Cherry Blossom Fallout

"Aren't the cherry blossoms so pretty? It's like something you'd see in Japan, yet it's America," Willhelm said. Cherry blossoms fell on his shoulders, stayed a moment, then floated to the concrete to rest with other blossoms.

Lenz nodded, lighting his cigarette with a plain black lighter. The cherry blossoms fell all around him, but never on him.

"What do they call these flowers in japanese? For that matter, what do they call them in english?" Willhelm watched the flowers with child-like fascination.

Lenz took a long drag from his cigarette before replying. "Sakura in Japanese. Cherry in English. Flower cherry blossom."

Willhelm repeated the words quietly to himself. He would always do that until he felt he had learned them, "I'm so jealous, I wish I was as smart as you. How do you do it?"

Lenz shrugged. He knew why he was so gescheit as Willhelm put it. But it was not the answer that Willhelm wanted to hear, so he just kept quiet.

Willhelm sighed. "It was a rhetorical question anyway." He sat down beside Lenz, glancing back and forth between Lenz and the blossoms like a mouse getting ready to sprint past a cat.

Lenz let the smoke meander its way out of his nostrils, looking down at the space between he and Willhelm. Closer than ever before, minimum respectful personal space, he thought.

They had started about a wingspan apart upon the remains of the Berlin Wall after class one day. Willhelm talked on and on about bands he had heard from Feeling B to Mumiy Troll to Abstürzende Brieftauben. Lenz said nothing, only stared out at the drab buildings of home.

"You're not listening at all, are you? Dude, if you're not going to listen, you could at least say so."

"I'm listening."

"Screw you." Willhelm swung over to shove him, only to misjudge the distance and lose his balance.

He caught Willhelm by the arm, barely paying attention, and hauled him back up onto the wall. "Told you," he said with a flicker of a smile.

"You ass."

He watched as Willhelm slid a little closer, just a couple centimeters, then Willhelm stopped and watched for a reaction, before creeping his hand towards Lenz's. Willhelm stroked a finger across the back of Lenz's hand. Lenz tensed his hand for a second, before relaxing again. He stared into, beyond, and before the smoke.

Emotion is pain. Ignore it and it can't hurt you. Love to loss to pain, that is the way of all flesh. Kill sensation and there's nothing left to hurt you, was the mantra that ran through Lenz's brain so frequently it had long since become a part of his subconscious.

One finger became two then three until Willhelm's hand was covering his. Lenz refused to react. They were frozen in time, cherry blossoms falling upon them, forming a ring around them as if they were shielded by some spell. Willhelm flexed his free hand a few times, loosening it, before reaching up to stroke Lenz's cheek –

Lenz flinched away, pulling his hand out from under Willhelm's and holding it close to his chest.

Willhelm moved to the other end of the bench. "I'm sorry."

He looked into Willhelm's eyes: pain. "Sorry." No pain for anyone he loved. Never pain. Ever.

"Do you want me to stop?"

"No."

"Did it hurt?"

"No."

"I love you."

"Yes."

"Do you love me?"

His mantra wracked through his brain, stifling his tongue, keeping it from saying what he wanted to say. "I need a drink," was his confession. He stood up and walked away, never looking back, inhaling the last dregs of his cigarette before dropping it to the ground and lighting another one.

He grabbed a bit of plaster that had fallen off of the building, and threw it lightly at a window on the second floor, Willhelm's window. The window opened a moment later and a shirtless Willhelm leaned out.

"Lenz, is that you? What the hell are you doing here? It's one hour and we have class in the morning."

"Please?"

Willhelm sighed. "Fine. Come up to the front door, I'll let you in," he said and closed the window.

The door to the apartment complex was unlocked, that was one thing the West had yet to taint. He wasn't even halfway up the stairs when the front door to Willhelm's apartment opened.

"Geez, you think you could get here tonight? The hell is wrong?"

"Sorry," he tried to climb the stairs at a normal gait, but with each step he groaned and the next step became more and more daunting.

"Oh shit," Willhelm ran down the stairs to him, catching him just under the arm as he was about to trip up a step.

With Willhelm's help, he was able to make it up the steps and into Willhelm's room. He dropped onto Willhelm's bed where Willhelm had put him, then lay there motionless as Willhelm went back to close the front door and his bedroom door.

Willhelm flicked on the lights, "Holy fuck –what the hell happened –no, I don't want to know. Your fucking father did this, right? What was it this time? You serve an undercooked potato again?"

Willhelm sighed. "Don't answer yet, let me get your medkit."

Willhelm returned a moment later with a box full of gauze and bandages, "alright, talk."

"Don't blame him. A belt for the potato. Belt for penance. Only ever belt."

"There's too much blood for it to have been a belt. Talk to me. You can trust me Lenz."

"I –I –I asked him if –if I could…" he slammed his eyes shut. He shouldn't say it, he wasn't worth it, he wasn't worth him.

"Could what? Come on Lenz, I won't judge. Tell me."

"Could date you," he forced out in one breath as a small tear formed in one eye.

Willhelm wiped the tear away before it could fall, "fuck what he says. I would love to date you. I thought you would never ask," he said with a smile.

One American beer was all he had drunk. It felt like nothing but it had taken time. He walked back to where they had been sitting. Willhelm was standing with his back to him, looking directly at the White House, hands in his pockets and head down. Lenz hadn't been seen, he could still back out, and there wasn't yet enough alcohol in his system to bolster his resolve. No, no more abuse. He walked up to Willhelm and placed a hand upon his shoulder. Willhelm spun around, quickly trying to wipe at his eyes, but before he could, Lenz's lips were upon his own, though only for a moment. Lenz withdrew, then took a few steps back, unable to look Willhelm in the eye.

"You ass. You really do love me after all, huh?"

"Told you," he said with a flicker of a smile.