They had been dancing around the subject for months.
The rabbit’s visits had become a little more frequent. It wasn’t something too noticeable unless one paid close attention. The turtle in blue had caught on though, even if the others in his family hadn’t. Not that he minded, of course.
Touching had become more frequent. Not obvious touches—subtle touches; hands brushing while they walked side by side, sitting close enough to lightly feel the other next to them, hands lingering a few seconds longer if they were deliberately touching the other. They were sure no one else had noticed the small change, but it was crystal clear to them.
Silence had become more frequent. Oh, they still talked quite a bit, recounting tales of battle and digging deeper to get to know the other even more. Though, when silence took them, it was comfortable and serene. Neither felt any need to fill it, instead merely sit in it and soak up the other’s presence, speaking with their eyes and body rather than words.
Yes, they had been dancing around the subject for months; growing ever closer but avoiding stepping over the line. If one of them ever tried to slide even a toe over it, they would jerk back and continue the confusing dance that they had become so familiar with. Around and around, side to side, reaching out for the other, but never grasping hands.
A loud CLAK echoed across the training area as two bokken struck against each other. The two grunted from their practice swords pressed together, neither budging. One leaped back and into the air, barely avoiding the fast and precise slash that followed from his opponent.
“Quite the acrobat,” Usagi commented, smirking a little. The turtle across from him landed and raised his bokken again.
“Ninja treachery,” Leonardo joked. The two idled for a few moments, starting to circle the area very slowly. Their eyes were locked on each other, watching every step and every small movement. A silence filled the Lair as the two anticipated the next attack, and the others slept on, paying no heed to the early morning sparring match.
Finally, Usagi broke free from the circling and shot forward to strike. Leo parried his blow, and the two were suddenly back into the fight. Bokkens clapped together over and over, ninja and samurai catching and dodging each swing that was thrown their way. They were practically evenly matched and most of their spars ended up falling to luck.
Rolling to the side to dodge, Usagi felt Leo’s bokken graze against his arm. Had they been using real swords, the rabbit would have had a cut in both his kosode and flesh. He let out out a chuckle and fell back into his stance. Once “first blood” was drawn, the tension always rose higher.
“Koi!” he said, excitement slipping into his voice despite himself. Leo smirked and did as he was told; he came at Usagi ready to strike. The clapping began again as they once more resumed their match. There was a new fervor in their movements as they twirled around each other and caught sword strikes. It was faster, as though their fight was reaching its high point.
Leo parried Usagi’s bokken and swerved to the side, setting the swords free from one another. He had swung at the samurai’s side, and his leg seemed to be the destination of Usagi’s strike. Both turtle and rabbit rolled aside, dodging each other’s attacks, but were back crossing swords in and instant. It was like an intricate dance.
Wood clapped once again, but Leonardo found that something in the back of his mind was tickling at his thoughts. Yes, this fight was an intricate dance. Where the two of them would grow ever closer, but in an instant leap away. Though, before they knew it, they would be right back, resuming the confusing motions of a dance where the goal was to get as close as possible, but never let the other touch them.
It reminded him so much of the dancing around that he and Usagi had done the past few months. Closer and closer, but never too close.
In the blink of an eye, he found himself becoming over-powered. His mind had become distracted, and by the time that he had tried to shake the thoughts from his head, Usagi had already gained the upper hand. He parried and dodged the best that he could, but the samurai soon landed a strike on his shoulder. Wincing and his legs weakening under the weight of the blow, Leo barely had time to look up and see Usagi swiping once more.
Leo fell backward as the bokken struck across his chest. His plastron had softened the blow considerably, but he still felt a slight sting. He could also feel his shoulder throbbing; a large bruise would certainly start to blossom on his skin very soon. Opening his eyes, Usagi was standing over him, bokken pointing at Leo’s neck and a slight smile on his face.
“My win,” he said softly before dropping the sword to the ground and holding out a hand for his friend. Leo grasped it gratefully, hoisting himself up with Usagi’s help.
“My loss,” Leo replied and bowed his head slightly. Usagi mirrored the motion before stepping closer to the turtle. Raising his hands and gently running his fingers across Leo’s shoulder, the samurai examined the wound he had inflicted. While he had pulled his strike some, he still needed to be sure that he had not injured his friend too badly.
“You will bruise badly, but no other damage has been done that I can see,” Usagi practically whispered, letting his hands linger for a bit. “I am sorry.”
“I’m fine,” Leo answered with a chuckle, the rabbit’s extended touch not going unnoticed.
“You became distracted,” Usagi said matter-of-factly. One of his hands slid down to check where he had hit the turtle’s chest. He ran his fingers over it softly, as if trying to tell if he had done any real damage.
Leo remained silent, not quite sure how to respond. He had indeed become distracted, thinking about the last few months. How Usagi’s visits were more frequent, how their touches began lasting ever longer, how they soaked up each other’s mere presence in the silence—how it all was becoming harder and harder to dance around. Even then, while his thoughts were whirling in his head, the rabbit’s hands still lingered over his plastron and shoulder with feather-light touches.
One of them needed to step over the line, or they would be stuck in that dance forever. Or, at least, until the music stopped and there was nothing left to dance to. Leaving them wondering what would have happened if they had simply reached out and grasped the other’s hand.
Leo’s expression turned puzzled for a moment, and Usagi glanced up at him. Whatever had been distracting him during the fight seemed to still be tugging on his mind. He started to draw his hands away from him, but the turtle caught his arms by the elbows. Usagi blinked a few times in surprise but his attention was quickly turned back to his friend’s face when he finally spoke.
“—I think we’ve danced around this too much,” Leo said and let out a deep breath. He hesitantly moved one of his hands up to rest on Usagi’s shoulder. “And I’d like to stop it.”
Before Usagi could question what his friend meant, his voice was caught in his throat when the turtle began to inch his head ever closer. His movements were slow and unsure, but made it very clear what his intentions were. Though, despite being given ample time to pull away if he so desired, the rabbit stayed quite still, merely watching.
As soon as Leonardo had moved close enough, Usagi captured his lips in a soft, chaste kiss. The turtle tensed as if surprised and shocked that his affections were being returned. The samurai let out a chuckle and pulled away ever so slightly to speak.
“Silly ninja,” he breathed. “Startled by a kiss.”
The only response Usagi got was a scoff and a pair of lips pressed sharply against his own.