dedication: to dicey, bc she deserves good things even when i am incapable of delivering
notes: gay band nerds do i even need a reason
title: on the nature of daylight
summary: On a cliff by the sea there is a little white house. — Kumiko/Reina.
There's salt on the breeze that morning.
Sunlight filters in through the windows white and gauzy, soft somehow, like the first tentative notes of an old favourite song gone long unplayed. The salt burns, but not in a bad way. It prickles along her lips, the shh-shh of waves lapping at the beach far below them a fitting accompaniment to their early-morning ritual silence.
"Reina," the words leave Kumiko lips nothing a whisper. "Reina, are you awake?"
"Yes," Reina says, but her eyes are closed. She's got her head tilted back, and the line of her jaw is sharp enough to cut glass. She's such a hard thing, Reina, even when she doesn't have to be—here, in their bed, the curtains whispering against the sill, she's still such a hard thing.
"Good luck, tonight," she says. Her hand curls into the sheets, and Reina must feel it because she rolls onto her side to look her in the face. Her hair falls around them, whorls of purple-black ink on blank canvas. Kumiko watches the shift of it, a facsimile of ocean currents with a pull and push as steady as the tide.
"Why?" Reina asks. "I don't need it."
"I know," Kumiko says. The corner of her lips pulls up. "But I want to."
They stare at each other for a very long time, noses near touching. Breathing together like this is easiest, because it smooths down Reina's ruffled feathers no matter how long they've been apart. Autumn is just around the corner; concert season hangs three separate solos over their heads, both a benediction and a curse—Reina is better when she has something to work at, and the solos make her happy for all that they end up keeping her awake—Kumiko can't count the number of nights they've sat up together drinking hot chocolate after a performance.
"You really are terrible, you know," Reina smiles, and closes the inch between them at last.
Reina kisses without fanfare, without flourish, without pomp. There's nothing contrived about it, not for anyone's benefit but each other's. She moves fast as a blink and then she's hovering, face washed clean of emotion in the spill of light. Her knee comes down to press between Kumiko's thighs.
(It is such a little thing.)
She loves her so much she thinks she might die of it. Kumiko moans. "Reina—"
"Hush," Reina says, and lowers her mouth.
The flowers are never the same.
There are always flowers, of course. This is an orchestra, there are always flowers. Reina's never been partial to roses, and Kumiko, for all her flailing good graces, isn't an idiot. The roses stay in the garden. There they are less a defense and more a decoration, for they are never touched, their thorns unbloodied. They grow wild around the back, all pink blooms and green leaves. Kumiko would have thought the ocean salt would have withered them, but they haven't, yet.
And so it goes: peonies some days, camellias others, orange blossoms and dahlias and daisies. There are forget-me-nots in all their blue-petaled glory hidden under the creamy white of magnolias; pansies for loyalty and hydrangeas for pride.
I love you, Kumiko says with every bouquet, and she sits in the front row with shining eyes.
Reina plays like a bell, loud and clear and clean. Every note rings true.
Kumiko breathes in and holds, thinks of the little house by the sea. There, Reina plays for the sky and for Kumiko and for herself. Here she plays for a silently awed crowd. There is no better, per say, only different.
The trumpet melody crests, rises, and takes flight.
Her appreciation is always the same. She's not even surprised to find that she's crying, unshed tears shimmering like diamonds in the corners of her eyes. Reina is special. Reina is special.
The last nose fades into the air. Applause is loud as thunder and twice as shiny.
Kumiko breathes out, and claps along.
"Marry me," Reina says. She's on fire, the blaze of incandescent light turned her all to gold, and Kumiko can only think of an evening so long ago it's a little fuzzy to think about. The first time they ever went home together the lamps of a passing car had lit Reina from behind, seared her image into Kumiko's retinas. They'd only been fifteen, and Kumiko had known then that she would follow this girl to the end of the world and over the edge, if that was what it took. The trumpet in Reina's hands shines slickly in the light, and for a moment, Kumiko loses the difference between then and now.
Because it's not a question.
It never has been.
Kumiko's lips quirk up, and she's laughing. It comes from her stomach, full-bellied and echoing through the air between them. "That—that was—!"
"You said you'd never leave me," Reina says, declares. "You promised."
"I did," Kumiko says, shaking her head like a rueful thing. Only Reina. Only Reina would wrap herself around a high school promise, hold it fast.
"Is that a yes?"
"We already live together, you know," Kumiko says. She doesn't know how or when she crossed the floor, but she has, or Reina has, because they're standing very close together. It's different and bright and good, good in a way that Kumiko can't quite describe. She thinks of their bed, and its plain sheets, and the curtains that hang by the window. She thinks of the salted earth. She thinks of the sea.
"Not good enough," Reina tosses her head like something wild.
"No, it wouldn't be, I guess."
"Do you love me?"
"Yes," says Kumiko, because she has told many lies in her life but never this one.
"Then marry me!"
"Yes," Kumiko says, again. "Yes."
Reina's gaze sweeps across her face for a fraction of a second, half-restless, half-searching, half something else entirely. She must find what she's looking for, because she reaches for Kumiko's chin. When she kisses her, her lips still fizz with the lingering buzz from the breath bubbles, as though even now the trumpet is still trying to sing. They have come so far. They have not moved at all.
The little house sits empty, for now. A storm could take it away, grind it to dust and whisk it away on the wind, empty everything they are out into that place where the horizon blends into nothing but a smudgy blue line, where the ocean and the atmosphere collide.
It would still have nothing on this.
Kumiko touches Reina's face, and thinks: yes, Reina, always yes.