Pairing : RyoUchi
Genre : Drama, angst, a little of everything
Rating : PG-13
Summary : The journey through Ryo and Uchi's growing up years that traced the growth of their relationship.
A/N : This fic has been on hold for ages. I'm not sure whether I would keep updating, I guess all depends on my mood. So if u want to read this, please start from the beginning. For ironicdawn, who has really been a faithful reader with her encouraging comments. And blufox_o7 who has been asking me to continue this fic. Thank u both. ^___^
Ryo was deep in sleep when he heard the soft padding of feet across the floor. He instinctively knew who it was, and he opened his eyes to see the warm glow of the oil lamp painting the darkness in his room a gossamer orange. In the silvery moonlit shadows, he saw Uchi standing there, holding the oil lamp in his hand, the paleness of his knitted coat in stark contrast to the night. In the quiet hush of the night, Uchi didn’t look real, he looked like a vision that had walked out of Ryo’s slumber, ethereal and untouchable.
He felt a small tug on his sleeve and Uchi’s weight settling down on the side of his bed. He knew if waka-sama knew this, no doubt Uchi would be subjected to another harsh scolding and he would be punished. As the years passed, Uchi’s health hadn’t improved. It was as though they had exhausted all the methods possible, and Uchi himself had somewhat given up on the idea of freedom, of one day soaring beyond these walls. And because he was kept confined in these walls, away from the bustle and chaos of the outside world, Uchi had retained the one thing that could be afforded him - his simplicity and innocence.
“Ryo, let’s go and see the hatsuhinode.” Ryo angled himself up from his bed and he could see the arch of Uchi’s collarbones, the indent in the middle, heartbreakingly evident above the opened collar of his shirt. He looked impossibly beautiful with his features illuminated by the dim light, and there were so many times Ryo wanted to tell him that that his over-reliance and his dependency on him was a burden. But he couldn’t bring himself to say it, not in the face of Uchi’s utter lack of defenses. And during these times, he would feel crushed beneath the weight of the immense trust Uchi had given to him, and it was during these times, when he thought he could stay here in the mansion forever, contented with the shadows and ancient whispers for company, if it meant he could accompany Uchi on those long sleepless nights.
“I can’t go. Tomorrow I’ve to wake up early to help Keio with the preparation of the dishes.”
Uchi lowered his head, a barely perceptible movement of his head and the wind rattled the trees outside his open window.
“I see.” Just two words, two words that seemed to embody all his disappointment, all the bitterness at the unfair hand life had dealt him, two words to signify all the dreams and normal mundane things in life he had forsaken because of his poor health. His calm, unquestioning acceptance hurt more than the tantrums and the theatrics Ryo had gotten used to. It was so unlike Uchi that Ryo felt the instant pang of guilt like a searing pain and he reached out, curling his fingers around Uchi’s hand.
“Wait, where do you want to see the sunrise from?” In his hand, he felt Uchi’s fingers surrendering to his hold and he could hear the slight wheezing of Uchi’s breath, too soft and yet too audible to his ears.
“I think….I want to see the sunrise from the hill near our house.” He heard Uchi’s uncertain voice, as though he was afraid to be too hopeful and he looked back at him, unfathomable thoughts in those wide searching eyes that resembled a battered child's.
“Okay Uchi. I’ll go but it’s a secret between us okay?”
Upon hearing his reply, Uchi smiled back, a beam that lit up the pale pallor of his face. Ryo’s hold on his hand didn’t falter, and he felt Uchi squeeze back before he went back to his room for a change of clothes. When Ryo was alone, he looked outside the window to the vast grounds of the estate and he knew that while Uchi didn’t know, there had been no question about it on his part. He couldn’t refuse Uchi or the faint yearning inside his heart, because there was no one else whom he would rather share the first sunrise of the year with.
A twinge of concern flitted across Ryo’s features as he looked behind him. Uchi was trudging along, supporting his weight on the branch Ryo had picked up for him. To his credit, Uchi hadn’t voiced a single word of complaint; he just followed behind Ryo, occasionally stopping for a break. Ryo had a twig in one of his hands, using it to part the field of wheat that seemed to stretch before them. The slope was not steep, except the higher altitude made it harder to breathe and for a moment Ryo thought of giving up the idea. But he caught Uchi darting an inconspicuous glance in his direction before he took longer strides, trying to catch up and he knew he wanted to be the person to fulfill Uchi’s insubstantial wish. He wanted to cradle that little hope in his hands, nurture it and one day, be able to convince Uchi that he was capable of anything. But for now, he had to be contented with this pretense of normalcy, as he ignored the staggering breath behind him, punctuated with the occasional dry cough.
Finally without looking back, Ryo extended his hand out, palm open and fingers curled. And there was no hesitation between this moment and the next, when Ryo found himself holding onto Uchi’s hand, with Uchi’s weight tugging him downwards and slowing his pace. For a moment, Ryo was blindsided by the force of emotion coursing through him, as he finally recognized his feelings for what they were. Uchi might be a burden, but he was his very own that he had no desire of relinquishing ever.
Finally they reached the highest point of the hill where the ascent had gentled into an even field. Beside him, Uchi had leaned down, his palms resting on his thighs and in awe of the backdrop of dusky purple that loomed, large and uncompromising, before them. He felt the surge of protectiveness inside him and he simply reached across and rested his hand on the small of Uchi’s back, fingers splayed and feeling the quiver of Uchi’s body beneath his touch. His hand stroked the column of his back gently, with nothing but silence and awakening dawn between them. And he felt those long-dormant feelings inside him flare to life as Uchi straightened up and turned to him with a smile on his face.
Uchi was like the subject, cast in the perfect portrait of dawn and ebbing night as the dense overhanging shadows in the sky was chased away by the emerging sun. Then Uchi’s hand found his, clutching tight as though Ryo was the one anchoring him. And Ryo thought how mistaken Uchi was, because Ryo had placed all of his faith, all of his reason and prayers onto those frail shoulders, right down to the last breath. And the two of them stood in almost reverent silence as they shared their first sunrise, with their figures silhouetted in the burgeoning light and the land around them gradually coming to life.
And Ryo still remembered the last thing he said, as he glanced sideways just in time to catch the expression on Uchi’s face. The fragile crescent of lashes resting against his cheek and a contented look on Uchi’s face as he inhaled the morning air.
“I’m glad I did this.” Ryo said. For a moment, Uchi looked at him with a strangely detached curiosity, as though he comprehended the meaning beneath the mere words being spoken. It was as though while Ryo was still preoccupied with protecting his young master, Uchi had ducked under his arms and run recklessly ahead, and now he had already reached the cusp on adulthood without Ryo’s help or knowledge.
“Me too, Ryo. Me too.” He heard Uchi’s voice and that knowing look in those eyes was replaced by a benign smile. And when the sun rays blanketed across the field ahead of them, they walked home, hand in hand, leaving their secret in that sanctuary where time had come to a standstill for the both of them.
Hatsuhinode - The first sunrise of the new year, a custom observed by the Japanese who believed it to be meaningful.
And since this song is my inspiration for this fic,