A/N: For the NeuroxYako livejournal contest.
It was midafternoon at the Demon World Detective Agency. There was much work to be done since the return of Katsuragi Yako's assistant. Files were to be resorted, cases reprioritized - it was a flurry of unusual activity in the humble office.
The office itself hadn't changed much during Neuro's three year absence. The cursed red desk sat proudly in its familiar place by the window, Akane's body(?!) was still crudely hidden in the corner. The pitifully shabby state of the building served only to intensify the run down feel of the place, earning much disapproval from Usui-san. "A world class detective must have a respectable office," he'd said, but Yako had flat out refused every offer of relocation.
In truth, she agreed that the office could see better days, but a raging sentimentality had kept her from making any changes. This was the office where she and Neuro had gathered countless cases, right in the heart of a crime-riddled neighborhood. Memories of him filled her when she was there; Neuro, sitting at the desk. Neuro, standing by the window. Neuro, lying on the worn old couch, her last memory of him before he left. In the three years that he was gone, she could not imagine working in any other place.
That belief was affirmed when Neuro finally did return. After that moment of stunned realization on the plane, Yako had hardly had time to process her thoughts as he pulled her back into the hunt for mysteries. Even now, days later, she could barely keep a silly smile off her face, so overwhelming was her joy.
She turned to look at Neuro from her perch on the corner of the desk as he sat pouring over her case files. The cases that Yako handled now were much more complex than the newspaper scourings she and Neuro had once relied on; her involvement in the Sicks affair had propelled her to international prestige. And she had worked to cement that reputation every second for three years, remembering her promise to continue to evolve.
Looking now at Neuro, he was clearly pleased. His eyes were bright and opened wide as they efficiently scanned case after case; whenever he came across something particularly promising, his tongue would flick out over his lips in anticipation. It was such a familiar, endearing sight that she felt a prickle of a tear at the corner of her eye.
His trademark hair was restored to its shocking glory, his outfit impeccably pressed. The familiar slope of his back, the flex of his gloved fingers… she blushed, noticing for the first time the lines of muscle through his suit. She suddenly remembered seeing his bare arms in the past, but only now could she appreciate their well toned shape. She let her eyes trail down his form, following its elegant tapering down to his waist -
"Yako. What are you looking at?" Neuro's voice pierced through her blissful reverie like a dart through a balloon.
She turned away, blush deepening by several shades.
She felt herself laugh at his doubtful expression in spite of her embarrassment. It was almost like old times, and as she sat by his side, watching him return to shifting through the cases, she wondered if he had really been gone for so long.
"Neuro, I… I'm really glad you're back." She half laughed, half choked, feeling tears of sentimentality spring into her eyes.
It was nighttime when Yako was awoken by the sound of her bedroom window sliding open. A breeze whisked in, making her shiver, and a long silhouette stepped elegantly into her room. Her panic died before she even realized it was there, and she sat up slowly.
"Neuro?" she asked, not knowing what he could possibly be doing in her apartment at this time.
To her unease, he did not reply immediately, instead circling slowly once around the room before stopping by her bedside, his shadowy figure looming above her.
"Neuro?" she repeated, now curious, as she looked up into his glowing eyes and saw a contemplative expression in them.
"You've moved." He said at last. Yako felt a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Of course, a few things were different than before he'd left.
"Yeah. I moved here about a year ago – I figured that since I had graduated high school and was already working full time, it was time to get my own place. Guess I forgot to mention that, since I've spent the past few nights at the office sorting things out and stuff." She explained, a bit apologetically. Then her eyes narrowed. "But wait a second… were you stalking me, Neuro?! Why are you here, anyways?"
At this Neuro chuckled, and to her surprise, he sat down next to her on the bed.
"I was just wondering," he said quietly, "what else has changed during my absence." He reached out a gloved hand and grasped a lock of her longer hair.
Another gust of wind swept through the room – curse him, he hadn't closed the window after coming in – making her shiver again.
His eyes bore into hers, intense and unwavering. Under the moonlight that streamed in through the window, she was suddenly very aware of Neuro's physical presence. She found herself unable to look away, and became uncomfortably conscious of her need to blink. Her thoughts seemed to fly through a million things, but they centered on just one thing. His familiar face, his familiar – everything; after all this time, Neuro was still the same.
But she wasn't.
The three years that were only a second to demons was significant by human life spans. He had been gone but a moment, but she had lived that time, she had changed. She had promised to evolve – and she did – but evolution by nature was to age. The years and decades to come would be mere fleeting glances in Neuro's eternal existence, but for her, those were her life.
Someday, she would be old and withered. While he would never be. All this, that she had realized in the three years, had been forgotten for a few rapturous days.
She broke away from Neuro's gaze, focusing instead on the incredibly masculine slope of his shoulders. She felt pale and helpless in comparison.
Something was roaring in her ears. She realized it was her heart thundering in her chest.
Neuro's other hand came to her chin, firmly tilting her face up to him again.
A flood of emotions that she didn't know she had been suppressing suddenly flooded forth, a dam opening. Her legs twisted beneath her, and she rose to her knees on the bed. The sheets fell away from her, leaving her only in her thin nightshift, but she could no longer feel the cold.
Her hands reached out to touch each side of Neuro's face. Unthinking, she drew herself towards him, now able to feel his warm breath brushing her face. His arm slipped around her waist, pulling her even closer.
But when he dipped his head down to meet hers, she remembered. That this should never be, no matter how much she wanted it. Her hands dropped to his shoulders, using all of her control to keep herself at bay. Her voice all but deserting her, she could only make small choking sounds as she desperately tried to apologize.
Neuro's arms slowly circled around her, cocooning her in his warmth, emanating reassurance. She felt herself automatically relax, sagging into him.
"I'm sorry." She managed at last. "I'm sorry… "
"Shhh." He murmured into her ear, sliding a hand through her tresses. "You need your sleep." He pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head. Her eyes instantly began to droop.
She wasn't sure when she drifted off.
It was early morning at the Demon World Detective Agency. Yako stood, arms resting on the railings of the balcony, Neuro standing beside her.
She had woken up alone in her room, her covers tucked neatly around her. It was only just starting to get light out, so she knew she had gotten only a few hours of sleep, but she felt surprisingly well rested. She had decided to leave for the office.
Standing there beside him watching the sunrise, her thoughts drifted back to the night before. They had almost kissed. But she had been afraid.
They stood together in silent company for a while, neither one quite sure what to say. It was Yako who spoke at last.
"Hey Neuro? Do you remember the time that I ran away from here?"
"Yes." He turned his gaze towards the horizon. He was probably wondering why she was bringing that up now.
"At that time, I said, 'I wish I had never met you' and ran away." Yako dropped her gaze to her hands, and sucked in a breath. "But I wanted to tell you. That I'm really glad I met you."
She meant what she said.
"Meeting you changed my life in every way. Because of you, I became stronger. Even though there was a lot of danger" – she smiled ruefully, remembering some of his torture schemes – "and… sadness, too." She remembered Sasazuka-san with a stab of regret.
"But, I was really happy too. And right now, being with you again, makes me really happy." She turned to face him, smiling sadly. "Really, really happy."
"You're not happy." It was not a question.
"I am." She said. "But I'm sad too."
From his expression, he could not comprehend.
"Because, Neuro, I'm… a human. In just three years, I've aged this much, but you've remained the same after all the this time!"
"Yako…" He brushed a stray strand of hair from her face. His hand went to rest on her shoulder.
"I'm scared, Neuro." Yako whispered. "Of what this means."
"Don't be afraid, Yako." He said to her, his deep voice washing over her like a soothing balm. "If you ask me to stay, I will." He looked into her eyes seriously.
Her heart began to thump nervously in her chest as Neuro stepped towards her, his free hand grasping her other shoulder. His proximity sent a flush to her cheeks and she could feel her resistance slipping away.
Her protests were drowned by his lips as they covered hers. For a moment she tensed up, rigid in his arms, but then her eyes closed and she slid her hands up his chest, grasping the collar of his coat and returning the kiss. She could feel tears sliding down her cheeks. This was what she had wanted for so, so long, but how could she ever go back now?
"Oh Neuro," she murmured, when they broke apart at last. "I can never ask you stay. Not if it means your life." She thought about the incident with Sicks. No, the world needed Neuro.
"Besides," she continued, "I can definitely go on by myself. I told you last time, right? That no matter where you are, I will keep on evolving." She dried her eyes with her sleeve.
"And for now?" Neuro asked, his eyes soft in what she believed was pride. Yes, she would not regret her decision.
"Don't move, Neuro." She wrapped her arms around his waist.
"You intend to stand like this?" Neuro questioned, an eyebrow raising.
"Yeah. Just like this." She closed her eyes contentedly and leaned her head against his chest.
She felt him snort lightly. "For how long?"
"It's up to you."
A/N: Ohhh snap. Angst riddled thoughts, moonlight and sunrises, an ending layered in subtext... I really have fallen off the romantic deep end. D= I cannot believe how much angst actually worked its way in. Neuro, Yako, I promise that I will someday write crack that will do you justice.