A/N: Guys, I don't even know. I just fell in love with Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal last week. It's just awesome. I can mock it and worship it simultaneously. Astral is my favorite person, but I love Yuuma too, just in a different way. Anyway, Keyshipping drabble time! (BTW, okikage on Tumblr has convinced me that this is not a yaoi pairing, because Astral is not male, despite what you may believe. Henceforth is Astral referred to as 'it', being neither male nor female.)
Yuuma had never realized before just how weird TV could seem until the day Astral saw one on.
He'd just been racing through some math homework after an afternoon spent goofing off with Kotori and Tetsuo. He switched on the TV as distraction noise, temporarily almost forgetting (though how could anyone really forget) that Astral was there. He kept working, glancing up at the TV on his right every few minutes.
It didn't take long for the questions to start up, of course.
"What is this?"
"Ignore him. You have work to do", Yuuma thought. He was silent, and Astral was silent, watching him, again.
Finally, Yuuma sighed. "What'dja say again?"
"What is this glowing device?" Astral gave the TV a glance, eyes narrowing in confused wariness.
"It's a TV." Maybe he'd stop ask—
"What is that?"
"It's a special box that can show you things in other places."
Yuuma grimaced, unwilling to admit that he had little to no clue. "It's too complicated to explain right now. It just does it."
"So all the things that appear in the box are real . . . ", the being murmured to himself.
Astral stared at the TV for several minutes in silence, which a relieved Yuuma used to actually work on the homework in front of him. The blue being floated down to sit in front of the box, blocking and discoloring Yuuma's view, which Yuuma totally would have complained about, except that doing so might make Astral start talking and asking stuff again, and he didn't want to put up with that now.
"What is that?" Yuuma glanced up, then grunted in annoyance at the sight of blurred colors through a blue back. He scooted up the carpet to look past Astral and see what it was pointing at.
"It's an advertisement for a movie."
"An advertisement – an ad – is something that lets people know about something that someone wants them to see or buy." Thankfully, the concept of buying things had already been explained, after several annoying hours of on-and-off questioning. "A movie is something you can see on TV or at a movie theater – that's like a really big TV that you can't control and that you watch with lots of other people. It's a made-up story."
"You said that all the things in the TV were real." Yuuma groaned at the accusing tone and looked back at his worksheet.
"Well, I forgot to say it, OK? Some of them are real and some aren't. That movie definitely isn't real, for one thing."
"Why are you so sure?"
"Just look at it, Astral! I mean, come on, animals can't talk!"
Astral nodded. "Observation #25: Animals are incapable of speaking in reality. However, in the lies in the TV, they can."
Yuuma smacked his head on the floor. After a second he emerged, grin only a little annoyed. "Close enough. Now don't ask me anything for awhile, I need to finish this."
Astral made a noise of affirmation and kept watching TV.
Numbers were too unpredictable. They did weird things to Astral. Yuuma would never forget No. 96, of course, but these last few Numbers had been weirder and weirder.
No. 32, for example, must have had a very embarrassing memory in it. Astral's entire face had changed color. It appeared to be deeper in thought and more flustered when startled out of that train of thought for the next few days. Yuuma saw it as weird, weirder even than usual, seeing as it barely ever smiled let alone seemed embarrassed.
And then there was No. 04, which was apparently traumatic. The moment Astral absorbed the card, it started screaming, really loudly. Yuuma had wished he could shake or punch it, because after half an hour of screaming that would get quiet or loud again without warning, Astral went completely quiet. It had taken a whole week to get Astral back to normal. Yuuma had been too distracted by it all to duel seriously. Thankfully, no Numbers had appeared that week.
Yuuma had just won No. 77, which had an odd name even for a Number, something like "Secretive Fairy" or something freaky like that. Ecstatic about his win, Yuuma's celebrating kept him from keeping an eye on Astral's absorption, just in case something went wrong.
It wasn't just Astral who shouted it. Kotori and Tetsuo and his opponent (whose name continued to slip his mind) screamed as well. Yuuma looked to Astral.
He wasn't floating.
He looked like he'd fallen right on his butt, actually.
Wait . . . he wasn't see-through.
"Whoa, it's that Astral guy!" Tetsuo shouted, jumping back a few paces.
Kotori, however, excited and interested, hurried forward. "Ahh, cool, he's really here!"
Yuuma stared, but his feet rushed him to the being immediately. "A-Astral? What happened?"
Astral was just staring at its hands. It seemed too blown away to answer. It took it a few minutes to even look at the humans standing over it.
"The Number . . . " It looked like it wanted to cry, though more out of joy or fear, Yuuma could not tell. Maybe both.
"What the hell is that blue thing? Is it—oh God, it's NAKED! IT'S TOTALLY NAKED!" His opponent was really loud. Too loud.
Yuuma hesitated just a second. Then he grabbed Astral's newly solidified wrist.
He found it cool and smooth, too cool to feel normal, and the markings stood up on its skin (was it skin?) like gems glued to his body. But there was no time to dwell on it too much – if that kid caused a scene, there could be big trouble for both of them.
"Come on! We're taking him to my place!" he yelled to his friends. Then Yuuma took off running, dragging a startled and discombobulated Astral behind him. Astral, for his part, quickly caught on and found a way to stand and start running/tripping after him. Kotori and Tetsuo weren't far behind them.
"Are we . . . safe . . . yet . . . Koto . . . ri?" Tetsuo panted from beside the locked door of Yuuma's house. Kotori, not nearly as tired as Tetsuo, nodded, peeking out the curtains again.
"No one followed us. I think it's all clear."
"Yeah, great, everything's perfect, except that now I have to hide you!" Yuuma shouted at Astral. Astral wasn't looking at him, constantly examining itself and everything around it. It touched the ground, the walls, shook its hand with the other one, and kicked the couch. Still, Astral answered Yuuma, even as it continued touching anything that caught its fancy.
"I had no intention or involvement in becoming solid. Blame the Number if you must."
"Like I won't! You know how bad this could be?" Yuuma's tone was angry, even as he kept accidentally grinning like a madman and then grimacing like a thug, unable to keep either face too long. How exciting, to be able to interact with Astral! He could give it a high-five. He could punch it in the face if he felt like it! (He was tempted to do both at the moment – "Great job being solid! Now stop making noise that will make Akari or Grandma see you!")
"I am aware. However, being solid is . . . somewhat fascinating."
Yuuma glared. Astral paused in its attempts to stroke anything in sight, staring back with its hands still splayed on the coffee table.
"Yuuma, I am worried as well, and I am aware of what a problem this could prove to be."
Yuuma snorted. "Are you really? If so, cut out the racket! You'll get my sister and grandma to see you! What if they're home and—"
"AAH!" Everyone turned to Kotori, who dropped the curtain and slammed her back into the front door.
"Akari is home! Quick, get upstairs!" Yuuma paled, then grabbed Astral's other wrist and took off, Tetsuo staying behind to help stall Akari's entrance and keep her away from the attic.
"…Would you stop it? Some of these are pretty valuble, y'know."
Astral ignored him for a few extra minutes, finishing its stroking of the hammock, the TV, and the floor of the attic. Seemingly finished, it sat down carefully before the TV and stared up at Yuuma in the hammock. Its eyes were normal, atleast. Wide open and alert . . . and continuously darting to glance at something it hadn't yet touched.
It took a few minutes before guilt really set in for Yuuma. He sighed and lay down, careful not to lose his balance and fall on his newly solidified companion.
"Look, Astral . . . I know it's probably really exciting to be able to touch everything, but . . . we just need to be careful about this, y'know? Besides, who knows how long this'll last?"
"That is why I wish to observe everything now, in case I lose the chance forever."
The being's voice was calm for a fate that sounded like hell to Yuuma. There was a tensing silence. Then Astral stood up, slow and careful.
"I wish to observe you."
Yuuma's hands stopped halfway on their way behind his head. "Um . . . what do you mean?"
"I wish to touch you. I want to know what contact feels like." Astral simply stared at him, waiting.
His intense gaze made Yuuma look to the ceiling. That was all Astral meant, of course, all he could mean, but for a second, Yuuma had felt weird about how it had said it…
"Well, OK." He smiled suddenly at the being. "Wanna high-five me?"
He held up his hand and waited for Astral to copy him. Then he flung his hand forward.
Unfortunately, Astral, while swinging its hand forward to meet Yuuma's, swung its entire body with it. Their heads collided with a crack and Yuuma fell out of the hammock on top of Astral.
"Owww . . .", moaned Yuuma, before turning to glare at the back of Astral's head. The being's words were muffled by the floor, but it was loud enough to be heard.
"Get off." Yuuma considered the request. Then he crossed his legs and flicked Astral in the back of the head.
"What—" Astral whipped its head around to see a smirking Yuuma, still sitting on it.
"Gotcha! Serves you right for not getting it right!" Only then did Yuuma deign to get off of him. Astral gave him a narrow stare, on hands and knees on the floor. Before the being could speak, Yuuma hoisted it to its feet.
"Man, Astral, get coordinated! Just swing your arm, like this!" He demonstrated slowly.
"Like . . . this . . . " It copied Yuuma perfectly.
"Yeah! Now when I say three, swing." Astral immediately swung at his hand and Yuuma backed away to avoid another collision.
"No, the NEXT time I say three! . . . OK, now, one, two . . . THREE!" Their hands hit.
Yuuma's arm kept moving, but Astral's arm was still, frozen in the air. After a few seconds, it lowered it, awkwardly. Astral looked at Yuuma, and a small silence stretched on.
"Now, may I observe you, my own way?" Yuuma felt nervous again (for no good reason, he might add. This was Astral – the annoying but harmless Astral.) He smiled.
"Sure!" He braced himself for something weird.
Astral's eyes widened – in curiosity, excitement, wonder. It swooped in, inches away from Yuuma's face. It raised its arms, the fingers shaking ever so subtly, and began touching the red spikes of the boy's hair. Yuuma stayed still, breathing softly, his eyes avoiding Astral's out of awkwardness.
The blue hands, cool no matter what, moved on to sweep their long fingers through his black head of hair. Yuuma shuddered, suddenly cold from no change of temperature. He stopped looking everywhere else to look at Astral. The blue being's face was the picture of curiosity. Yuuma forced himself to calm down; Astral didn't have any weird intent.
The hands moved on to Yuuma's face. They traced his forehead, around his eyes . . .
Then the fingers tapped his red pupils. Yuuma jerked back with a short cry, holding his eyes and blinking rapidly, while Astral jumped back, almost tripping over his feet.
"Ah! Ow ow—ah!" He looked to the concerned being's face. "Don't touch open eyes, Astral! Don't you know how much that—agh, jeez!" He rubbed at his eyes.
"I do not know. I have not yet touched my opened eyes."
Yuuma fought to control his breathing again and stop blinking and calm down. He felt weird about being touched like this – like a delicate object, like a rare gift – but he could tell from Astral's intense look that it really wanted to touch Yuuma, and that desire seemed to stem purely from curiosity. He straightened and smiled weakly, shaking off the intense embarrassment he felt coming on again.
"You can try again. I'll warn you what not to touch." Astral nodded, then slowly returned to its way-too-close place in front of Yuuma. Slowly, but not as slowly, it raised its arms and resumed its observations of Yuuma's face.
Around and over his nose, smoothing over his cheekbones, ghosting in and around his ears, and now fingertips danced lightly on his neck. Yuuma was calm again, even as Astral's pace increased.
That calm left when Astral started slipping his hands under Yuuma's shirt to touch his collarbone. Clearing his throat a bit, ignoring the slight heat coming to his face, Yuuma took Astral's wrists and lifted his hands back onto the fabric.
"No going under my clothes." Astral blinked.
"Why?" Yuuma almost did a face-fault.
"Be—Because! Do you ever see me do that to my friends? No! There's a reason. You need special permission to do that."
After a beat or two of silence, Astral nodded and asked, "Can I have permission?"
Yuuma just stared at it, mind dipping south for a minute too long. Astral didn't mean it, it couldn't, and it was curious, but . . . Yuuma sighed.
"OK, here's what we'll do. When you get here," he gestured to his stomach, "you can lift up my shirt and touch. But this part of me," and his hands marked the top of his pants to halfway down his thighs, "you are not allowed to touch at all."
Astral stared at the hands' positions a moment, then nodded, storing away the information. Without asking to begin again, it began going over the shoulders again (that is, the shirt over Yuuma's shoulders). Yuuma stood still again, hoping that no one would come upstairs and see. How could he ever explain this sort of thing?
Astral examined his arms simultaneously, taking its time with each hand. It particularly liked the hands, and Yuuma was about to get annoyed when Astral suddenly decided to move on. Next, hands grazed over his chest, lightly, enough to be infuriating and teasing to an already-embarrassed Yuuma. On his upper back, the coolness of the being's hands came through his shirts. Astral avoided contact with the key, probably in case it took away its new solid form.
Astral rolled up the shirt halfway. After a few failed attempts to make it stay lifted on its own, Yuuma grabbed it and waited as Astral's hands grazed, prodded, and skimmed his skin. Finally, Yuuma dropped the shirt, and Astral withdrew his hands.
It started moving the hands down to the forbidden area, but before Yuuma could yell or do anything, Astral stopped. It scanned Yuuma's lower body, then crouched down and began its examinations again . . . exactly halfway down Yuuma's thigh, just as instructed. Yuuma sighed with relief to himself.
It seemed to hesitate a long time after finishing its examinations of Yuuma's legs before asking another question.
"What about these?" Astral pointed to Yuuma's sock feet. Without much of a noise, Yuuma pulled both socks off. He felt a light wave of embarrassment as the smell of his feet after a day of running around hit his nose. He wondered if Astral could smell . . .
But it didn't seem to bother it. It was lifting up one foot and looking at its bottoms.
And then Yuuma started giggling as Astral's fingers begain running over his soles.
"Stop, stop! STOP!" Astral stopped, looking a bit worried, but then seemed to realize that Yuuma was laughing, not in pain. It smiled the tiniest bit.
Then it tickled him again. Wild laughter rang through the attic, barely contained by Yuuma's hands. When Yuuma, worn out, finally gasped, "No really, stop now, Astral! Astral, please—", Astral took away its hands and let Yuuma finish giggling on the ground.
"What is it you called that?"
"T-tickling. It's fun!"
Astral didn't answer. It was staring at the carpet again. The silence became uncomfortable quickly.
"Hey Astral, you okay—hwa!" Astral was in his face, eyes large and serious.
"I have another question."
Yuuma sighed a bit. What a surprise. "Well? What do you wanna do?"
"It is something I want you to do." Yuuma felt part of the back of his brain panic, but kept a mostly straight face.
:W-what is it?" Astral stared at him, looked down at his chin a moment, then looked him in the eye and inched even closer, prompting Yuuma to back away a bit.
Yuuma's mind dropped south like an anvil. His face went red and pink. After a minute of gaping, Yuuma held his face in his hands. Once again, he found himself trying to calm down, talking to himself.
Astral doesn't know what it might have said, it's like a kid, curious and that's it!
Astral just blinked. "Everywhere."
Yuuma really did face-fault this time.
"W-w-whaddya mean, EVERYWHERE?" The blue being blinked at the flustered boy.
"Everywhere there is to touch. Other than our high-five and you dragging me around, I have not been touched. I want you to touch me so that I know what it feels like."
Yuuma felt guilty all of a sudden. Here he was, assuming perverted things, when Astral just wanted to have the experience before it could slip away. Being ethereal couldn't always be fun, and it must be so fascinating, to suddenly be solid, to be able to know how everyone else around you was living . . .
He felt really bad all of a sudden, like it was his fault. It wasn't, he yelled to himself, it wasn't! But it didn't stop that gnawing feeling.
So he smiled and nodded, took a deep breath, assumed a face of concentration, and began.
Following Astral's method, he started with the hair. Even its hair was a bit too cold to be normal, like it'd been holding its head out the window in December. It was smooth but difficult to move from its affixed style – Yuuma could run a finger through it, but its overall shape appeared to be permament.
The markings really did stand out on its skin (again, was it technically skin?). Yuuma traced the marks, then Astral's pointed ears, realizing once again how little he and Astral knew about Astral's race. He didn't touch his mouth, barely touched his neck, afraid to do something awkward even as he anticipated questions about the avoidance later from Astral.
Then, grazing lightly over Astral's shoulders, he touched one of the round gem-like objects. Astral sucked in air and moved away, fast. Yuuma just blinked at it.
…Well, what did that mean? Was it painful or just . . . sensitive . . . ? His mind splashed into the gutter again before he forcibly yanked it back out. Shaking his head a little to toss out the images, he pointed at the gem and cleared his throat.
"Ah, Astral? Want me to avoid those?" Astral stared at the gem a moment. It shook its head.
"No. No. It's fine." It resumed its position, patiently waiting. Yuuma hesitated, then moved to look at Astral's hands. The fingers seemed blunted; in fact, the lack of nails and distinct texture made Yuuma think of Astral in a full-cover bodysuit more than it being technically naked. He went up Astral's arms, getting absorbed in the odd feel of the being's skin. (Even if it wasn't skin, what else could he call it?)
In his absorption, though, he forgot about the gems and their effects.
Leaning forward to look at a marking on Astral's wrist, Yuuma lost his balance. He grasped both shoulder gems to steady himself. Astral made a noise that it quickly bit down on, balling its hands into fists in the rug and tensing all over to halt its sudden trembling.
Yuuma took his hands off fast, panicking and yet dying to know. Whatever that felt like to Astral . . . it must be intense for him to act that way. Either it was intense pain . . . or intense pleasure of some kind. Either way, Yuuma swallowed his attempts to avoid the potentially awkward situation. If he was putting Astral in pain, he had to know. If not . . . he wanted to know.
"Astral, if that hurts you, I won't touch, er, those." He pointed, seeing a gold eye peer up at him from the being's hunched position. "I mean, I get wanting to experience everything, but pain's not—"
"It is not pain I feel." Its voice was strained, a bit like when it had started disappearing into that glowing blue orb of light.
"I do not know the name for it. I have little memory of it. It is a . . . startling . . . intense sensation."
A red flag went up in Yuuma's head.
In silence, he resumed his examinations of Astral. He took care not to touch any of the gems. Slowly, Astral relaxed again, if not completely. When Yuuma's hands had been everywhere (except for his crotch, which he was wary of despite a lack of . . . anything, or anything that he would recognize), he sat back.
The two looked at each other a few seconds. Yuuma started looking elsewhere, then down at his hands. His face, Astral noted, changed color several times, from red to pale to normal and back again. It wondered what Yuuma was pondering that his face reacted so spectacularly.
Finally, Yuuma looked back at Astral. He smiled then, but in a new way. It wasn't a grin so much as a sheepish, nervous smile. He gestured to Astral's shoulder again.
"Hey Astral, you know these—whaddya call these, gems?" Astral looked, then shrugged.
"I call them nothing. Gems sounds fine."
"OK, well . . . " Yuuma trailed off, before beating himself on the head a few times and clutching his skull with both hands, his face discolored again.
"Aaah, damnit, I dunno what I'm doing! Regardless, Astral, don't think I'm weird or anything, OK? I just—I just wanna try something!"
Yuuma's face was red again. He couldn't believe that he had thought this was a good idea. He'd been fighting it, beating it down mentally and physically, ever since Astral asked to touch him, and now—!
Astral nodded. "Though you are always weird . . . I will let you try it, whatever it is."
"Well, um, close your eyes. I'm going to try something with the gems."
Astral tensed briefly. Then he closed his eyes and sat still. Yuuma took some deep breaths, cracked his knuckles and neck, then slowly knelt down on Astral's right side. He caught a white eye peeking at him.
"Hey, no looking!"
"You are taking too long."
"Fine, just let me take off the key so we can make sure you stay solid."
Finally, Yuuma was ready. He put his thumbs on the gem before him and started rubbing it.
Astral's eyes shot wide open. It sucked in air – a gasp – and then a groan came out.
Yuuma grabbed the other gem with his right hand, and all of a sudden Astral was on the floor writhing and making soft noises Yuuma had never heard it make before, low and high noises mixing seamlessly in a melody of pleasure. Yuuma tried everything he could think to do with his hands, and not once did Astral make a sound of pain, only of enjoyment.
After several minutes, Yuuma released the gems. Astral was panting a little, still on the ground.
"Well? Did you—like it?" A rapid nod from Astral. The being sat up with a serious face.
"I believe that feeling is called—pleasure." Yuuma smirked, enjoying Astral's face, its look of bewildered ecstasy, the memory of those noises—
Astral suddenly grabbed his shoulders. "Why did you not react that way when I touched your shoulders?" it asked, feeling through his shirt for any hidden bumps. Yuuma had to laugh.
"My, uh, gems aren't on my shoulders, Astral. Besides, you have them in lots of places. Humans are different . . . Remember that place I said you couldn't touch at all?"
Astral's eyes flew to the spot. "Yes—that's the place then?" Yuuma nodded, flushing at the intense look Astral was directing at his crotch and repositioning himself to hide it.
"I mean, it's not really the same thing, though, I—" Astral's hands were already moving towards him. Yuuma's hands met them and kept them at bay.
"Astral! I said you needed permission! Permission!" Astral blinked at him.
"I am returning the favor. Isn't that what I should do?" Yuuma flushed a deep red.
"L-look, Astral, it's not the same lev, level of . . . intensity, I think."
"Then what is?"
Yuuma watched him for a minute.
"You really want to?" Astral nodded, but slowly, not breaking the gaze.
"Well, um . . . we can . . . kiss?" Yuuma didn't dare look at Astral.
"What's that?" Yuuma wanted to hit something. It was so frustrating, its naivete, its curiosity . . . did he really have to do everything himself? A voice in his head suggested that teaching Astral wasn't a bad idea.
"Kissing, its . . . um, well . . . ah, hell with it all, it's this!" He grabbed the back of Astral's head and neck and slammed their mouths together. Astral made a noise, but it was hard to hear and ended abruptly.
Yuuma wasn't experienced, obviously. He'd only had his first kiss last year. But Astral didn't know that, nor did it seem to care, as it mimicked Yuuma's hands' positioning with its own, albeit more gently. They sat there, locked in one another's arms, for as long as it took to hear footsteps approaching the attic. Yuuma broke the kiss.
"Shit! We gotta hide you, just in case!" He grabbed a blanket from a large pile of odds and ends, too harried to notice Astral's face. Shoving the blanket over him and sitting him down behind a few jumbles of artifacts and memorabillia, Yuuma grinned a bit too widely at Kotori's face looking up at him in puzzlement
"Yuuma, come on! We've been calling you for dinner for five whole minutes!" Yuuma nodded and slid down to meet her.
"Sorry, I was . . . answering one of Astral's harder questions, y'know? The things I have to explain to him!" He laughed a little, turning away to hide any discoloration of his cheeks. Kotori shrugged and smiled.
"We've stalled them and they won't check on you tonight: we said you had so much homework you could barely be disturbed for just dinner." Yuuma grinned.
"Really? Thanks so much! That makes it all easier for me."
Astral, still under the blanket, listened as Yuuma's voice faded away. It felt its mouth with its fingers, and it felt the mouth smile under the fingers, despite that feeling – loneliness, Yuuma called it – seeping into the silence under the blanket.