The Story Continues

A Romantic Picnic

Gerald was suspicious. Shiki was up to something. He knew it wasn’t anything malicious; Shiki would never do anything to hurt him. So he supposed he was curious more than anything else. Whatever it was that Shiki was plotting, Simmons seemed to be in on it. As was Kerri and Tiffany. Even Cass seemed to be in on it. They chatted quietly amongst themselves when they thought he wasn’t around and would smile and pretend they weren’t up to something when he gained their attention.

He wasn’t going to ask them what they were up to. It appeared to be a surprise, after all.

What they could possibly by up to, he didn’t know. But he had to admit that he was getting restless. Not anxious, just restless. Perhaps impatient.

It appeared as though something was going to happen soon. Shiki was more…energetic than usual. He was also insatiably impatient. Checking the time and rechecking the time, pouting when he received the time.

Finally, at around four in the afternoon, Shiki came to Gerald and smiled a beaming smile at him. “Let’s go for a walk,” he said as his hand instinctively sought his.

Gerald arched an eyebrow but allowed Shiki to take his hand, to entwine their fingers together, and to pull him along with him. He, of course, asked where they were going but Shiki simply smiled knowingly and tugged him to his side, his hand holding his firmly.

As Shiki led him through the city, Gerald soon realised that they were heading for the outskirts, to a forestry area that overlooked the vast mountains, valleys, and waterways that encircle Lagaard. A place that they would frequently visit when they were kids. Their private meeting area as teenagers. And his…secret mourning spot when he was an alone and lost adult.

Gerald felt a small sense of apprehension as Shiki continued to lead the way. “Shiki…”

“Just a little further,” Shiki reassured him as he gave their joined hands a light squeeze. “It’ll be fine.”

So Gerald fell silent, his trepidation giving way to curiosity. Still, as a large oak tree came into view, with its tall branches and sturdy trunk with large above ground roots allowing for a small hollow to exist at the base; he felt his throat tighten slightly. It had been a while since he had visited the place. And the last time he did it was due to the need to mourn alone.

But as they drew closer, he noticed that there appeared to be a collection of items tucked away at the base of the tree. A large blanket was draped across the ground; with it were numerous pillows and a couple of large wicker baskets with food and cutlery nestled inside. There were also a couple of pre-lit lanterns, to allow for illumination as well as a source of light.

A picnic site?

“Surprise~” Shiki said as he suddenly tugged Gerald toward him, causing him to rest a hand against his chest, and to look up at him in surprise.

Gerald blinked at him before he turned his attention back to the picnic site before them. He soon smiled and rested against Shiki’s chest when he realised that this, this picnic scene, was what Shiki and the others had been plotting and planning this whole time.

“So...this is what you’ve been planning,” Gerald said as Shiki wrapped his arms around waist and nuzzled the side of his neck. He chuckled lightly when Shiki’s beard tickled his skin and he peered up at him from the corner of his eye. “What’s the occasion?”

Shiki kissed his cheek and rested his chin on his shoulder. “Do I need one?”

No. No, he didn’t.

Gerald turned so that he could wrap his arms around Shiki’s neck and lean forward to kiss him on the lips. Shiki immediately wrapped an arm around his waist to pull his body close with his crossed his other arm over his back to thread his fingers through his hair. The gentle grip in his hair prompted Gerald to tilt his head to the side slightly, allowing for Shiki to immediately deepen the kiss.

This romantic bastard. He hadn’t expected anything like this. A candlelight picnic in their childhood secret spot. A place that was perfect to view the setting sun disappearing behind the mountain ranges in the distance. To add another memory to this place. Had he known about his previous visit here? Had Cass somehow found out and told him?

…It didn’t matter.

Feeling somewhat lightheaded from the passionate, yet still tender kiss, Gerald slowly pulled away, panting slightly as he kept his arms firm around Shiki’s neck. As Shiki slid his hand from his hair to wrap his arms securely around him, Gerald gazed into Shiki’s eyes.

“You did all this for me?” he found himself asking.

Shiki arched an eyebrow. “Surprised?” he returned as he brushed his nose against Gerald’s.

“I am,” Gerald admitted before he tilted his head to the side and smiled at him. “I knew you were planning something, though.”

Shiki idly interlocked his fingers together against the small of Gerald’s back. “Oh, did I worry you?”

“Of course not, no,” Gerald immediately replied. “I knew it wasn’t anything harmful.”

“Good,” Shiki said as he placed a quick kiss to Gerald’s cheek once more and pulled away. Though he kept a hand against Gerald’s side. “Come, let’s eat and watch the sunset.”

Once again, Gerald allowed Shiki to take his hand in his and guide him toward their romantic and comfortably arranged picnic spot. He paused for just a moment to remove his thick coat and dropped it to the blanket as Shiki opened one of the picnic baskets to reveal small, triangle cut sandwiches. It seemed not only was Cass and his guild involved, then perhaps Matron too.

It was…amazing how thoughtful everyone was.

With the sandwiches out, Shiki then revealed a couple of wine glasses and a wine bottle. And Gerald hesitated.

“It’s non-alcoholic,” Shiki reassured him before he flirtatiously wiggled his eyebrows at him. “I don’t need any alcohol. I’m already intoxicated by you.”

Gerald rolled his eyes but blushed lightly nonetheless. “Am I going to have to put up with you boasting about how romantic you are?” he gently teased as he made his way toward Shiki.

Shiki pushed the wine and food aside and sat down upon the thick picnic blanket. He held out his hand toward Gerald, who immediately took it and allowed himself to be pulled down onto the blanket next to Shiki.

“I don’t need to boast,” Shiki replied as he pressed Gerald against his side, positioning him so that he was resting comfortably against his chest while he, himself leaned his back against the base of the tree behind them.

Gerald rested his head against Shiki’s shoulder and draped an arm over his stomach. He gazed out into the scenery before them and realised that the sun was starting to set. The lanterns around them would keep them warm and illuminated, so they could stay for as long as they wanted.

More comfortable and relaxed than he had been in a long time, Gerald lazily reached for one of the sandwiches and lifted it toward Shiki. “You have a few more romantic schemes going on then?”

“Oh, a few,” Shiki said as he took a bite out of the sandwich Gerald offered him. “Not telling, though.”

“Maybe one of those schemes would be a picnic in the labyrinth,” Gerald said as he also took a bite to eat from the same sandwich.

“Ah, but I wouldn’t be able to do this in the labyrinth,” Shiki replied.

Gerald turned to look at him, the question of what else he had planned on the tip of his tongue. But he was abruptly silenced when Shiki slipped an arm around his shoulders, swiftly removed the sandwich from his hand, and kissed him. Gerald’s eyes widened for a moment before they slipped closed and he allowed Shiki to lower him down onto the picnic blanket, deepening the kiss as he did so.

It was quite obvious now what Shiki had planned.

Shiki pulled back from the kiss, but kept an arm around Gerald’s shoulders as he leaned over him. “Here, I don’t have to worry about monsters, now do I? I can concentrate only on you.”

“Shiki…” Gerald murmured before he smiled playfully up at him. “I thought you said you wanted to watch the sunset?”

“The sun will set again tomorrow. We can watch it then,” Shiki responded simply, causing Gerald to chuckle.

Gerald stilled, however, when Shiki leaned down, his face inches away from his. And he wore his notorious cheeky grin on his lips.

“So, want to make out like a couple of teenagers?”

Gerald slid his hands slowly along Shiki’s arms to wrap his arms around his neck. “Obviously.”

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