SPOILERS: Chapter 97 of the manga

I am the line
I hold you near
There is no burden left to bear
I can't see clear
I am perfected
I know no void
I have no conscience to keep clear
I understand there's nothing more

- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

The Line

On Akito's fourteenth birthday, Shigure had one of the most disturbing and intense sexual encounters of his life. And he wasn't the virgin of the pair.

Like all of his more regrettable sexual acts, this one began with a party. Akito's fourteenth birthday celebration was progressing the same way all her previous birthdays had: Momiji was hyper, Yuki was sullen, and Shigure was working hard with Ayame to get Hatori drunk. Roles to play, and so forth.

Shigure had been laughing, a college senior all of twenty-two and full of smiles and brass. Hanging as he was with one arm around Aya's shoulders and the other gesticulating grandly in the face of a bemused Ha'san, when someone pulled his face down and shoved their tongue into his mouth.

His arm was slipt from Ayame and he almost felt Hatori back away. Shigure was left standing in the middle of the sitting room, frozen immobile as the birthday girl threw herself at him with fumbling hands and lips.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck he hadn't seen this coming.

After a few seconds she pulled away. He didn't move.

She's still a fucking kid. It's just a kiss. A whim or something. Please god let it be just a whim.

"Shigure," Akito said, drawing the vowels of his name out long. "Come here."

She walked to the door of the adjoining guest bedroom, and left it ajar. Shigure stared. A gentle hand was placed on his arm.

"Gure-chan..." Ayame. Another hand.

"Shigure." Hatori.

Hatsuharu, Momiji, and Rin were watching him. Kesa and Hiro were already tucked in for the night. Kazuma-sensei, the official "chaperone" of the event, hadn't said word.

Jesus, it was like he was making a list of people and slowly marking off the ones who might care.


The room behind the crack of the door was nothing but darkness. Akito wasn't going to call for him again—a god doesn't need to give orders twice.

"She's fourteen," he finally said, softly as if to no one but the air around him. A protest of disbelief, a condemnation, and a plea all at once. He didn't even realize he'd forgotten to change the pronoun.

Yesterday she was thirteen.

"Shigure, listen, you don't need to---"

"I think I do, Hatori," the young man replied, awe tingeing his voice. "I can feel it."

"Just because Akito wants to experiment with his adolescence doesn't mean you should have to do someth---"

"If not me then who?" he replied suddenly, turning to look at his friends, his family. "You? You, Ayame? Kureno's the favorite, should I go wake him up and drag him out here so he can make the same decision?"

Silence. So much for the party.

"Let's face reality my friends," Shigure said, taking an open bottle of wine off the confetti-laden table. His voice was already lighter, mocking. "He had to grow up some day."

"She's not a grown up," Kazuma said from across the small room.

Shigure gave the man the middle finger and walked through the door.