It was difficult to see.

He hadn't any inkling when it had begun to change, his perception of those around him. Of the normal humans, frivolous human women and men that passed by their table in the bustling downtown cafe, some whispered that 'what a cute couple.' Or. 'What a babe.' Then cast envious looks to the fair haired young man leaning back in his chair, glasses perched perfectly on his nose. Ignoring everything the fair-haired woman in a pink halter top and tight linen capri pants, whispered to him.

They most likely thought it was sweet-nothings; an idea which Nagahide scoffed derisively at. Considering Bakatora's name almost continuously fell from her mauve-mist lips. It was starting to give him a mild headache; Haruie's constant running commentary on their leader and his vassal and on their intermittent meetings.

Haruie said date.

He said their usual game.

Maybe she was just being hopeful while he was being pessimistic. Nagahide had seen them play it for over four hundred years, why even retain a grain of hope that things would be different this time?


Bakatora's voice rose a pitch higher. People were glancing their way; Nagahide sipped his drink and watched the various emotions play out over Haruie's face.

A hint of worry in the set of the mouth then unexpectedly it smoothed over. The familiar light came back into her eyes , her gaze turned toward the row of potted plants adorning the low wall that separated them from Takaya and Naoe. Now, this was strange.

"Did you see that?" Haruie hissed, lightly swatting the hand he rested on top of the square table. It was a woman's touch. "See what?" Nagahide coolly replied, sliding his hand out from beneath hers. She didn't seem to notice. "Kagetora just now!"

He was surprised they hadn't heard her by now. "No, I didn't. Why would I care what that idiot did?" But, Haruie wasn't paying attention. "He looked so understanding! And-and-they're getting up!" The note of panic arrested her voice. Nagahide watched her duck down and pretend to be absorbed in the untouched berry Sangria she had ordered.

It was harder to see...

Haruie almost choked on the swallow of swirling raspberry-colored slush.

"Nee-chan? Chiaki? What the-" as always, the boy was near to yelling. Naoe looked on impassively although beneath his smooth, almost blank expression there was a hint of..

"Oh! We just-" Haruie was about to give everything away. She was a notoriously bad liar.

"-happened to come here. Our first date, you know." The choice of words was entirely unexpected. Bakatora's mouth fell open and closed several times. Nagahide calmly locked eyes with the other. "It's a fine place for a fresh start, wouldn't you agree, Naoe?"

The man seemed a little surprised then quickly wiped it away with a faint smile. "Of course."

The two men exchanged mutual looks.

Takaya could not learn that Haruie had set everything up so that the vassal and the Lord could meet again. He also couldn't know that the meddling woman had enlisted Nagahide to help her keep an eye on them.

Don't give it away, you fool. "Since we're both occupied now," Nagahide rose with a snide smile on his lips, deliberately ignoring Haruie's wide-eyed stare and firmly wrapping his hand around her upper arm. "There's no one to go looking for you like usual, so try not to run away again."

Takaya's face instantly transformed into a mask of rage. "Why you-!"

Naoe interceded. "Takaya-san. We should get going as well." The note of firmness lacking the usual hesitation made the boy stop. "Naoe..." the two locked eyes for a moment and something passed between them. "Y-yeah, I guess you're right." the teenager quietly conceded a moment later.

What a miracle! Nagahide thought sarcastically, Bakatora backed down for once. Whatever did you do, Naoe? Without using a chain and whipping post? As much as he wanted to capitalize on Takaya's newfound patience, he was aware of Haruie's stunned silence. Damn her. Something seemed off in that thought. Nagahide didn't understand what it was until they paid, taking their blessed leave from the suspicious glower of their capable leader and his apparent date.

"Why'd you tell them that?" she burst out the moment they were barely out of earshot of the other Yashashuu. "What?" Nagahide glanced up and down the street. Thank Kami-sama the other two had gone the opposite way.

"That!" she placed a particular emphasis on the word.

He glanced at her furious expression, unmoved. "Would you rather he know what you did?"

The irritation drained away. "..No." Haruie muttered quietly.

"Well then.." against his will, his gaze strayed back to her face and lowered eyes. "Hey, chin up. We could just dump each other and not speak for a week then pretend like nothing happened."

She smiled reluctantly, the curve of her lips carried a refined sort of feminine that had been difficult to countenance with her very male soul. "Then where would that get us?" Again she smacked his arm, affectionate like an older brother as her old nature was.

"Or." Reluctant as he had been to be pulled into her tailing of Bakatora and Naoe; even he gave some faint chance. Even though hope had long faded. Could it be..

Haruie took up his previous line of thought. "We could just happened to be there enjoying our night out while secretly spying on them!" her voice ended on a girlish, giddy high-note. "Oh, Nagahide! You're a genius!"

He smirked slightly, "oh, so, you've finally realized I am?"

"Oh, you!" Haruie laughed and for the first time he saw her as a woman.

...maybe this is the time when we finally see each other now.

Disclaimer: The wonderful Kuwabara Mizuna-sensei created the MoB world, I'm just playing in her sandbox. :)

AN: slightly au and with almost no novel-references. Thanks for reading :)

No flames-yaoi haters-stupid comments!

Reviews appreciated ^^