Subaru had been brought low by—of all possible things—a mango.
"I'm sorry," Seishirou said, but he sounded more cold than contrite. "This wasn't how I planned to end our date, Subaru-kun."
Subaru simply leaned against the passenger door of Seishirou's van, silent in his misery. He'd known that certain fruits would sometimes make his lips and tongue feel a bit raw, but this was something else entirely.
They had just finished dessert when Subaru had started feeling a little bit woozy. It came on suddenly, accompanied by a frantic sense of doom that at first made him wonder if he was under sorcerous attack. He started to reach for an ofuda, but Seishirou shook his head sharply and Subaru slowly drew his hand away from his pocket, choosing to trust the other man.
Instead of looking for an outside threat, Seishirou kept staring at the way Subaru's hand kept going to his throat (which felt unaccountably tight, as if the ascot Hokuto had insisted he wear was choking him). His eyes narrowed, and he reached across the table to bat Subaru's hand out of the way. He then grabbed Subaru's chin.
"Let me see your mouth, Subaru-kun."
Subaru gasped at the sudden contact even though it lacked any trace of Seishirou's usual flirtatiousness. Instead, the veterinarian held Subaru's face the way he might hold the muzzle of a dog he was examining.
He ran his thumb across Subaru's lower lip, but again, there was nothing sensual about it. If anything, it was more proprietary than anything else. "Do you always get sores like that when you eat mango?" His voice was harsh.
Subaru nodded. He felt awful. He just wanted to put his head down on the table, no matter how others in the restaurant might stare.
"Let's get you out of here." Seishirou didn't even wait for the check. Instead, he put more than enough money on the table to cover both meal and tip, and practically force-marched Subaru out of the restaurant.
Subaru felt like he should apologize for making a scene, but Seishirou didn't give him a chance.
"Let me know immediately if you're having any trouble breathing," Seishirou snapped. "I'd rather not take you to a hospital, but if you're going into anaphylactic shock..."
He let the words trail off, and once again, Subaru felt as if he should apologize for something.
But Seishirou was the one to offer a chilly apology as they drove back to the Sakurazuka Animal Clinic.
When they finally arrived went inside, Seishirou simply pointed to one of the couches in the reception area, silently ordering Subaru to sit and wait while he went into the rear of the clinic.
Subaru sat down obediently, wondering which was worse—the itchiness that he was starting to feel on his neck and the undersides of his arms, or the coldness that was practically radiating off of Seishirou.
He'd seen hints of that coldness before, but this was the first time he'd seen it directed at him, and he found that—as insane as it sounded—he was actually dreading Seishirou's return.
But when Seishirou came back, a bottle of pills in one hand and a paper cup full of water in the other, he was back to his usual cheerfulness and smiles. The coldness had been discarded as if it were a mask.
"Here," he said handing the water to Subaru. He opened the bottle, grumbling a bit about the child-proof cap, then tipped two small white pills into Subaru's gloved palm. "Don't worry—these are mine, not the ones I use on the animals."
Subaru took the pills without question, and the smile this brought to Seishirou's face was so genuine it all but wiped away any lingering memory of the coldness.
"Antihistamines," Seishirou said, answering the question that Subaru had not asked. "They'll help with your throat feeling tight—it is feeling tight, isn't it?—and with these." With that, he ran a finger down the underside of Subaru's wrist. Subaru squirmed, not only because of how it felt on the angry red spots that had erupted there, but because the lingering touch burned in other ways. It was proprietary, yes, but it was in no way clinical.
"They'll also make you a bit groggy—groggier than you are now." Seishirou's voice was back to being gentle and soothing and oh so warm. "You can stay here for a while. We can even go upstairs if you like."
Subaru blushed, started to talk, but stammered to a halt. He swallowed, which made the tightness in his throat worsen for a moment, then tried again. "I—I don't want to be a bother, Seishirou-san. Really, I can—"
"Shh." Seishirou smiled softly and rested a finger on Subaru's lips. "I should have said you will stay here. I need to keep you under observation for the next four hours, in case of biphasic reactions."
He laughed at Subaru's puzzlement. "Which is another way of saying that I need to keep an eye on you in case the symptoms come back, and given that a possible symptom is anaphylactic shock, I'm not taking any chances with your safety."
For a moment, with that last statement, there was once again a hint of coldness, of possessiveness, but it vanished almost as soon as it was noticed.
"You're very important to me, Subaru-kun. You need to take care of yourself. You said that you'd had problems before, with sores, yes?"
"I just thought it was from the acid, or something," Subaru said. He felt like an idiot.
Seishirou sat down next to Subaru and regarded him carefully, an unreadable smile on his face. "Those were just warning signs. Food allergies can go for years like that before they become deadly, you know. But you like mango so much—you always order it when you can, I've noticed—that you figured the pleasure you get from the fruit was worth the occasional discomfort, am I right?"
Subaru smiled, but it felt wobbly and unsure. There were times with Seishirou when he felt like the man was talking about two different things at once. "You know what's really funny? Well, funny and sad?"
"Right now, instead of water," he said, holding up the half empty cup, "you know what I'm craving?"
"Mango juice," they both said in almost perfect unison.
Laughing, Seishirou tugged at Subaru's shoulder, gently forcing the boy to lie down on the couch with his head in Seishirou's lap.
Seishirou's voice, when he finally spoke again, was both wondering and fond. "You know it can kill you, but you still crave it. Amazing. And yet, somehow, completely unsurprising."
Again, Subaru got the feeling that Seishirou was talking about something other than mangoes. He was about to ask him about it, but Seishirou shushed him and rested his hand on Subaru's forehead. It may have been the gentle contact, or it may have been that Seishirou had put a small sorcery on him, or it may have been the shock and the antihistamines catching up to him, but whatever the cause, Subaru found himself drifting into a comfortable half-sleep. He hovered between sleep and wakefulness just long enough to think how pleasant it was to be there (no matter how miserable he might feel at the moment) before he finally fell completely asleep.
Although he would not remember it in the morning, he dreamed that Seishirou leaned down and kissed him.
In his dreams, Seishirou's lips tasted of mango.