Floral Chatoyance - Chapter 2 - distortiondetective (2024)

Chapter Text

Lychnis stares out her bedroom window, sitting in her queen size canopy bed. She checks her weather app over and over, but no matter how many times she opens and closes it, the weather stays the same. “It’s going to rain tomorrow on our birthday…” She sighs, and flops face first on her bed, groaning into her pillow.

A knock resounds from her door. “Lyly?”

“Vis? Come in!” She calls, and rolls on her stomach so that she’s facing the door when Viscaria walks in. She happily pats the spot on the bed next to her, and he joins her with a laugh. “What is it? Couldn’t sleep?”

“I was wondering what you were planning tomorrow. The weather said it’s going to rain, so I wanted to make sure the plans won’t need to be changed.” He says. He’s wearing a pair of dinosaur pajama pants and a faded Taylor Swift t-shirt from a concert when they were thirteen. Her face falls at his question. “What’s wrong?”

“I just don’t want it to rain tomorrow, that’s all. We can still go even if it is, but, well…”

“I like the sunshine better too.” Viscaria says, and rolls over to her, smacking into her like they were bumper cars. She does it back, and soon they’re play fighting like children, or perhaps kittens. It escalates quickly to Viscaria tickling Lychnis, who does it back until Viscaria makes the move to bite her arm. “I’ll do it!”

“You started it!” She says, giggling. Lychnis rests her head on his shoulder. “I hope tomorrow is a good day.”

“A Tanabata festival?” Viscaria asks, mid-chew. Their parents have a full spread of fancy breakfast food for their shared birthday, and Viscaria is currently picking at a nearly-gone stack of blueberry pancakes and bacon. “Hmm, that holiday on our birthday. So you chose this for our birthday celebration this year?”

“Yeah! I bought the tickets in advance.” Lychnis giggles. With apt timing, her phone dings, the contact name reading my little everything bagel ❤️. The message says, Did you tell him yet?

Viscaria raises his eyebrow at Lychnis’ smile, glancing down at her phone. “Who else is coming? Anem and Forge? Did you invite Press, too?”

“I did, but she and Centra had a concert today. She said she’d send—oh. Did, um, did Press just Venmo you $400?” Lychnis blinks at her phone, looking at her brother in slight distress.

“That’s one hell of a birthday present,” Viscaria whistles, tapping open the notification. It is indeed from Press, with the delivery message labeled for my second favorite twin in the whole world! hbd<333 “Second favorite? Good taste, if that means you’re first.”

Lychnis rolls her eyes and steals a piece of his bacon. “Mine was labelled for her first favorite twin in the whole world. But yeah, Anem and Forge are coming! They’re already together, waiting.” She flips her phone screen around, a group chat between her, Anem, and Forge. There’s a photo of the two of them together, the side of Anem’s face partially visible. Forge is sitting across from him in a coffee shop, sticking her tongue out at the camera sporting an amusingly flat expression. “I’ll add you to it, hang on.”

“Will you two be heading out? I can pack the rest of breakfast up for later, if you’d like.” Their mother says, kissing them both on the forehead. The twins both smile at each other.

“Yeah, I’m just about finished. Thank you. Are you sure you don’t want us to stay and do the dishes?”

“Aw, Vis, no! It’s you and Lychnis’ day. Go out and have fun, and let me clean up.” Their mother laughs, reaching out to pet him on the head. He smiles and leans into her touch. “Do you know about what time you’ll be back?”

“Dinner plans?” Viscaria asks, and Lychnis nods with a beaming smile. “So maybe past ten?”

“I don’t like driving at night,” Lychnis says.

“I’ll drive, it’s no problem. You can drive there if you really want to.”

“No, I like being passenger princess.” She laughs, and Viscaria jokingly rolls his eyes. “Probably past ten, then. Forge and Anem might come over after, if that’s okay?”

“Of course that’s okay,” Their mother says. “I’ll see you four later, then. Send lots of pictures, won’t you?”

They bid her farewell as they slip on the shoes, Viscaria slipping his keys and wallet into his fanny pack, and hands his phone off to Lychnis. They’re wearing matching tracksuits, Lychnis’ white with black accents, and Viscaria’s black with white accents. He adjusts his baseball cap, and Lychnis mirrors the motion with a giggle.

As her brother starts up the car, she fiddles with the volume of the radio and starts the navigation. “I think there’s a parking lot right here, so I’ll just enter that as the destination, and we can walk from there. Oh, I’ll enter Anem and Forge’s location too, hang on.” She sends out a quick clarifying text to their chat, and Forge’s reply is punctual, simply the address. After a moment, both of their phones go off again as Viscaria puts the car in reverse and backs out of their driveway.

“What is it?” He asks, turning right as they drive down the street.

“She just sent the smiling devil emoji and party poppers?” Lychnis says, studying the message. Viscaria’s making a face in the mirror. “I think she’s celebrating.”

“Or preparing to explode me.”

“Yeah, that’s our dinner plans.”

“Shame on Forge for spoiling them, then.” Viscaria replies, flipping on the blinker as he peers out of both windows before merging onto the freeway. “Can you tell Forge to order me a tea, or something? I don’t think I had enough caffeine this morning. I was honestly too focused on the pancakes.”

“I told her,” Lychnis pauses, scrolling through Twitter and reading out various posts until she gets a reply from Forge. It’s an image, of her holding Viscaria’s tea. “Oh, we’re almost there. Good timing.”

“Siri, call Forge.”

“Hello?” Forge asks, her voice coming over the Bluetooth speakers. “Oh, Vis. Are you almost here? Yeah, it’s them. Let’s step outside. Okay, we’re outside.”

“I see you.” He hangs up without another word, and now that Forge is standing across from him… he gets to see her immediate frown, something he’s grown to find incredibly funny. “Hey.” He greets, rolling down the window and unlocking the doors so that their friends can climb in the backseat.

“Hey! Happy birthday, you two! Although I guess I’ve already said it over text,” Anem laughs, setting his bag down on his lap. “How has your morning been? I know that you aren’t much of a morning person, both of you.”

“You and Forge both are, which is horrifying.” Viscaria says, backing out of his brief, and slightly sh*tty parking job. “It was alright. We had a full spread of breakfast. I stuck some bacon in my bag if you guys get bored.”

“Not if we get hungry?” Forge asks, reaching out for Viscaria’s offered bag and rifling through it. She also quickly slides in a wrapped present into one of the front pockets, Anem catching her eye and smiling. She hands a piece of bacon to Anem, and steals a piece of candy from Viscaria’s bag and puts it in her mouth. She keeps his bag on her lap with hers.

“Nope, if you get hungry, you can starve.” Viscaria sighs as he slows down for a yellow light. Lychnis catches his eye, a smile on the corners of her mouth. “What? There’s precious cargo, I’m not going to press the gas on a yellow.”

Anem disagrees based on all of the times he’s been alone in the car with Viscaria, but chooses not to comment. Lychnis turns around in her chair to whisper, “Did you bring it?”

“I did,” He replies. It’s really not conspicuous at all, but Viscaria’s too busy driving to try and listen to their not-so-secret conversation. “I’ll hand it over to you once we’re able.”

The four of them stand in a moderately long line for tanzaku, with the twins chatting and taking selfies. Forge leans over to speak in Anem’s ear. “Did you bring your present for Lychnis?”

He coughs. “Shouldn’t you be asking about both of them, not just one?” Anem frowns, looking embarrassed. He pats the shoulder bag he’s wearing. “I have it here, though. I hope she’ll like it.”

“I’m sure she will.” Forge laughs. “Vis might not, though.”

“Did I just hear my name?” He asks, frowning. Forge’s second laugh deepens his frown, which makes both Lychnis and Anem laugh. “Oh, come on. The line’s moving, let’s go, you bunch of clowns.” But only when they can’t see, as he’s ushering them forward, he smiles.

The woman at the counter hands them four brightly colored pieces of paper, and four cuts of ribbon. “Do you need a pen?” She asks, and Anem shakes his head, pulling out four pens from the pocket of his skirt. “Have a nice day, then. Let’s hope these sunny skies continue!”

“Sunny skies?” Viscaria asks, as they exit. Forge searches for a thin spot of the crowd for them to stand and write down their wishes, and guides them all forward through the crowd, the four of them a chain holding onto either the other’s bag, or their hand. Lychnis offers Anem a shy smile when she grabs his hand.

“Yeah!” Lychnis says happily as they break apart. Anem’s still holding her hand, and that makes her giggle with glee as she looks over at him. “It’s a love story! Something like a tragedy, depending on how you spin it, though. It’s of Orihime and Hikoboshi. Because of Orihime’s work of weaving fabric, she was upset she’d never find love. Her father arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi, a cow herder who lived and worked on the other side of the river. But after they wed, Orihime stopped weaving fabrics, and Hikoboshi’s cows ran free.”

“So they sucked at their jobs,” Viscaria hums as he contemplates his wish. He tries to lean over to peek at Forge’s, but she swats him away. “Don’t be mean to me, it’s my birthday.”

“Orihime was grieving without her lover, and begged her father to let her meet him again,” Lychnis continues. Forge’s expression shifts, and Viscaria bumps shoulders with her. “He allowed them to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month, provided she finished her work. The second the day arrived, she ran to the river, but there was no bridge.”

Viscara watches his sister speak, tasting memory like a lemon drop on his tongue. When they were younger, she always hid in his shadow, following his every word and motion. The one singular time she didn’t—Viscaria sweeps the thought away. She was like—an overcast sun. Brighter than you could ever anticipate.

“She cried so much that a flock of birds, magpies, came to comfort her, and offered to make a bridge with their wings so she could cross the river. The two lovers met, but if it rains on the 7th day of the 7th month, the magpies can’t come to build the bridge due to the river rising.”

“Oh,” Viscaria realizes. “That’s why you were worried about it being sunny. That’s so kind of you, Lyly.” He’s beaming, looking proud of her sister. Forge laughs, and Anem rubs circles into the back of Lychnis’ hand.

“I was a little worried… but still, it ended up being sunny! It can rain tomorrow, but for today, I want to bask in the sunshine!” She grins, and the twins are the perfect mirror image of the other. “I finished writing my wish. What about you guys?”

“I’ve finished here, too.” Viscaria says, capping his pen and handing it back to Anem. He skillfully ties the ribbon on his. “Lyly, I can tie yours too.”

“No, you’re going to peek.” She sticks her tongue out, and ties it herself. Forge struggles for a moment, but manages; Anem sheepishly hands his to Lychnis, who giggles and ties it. “Let’s go hang them up over there, and then wander around for a while.”

“That works for me.” Viscaria says, hands in his pockets.

As they’re passing through the stalls, chitchatting with the vendors and participating in some assorted games, stepping into shops… Viscaria pauses, staring at one of the glass windows. It was some sort of taxidermy shop, with a delicately preserved life cycle of a butterfly. As he turns to return to the group… he realizes he must’ve gotten lost in the crowd. He looks left and right, until he finds a bench underneath one of the many trees with tanzaku hanging from them like ripe fruit.

“I guess I’ll just wait here.” He crosses his ankles, and stares up at the wishes above him.

Anem stops, tugging Lychnis’ hand. There’s a huge crowd around them, but they’re missing a party member. “Hey, Ly, Forge, I think we should go off to a corner for a second, I think we lost Viscaria.”

A flash of worry flickers across Lychnis’ face as she darts the three of them off in front of some ramen shop, pulling out her phone and calling her brother once, twice, three times. “Ugh, he never charges his phone. I’m going to break into his room tonight and plug it in for him.”

“He’s just looking for an excuse to not message anyone back.” Forge quips, sending Viscaria a message with a pin drop of her location. “Here, I’ve sent him my location, and I’ve sent it to you too as well. Depending on if he sees it, he’ll know to come here. I’ll stay here, and you both can go and find him. Splitting up might make it easier, and then if either of you find him first…”

“We know where to go.” Anem says, and nods his head. He kisses Lychnis’ hand, although he seems a bit bashful with Forge watching. “It’ll be okay. I’m sure we’ll find him quickly. And, here!” He reaches into his bag, and hands Lychnis her gift for Viscaria. “You still have to give him this, right?”

“Right,” She says, with a sigh. She feels a drop on her forehead, and looks up, her face falling. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me…” She pulls out her phone, checking the updated forecast, Forge and Anem leaning over her shoulders to look.

Anem looks guilty.

“It’s going to be alright, Lychnis, Anem.” Forge says, and pulls three umbrellas from her bag. “I came prepared. Both of you take one, and share it with Viscaria when you find one. I have one for myself as well, and an extra for when he’s back, or if one breaks.”

“What if two break?” Anem asks, looking down at the ground, his voice quiet.

Forge pulls out another umbrella. “I came prepared.”

Anem and Lychnis both stare at Forge with their eyebrows raised, and then at each other.

“Don’t worry,” She says, handing the umbrellas to them, and tucking the spares back in her bag. “I marked it as a business expense.” Forge smiles at them, as if that was the part that confused them.

Viscaria moves underneath a shop’s canopy as it begins to pour. He brushes his now wet bangs out of his face and sighs. “Lychnis is going to be so upset. I wonder if there’s a way I can make the rain stop.” He mumbles to himself, looking around at the slightly frenzied crowd trying to find cover in the sudden shower. He squints, seeing a familiar figure walking calmly through the rain. The individual in question is wearing a black hoodie… with the hood down, in the pouring rain. Viscaria sighs.

“Oh.” Valerian, a classmate of Forge’s, says, as if that’s a greeting. “What a coincidence. Are you here alone?”

“No, I came with Lyly and the others.” Viscaria replies, arms crossed over his chest. “Are you here alone?”

Valerian shakes its head. “I came with Ivy and Narcissus. I lost them in the crowd.” It pauses, staring at Viscaria up and down, like it’s trying to remember something. “Oh, right. Happy birthday.”

Viscaria just gapes.

“Am I wrong? I thought it was today. I saw Press Venmo you.”

“No, it is my birthday. I guess that makes sense. Thanks. I’ll tell Lychnis you said so, too.”

Valerian tucks its hands in its pockets, looking up at the shop Viscaria found himself standing in front of. It’s the same that distracted him in the first place, with the taxidermy. “Huh. That’s kind of pretty. I tried taxidermy, once.”

“You did? Why?”

“Bored,” It replies. “It’s harder than it looks. You need to be so delicate with the forceps, especially if you’re working with bugs. Once they’ve been dried and soaked, it’ll break if you’re not careful and you’ll need to start over. Or be left with a seven legged spider,” It gestures to the display case, “Or a three-winged butterfly. These things happen.”

“You’ve got a weird look in your eyes.” Viscaria says, and doesn’t bother keeping the disgust out of his voice.

“Thank you,” Valerian responds, smoothly. “I’d buy one myself, but I don’t think Narcissus would like that. She’s picky with decoration.”

“She seems like the type,” Viscaria says, thinking of Narcissus. He’d run into her a few times, and while they didn’t not get along, they were a bit too similar for him to feel comfortable with. “Shouldn’t you be catching up with them?”

“You’re right,” Valerian says. “I’m going to guess you don’t want my help finding your group?”

“Not in a million years.” Viscaria responds, with a smile.

“Fantastic.” Valerian replies, and pauses, before reaching into their many large pockets and pulling out a black umbrella. It still has the tag. “Here. A birthday present. I don’t use it, and you look like you need it.”

“Gee, thanks. I love the gift wrap.” Viscaria says, sarcastically. “You don’t use umbrellas, so you’re pawning this one off on me?”

“I bought it a while ago after my mom insisted. I never use it. I’ve got a hood.”

Viscaria stares at Valerian’s hoodless, wet hair. “It doesn’t look like you’re using it.”

“Hence my thoughtful gift.” It quips back. Damn stand-up comedians. Viscaria rolls his eyes, but takes it and pulls off the tag, putting it in the trash can in front of the store. Valerian peeks down the street, and sees two women, one with brown hair, and the other with blonde. “Well, they’ve found me. I’ll see you around, Viscaria. Happy birthday to you and your sister.” It walks off, hands in its pockets.

Narcissus and Ivy both give Viscaria a wave before walking off. He thought he heard something about dinner reservations and stop randomly disappearing before we put you on one of those child leash backpacks. Viscaria’s mildly tempted to text Narcissus and say that for his birthday, he wants to gift her a child leash backpack.

Viscaria pulls his phone out of his pocket as an afterthought. The low battery notification pops up, along with about ten missed calls from Lychnis, three from Anem, and a singular text from Forge. As he’s about to listen to Lychnis’ first voice mail, his phone immediately dies. “Oops.” He says. He checks his bag, but the portable charger is dead, too. “Lychnis is going to break into my room and charge my phone one of these days.”

With the umbrella in hand, now shielded from the rain, he returns to his spot underneath the tree. When he looks up, he realizes something about the particular one he’s sitting underneath. He recognizes four tanzaku, all placed together, and when the wind brushes through the trees and tanzaku, he sees a flash of his own handwriting. “Oh, it’s ours.” He says, standing to his feet.

Just as he’s about to peek on the other’s wishes, he turns his head to see his sister running at him, her phone in hand. “You!” She shouts, and all but leaps on him. “You didn’t charge your phone again, did you!”

“I charged it.” He lies, tucking his phone deeper in his pocket. It nudges something in there, Lychnis’ gift. “Yesterday. In the morning.” She doesn’t find his joke funny, rolling her eyes as she folds her umbrella to stand under his instead. “I told them were we are. Did you get lost in the crowd?”

“I did. There was that huge swath, and then it started raining.” He watches Lychnis’ expression, but her face doesn’t fall at the mention of rain like before. “What’s wrong?” He asks, brushing her bangs out of her face, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.

“I don’t know,” She admits, thunking her face into his chest. He wraps his arm around her, instinctively, keeping the umbrella still. “I was just worried. Whenever you randomly disappear like that, I always worry you won’t come back, or something.”

Viscaria stares at her, before laughing, grinning like a child. He ruffles her hair with one hand. “Aw, come on. I’d never do that, you know I wouldn’t. How could I abandon my cute little sister?” He’s beaming, still mussing her hair up. It’s been ruined by the humidity, anyways. Lychnis messes up her brother’s hair as revenge, and he laughs. “Besides, I haven’t even given you your gift yet. It’d be so rude if I disappeared without even giving you a gift to remember me by.”

“Don’t make jokes like that,” She says, with a pout, but peers over as he pulls the gift out of his pocket. When he does reveal the gift, her eyes go wide, and she laughs, and reaches into her pocket, revealing an identical gift. A floral patterned omamori, for good health and luck. “That’s so funny. I can’t believe we got the same gift! I even had Anem hold onto it, on the off chance you saw it!”

“You do always leave gifts out in the open,” Viscaria says, as they hand their gifts to each other. He’s smiling, turning it over in his hands. “That is funny.” His eyes soften, and he reaches out for his sister’s hand. “I guess no matter how much everything changes… some things stay the same, right?”

Lychnis giggles, and nods. Just then, the cloud cover recedes, and the sunlight coats them in warmth and light. Her eyes light up, and she jumps up and down, shaking her brother. “Brother, look! It’s sunny!” Her smile reaches her eyes, and there’s a happy flush on her cheeks. Viscaria smiles, too.

“So Orihime and Hikoboshi are going to meet this year after all.” He says, and Lychnis happily nods her head. Viscaria turns to see Anem and Forge, both running towards them, folding up their umbrellas. “Oh, hey. You found us.”

Anem sighs, catching his breath with his hands on his knees. “Lychnis dropped a pin.” He reaches into his bag, and pulls out an actually charged portable charger, and hands it to Viscaria, who hands it to Lychnis. She all but snatches her brother’s phone to plug it in. She slides it in her purse with a sigh.

“I’m glad you found him.” Forge says, looking equally relieved. She tucks the umbrellas back in her bag, although she leaves Viscaria to hold his own brand new umbrella. “Where’d you get that?”

“I ran into Valerian.” He says. “It pawned the umbrella off to me as a birthday present.”

“How kind,” Forge says, something like a smirk on her lips. Viscaria frowns, but that only makes her smirk more smug.

“Did you manage to give it to him?” Anem asks his girlfriend, who nods. “I’m glad.”

“You’ll never guess, though! Bro, show them!” Lychnis says, showing off the charm now attached to her bag. Viscaria does the same, and Anem and Forge both smile at the sight. “Isn’t that so funny? We got each other the same thing!”

“That’s cute.” Forge says, looking over at both of them with a crystallized fondness in her eyes. “Well, now that we’ve managed to find our lost lamb, should we go back to exploring? We don’t want to get back too late.”

“We told our parents we’d be back at ten-ish. Oh, she said you could stay over. I think she took that as permission to make a giant dinner as ‘leftovers’, so maybe we should eat lightly.” Viscaria glances around at the shops. Now that the sun’s out, it’s getting crowded again, people wandering around the festival, playing games, eating food, and writing their wishes on tanzaku; for health, for money, for love, for happiness. For Orihime and Hikoboshi to meet again.

“What should we get for her to bring back?” Anem asks, and that sparks a passionate conversation between the four of them as to what the Beaufont parents might enjoy the most. His gaze lands on a photo booth. It’d be a squeeze, but all four of them could fit. “Um,” He starts, sheepishly, gesturing in the direction of the photobooth. “If you guys don’t think it’s lame.”

Forge follows his gaze. “I think it sounds wonderful. What do you think, birthday twins?”

They look at each other, and sharing a smile, respond in sync, “Let’s do it!”

The four of them squeeze in the booth, laughing at how small it is with all of them in there, joking and smiling. The twins sit next to each other, with Forge and Anem standing behind them, their hands on the twins’ shoulders like some kind of family portrait. The shutter goes off just as Anem loses his balance, and the photo is chaotic—Forge’s usual stoic expression instead one of shock, Viscaria mid-yell, Anem mid- fall, and Lychnis laughing, the happiest girl in the world.

Across from them, their wishes sway in the wind. Two purple tanzaku brush against each other, as if reaching out for the other. Their handwriting was different, one cursive, one in print, both with slight tilt. Their paths may diverge someday, but now, in this moment, their wishes were the same.

I hope this happiness lasts forever.

Floral Chatoyance - Chapter 2 - distortiondetective (2024)


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