"Are you still thinking about her?"

Through the windows of Tokyo Tower's Special Observation deck, the city stretched out, sparkling and vibrant against the night. The lights drowned out all but the brightest stars in the sky, creating a makeshift universe below on the earth with the city's alternating twinklings of blues, yellows, and reds.

Subaru sat on the floor, gloved hands pressed against the glass, staring. It was hard not to think about Kazue-san, her ethereal form, her former sadness. Encountering spirits was no new thing, but while he had grown used to their presence in his life, he had yet to develop a shield against the empathy they aroused. Hokuto thought he was too kind and gave too much of himself to others, and if that was true, it explained the heaviness in his heart.


Subaru blinked and looked up; the light hand changed. Seishiro had moved closer, casting him in the wake of his shadow. Yes, he was still thinking about Kazue-san, but also…

"Why did you follow me up here, Seishiro-san?"

"I told you." Seishiro sat next to him, and the shadow moved and was gone. He smiled and reached out, his forefinger touching the very tip of Subaru's nose. "I was just trying to protect the man I love."

Subaru's face colored; he looked away, back out at Tokyo. A hundred thousand mysteries were unfolding in the night below them, but the two of them remained seated, locked onto the deck until morning.

"I feel bad, now that we're done" he said. "We shouldn't be here after hours…"

"That's like you – you wouldn't want to break any rules." Seishiro smiled again and took off his glasses, cleaning them on the hem of his jacket. "I mean it, you know," he continued, eyes sparkling good-naturedly. "I really do love you."

Subaru's face grew hotter. Doggedly, he folded his hands in his lap and stared at them.

"And here we are," Seishiro mused. "You and I, all alone, at one of the most romantic spots in Tokyo…we could get up to unspeakable mischief…and no one would ever find out." He put his glasses back on; they gleamed with a new brightness, reflecting Tokyo's lights. "Well, maybe Hokuto-chan would," he added. "She has a knack for knowing all sorts of things."

"I know you like to joke when she's around, but you can stop now, Seishiro-san."

He smiled again, wider and more kind, at the face that was still staring adamantly down at the floor. Seishiro reached over, his fingertips tracing the soft, exposed skin under his throat, lifting Subaru's face to meet his.

"I'm not joking."

They remained frozen in the silence until the blood pounding in Subaru's ears grew too loud for him to stand.

"Y-you're such a kidder, Seishiro-san!"

Seishiro pulled away, sighing with a great air of melodrama. "Hokuto-chan will be disappointed in me. Here I am, all alone with you, completely failing in the art of seduction." Subaru spluttered as he pulled off his jacket and began folding it. "You can't tell your sister about this, though – she'll never let me live down how I left your innocence intact."

"Wait – what?"

"Here." Seishiro held out his jacket; it had been folded into a soft, square bundle. "It won't be quiet as good as a pillow, but you can stretch out on the floor and rest your head on it. You should get some sleep….it's been a long night."

Subaru felt something in his throat tighten; he swallowed, took the jacket, and looked up into the face that was still smiling at him with soft, kind eyes. Seishiro rose to his feet.

"I'm not tired yet. I think I'll go for a walk."

"T-thanks, Seishiro-san…" Subaru looked down at the jacket in his hands; the light shifted, and suddenly he was plunged into shadow again as Seishiro leaned down, too quickly for Subaru to register, and kissed his forehead.

"You're welcome, Subaru-kun." He stood up straight now, beaming. "Now get some rest."

Subaru watched him walk away, hands in his pockets, his expression hidden. He decided he wouldn't tell Hokuto-chan about their conversation, or the kiss (Subaru touched his forehead lightly, as if unsure that it had even happened) but most of all, about the way Seishiro's jacket smelled: like sakura, the haunting, delicate sweetness of the spring flower, the masculine smell of work…and something under it all, coppery and old, like rusted metal…almost like blood.

Almost. His mind moved on to more important things;Seishiro-san was always teasing him…but maybe, well…just maybe…

Subaru breathed in the scent quietly to himself and fell asleep, smiling.