The apartment was quiet when Narugami walked in.
"Hmm?" Arashiko sat up where she had fallen asleep waiting on the couch. He put down Moljinor and sat beside her.
"Yeah. Loki solved the case."
"Good. Is my cafe still standing?"
He made an exaggerated face. "Mmm, most of it."
She gave him a mock scrutinizing look.
"All right, I knocked over one of those damn geraniums."
She smiled. "That's okay, nothing can kill a geranium, not even you." She wrapped her arms around him contentedly. He stroked her hair absently. It didn't seem that long ago he had first stood in this room, fainting at her touch. What was love? Something so powerful it could endure beyond death and leap the chasms between worlds. And yet, so fragile. It could be irretrievably lost in a single thoughtless moment. It could be madness too. A violent love like Brunhilde's that transformed into the most virulent form of hatred in which one kills that which one loves most.
"'Shiko...how much do you love me?"
No answer. She had fallen asleep. Just as well. Sometimes it was hard not to tell her everything. Sometimes it was a relief not to have to. Sometimes...
He was asleep. Arashiko studied his face, feeling the gentle rhythm of his breathing against her.
How much did she love him?
Enough to pretend she didn't know what she did and also pretend she didn't want to know what she didn't.
Enough to fain sleep to help him keep the secrets she wished he could share with her.
Enough to notice that it was when he most wanted to tell her, and couldn't, that he called her 'Shiko.
It was hard, sharing him with this other world she could not know. But that was what love really was.
Sharing, not owning.