.lover's song ii.

Neku comes back the next morning to finish the mural, at just before dawn. Joshua is already there, leaning against a finished portion of the wall and toying with a cell phone game idly. The brunet sets down his knapsack and opens it to reveal a stack of spray cans and markers and nozzles instead of school books, and he gets on his headphones and a mask as if he doesn't see Joshua there. He doesn't, of course. Joshua is tuned to a frequency slightly above the Underground, specifically wary of the possibility that Neku might be able to see him on the Underground plane.

He's been thinking a lot of uncharacteristic things lately, but revealing the full extent of his stalking to Neku is not quite on his list of idiotic things to start doing.

Joshua tilts his head, looking at the mask, and doesn't bother to hide his smirk. It makes sense, of course; the fumes from thirty cans of spray paint would probably knock out a horse, and suffering irreparable brain damage is not part of Neku's mission in life. But Joshua still thinks it looks cute, like one of the little misophobic schoolgirls with a paper mask stretched over her nose and mouth as she squeezes into the subways of Tokyo.

Neku's face turns inward as he begins to paint a bare spot, and he is humming under his breath. To Joshua's knowledgeable sight, the glow of his Soul brightens exponentially; it is like this time, this dawn, Neku is the sun, sending his light into the sky.

"All over some little tube of spray paint," Joshua says to himself thoughtfully, getting up and moving over to stand behind Neku.

He's so... intense. Focusing the density of his spirit on the artwork, imprinting it unconsciously with his struggle for identity, with his pride in who he has become and his desire to expand his world. When you know who you are, there's nothing to fear from opening yourself to everything, the mural cries out. Open to me.

He is singing to Shibuya, willing her to confide in him and to see him as he truly is, beneath the skin.

Joshua was joking yesterday, claiming to be jealous of the connection Neku offers the city with his artwork. But he really is jealous.

"I don't know what Shibuya ever did for you," Joshua says, indulging in the whim to be ridiculous since Neku can't hear him, doesn't even know he's there to feel ridiculously about his artwork. "What would you even do if you knew that the Shibuya you love so much is a reflection of me?"

It's a truth he's never spoken out loud before, something he hadn't even realized until he won his game with Megumi; that the reason Shibuya had become so dispassionate and cruel that it threatened to corrupt other cities, other planes, was because it had changed to reflect the mentality of its Composer. He knows that Mr. Hanekoma knows it too, but they have never spoken of it, from mutual agreement.

Perhaps he is not the best Composer, but compassion is unfortunately not a requirement to murder one's predecessor.

Questions that maybe he'll never answer for Neku. He would rather not see the look on his face. He says, wry, "Probably you'd -- recoil in disgust. It's one thing to court a city, another to court me, isn't it?"

If only, Joshua thought, and his lips curled up, amused by the thought more than anything else. If Neku attempted to court him -- with flowers, perhaps, and serenades at the Kiryu estate window to shock his great-nieces and nephews -- it would be nothing short of a riot. Joshua would have to take pictures, and never let him live it down.

(He's never done this romance thing before, and he's not very good at it.)

'You want him,' said the Angel, and sounded amused, damn it. 'Why don't you tell him?'

A flicker of irritation, quickly dismissed; who does He think He is, interfering with the Composer of Shibuya? But there was no one who knew him better than this Angel. Not even Megumi knew him as well as the one who had been by his side for all sixty years since he had jacked Shibuya.

'I'm playing a game,' he said instead, casually. 'With myself. I'd rather he come to me, you see.'

The Angel sighed. 'Not everything has to be a game, you know,' He said. 'You idiot.'

Joshua folds his arms, watching the muscles shift in Neku's back. He is so small and simple and human, and incongruously brilliant in Soul. Perhaps he'll never know, but the shine of his spirit rivals Mr. Hanekoma -- born a higher being, never knowing the petty molding hardships of being human the way that Joshua and Neku know.

But of course, Neku doesn't have to stay small and simple and human. There is a way to change that -- and, perhaps more importantly, to bring him closer to Joshua in the same stroke.

Has it been enough time? Joshua wonders, bringing a hand to his lips and frowning thoughtfully. Will asking only open old wounds and ruin any chance of winning him over?

Better to wait, and be certain.

They have time, after all. Neku has his whole life ahead of him, and Joshua--

Well. Joshua has as much as eternity to wait for Neku to come around.