Title: When the Snow Melts
Tags: couple’s trip, vacation, high school students, angst, confessions, fluff, hand holding
Total word count: 2,203
If Kyan Reki had known just how cold Canada was, he would have curbed his excitement to visit. Alas, when he’d seen how cheap flights were for the last week of winter vacation, he’d jumped at the chance to surprise Hasegawa Langa , his best friend. He’d asked both of their parents for permission, and with their help planned a four-day vacation near Langa’s hometown. It’d taken a lot of convincing on his part, but Reki had managed to get them to agree on no chaperones. They were eighteen years old after all, and would be headed off to university soon enough. It might be our last chance to do something like this.
They had avoided talking about the future in too much detail, mostly because Reki kept dodging the conversation. He assumed that Langa would go back to Canada, or even the United States. He didn’t look it, but Langa tested at the top of their class consistently, and he had stellar grades back in Canada as well. It would make sense for him to go back to the familiar. However, Reki knew places like that were out of his reach; he was average at best, and had resigned himself to going to the university near home.
“Do you need another jacket?” Langa dangled an electric blue parka above him, and Reki looked up.
They’d checked into the ski lodge a few hours before, and Reki had yet to defrost. Langa on the other hand looked to only be wearing a thin long sleeve and sweater. Guess he did grow up here. It was annoying that the prince was showing yet again how perfect he was. “Nah, I-I’m okay.”
Langa threw the jacket over him anyway, before coming around the couch to sit next to him. The room was nicer than what Reki should have been able to afford; there was a living room with dark leather furniture and a kitchenette with shiny appliances when you first walked in, leading to a wall with double doors with frosted glass. A large plasma screen TV was parallel to the couch and adjacent to a wall of windows leading to a deck that overlooked part of the mountain. When they’d set their stuff in the bedroom, both blushing at the single king sized bed, there’d been a note.
Don’t say I never did anything for you brats. —C
Reki hadn’t told Cherry about their trip, instead asking Joe for advice. He’d felt that Cherry would disapprove and didn’t want to be lectured about how traveling the globe unsupervised was dangerous. But, he should have expected the muscle head to tell Cherry their plans. It’d worked out in their favor though, and Reki was in constant awe. It made the spur of the moment trip that much more meaningful.
“The sun’s gonna set soon, do you want me to light a fire?” Langa gestured to the fire place underneath the huge TV. Reki barely heard him though, hyper focused on how little space separated their bodies. That would make the atmosphere a little too… but, it would feel amazing. Reki was torn.
Bzz! Bzz! Bzz! He jumped, scrambling to get his phone from his front pocket. There were texts from his mother and Cherry and he face palmed. He’d forgotten to text them when they arrived, and Langa’s phone was notoriously dead. Shit, they’re gonna be so pissed!
Reki Kyan, if you do not reply in five minutes I will be on the next flight to Canada.
“Reki, what is it?” Langa was even closer now, his hot breath fanning over his ear. Reki suddenly felt very hot and shrugged the jacket off, which effectively put space between them again.
“It’s mom and Cherry; I messed up and didn’t let them know we’re here.” He sent his mom a quick text of apology along with some pictures he’d taken earlier before opening Cherry’s message.
I’ll downgrade you.
We made it, I’m sorry! Thank you so much😇
He placed his phone on the coffee table in front of them, standing up. “Wanna get dinner? I’m starving!”
“Are you finally gonna try pou—”
“Dude, stop.” Reki held up his hand out of habit but didn’t realize Langa was right on his tail. Slightly chapped lips bumped against his palm, and the friction made the back of his throat tingle. He snatched his hand away and cleared his throat. “I am not eating that shit; it looks like dog food.”
“Your loss.” Reki knew Langa was shrugging.
Somehow, Langa had gotten Reki to try poutine.
It was about as gross as he expected, and he’d spat it out in his napkin. Langa had looked at him as if he kicked a puppy. It took all of his cola to rid his mouth of the taste and he had pigged out on wings and pizza instead, basking in the savory cheesiness. There weren’t many other people in the dining area, and Reki wondered how much more Cherry spent for them to have all three meals provided for their stay.
“I can’t wait to teach you snowboarding!” Langa’s mouth was full and his eyes bright. “You’re gonna be so good at it!”
Reki almost choked on his french fry. “I wouldn’t get your hopes up, I’m not like you.”
Langa scooted closer in the booth and Reki again wondered why he’d sat next to him rather than across like a normal person. “I told you, you’re amazing Reki! Without you—”
“Yeah, yeah I know.” Reki leaned away. “I was just saying is all.” If he let Langa keep going, he’d say something embarrassing and his face would flush an ugly shade of red. “Are you finished with your meal?” He refused to call poutine food.
Langa gave him a blank look.
“I’ll take that as a yes?”
They luckily didn’t have to clean up after themselves, otherwise they would have had to make several trips for their spread of half-eaten to empty plates. Langa had insisted they spend the rest of the day “resting up” in preparation for tomorrow. At first Reki had protested, but when the sun started to set as they’d come downstairs for dinner, he had no choice but to agree. Apparently Canadian winters had fewer hours of daylight, something else if he’d known about before would have changed their vacation location.
But he’s totally psyched to be here. There was an air of tranquility around Langa that had appeared the moment they stepped off the plane. It’d somehow made him more cool and attractive and he’d only gotten more comfortable. Normally, Langa always walked like there was a metal rod at his back, but here he slouched a bit and his face became more open. Since the airport, Reki had felt people staring so much it was almost annoying. Even now as they returned to their room, the guests they walked by eyed Langa for a second too long.
“Reki, what’s wrong?” Langa elbowed him softly as the elevator doors closed.
“But you’ve been frowning since we finished dinner? Is your stomach upset? Was it the poutine?”
“Dude, you’re not my mom; I promise I’m fine, see?” Reki flashed a forced smile. Time to change the subject. “Do you wanna watch a movie tonight, since we can’t go on the slopes?”
Langa looked at him dubiously, but Reki kept his lips in the imitation of a smile. Drop it, drop it, drop it! Finally, Langa sighed but nodded. “Sure, I think it’s a smart TV so we should be able to find something with Japanese subtitles.” Reki resisted the urge to snap back that he could watch a movie in English without the subtitles but dropped it. He let it go, after all.
“But let’s not stay up too late, yeah? I wanna take you somewhere tomorrow.” Langa scratched at his face, a nervous habit that always made Reki’s heartbeat… quicken.
“Sure, whatever you want dude; I planned the trip for you— I mean us, so like, y’know…” Kill me, now! Luckily the elevator stopped at their floor so Reki had an excuse to look away, hiding his heating face. He didn’t see that Langa was also blushing.
Graveyards looked the same no matter what country you lived in, and Reki wondered why Langa wanted to take him here of all places on their last day. He’d been somber that morning, staring blankly into nothing and responding with few words whenever Reki spoke to him over breakfast. If he’d been planning to take Reki here since they woke up for the day, it made his earlier behavior make sense. But who— Reki felt like an airhead.
The only person Langa could be visiting here was his father.
The knowledge weighed him down and he didn’t know what to do with his hands. Once the car came to a parked stop, Langa turned to look at him, face solemn and empty like when he first moved to Japan. “I hope this isn’t too weird; it’s just, since we moved I haven’t had a chance to—”
“No need to explain dude.” Reki made a circle with his fingers, holding it out to Langa. He returned the gesture with a small and tepid smile while giving Reki an ‘Is this too weird?’ look. “I can wait here in the car or go with you if you want; whatever you need.” He started to pull away.
Langa opened his fingers so that he could lace them together. “I want you to come with me.” Reki nodded, trying to dislodge their hands so he could get out of the car. Langa’s fingers tightened, but released his slowly.
The cold air was a welcome change to his heating face. He knew that being here probably wasn’t easy for Langa, I mean it’s why I’m here, right? Yet, the contact had felt too intimate. But, when Langa stood next to him, tucking the keys into his jacket pocket, Reki found himself reaching for his free hand again. Just from exiting the car it had gone cold and he shivered, but kept his grip. Langa flashed him a small, grateful smile which made the slight embarrassment he felt melt away.
They walked in silence, Langa walking a step ahead. Even though it’d most likely been over a year since he visited his father’s resting place, Langa walked without looking around, making sudden lefts and rights with little warning. It was a peaceful place and well kept, though snow covered most of the plot and the tombstones had a dusting of white. The walkway was clear enough but Reki found himself losing his balance at little patches of ice. The salt sprinkled on the path crunched under their feet and Reki wondered if he should say something.
Abruptly, Langa stopped, and Reki hit his back. “Dude, what—” He cut off, noticing how rigid Langa had become. They stood in front of a medium-sized tombstone. It was mostly covered in snow, and there didn’t seem to be any flowers, but he knew this had to be where his father’s resting place. Reki felt like an intruder and again wondered why Langa would bring him to a place so sacred and personal, even if they were best friends.
“Hey dad,” Langa said gruffly, his grip on Reki’s hand painfully tight. “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?” Still gripping his hand for dear life, Langa kneeled into the hardened snow at the end of the plot. “I brought someone with me, my… Reki; I met him when we moved to Japan and he taught me how to skateboard.”
Langa paused and reached inside his pocket with his free hand, pulling out an old, scuffed up wheel. Is that…? Reki squinted his eyes as Langa placed the wheel sideways on the top of the tombstone. It was from the first skateboard he’d made for Langa and he couldn’t ignore that the gesture made his heart race.
“He taught me to have fun living again, and kept me from making stupid choices like I did before.” Langa’s voice cracked at the end and Reki placed his free hand on his shoulder. “And… I wanted to bring him here so you could meet the person I like.”
Reki choked on his spit. “L-l-langa?!”
“We promised to skate together for infinity dad, so you don’t need to worry about me.” Langa stood up, dusting his jeans off. “I love you, and will see you soon.” When he looked at Reki, his eyes were like the winter sky above them, but glassy from unshed tears.
Reki wriggled his hand out of Langa’s death grip to bring him in for a hug. Langa’s long arms wrapped around him tightly, and he could hear his heartbeat thud a pace too fast against his ear. He was expecting to hear the tell tale sound of crying, but Langa just sniffled.
“I hope you don’t mind,” he finally murmured, what felt like an eternity later.
Reki didn’t know what Langa was referring to, but he found himself smiling and the chill that had taken root inside his body since they left the car melted into a soft warmth. “I don’t mind dude, I don’t mind.”