~*::..Numbered Days..::*~

5.

~*A Trick of the Light*~

Sometimes she tried to keep things to herself. Why make him worry even more?

~*X*~

Occasionally, Haruka felt like she was going crazy. Silly me, she thought. I must just be seeing things.

That was the third time this week though…She imagined that she saw weird bronze contraptions in the shadows, sort of like seahorses, but whenever she turned around to get a better look—more curious than afraid—they vanished, like they had never been.

It was another beautiful day in Hakodate, the kind of days made for lazing about in the sun with one's dog. That was exactly what she was doing; lying on her back beside Baron and watching the clouds pass by between gaps in the branches of the tree overhead. Her mother was inside working like usual, and time seemed to have slowed down to a tranquil crawl. No one was over visiting at the moment, though she was expected to go meet Yuu, Ai, and the rest at an ice cream store in town, but for now she had nothing to do.

Shangri'La and the Dragon Knights could have been a trillion years away...

Haruka blinked several times, her eyes perplexed as she studied the clouds drifting aimlessly by. Baron might as well have been one himself, thanks to the white coloring of his fur. The humongous dog was panting placidly, stretching his jaws in an enormous yawn.

Well. Enough of this, then. If left to her own devices she was certain that her mind would, like the clouds, wander aimlessly until it touched upon the rather unwelcome recollection of being encased in liquid inside some God-forsaken tube in La'cryma…

Haruka shuddered involuntarily and propped herself up on her elbows, blowing a sigh.

"Is something wrong?"

She yelped despite herself, laughing at her foolishness as she recognized Karasu. He must have warped in from nowhere again, as was his wont, his maroon eyes vaguely amused.

"No, nothing's wrong." She said cheerily before she stood up, dusting her clothes off. "It's such a nice day out, isn't it, Karasu?"

He looked all around, as if he had just noticed this fact himself. He said nothing.

Haruka wrinkled her nose playfully at him. "Come on, Karasu! Don't be so glum!" She took his hand and led him to the edge of the yard. They were offered a nice view of the sea, coupled with a panoramic view of town and the tram car system that ran up the mountain. It was all very nice, and something she hoped to be able to look at any time of the year.

After a short while, Karasu took his hand back and hid it somewhere within his black robe. She was undeterred, clasping her hands behind her back and humming thoughtfully to herself. "Hey, Karasu? Mind if I ask you a question?"

"What is it?"

Truth be told, she wanted to tell him about the strange things she had been seeing lately. However, knowing him, he'd overreact and probably lose even more sleep than he already had, worrying over invisible enemies that danced between shadows. So instead she said, "I was just wondering, how come you don't ever change your clothes and go sightseeing? I mean, Hakodate is your home too, right? Don't you want to go look around?"

He took a bit to respond, and Haruka examined his face bemusedly. She had expected him to reply right away, but her protector actually seemed to have to consider the question before he could say anything.

"It wouldn't be prudent for me to wander around town." Karasu eyed her as he spoke. "The future is already affecting the past enough as it is; any interaction outside of the absolutely crucial would be an unnecessary risk."

"But that's no fun," Haruka protested. She pushed a strand of her hair behind her ear so the breeze would stop causing it to flap around her face. "It doesn't seem so bad to me for the future to influence the past. I'm really glad you and the others came." She turned and smiled at him.

He managed to return it, though only the tiniest lifting of the corner of his mouth betrayed this. After that, he just closed his eyes and directed his face forward again. "So am I."

She swung her arms back and forth, striving to find a way to fill the silence. "Does that mean you think having conversations with Yuu and the others is 'crucial'?"

"It can't be avoided. They're here too often to not notice us."

Well, she could understand that. She spared a moment to wonder where Tobi and the rest had gone before continuing the conversation. It was so rare to speak for an extended time with Karasu that she was eager to keep it going. "Do you want to go look around town though, Karasu?"

He blinked open his eyes again and she had the distinct feeling that he was surprised to see everything still the way it was. As if he had fancied himself to be dreaming. "I've thought about it, from time to time, but it's fine."

"Oh…Well, what's your favorite place?" She knew what Yuu's was, and that was—

"Where we first met."

"Here?" She gazed all around at her simple yard and home, espying Yuu's house in the not-so-far distance. "Or…you don't mean the graveyard?"

Haruka figured she had to be going crazy, because did Karasu just chuckle? It was faint but she swore he did. "No," he said. "Not the graveyard."

She giggled. "So there's another reason why you hang around my house besides the fact that I'm here!"

He was silent.

After a few minutes of cloud watching, Haruka found that she couldn't stand the quiet for much longer. She clicked her tongue, calling Baron to her side, and stroked the dog just to have something to do. "Hey, Karasu," she began, looking up from her petting, only to freeze. Her eyes widened.

Down the hill a bit from her home, she could see the shadowy hand-like appendage of the seahorse looking bronze—

"Haruka?" Karasu's tone turned concerned, and then urgent. "What's wrong?" He quickly whipped around to try and pinpoint what she was gaping at, but there was nothing there. He slowly faced her again. "Haruka, what is it?"

She shook her head, dark hair flying, quickly putting on a wide grin. "I-It was nothing, Karasu."

He stared at her doubtfully, needing no words to convey his message.

Haruka swallowed and smiled once more. "Really, it was nothing. Just a trick of the light."


Author's Note: Sorry for any OOC-ness I've not had a chance to re-watch the show yet. I encourage any readers to go and read Erin C.'s Noein stories if you have not already!