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Wages of Sin

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"Wages of Sin”

“Calen, your laundry is finished,” Makoto announced as he walked into the room, holding a wicker basket against his hip. He put it down on the bed before turning to face Calen, who had been changing for bed in front of the open closet doors. Makoto froze on the spot. “Oh, uh, sorry.”

Makoto beat a fast retreat, leaving Calen to blink in confusion. He looked down at himself, bare-chested and clad in pajama bottoms. Nothing should have freaked Makoto out so much.

Calen then realized he hadn’t been wearing his eyepatch.

A bit amused by Makoto’s overreaction, Calen smiled.

It had been two weeks since Makoto’s gushing love confession out on the hill. Since then, the pair’s relationship had remained at a standstill, getting along well yet not taking any further steps to deepen it.

“Makoto,” he called out, his companion returning to the room after a long moment with a sheepish expression on his face. “You didn’t have to leave unless…” Calen gestured to his missing left eye. “This makes you uncomfortable?”

“No, no,” Makoto said quickly, waving his hands. “I just thought you might be self-conscious about it.”

Calen shook his head. “I may not remember how I got it, but it’s merely another part of me I’ve learned to accept.”

“Along with all your other scars.” Makoto took a few steps forward, his brow creasing as his gaze fell on the myriad of jagged marks that painted Calen's upper body in various shades of pale brown and white. “They tell quite the colorful story about your past.”

Makoto reached out hesitatingly with one hand. He pressed forward when Calen said nothing and gently traced some of the worse-looking scars on Calen’s back and shoulders with his fingertips. His eyes flicked upwards in curiosity. “Do they ever hurt?”     

Calen mulled the question over as Makoto’s fingers, which had been cold at first, quickly warmed on his skin, following the ragged patterns years of endless war had left on him. Permanent mementos that never failed to remind Calen why exactly he’d wound up in Limbo and not the place that lay above it.  

Being dead, he had thought any sense of pain was beyond him, but sometimes when he unexpectedly woke up from a nightmare in the middle of the night, the scars did feel tight and uncomfortable, eventually loosening as he slowly calmed down.

“Rarely,” Calen said quietly, Makoto looking concerned at the admission. “Yet not for long.”

Makoto’s delicate touch skirted up Calen’s neck, his fingers briefly teasing the scar tissue around Calen’s empty left eye, certain the skin felt rough. “I bet this injury set you back a while.”

“Yeah,” Calen replied, reaching up and grasping Makoto’s hand in his own. He gradually pushed his fingers alongside Makoto’s until they were essentially holding hands. Makoto’s slight intake of breath at the action didn’t go unnoticed. “The main benefit of having amnesia is I don’t have to recall any of the recovery time.”

He met Makoto’s eyes and smiled. “I bet that clay body of yours is pristine.” The unvoiced desire to see it was obvious if one was looking for it.

Makoto immediately flushed, confirming he’d indeed caught onto the innuendo. He retrieved his hand from Calen and rubbed the area Calen had touched lightly. “Dad works hard to ensure that, yeah.”

Makoto cleared his throat. “I should leave you to finish dressing. It’s late, and we can always talk more in the morning.”

Calen had a distinct feeling that Makoto was running away and couldn’t begrudge him the right.

After all, he didn’t really know what he was doing. He was flying blind, having never entered into a same-sex relationship before. From what little he could remember of what came before Limbo, Calen had been far too busy serving his country in wars to pursue anything outside of one-night stands.

“Goodnight, Makoto.”

The cheery grin Makoto flashed him was heartening. “Later, Calen.”

Walking back to the closet, Calen finally put on his pajama top and buttoned it. He looked down at the basket of clothes that had been laundered earlier in the day. On the very top was the long black coat that denoted his status in Limbo, that of a reaper. He was still killing things even in death.

Nothing much had really changed, had it? Calen put the matter out of his mind and placed the basket on the floor of the closet. He’d put the clothes away tomorrow.

“Move over, Boots,” Calen said, sitting down on the bed. The one-eyed rabbit leaped upon his pillow, waiting until Calen had gotten settled before she shifted over onto Calen’s shoulder, all affection and soft fuzz. While unwelcome at first, Boots’ near-constant presence had become a boon in an unfamiliar place that was rapidly becoming his home.

Of course, most of that was due to the influence of one particular person whose indomitable warmth and optimism made everything better. Made him better.  

Calen never knew what tomorrow would bring but looked forward to it, especially if it meant spending more time with Makoto in what was turning out to be a pretty pleasant afterlife.