"Shii-chan?"

"…"

"Ne, Shii-chan!"

Doumeki Shizuka blinked at the insistent tug of his friend's hands on his arm and he turned to look at Watanuki Kimihiro. Then the pain started all over again in his heart and he wanted to cry, only when you were a boy at the old age of five, you weren't supposed to cry. Only Kimihiro didn't know that and he didn't care. He would be strong for Kimihiro and let him cry and protect him.

"What?"

"What are you going to do when you grow up?"

Shizuka tilted his head in thought as four-year-old Kimihiro clung close to him. "Are the spirits there too?" Even on the temple grounds? When he was older, he was going to make sure to banish them all too, so when Kimihiro came back, he would be safe.

"Yes…but you didn't answer the question." His friend's lips pouted and he wondered if it was that expression that made all the adult women coo that he was so adorable. He was kinda cute, he supposed.

"Well…I'll marry you," he decided. "Then we can be together and you won't have to worry about spirits anymore either."

They had both figured out early on that the spirits didn't come near Kimihiro when he was around and it made Shizuka feel important. He felt bigger and stronger when his mere presence helped keep Kimihiro safe.

"Okay." He didn't even mind as Kimihiro snuggled and clutched his arm, glasses digging into his shoulder. In fact, if he could have stopped time at that moment, he would have.

"What about you, Kimi-chan? What are you going to do?"

"Um…marry you and own a restaurant that everyone will come to! You want to? Help me run it?"

"Of course! You'll be the cook and I'll be the taster!"

They both laughed and yet, it died away into silence, as they both knew what would be coming next. His golden eyes could only stare at his friend in mounting sadness. He wanted to cry, but he couldn't, for Kimihiro's sake.

Because Watanuki Kimihiro was moving.

"Ne, Kimi-chan. Let's make a promise."

"What promise?"

"That when we get older, we'll wait for each other. You won't open a restaurant until you find me and I won't get married until I find you. That way we'll always be together and happy."

"Kimihiro! Time to go!"

Terrified, though he forced his face to not show it, Shizuka glanced over his shoulder at his friend's mother standing next to the temple steps. He frantically glanced back at Kimihiro, who had winced at his mother's voice and his blue eyes became even bluer with tears.

"Promise?"

"Promise! But what if I forget? I know I will."

"Then I'll remember for the both of us. I'll remind you. And if I forget, you can remind me."

His Kimi-chan nodded forlornly, those tears spilling down his pale but pretty cheeks. That chin trembled, close to sobbing as he had for the past two days in Shizuka's presence, and he wished he was grown-up. Because you were grown up enough at five to not cry, but not grown-up enough at five to kiss.

"Kimihiro! Come on, Papa's waiting in the car!"

"When you come back, no matter what, I'll protect you."

Kimihiro nodded and stood up, dragging his heels as he passed Shizuka. His arm shot out before he could help it and gripped that pale hand, not wanting to let go. He was desperate as they stared into that forlorn gaze and he didn't want to let go. Right then, as he stared at his closest friend and love, he made himself a promise: when they met again, he would never let go.

"Remember, you owe your first kiss to me," he finally said at the questioning look on his friend's face and forced his fingers to let go, his arm falling back to his side limply.

The bespectacled child nodded. "And you owe yours to me too, so don't forget it!"

"I never will," he promised, watching as that back slumped to his mother and they left the temple, their footsteps fading away into nothingness, just like the emotions in his heart.

His grandfather eventually came to stand by his side as he continued to stare at the empty landing at the top of the stone stairs. "You made a promise you must keep, Shizuka."

"I will. By whatever means necessary."

"That oath is binding. If you fail to keep it…"

"I will never fail. And when I find him again, I will never let him go."

A hand touched his head and he finally looked up at the face of his grandfather, his golden eyes shining in determination. Nothing would keep him from his Kimi-chan. Nothing in the world. "Good. Never let anything or anyone keep you from your friend, Shizuka. You have that spirit, stronger than any I've ever seen."

"Even Papa?"

A strange expression crossed his grandfather's face, almost as if it were dislike, but it was gone quickly. "Especially stronger than Papa. Now come inside, it's getting dark and your grandmother worries."

Watanuki Kimihiro's parents died three days later.

Twelve years later, as he drew the bowstring tight and stared daggers at transparent form of a wraith that was draining Watanuki of his life, Doumeki was fulfilling the promise he made that day. He would never let anyone or anything take the other half of his life away from him.

Some part of him had died that day, when Watanuki had left. He'd found life dull and uninspiring and perhaps it was that, more than anything else, that had led to his stoicism and lack of expressions: because without Watanuki, there was no point.

But the moment he'd laid eyes on Watanuki all those months ago, he had instantly known who it was. His emotions had rushed back to him and it was only because of years of not showing his emotions more than anything that kept him from running up and holding him so tight. It was only icing on the cake when he'd heard the name. Who else would have such a unique name? And true to Watanuki's prediction, he had not remembered their promise. In fact, Doumeki had been surprised at the venomous reaction of his best friend.

Perhaps one day he would remind Watanuki, his Kimi-chan, of the promise they had made so long ago. But not now. Now, he was merely trying to slowly awaken dormant feelings in the bespectacled youth. He had to believe they were only dormant, because if they were no longer there…

He also, secretly, hoped that Watanuki still hadn't kissed anyone yet. They'd only met again a few months ago; he didn't know what had happened at previous schools or in his life. He'd only heard on the grapevine, for example, about Watanuki's parents. But he hoped somewhere in his friend's heart that things were still the same.

He let the invisible arrow loose, watching with satisfaction as the spirit faded away.

"Why did you shoot her? Because she isn't human?!"

"No. It's just what I chose to do."

He hoped that that first kiss had been saved, like his was.

End