A/N: Written for a LiveJournal 10 whores community challenge. The prompt for this one was 'navigation'. Four fics already down, six more to go.

Warnings: None. Entirely worksafe.

Disclaimer: I disclaim. Go bow down to CLAMP for the characters.


She was bright in all the meanings of the word. Smart, witty, noticeable, overwhelming in her own way. She was all that and more. She tried to remain unnoticed, and yet she shone in the background like no one else from their group who remained on the front lines.

Subaru did not have a good grasp on her personality, did not know how her mind worked; Aoki would be the one who knew the most about her. But from what Subaru had seen, she could be reckless and carefree just like the element she wielded. It was always a treat to try and navigate his way through a conversation with her, to find a stable point to step on and let her see both sides of one aspect. Sometimes he was strongly reminded of his sister Hokuto in the way Karen nailed the meanings of his words – the woman was very perceptive.

Karen was passionate about things she found important, but she knew the line that separated it from obsession. If Subaru had to compare her to something, then it would be a well-controlled fire waiting to burst into freedom, but holding back and wavering on the borderline, testing the grounds.

Despite her age, Karen did not act motherly towards any one of them. They were all equals in her eyes, and whenever Subaru was around her, he found himself unwinding, if only the slightest bit. The light and warmth she had inside her managed to reach into his life as well, casting a soft glow on some things he had somehow forgotten in the long run. Because of her, he came to realize that there was more to life than just blindly following its flow, and that he had always known this. It was like finding another reason to hang on to life.

Subaru never told any of those thoughts to her, but he suspected she might have sensed it with that intuition all women seemed to possess.