The winds at dawn still blow cold despite the incoming thaw of winter, and Utsusemimaru shivers against them, shrugging his coat closer to his body as he walks among the maples. Truth be told he is not a morning person and would much rather be snuggled under a mountain of quilts than out checking on buckets of tree sap right now. But there is a single element to all this that keeps him from complaining his way back to bed, and that element is, of course, Kiryuu Daigo. He runs from tree to tree, light on his feet and bubbling over with child-like excitement. It was his idea to try syrup collecting when they reached North America as part of their world travels, and, true to form, he has thrown himself entirely into it.
"Ucchii! We've already got a ton from this tree!" he crows, peering into the beaten silver pail hanging from the productive tree. "Come look!"
Daigo's enthusiasm is nothing if not infectious, so Utsusemimaru is bounding over to join him, the cold bothering him a little less. The bucket is already one third of the way full, a result that buoys his mood further, especially since the past four mornings have yielded only impatience and frozen toes.
"Indeed! Perhaps we can start boiling it today!"
Daigo claps his hand against the tree trunk companionably. "I had a feeling this was a brave one!"
"Your intuition is seldom wrong, King-dono," Utsusemimaru replies with a smile.
"I'm happy it was on the mark this time!"
Something about the grin spreading across Daigo's face makes Utsusemimaru ask, "Is there any particular reason?" When they first started their syrup collection it had seemed like another of Daigo's simple whims, but the longer they keep at it, the more Utsusemimaru wonders if he doesn't have some larger idea in mind.
"You, Ucchii. You're the reason." Daigo locks eyes with Utsusemimaru, and a flush creeps into the samurai's cheeks despite the cold.
"Yep! Remember how in Italy you said you had never eaten pancakes? I'm pretty confident in my pancake recipe, but a pancake isn't a pancake without good maple syrup. And maple syrup isn't maple syrup unless it's fresh from the source!" he proclaims, as though it were the only natural train of thought.
"But... but to put yourself to so much effort..." Utsusemimaru is nearly at a loss for words. Daigo scratches the back of his head sheepishly.
"Yeah, well, you're the one who seems to have it harder. You're not all that great with cold or early mornings, huh?" He steps closer and takes Utsusemimaru's ungloved hands in his. He raises them to his mouth and breathes warmth into the cold skin. "But you've still been trying so hard every day. So the least I can do is make it all worthwhile by cooking you up the best pancakes in the world. I hope you don't mind waiting a little longer."
The kiss that follows is as sweet with promise as the steady, silent drip of sap around them.