This is what I did last night instead of sleeping. Seriously. This is also my first Shishido/Ohtori fic. I would really appreciate some honest feedback, because my muse really likes this couple, but I feel uncertain about my grasp *cough* of them. Hinoko sort of beta-ed. Hana also helped out a bit.

Warnings: Religious stuff. 'Cause, you know, it is a Christmas fic.

Things Pondered, Things Kept
by Emily-chan

"Tadaima," Ohtori called softly, as it was already past midnight and his grandmother had almost certainly gone to bed.

His mother came out to meet them in the entryway. "Okaeri nasai. Welcome, Shishido-kun."

Shishido bowed. "Thank you for inviting me." He was always careful to be polite to Ohtori's parents, even though it made that smile tug at the silver-haired boy's lips, and Shishido wasn't sure he liked that smile. He still hadn't figured out if Choutarou was amused because he was acting so unlike himself, or if it was because the second-year knew that there was no one else Shishido would do this for. Either way, that smile made Shishido feel like Ohtori knew entirely too much about him. It also made his cheeks uncomfortably warm.

"How was the service?" Ohtori's mother asked Shishido, as a parent might ask of a baby-sitter who has spent the evening indulging her child in a fantasy game. Shishido knew that Ohtori's family tolerated the boy's beliefs, but didn't really understand them. And even though he had to admit that he felt the same way, Shishido felt slightly offended by the implications in the woman's voice.

"It was very nice," he replied. It was what he would have said either way, but it actually had been a very nice service. Shishido had never been to church before, and most of it went over his head, but sneaking glances at Ohtori's face as their fingers twined in the candlelit sanctuary made him begin to understand why the younger boy loved Christmas so much.

In that mild voice of his, Ohtori declined his mother's offer of food, saying that Shishido-san had stayed up until past three the night before working on his Greek project and was probably very tired. Which was of course the truth, because Ohtori never lied, but as he followed him up the stairs to his bedroom, Shishido found himself trying to remember when he had told the younger boy that.

"Are you sure your parents don't suspect anything?" he asked as he closed Ohtori's door behind him. "I mean, you asked me to spend the night on Christmas."

"What's wrong with that?" Ohtori asked, smiling as he turned from the candles he was lighting. "It's not as if we're going to do anything."

Shishido's stomach gave a funny little plummet at that, which surprised him, because he thought he had convinced himself not to get his hopes up on that issue. He doesn't have to say it like it's not even a possibility, he thought sourly. Yet, when Ohtori circled his arms around his waist and kissed him chastely on the lips, Shishido found it impossible to stay disappointed. He could wait if he had to, as long as he had the simple earnestness in those soft brown eyes to keep him company.

"So, what did you think? Really."

Shishido shrugged. "It was nice. Really. I mean," he added, seeing the hope well up in Ohtori's eyes, "I'm not ready to convert or anything, but it was okay."

"It's better at Christmas," Ohtori admitted. "The rest of the year, it can get kind of boring, if you don't really want to be there. Did you have any questions? Do you want me to explain anything?"

"Ahhhh...." Though Ohtori had never tried to force any of his beliefs on him, Shishido knew what sort of conversation the younger boy was angling for, and he really didn't feel like being dragged into a deep theological discussion at that time of night. Especially since he had a feeling that if Ohtori looked at him that way, he might end up agreeing to more than he really wanted to. "Tomorrow. I'm tired." He flopped down on Ohtori's bed, causing it to creak dangerously. He thought maybe it was for the best that they weren't going to be "doing anything", at least not while the rest of the family was home. But between Ohtori's mother and grandmother, someone was always home, so when they were ready, then where? Shishido's house had the same problem. There was always the clubhouse, he supposed -- they wouldn't be the first ones -- but after having walked in once on Oshitari and Mukahi, the thought of having sex in the clubhouse was more nauseating than illicitly exciting.

Shishido closed his eyes and sighed. He felt the bed dip as Ohtori sat next to him and began running long, slender fingers through his hair in that way that made Shishido very, very glad he had cut it. Damn. He really was tired, and that was bad, because every time he was tired and Ohtori was quiet and attentive like this, he ended up saying something stupid. Something mushy; something that he'd make himself run laps for if he'd said it while he was awake. That was how his doubles partner had found out about the Sailor Mars fixation he'd had all through second grade. He swore that Choutarou would be able to drag all his secrets out of him if he just stayed quiet long enough. No wonder he was able to smile like that.

"Mm," Shishido murmured in spite of the part of his brain that was telling him to shut up. "I liked that part where the guy went up and read that story," He moved his head a little so Ohtori would be able to reach the spot behind his ear more easily. "The one that went 'And it came to pass.'" Because of the look on your face when he was reading. But Shishido was still awake enough to stop himself from saying that.

The bed suddenly snapped up, bouncing Shishido ungracefully out of the cozy position he had settled into. "Really? That's my favorite part, too! Do you want to hear it again?"

Shishido cracked open one eye and found himself looking into Ohtori's eager face. No, dummy, I want you to get in bed with me. "Sure." He blamed that one on Ohtori's eyes instead of his tiredness.

Ohtori smiled -- not the smile that Shishido wasn't sure he liked, but the one Shishido knew he liked far too much for his own good -- and grabbed a large book from his bedside table. He flipped through the pages, and Shishido was pretty sure that he was smiling too, and he was glad that Choutarou had decided to sit with his back against the bed so he was facing the other way. "'And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a great decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed....'" Ohtori began, and Shishido let that warm, golden voice flow over him, becoming lost in its inflections and absorbed in its emotions. Around the time the shepherds came in, Shishido noticed that now his hand was in Ohtori's hair, stroking that same spot behind the ear, and it sounded to him like the angel of the Lord was blushing just a bit. Even more so when Shishido's fingers dipped under his collar and began playing with the familiar chain there.

"'But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

"'And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.'" Ohtori closed the book and leaned his head back so he could slant Shishido a hopeful glance. Shishido tugged on the boy's shirt.

"Come up here."

Ohtori eagerly clambered onto the bed like a puppy whose limbs were too long for him. He settled himself on top of Shishido, and he still had that smile. The good one. Their eyes were even, and Ohtori's cross fell cold and heavy into the hollow of Shishido's throat, but Shishido's toes could only barely brush Ohtori's ankles, and only if they were stretched out all the way. The older boy poked his kouhai with his foot to indicate his displeasure.

"Well?" Ohtori asked.

Shishido ran his broad hand over Ohtori's back. What was it that caused the unashamed honesty in that smile, and the brightness in those eyes? Why was he so different from everyone else Shishido knew, and how had he managed to become the center of Shishido's world? Nine months ago, Shishido had never given Ohtori a second thought. Now, he couldn't think of anything else. Was the secret really in that story, in that book? Or did it dwell within the heart that beat against his own?

"Pretty far-fetched if you ask me," Shishido replied. He savored the adorable pout that crossed Ohtori's face. "But somehow, when I look in your eyes, I can almost believe it's true."

And just like that, those eyes became that much deeper, and that much warmer, and Shishido really wished he would learn to shut up, because he didn't deserve to be the one to make Choutarou so happy. And he didn't deserve to be the one to receive those kisses that were sensual and pure at the same time, and he didn't deserve to be the one to watch the silver-haired boy fall asleep, head pillowed on his chest.

He brushed a lock of hair from Ohtori's forehead and watched it fall back into place. Again he brushed the same lock and watched it fall, and again, creating a gentle rhythm as the candles slowly burned down. The second-year looked so peaceful in the flickering light, and Shishido felt that familiar sense of guilt steal over him. It wasn't that he thought, as Hiyoshi had once rudely commented to him (and Shishido did not want to think about what Hiyoshi's plans for Ohtori might be come April, or he was going to have to beat the bastard up), that he was stealing Ohtori's innocence. Ohtori knew just as much of the world as any other boy his age. Other people might think of him as innocent or naive, but Shishido knew he was neither. Ohtori was just... good. So very good.

Too good for Shishido.

I don't want there to be a God, Choutarou, because if there is, He's going to realize you belong with someone better than me.

Shishido would be rather disappointed in this God of Ohtori's if He did let the boy stay. He stroked Ohtori's hair and wondered if, when the boy found that someone that was as good -- well, that was impossible, but almost as good -- as himself, he would be able to let him go. Would he do the right thing? Would it hurt? How much of himself would Ohtori take with him? Only his heart, or part of his soul, too?

The younger boy murmured wordlessly in his sleep and nestled his head against Shishido's hand.

Then again, Shishido thought, Choutarou had already saved him once. Maybe a second time wasn't so far-fetched after all.

The End

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