As we walk down the long, winding hallways, I laugh a little to myself, feeling that now’s a good time to tease.
JUN: When I first started talking to you, Lady said she felt like you had too much baggage for her to want to deal with you. Now I kinda see what she meant.
KRYSTOFF: Ha, Lady said that? I’d be offended, but—fair enough, considering I actually confided to her once about my previous contract. One of the few times we really talked. I had figured she might have insight for me, as a creature that has hundreds of years of experience more than me.
JUN: Well, did she have any good insight?
KRYSTOFF: She was very… to the point. Very uncompromising about the fact that I needed to take personal responsibility for everything.
JUN: Yeah, Lady doesn’t really seem to sugarcoat things. It’s a quality I like about her, but it can be a little brutal sometimes…
KRYSTOFF: It’s what I needed to hear, though. I don’t confide in anyone other than Regenald very often, so it was good to have an outsider’s forthcoming opinion. We don’t talk much these days, but I’ve always respected Lady because of that.
I don’t think Lady holds Krystoff in any regards at all, but I refrain from telling him so.
At long last, we’ve reached the branch of hallway that contains our respective bedrooms, his on one side and mine on the other, down a little ways more. We hesitate outside of his bedroom door, searching for a good lid to put on this conversation.
JUN: Hey, Krystoff, I’ve been thinking. We keep preparing for the worst, but what’ll we do if this goes really well? What if you defeat Kaguyos, yield your territory over to other sector representatives, step away from apparition duties, and just live life the way you want to?
KRYSTOFF: I hate to put a damper on your optimism, Jun, but every step of that is almost so idealistic, it’s unthinkable to me.
JUN: Yeah, I kinda figured.
KRYSTOFF: But if this goes even a fraction as well as all of that, then I’ll find a way to keep you here and I’ll take you on a normal human date to celebrate.
JUN: A date?
KRYSTOFF: Yes, I will take you to an ice cream establishment or whatever and sit there and watch you eat.
JUN: That doesn’t sound very fun.
KRYSTOFF: Would you prefer I eat you, instead?
JUN: Jesus, dude.
KRYSTOFF: Come on, Jun, play with me. Don’t be so cold. Banter with me like in the olden days.
JUN: Okay, fine. How’s this?
JUN: If you eat humans the way you eat food, maybe I would prefer to just make you watch.
He instantly blanches and falls into a stunned silence. Direct hit, I guess.
KRYSTOFF: I’m going to bed.
KRYSTOFF: No, I’m not!
KRYSTOFF: I extend a thoughtful human invitation and some well-timed flirting to you, and this is how you thank me. You mock me in my own home.
JUN: Oh, come on, you know you like it. Don’t act like you don’t.
REGENALD: I’m leaving…
Regenald slips out of Krystoff’s hands and hops towards the stairs, presumably to find another closet to rest in for the night. One that’s out of listening proximity to me and Krystoff’s embarrassing banter. I’ll apologize to him in the morning.
Krystoff glances after Regenald momentarily before turning back to me, some sort of retort clearly formulating in his head—but unsuccessfully, because he holds a hand up and says nothing. He readjusts and instead weakly says:
KRYSTOFF: You… are a handful.
And maybe it’s the sleep deprivation talking, or maybe it’s just the way his shields drop for a second when he’s really caught off guard, but he looks particularly inviting to me right now.
Krystoff’s so pretty, it almost feels like a waste of time for me to dwell on it because to his own admission, he looks the way he does on purpose. He’s meant to be beautiful and compelling and easy to lose yourself in.
For that exact reason, I tune it out most of the time, but times like now, when it’s late at night, and it’s just us pretending to argue with each other to wash away our fears for the future and replace it with something akin to normalcy, he feels warm and attainable to me. I allow myself get ensnared in the details of him—big, expressive eyes darting to the ceiling to avoid my prying gaze, dark hair cascading over one shoulder, prim posture, slender waist, nervous lips searching for their next quip.
Attractive, is the word, I guess.
I usually avoid that line of thought as much as I can, and it’s been easy to do when more pressing issues have taken up most of the space in my mind, but we’re nearly out of time and I don’t know what next week holds for either of us. It seems silly to play keep-away with myself over the things I want.
JUN: Should I leave you alone now?
I say it with a half-hearted laugh, but I can’t help the bit of hope that slips into my voice.
KRYSTOFF: I never said that.
KRYSTOFF: Why don’t you come in? I feel like… our conversation isn’t done yet.
He floats to the side, making way for me through his doorway. I smile at him, unrestrained, and accept the invitation without putting up any pretenses about it. If he’s not going to be coy about it, then I won’t either.
>One week later…