Ahote let himself be drawn into a loving embrace as words fluttered from their mouths and thoughts floated in their heads. His chest became warm and ticklish at the feeling of his friend's arms tucked gently against his waist and their head snug in his own shoulder, a feeling so familiar yet so short lived. Their conversations, their stories, all so casual and heavy-hearted that the affections that came after were almost natural. If it were anyone else who saw these boys muttering in their lonesome, maybe it wouldn't have been perceived so innocently. Even so, the two sputtered about, sharing their stories and laying a bed of comfort for each other so they might weep together with dry cheeks.
Clouds of smoke continued to set and gather from his lips and nose, rising up from the paper rod and disappearing into the air again, but Ahote's last few puffs had been long and slow. His coughing and wheezing had dwindled to that of hiccups, and his ears had been full of Sakuramori's crisp winds and Theo's soft chitter-chatter. He perked at his question before anything else had escaped Theo's lips, and smiled. Of course, while he was tempted to, he said nothing before letting him finish, and by the time that had happened his smile became huge and was plastered over his face. His "tut-tut" kind snickers showed in his now mildly amused puffs of smoke, which reflected the same rhythmic pace as his own laughter.
Ahote briefly turned to face Theo with blushed cheeks and a pearly-white grin, topaz pools glossy with the tears that welled in their corners. The smoke that submerged his face seemingly masked his moment of weakness, though. "I don't believe in it, no,"
he proudly mocked, "but I do believe in karma. We have it out for us, don't we?"
he snickered, again with his "tut-tut" sort of laughter.
The raven-haired man's grin descended to a smile as he continued to listen in on the quiet, compassionate Theo's confession. His heart throbbed at his words but couldn't bring himself to cry just yet, as doubt possessed him like it would in most things. Instead, he wrapped an arm around him, pulling him close with an almost brotherly tightness. "Thanks. . ."
Ahote answered in a small, shaking voice. While it shook, it was hard to figure out just what it shook with. A good many had said those words to him, but just as many had failed to keep it. The tightness in which he held onto the man was both of love and anxiety.
Losing the interest in smoking the cheap cigarettes, Ahote spat it from his lips as the still-lit rod flicked forward to the root of the tree the both congregated to. Its pulsing embers scorching only a modicum of the tight, healthy bark they stomped on, yet setting an uncanny rumble to their toes.