The room felt both familiar and unfamiliar after being away for the last few months. Haruka leaned back against the wall and surveyed the sparse furnishings as though seeing them for the first time. The futon was laid out neatly, not needed just yet. Across the room, the window was open, and a cool night breeze drifted through, brushing his face and curling around his bare feet. Just enough light came through from the stars that it danced on the shiny surfaces of the glass trinkets he'd collected. No dust had gathered on them in his absence. He should probably thank Youko for that.
The phrase "I'm home" wandered through his mind, and it surprised him how natural it felt. Had he ever had a place like this before? He couldn't recall one. With every inch of the room exactly as it had been before he left, he could almost believe that nothing had happened, that his memories hadn't returned, that Kantarou had never been threatened by his hands.
Haruka somehow wasn't surprised to hear a small knock and his name whispered from the hallway at that moment. A certain folklorist he knew had a knack for uncanny timing. He offered a small "mm" as an invitation to enter.
Kantarou stepped in and slid the door closed before sitting down beside him. It was quiet in the house - a rare state considering the usual occupants and visitors - but the silence felt comfortable. Haruka glanced at the man beside him, waiting to hear what was on his mind. The breeze played with a strand of silver hair. The soft light glittered on red eyes that turned to meet his. A smile appeared and Kantarou's head fell onto his shoulder, his eyes hiding behind pale eyelids.
"I'm so glad. You're really here."
Haruka turned his gaze back to the stars. It was the same sky he'd watched every night from Sugino's place, but the feeling was much different now. He tried to pin down a way to describe it, but no words came to mind. Arms wrapped around his waist, bringing his attention back to his master.
Whispered words broke the silence a second time. "I love you, you know."
He knew. He hadn't fully realized it until he had left, but it hadn't come as a shock. The feeling had been there for a long time, unspoken and waiting. He'd always thought that humans fell in love too easily. "How long?"
"Who knows?" Kantarou mused, opening his eyes and making himself more comfortable against Haruka's arm. "By the time we first met, I felt like I already knew you. I'd imagined a thousand times what I would say. But when the time came, my heart was pounding so hard, I could barely breathe. And all I could think was that you were so much more than I imagined."
A strange confession, Haruka thought, and strangely sincere coming from the mischievous character he'd gotten to know. He almost laughed, but kept it to a smirk. "You never said anything."
A small laugh came back to him. "How could I? You already thought it was weird that I asked to be your friend. And I wanted to believe that was all I needed. Didn't you say it yourself? There are so many differences between humans and youkai." Kantarou sat up and looked at him. "But you're still here now, even knowing."
The air felt cooler where Kantarou's warmth had left his arm. Haruka reached out and pulled the smaller body back to his side. "It seems like I was once told it had nothing to do with human and youkai. That it was only about you and me."
Somehow, he knew Kantarou was smiling as arms wrapped around him again.
Belonging, Haruka realized. That was the difference in the stars. It was a nice feeling.