake would be poor for the former regardless.”

“Ah, yes…” she whispers, voice trailing off.

Should I say something? Is she implying what she seems to be?

I keep looking down to her, and take a sharp breath.

“Would you like to learn how to swim?”

“Would I sink?” she asks, looking up to me with sparkling eyes. “Am I too…”

“Well, surely you’re not heavier than me,” I sigh, and at this she merely looks down at the water. “All that matters is you stay calm—if a ship can stay in the water, I know one woman can. And…”

I sit on my knees beside her, “You’ve seen what I can do with water. If you wish to try…you will definitely be safe.”

“Oh, mâ—!”

“But…” I interrupt her thanks with a small frown, “I’ve…not any special clothes for swimming, or anything of the sort. Unless you really want to ruin these, we’d…”

“I assumed,” she smiles with a faint air of nervousness, and an increasingly flushing face. I blink and quickly gaze away from her, feeling like I’m blushing harder than even herself.

We were bound to see one another bare eventually—and I would be lying to say I’ve not wanted to for at least a little while…although I’m not sure if it’s for the usual reasons. While I’m not against a fully intimate relationship with her, it’s not something I’ve ever particularly desired either. Not even just from her, but…from anyone. Even Alex…

Instead I just want to see all of her, know all of her—see what it is that she’s so harsh to herself about, and how beautiful I know it must be. Give all of her the love she deserves, in whatever way she’d most prefer…hopefully show her that whatever ill thoughts have been planted within her mind, they’re nothing but poisonous weeds. That’s the hope, at least.

I didn’t imagine this might be so soon, in the full daylight, but—

“All right then,” I say with a nervous laugh, looking towards her, "Would you like me to go first?"

She subtly nods in reply.

"I-I shall gaze away," she says with a slight quiver in her voice, turning away from me.

"You don't have to," I say softly, "But you can if you want; it's up to you."

It's strange—we're both well into adulthood, we've both done more than this many times, I'm sure. We're a couple, she’s even referred to me as her husband; although, I’m still not sure if she simply said that because it’s more acceptable...but regardless, it feels like her and I act like a pair of youths that have never so much as seen a bare ankle in their whole life. Shaking, concerned whether we're to the other's liking—even though I know, for me at least, I could be wholly blind and still know she is an image of perfection. That still doesn't do anything to dispel the thick fog of awkwardness that quickly begins to cling around us.

I look out towards the shimmering lake, heaving a quiet sigh as I stand up and steadily begin to undress, putting everything on a large rock beside the shore. I try to put on an air of confidence, I don’t want to make things even worse for her—I can only imagine how prudish aristocrats must be. But truthfully...I don’t know what she expects, what she finds attractive, or if I match those desires whatsoever. She says I’m beautiful—but she also thought I was a woman when we met, and I’ve never gotten the impression she has even the slightest interest in them.

However, I shake my head once I realize these must be the exact thoughts going through her head at the moment. I’m quite likely overthinking everything, just as I know she is.

I soon shudder at the conflicting feel of the breeze making my hairs stand on end, and the searing sunlight beaming down through the leaves. I consider gazing towards her, but I can’t bring myself to; so instead, I simply step ahead onto the sand and down into the lake. I shiver as the cool water sends a slight shock through me, but the shock soon gives way to relief as the scorching summer heat dissipates into the water below.

Once my body is a little over halfway into the water, Suzette calls out to me.

“How is the water...is it well to go in?”

“It’s much cooler, and entirely clear,” I turn around and smile at her, trying to appear completely unfazed, although I’m sure my face says otherwise.

She quietly nods. From here I can still notice her eyes are wide, and her face blushing at least as much as mine.

“Do you mind gazing away as I undress?” she asks meekly, lowering her eyes far away from me.

“Not at all,” I say, turning away from her. I close my eye, and focus on the sensation of the water flowing around me, wishing I could let myself float wherever the lake will take me. Soon, perhaps…

For some time I wait, wondering if she really is undressing at all. But just as the thought strikes me, she speaks up.

“A-All right, I am ready…”

I turn around again. In spite of myself, I can’t help but immediately smile at her.

Suzette stands at the edge, arms folded out in front of her as she gazes down into the water. She looks just as I imagined she would—large and soft and round, her warm dimpled skin glowing softly in the specks of sunlight. Appropriately enough perhaps, she reminds me of the kind of woman once popular in the paintings of Solzédniê, the ones you would see laying about, draped in flowing fabrics to show the elegance of their form…but of course, I can’t help but find her far more lovely and striking regardless.

The only unfortunate thing is the stiffness of her posture, the small frown on her face that seems to point to her not being entirely comfortable—although whether it’s because of herself, the water, or both, I’ve no idea.

She pauses a minute, and visibly takes a long, deep breath.

“Are you all right, Suzette? We can—”

“I am well, just—” she pauses again, “A little nervous; the water is not terribly high on you, yet for myself it shall be…”

“That’s why I’m right here,” I assure her, and extend out my hand. “When you get close to me, just take my hand, and you’ll be all right. I promise you.”

Still looking at the water and avoiding my gaze, she slowly steps forward, frowning just a little bit more with every step she takes.

“Su—”

“I-I am fine!” she almost cries, a clear look of worry on her face.

I can’t help but frown even further than her. I’ve no idea what’s wrong, and for whatever reason, she refuses to tell me…

She makes her way into the water; by the time she makes it to me, it’s already nearly to her shoulders. Quickly she scrambles for my hand, and holds it so tightly it nearly hurts.

“All right,” I begin, “I’m going to go a little deeper—just relax yourself and hold my hand, and you’ll be fine.”

For the first time since this began, her eyes finally meet mine. While I’m sure it’s only my imagination, they seem to be glistening even more than usual. I grin as I continue walking outwards, my feet still on the sand below. She, however, is soon lifted away, and her grip on me is now so harsh it nearly stings.

“H-Hikaru!” she stammers as the water now reaches my neck, and I sense a drop off not too far behind, “I-I…”

“Are you scared?”

She bites her lip and looks down.

“S-Sâ pšyku , Hikaru…”

“It’s all right, we can—”

“Yet…” she interrupts me, trailing off.

I stare at her, expecting an answer, yet nothing comes. All I see is her face flushing further and further.

“What’s wrong?” I ask her softly, “Clearly something’s bothering you, but you’re not saying what at all. I can’t understand what you want…”

“I...I am still quite afraid of swimming,” she whispers. “Being in the water is pleasant on a day such as this, yet…”

“It’s okay, I’m sure we can find—”

“B-But,” she begins, interrupting me once more, “I-I just...would like to be near you; would like you to hold me here…”

“Why didn’t you say so?” I can’t help but chuckle a little, and gently I start pulling her towards me. “That’s not a very ridiculous request, you know; it’s all right to just ask.”

When she’s near, suddenly she lets go of my hand, and swiftly engulfs me in an embrace. You would think that on such a hot day as this, it’d be terrible, even with the water; but no, not at all. Her skin is cooler from the water too, her plump body against mine causes a sense of peace and comfort to wash over me. If I wanted to simply drift through the water before, enjoying the sensations around me—I can’t resist the temptation to now.

I put my arms around her and keep her close, and begin laying further on my back as the water carries both of us away.

“Is this too much for you, Suzette?”

“Not with you holding me,” she whispers, nudging her face into the side of my neck. “Mâzjêr né, Hikaru…”

“It’s no problem,” I reply softly, “But, you know—next time, please simply ask; you don’t have to be so reticent…”

“You would not find that inappropriate?”

“I’m not sure why that matters when we’re already like this,” I laugh, but she remains quiet.

I look up at the sky above us. We’ve drifted away from the shore now, and thus the leaves; but the clouds dotting the bright blue expanse still give us some cover.

“It is simply, well…” she begins after a moment, “What precisely are we? Others have interpreted us as being wed, yet…”

Ah, I assumed that’s what it was after all.

“We are—” I begin, and abruptly stop. “Hmm…we are whatever you want us to be.”

“That is not what I asked at all,” she sighs. “What are we now?”

I go silent, focusing for a moment on the flow of the water around us, between us, that in this moment keeps us so close together. I’ve an answer for her, but it seems almost embarrassing to admit…such sugary, saccharine words coming from a man who, at this point, has lived most of his life as a hermit in the woods. But maybe that’s the only fitting response for a sweet woman who herself makes sweets.

“Suzette, as far as I’m concerned…within my soul I’ve been your husband from the moment you said you loved me,” I try to say steadily, with confidence, but I’m sure it fails me once again. “That’s why it’s up to you to decide whether that’s genuinely the case.”

From this angle, I can’t see her face…but I feel her fingers grip me just the slightest bit harder.

“You are so certain of that…even if we have not romanced one another particularly long?”

“W-Well,” I stutter, “If you married someone only a few days after meeting him, I don’t see why marrying someone I’ve loved for years would be unusual—well, only if that’s what you want too.”

My heart beats ever faster, and I feel hers do just the same.

“My…” she says under her breath, and my whole body tenses as I wonder how deeply I have made a mistake. But rather than that—

“I…” she whispers so meekly, it is almost difficult to hear her, “I am quite relieved to hear you have felt the same…”

A shiver shoots through my spine, out to the rest of my body.

I feel her face pull away from my neck, and I look down to her, our foreheads touching lightly. Suddenly I notice something—the entire time I’ve been holding her, the water drew my hair away from my face, and now it all flows behind me; I was too focused on everything else to notice.

And still, even with the sight of the grotesque scar and sunken in socket…she looks up to me as though she’s gazing upon something beautiful.

“Ah, it is nice that it appears you are not disappointed, then…” she chuckles with a slight smile, but I recognize the tone in her voice—the tinge of sadness that drips from it. “I was worried when you saw me, you would—”

“No,” I say gently to her, “Whatever you worried about…the answer is no, never.”

“So my body is suitable for you? You do not wish I was…more desirable?”

“I have never encountered anyone more stunning than you, Suzette,” I smile softly. “I wouldn’t change how you look for the entire world.”

“"Then..." she pauses. "What if I do change? As I grow older, or—like with Alex, someday I could look nothing alike..."

"Then I'll still love you just as much," I whisper into her ear. "If who you are is the same, then how could I not?"

"Yet someday..." she mutters, "Perhaps even that shall be too much..."

"What do you mean?"

"Time...can certainly shift someone. Even from my own childhood, I am quite different..."

"That's not what I mean," I say softly. "Your heart, your soul—that sweet, loving part of you, that looks on even outcasts kindly—that passion and determination to create beautiful things, to spread joy...

"Even across lifetimes, even as you have changed otherwise...this has always been consistent, hasn't it?"

"Ah...perhaps; yet, even so..." she frowns, "There were times I—and those others I once was—failed..."

"But you always tried what you believed was best, even if you were mistaken, haven't you?"

"Yes—"

"Then Suzette," I whisper into her ear, "For as long as I exist—for as long as my soul exists...it will always be yours. You are my other half, after all."

"Hikaru..." she says, gripping her arms even more tightly around me, "You have expressed before that you do not deserve me, yet...clearly you have this reversed.

"I do not believe I deserve someone cruel like before, at least; and yet—sometimes you almost appear too lovely to exist, and far too much for some such as myself. And yet, here you are...the one whom I was always searching for."

My entire body grows hot, even with the chill water surrounding us—for a quick moment, it feels like the entire world spins.

No one...has ever said anything remotely like that to me.

Not even Alex.

I quickly turn my head, bury it into her shoulder—I'd rather her not see it, but I can't...

"Mâzjêr vrémond né, Suzette…"

"You need not thank me for merely stating the truth," she chuckles.

Luckily, I feel the fae take control of the water surrounding us, for I can’t passively go along as I need to much longer…

“Hikaru…are you weeping?”

“Pšyku…”

“You need not apologize,” she says, her voice too shaking.

I go to say something else, but my voice fails me as I hold her tightly in my arms.

I love you, I love you, I love you so much, Suzette. So damn much, I don’t know I can ever express it to you.

…Thank you for loving me too.

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

For a sometime after, Suzette and I continue drifting on the water, wrapped so tightly in each other’s arms we may as well truly be the same person.

Eventually, much to my luck, either we drifted back to the shore we began, or the fae brought us here—but regardless, we have returned.

Still holding her, I right myself, and gently carry her up to the shore with me. But once we’re fully out of the water I can’t help but nearly collapse as our full weight returns to us.

“Ah…” Suzette huffs, “I feel so heavy I can scarcely move…do you feel the same?”

“A bit,” I say quietly, “It’s funny, this is how we always are—but you never realize, until you discover what weightlessness feels like…”

“Yes, I suppose so,” she chuckles.

Soon she turns over to her side, facing me, and I do the same. It’s subtle, but for a moment I notice her grassy eyes looking over me, before she closes them tight with a grimace,

“Nn…” she mutters, her face flushing darkly.

I can’t help but wince, and I steadily feel my joyful mood withering away.

I guess I’m not what she desires after all; although even if it’s unfortunate, I’m not surprised…

“Pšyku,” I say, “I’ll go—”

“N-No!” She suddenly blurts out, eyes opening wide, “You do not have to…”

For a moment I look at her, my brow furrowed a bit as I’m completely and utterly lost. Her eyes only stayed on mine for a moment, before soon drifting…somewhere.

“…Is everything all right, Suzette?”

Her only response to this is to lay on her back and cover her eyes with her arm, sighing as she does so.

“I am well,” she mumbles, clearly upset.

“You’re not being very convincing…”

“Sâ pšyku, Hikaru…”

“For?”

“I…” she begins, but the words quickly die on her lips.

“You…?”

“I am merely having nonsensical thoughts, is all; it is nothing to worry about.”

For a moment I study her, trying to understand exactly what she means—but it’s hopeless.

“Please, whatever you’re thinking, you’re always free to share it with me,” I sigh, “Even if it’s to tell me you didn’t enjoy yourself or something like that, I won’t be offended.”

“No no, that is not it at all—!” she quickly turns to her side again in a panic. “I had thought of…asking you something, yet it is an absurd question, so I cannot…”

I frown, at first wondering why she is still being this way, even after we have just discussed this likely not even an hour prior—at least until I realize how utterly dense I’m being, and it all becomes clear.

My breath stops for a moment, as I’m admittedly taken far more off guard than I should be—and it seems she’s noticed, as she looks into my eye with a frown.

“And why can’t you ask me?” I ask her softly, as gently as I can muster.

“It would—now that certainly would be inappropriate; I am a woman, it is not quite my place to—”

“But if you’re my wife, then it’s always your place to ask anything of me. There’s nothing wrong with simply asking.”

“A-At least in these matters…my desire does not matter, merely yours,” she sighs, looking away from me. “And it is quite clear you do not have any desire, not like other men—so I shall not bother you…”

“Suzette…” I lay my hand on her cheek, and she jumps slightly, “Why are you so certain of that?”

Suddenly I feel horrific, wanting to be buried in the sand. It seems I’ve been making her feel unwanted…but it’s not that, not at all. Well, at least…it’s a lot more complicated than that.

“We have romanced for weeks, and you have not broached the subject at all; I know we were not wed, but you are a man, and so…” she says, her voice growing incredibly quiet and unsteady, “I know it is your way of politely turning me away from such matters, and…I do appreciate the kindness you have done it with.”

Now I’m the one who grimaces, her words like needles going into my chest. What she’s describing isn’t kind at all…

It just truly, genuinely is not something I typically think about, or care about on its own, really. It doesn’t go any deeper than that.

“Gods, no, Suzette…no. That’s not it at all,” I say, trying to figure out how to word what I mean to say. “I’m just not particularly interested in such things. It’s not something I ever think about…so I don’t talk about it either.”

“Ah, I see…” she closes her eyes and sighs.

At this, I reach out and take her hand into mine.

“Hikaru—!” she opens her eyes once more, a bit startled at the gesture.

“Just because it’s not something I typically care about on my own…doesn’t mean I’ll say no.”

“My, how dreadful I am…” she closes her eyes again, still looking dejected.

“Why do you say that?”

“Men are to be lustful, not women, yet—”

Although I probably shouldn’t, it’s nearly impossible not to interrupt her with a slight laugh.

“Do either of us quite fit that nonsense? You even thought I was a woman when you first met me.”

“Because I was surely blind!” She laughs. “I suppose it is merely your hair and your face, yet otherwise, you—you quite, so very much are a man…”

I blink, feeling my face grow hotter, not entirely sure what to say to that. Maybe for most men, it’s simply a statement of fact; but considering it seems that, for myself, most can’t tell until I speak…

…It’s certainly nice to hear.

She sighs, and gazes at me with half closed eyes.

“Why are you so perpetually kind, Hikaru?”

At this, I shift my body closer to her—so close that once more her breasts are leaned up against mine, our faces quite near to each other.

“I’d be a fool not to be, with the most heavenly wife in all the world,” I smile, staring into her eyes—before lifting myself up to softly plant kisses along her neck.

“H-Hikaru…”

“Since you seem so convinced that it must begin with me, I can go forth, unless you tell me to stop…would you like me to stop?”

Now she pulls away from me, looking straight towards me. For a moment we merely sit there in place, our gazes of grassy green and ruby red intertwined.

Then before I even realize what’s happened, I find myself pushed onto my back, into the damp sand below. Above me sits Suzette, her legs interspersed between mine, her body spilling onto mine, planting me the slightest bit deeper into the sand below.

“No,” she says almost as if she’s breathless, “No…please do not stop.”

I smile and cup my hands to her face, slowly bringing her in for a deep, sweet kiss.

And from there, everything becomes a haze as we grow lost in one another; although I struggle slightly to know precisely what I should do, the best way to please her, I follow along with her rhythm, letting her lead the way as she deems fit.

And along the way, I stumble upon something miraculous, a Suzette that I’ve only seen when she bakes—one full of poise and grace and joy, that appears entirely assured of herself, of her beauty and abilities and worth; too entranced in bliss to think the slightest sad thought. Although I can’t find it within myself to be like “most men,” I still find myself becoming drunk on her happiness, on the love she lavishes on me—and most of all, what appears to be the love she has for herself, which it seems that, if only for a moment, finally begins to match my own love for her.

It’s almost overwhelming; I feel like I should know how to handle it, but I can’t; and so once more I fall in line with her dance, and let her lead the way—lost in the beauty of my wonderful wife, as I hope one day she may always be.

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

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