|Lay Your Body Down||[Apr. 22nd, 2018|01:40 pm]|
[Begins the evening of July 6, Yondaime Year 5, immediately after the end of The Last of the Wine, contemporaneous with Fluid Boundaries]|
They took their armor off first, and left it by the bonfire with their boots, watched over by Saishou and Yori. Kakashi collected one of the flickering paper lanterns, carrying it by its slim wire handle. The tanuki still had most of their weapons, but a blade or six lurked comfortingly next to Kakashi’s skin.
They took an easy, ambling pace to the pond. The grass was lush and cool underfoot, and the air was alive with scent. Warm wind stroked over Kakashi’s bare arms, making him shiver pleasantly. Ryouma tipped his head back and inhaled.
“Is this what the world smells like to you?” he asked.
Kakashi breathed in. Woodsy smoke from the fire, sharp green scents from the cherry trees, rich cooking smells — meat and fat and sweet sticky things — and the underlay of a strange place dressed in tanuki musk. How much had the sake sharpened Ryouma’s senses?
“Maybe,” he said. He crouched to pick up a swordsmith leaf, crushed the bladed shape in his hand, and held his closed fist towards Ryouma. As Kakashi understood it, most people couldn’t pick up the delicate citrus in the plant’s sap. “What do you smell?”
Ryouma cupped Kakashi’s fist with both hands and bent in. And snickered. “You. Sweat, dirt, tanuki—no, wait—” He tightened his grip gently when Kakashi tried to pull away, and took a deep breath. “Okay, it’s grassy and a little sharp. Kind of lemony? It’s nice.”
When Kakashi held the leaf to his own nose, it smelled like a raw, freshly cut lemon with a green twist. He sneezed, which made Ryouma chuckle, and wiped the plant off his hands. “I think you’re a little under my usual baseline, but close.”
“Wow. Your baseline must be... distracting.” Ryouma straightened, looking intrigued. “You smelled stress one time, too. From the top of a cliff.”
Technically, strong sea breezes had helped carry the stench of rank, unwashed sailors to Kakashi’s nose, but he didn’t feel the need to disabuse Ryouma of the notion that he was eerily skilled.
“I didn’t even know emotions had a smell,” Ryouma continued. “Well, arousal, I guess. Or fear, if you’re sweating, but— Do you smell what everyone’s thinking all the time? Can you turn it off? How come you haven’t thrown up every time I come near?”
Kakashi assumed Ryouma meant his rot jutsu and not just his general everyday scent, which had improved significantly since he’d dropped some of the more sickly-sweet soaps out of his regimen. He’d used lemongrass and rosemary on this trip, but his most recent favorite was green tea and cherry bark, which even Kakashi could admit was pleasant.
He shrugged lightly. “Rot isn’t the worst scent in the world, and it’s been a while since you melted anything.” His mouth crooked under his mask. “And no, I’m not telepathic. Scent is a clue, and I’m a good guesser. It’s easier with someone you know well — you can pick up more subtleties.”
Ryouma sniffed speculatively at the tips of his fingers, and relaxed fractionally. “So you’re like… a detective with scents? You smell something and you put it together with what you know of the person. But people smell different too, don’t they? If I don’t smell like rot all the time… Do I?”
Amusement warmed Kakashi’s chest. “You smell nice most of the time,” he said.
“Wait—” Ryouma came to a dead stop. “Really? Hold on, I need witnesses— where’s Kin when you need her—?”
Kakashi muffled a snort of laughter. “Lying on Sen’s feet, probably. I think you’ve been replaced in her affections. What were you going to ask?”
“Good for Kin. Sen needs her. Kin seems good at recognizing that…” Ryouma glanced over his shoulder to the bonfire, where a few shapes were still outlined in orange-rimmed shadows. He looked back down at Kakashi with a quick head shake. “I was gonna ask if you could use my scent to tell what I’m thinking, but probably it’s just a lot of get to the shower now and then too much showering, gross!”
Ryouma’s voice didn’t carry the bite it usually had when he was being self-deprecating. His mouth had a genuine curve.
Kakashi took a step closer, careful not to crowd, and leaned up to catch the scent at Ryouma’s throat, where it stayed truer to his skin. Still smoke and sweat, tanuki and dirt, dogs and salt and weapons steel — but underneath that, calm, warm eddies overlapped old stress, smoothing jagged edges. Kakashi settled back onto his heels. “Right now, I think you’re happy.”