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Slender fingers trail gently down pale skin, tracing the lines of color left there year after year in careful design, and Mikage smiles as Ruka arches his back against the touch without even realizing he is doing it. "I've spoken with Tawa-san. She says it shouldn't be too much of a problem if I leave early on Friday afternoon, so I should be able to come with you. I'll have the suitcases packed by Thursday evening, so we can leave as soon as you wake up." "Mmm ... should be meeting Mitsuru and Nanami 'round four 'r so at the train station. Y'll have to make sure I'm up." The response is sleep-slurred, dreamy, half-drowsing; Ruka is already halfway over the edge into dreams, sprawled out face-down on the bed, cheek pillowed on arms, a half-blissful smile on his face. A small chuckle as fingertips graze over one tattooed wing, running along the shoulderblades before reaching the line of Sanskrit that runs down the spine. Those fingers know those characters, yet they trace their lines gently, as if sounding out each syllable like a blind man reading Braille. Be calm, remain still, and know that thou art master of all -- an inscription done years before, when certain dreams were fresher in the mind than they are now. "That shouldn't be a problem. You're scheduled to be in the panel at eight on Friday night, aren't you?" "Aa. Mmm." Those piercing eyes are shut, and Ruka's breathing is even, though Mikage knows that he is not asleep. Mikage smiles, letting his fingertips rove over each vertebra in turn, feeling the heat of the skin that lurks beneath them. Ruka is sprawled out in a puddle of sunlight, the morning's golden glow warming him inch by inch. Every time Mikage looks at him like this, he has never seen him more lovely; knows he will not, until the next. "Yeah, tha's the one on voice acting in the current market. Still dunno how Mitsuru talked me into getting involved in that..." The faintest hint of a smile curves Mikage's lips. "Because you couldn't resist being the character he based on you. That's not hard to figure out." Another sleepy chuckle, and Ruka shifts a little, taking up more space on the bed, so that Mikage must shift slightly and let one leg dangle over the edge. He resists the urge to slip out of his clothing and stretch out beside his partner; though they get precious little time to actually sleep together, due to the vagaries of sleeping schedules, he knows that if he lies down he will fall back into the arms of sleep himself, and he has so much to do on this spring Saturday morning that he cannot afford the nap. But neither of them are willing to give up these morning moments while they can steal them. "I s'pose. 'S kinda fun, though. Studio Ghibli has been asking about Miyazaki-san's latest idea 'n whether I wanna do a few episodes for 'em. Been thinking of saying yes." "You'd like that, I know." Following the lines of the admonition down Ruka's spine, Mikage's fingers slip briefly beneath the untied waistband of the tattered and worn sweatpants that Ruka occasionally wears to sleep in, at least until he grows tired of the clothing and kicks them off in the middle of the night. Ruka makes a drowsy noise of contentment, and Mikage smiles again; he curls his fingers, digging well-trimmed nails into that soft and pale skin, running back up the line of script he traced downwards. Ruka lets out a small gasp, just a small catch of breath in the back of his throat, and shudders, the barest hint of reaction rippling through those ever-taut muscles. "Mmm," he says, and Mikage cannot tell whether it is out of reaction or in response to the conversational thread. His smile edges a little wider, as it always does when he gets this reaction, and he strokes the rapidly reddening lines, the skin already beginning to puff up beneath his fingers. "'S long as they could fit it into my schedule..." Ruka's skin is beautiful. Ruka is beautiful. Mikage lets a few strands of silken hair slip through his fingers -- burgundy this month, the color of red wine lit by candlelight. It suits him, far more than last month's garish turquoise that is still present on the pillowcases. There is music playing in the room; there is always music, somewhere, in this house. Mikage doesn't know the artist, but he has heard the song, and he cannot help but roll his eyes as the unknown singer lets his voice soar: but all the promises we make from the cradle to the grave when all I want is you. He brushes a thumb along the nape of Ruka's neck, deliberately, then again when this coaxes another tiny shudder. "I don't think it should be too difficult. Natasume-san is fairly understanding about your other projects, after all." "Mmm." The sounds are growing more dream-like, more detached, as Ruka slips further into that mental space of being touched, the sensation shivering over his nerves like gossamer. Mikage smiles again and drags his nails along the edges of those brightly-colored wings. "He -- should be. Make him enough money." Mikage's own breathing slows, deepens; unconsciously, he is breathing in rhythm with Ruka, in rhythm with the music, as he follows Ruka into that dark-warm place inside his head. He loves the feeling of power this gives him, the feeling of soft safety in knowing that Ruka trusts him enough to deliver himself up to those hands, gentle even in their rough touch. He places one hand at the small of Ruka's back, the pad of his thumb obscuring the last character of Ruka's personal mantra; the other hand splays out along shoulderblades, then tracks four perfect parallel lines downward. He talks just to give Ruka something to hold on to. "You certainly do turn a tidy profit for his station, yes. You and your fangirls." "Mmmaaah." This time, it's not a response, not a conversational thread; it is simply a low-voiced sound of pleasure. So vocal, Ruka is; there is always some sort of music trailing in the air behind him, whether of the conventional sort or simply the cadence of his own voice. Mikage can feel those whipcord-tense muscles unknotting beneath his fingers, the stress melting and transforming into a different sort of tension altogether; not sexual but sensual, the delicious sense of not knowing where the next touch will fall. Mikage can't resist the urge to slip in a gentle taunt that he knows will go unchallenged. "Even with the endless philosophy at four am." His only response is another brief "mmm", and he chuckles, softly, as one of Ruka's shoulders jumps beneath the fingers dancing lightly over the marks that will be gone by the time Ruka wakes. Usually it is Ruka who talks, but Ruka has tumbled into that endless world behind his eyelids, words long lost to sensation. Usually, Mikage is content with the silence comfortable between them like an old pair of slippers, but that small, quiet voice deep inside him that guides him also prompts him to throw out a lifeline of words for Ruka to cling to. "I like listening when you talk, even if you aren't talking to me." Ruka is quivering beneath his touch, breath catching in his throat with every light whisper, every sharp sussuration. Mikage watches in fascination as Ruka unfolds beneath his hands, sleepy in a puddle of sunshine, all colors and angles and beauty. He rubs the palm of one hand up over Ruka's neck, smiling at the soft whimpers this wrings from Ruka's lips, then skims his fingernails lightly down those perfect lines. "I turn on the radio when I wake up in the middle of the night," he says, his voice contemplative, half-distant; he pays no attention to what he might say, just letting the words fall as they may. Perhaps this is how Ruka feels, in the middle of the night, he thinks. His attention is elsewhere, centered on the skin being offered up for him. "To hear what you're saying. To hear what you're not saying." Because the truth always lies behind what isn't being said; he learned that years ago, in a lesson that is no less applicable for its remembered pain. The thought does not disturb him, not here in the bedroom full of light. "And I think of you sitting in the studio in the

dark and thinking of me. With your shirt off, because your skin is too sensitive to leave it on. And it makes me smile." He rubs his thumb into the tension-lines along the base of Ruka's shoulderblades, coaxing them into releasing their hold. "I like touching you."

The noise Ruka makes might be agreement; it might be laughter. It is quickly borne away on another broken gasp as Mikage digs his nails into that soft and willing flesh once more. The phoenix spreading its wings along Ruka's back is weeping trails of fire; pale skin marks magnificently. It took so long before Mikage understood that Ruka wanted to be touched like that. That it felt good.

The music says it for him.

There's a bone in my ear, keeps singing your name. Sometimes it's like pleasure, sometimes it's like pain. It's a small voice and quiet, but I hear it plain; there's a bone in my ear keeps singing your name. In my heart there's a an image like looking through glass; could be looking at me, could be looking right past. I don't like it when I can't tell which is true, but I wouldn't trade the world for that picture of you. Moon in the water, cold light in the streets, warmth in your fingers, sweat in your sheets. Laid out like an offering where two currents meet; the river is dark but the water is sweet. Wailing on the mountain, smoke on the wind, can't drown out the whisper or the scent of your skin. Don't know where it came from, but I know where it came. There's a bone in my ear keeps singing your name.

Impulse coaxes him to lean over, pressing his lips to the lines of scores, tasting the familiar near-fevered heat. He lets his lips part, tongue tracing those markings, before kissing his way up Ruka's spine, breath shivering over the sensitive patch of skin that earns so much of his attention. Ruka jerks, once, muscles tensing and releasing in a spasmodic shiver; the expression on his face is halfway to rapture.

"You should sleep," Mikage says, softly. "It's getting late, and you don't want to disturb your sleeping schedule too much."

Ruka breathes out a single sound of frustration that is half-moan, half agreement; Mikage interprets this with the ease of long experience. "I'll still be here when you wake up," he says, brushing a few stray locks from Ruka's face. "Sleep. You're tired; I can tell."

And Ruka is tired, so tired; Mikage can tell that his body is perched on that precipice between arousal and slumber, poised to tumble in either direction with but a bare nudge either way. Regretfully, Mikage straightens up, trailing one lingering hand over Ruka's back, and pulls the comforter from where it has been kicked off the foot of the bed. He wraps Ruka in it, neat hands tucking the fabric around Ruka, and bends down to kiss his lover on the forehead. "Sleep well, Ruka."

Ruka sighs, an exhale of peace and tranquility, and mumbles something that could possibly be "good night" as Mikage shuts the door.

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