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Surreal, unbelievable . Tanuma didn't have the words to describe what this situation felt like. He had been able to feel the presence of supernatural beings but besides the time when he was possessed by the youkai with the broken mirror he had never been able to clearly see them. Amazing, terrorizing . So many mixed emotions made him feel perplexed. After having saved Natsume from the bottle and respectively being saved by him and Natori from the Omibashira mansion he thought everything was back to normal. Although nothing went back to normal and he realized after arriving home that he could see the pond outside his room. Beautiful, mesmerizing. He lost himself at the sight of red koi fish in crystal-blue water and the serene sounds they made. Yet he was out of this trance almost too soon as he came to the conclusion: he could see youkai. He sat down in the wooden entrance and tried analyzing the situation but found himself unable to concentrate, so he decided to just go to sleep. This decision though was useless as he couldn't drift into Morpheus's arms. He spent the rest of the night listening to the relaxing sounds of smooth water and quiet droplets.

 

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The next day he went to school like he normally would, although dark spots adorned his already black eyes and he seemed distressed. Frenzied, anxious . He was tense and uncomfortable as he kept seeing so many youkai. ´So this is what Natsume usually sees´ he thought as he kept on carefully avoiding eye contact with the youkai closest to him. He nervously made his way into his classroom and sat down. He should probably tell Natsume, but he didn't want the blond to panic so he continued his classes like usual. At break time though he found himself looking for Natsume and casually asked him to eat lunch with him. The blond accepted and they proceeded to the school's roof.

 

“How do you feel?”- asked Natsume while opening his bentou. The dark bags under Tanuma´s eyes made the blond wonder if his friend felt sick after encountering so many youkai at the mansion.

“I'm fine, but what about you? You seemed really tired yesterday.”- rebutted the dark haired boy.

 

“Do not worry about me, Tanuma. I am perfectly fine.”- of course he would say that while smiling sweetly, the last thing he wanted was to cause trouble to others. Yet he did seem normal so he didn't pushed it any further. He wasn't exactly being honest himself but he didn't feel the need to preoccupy Natsume. The conversation proceeded with senseless talk and random laughter until a tiny person-like youkai in a dark grey kimono suddenly appeared beside Natsume.

 

“Uwaaaaa!!” - yelled the raven haired boy while almost dropping his bentou. The sudden reaction made Natsume follow his friend's line of vision until he found the origin of his surprise.

 

“What?!” - yelled the blond almost as loud as his friend. At this point the small youkai reacted as well and started running away, but even after disappearing the two teenagers were left panicking although for different reasons.

 

“Tanuma, you saw it?” - asked Natsume preoccupied. Panic, confusion . Why was Tanuma able to see it? The light haired boy was left wondering why was his friend able to see the small youkai until Tanuma calmed himself enough to explain.

 

“Yeah, it surprised me. I´m sorry for not telling you sooner Natsume, but since the incident with the Omibashira mansion I have been able to see them. I didn't want to preoccupy you so I didn't mentioned it.” - confessed Tanuma. Yet he realized he had failed when he saw Natsume´s panicking face.

 

“I am incredibly sorry Tanuma, it is my fault that you were involved in such a dangerous situation.” - started Natsume - “I should have been more careful, the youkai´s aura must have affected you more than we initially thought and-”

 

”Natsume!” - the raven haired boy started as he tried to calm his friend down, grabbing his shoulders to make him look back at him - “It´s alright, it just scared me a little bit.” - said Tanuma. “And it´s not your fault, I was the one intruding into your world. I just wanted to see what you see and feel a little bit closer to you.” - he stated. But it was until he finished talking that he noticed the slight blush on the blond's cheeks and he realized what he had said. He let go of Natsume´s shoulders and tried hiding his blushing face by slightly turning to his side. Why did he always act on impulse?  Now Natsume was going to be grossed out by his words and was going to distance himself from Tanuma. Why was he so stupid? Negative thoughts started forming in Tanuma´s head until Natsume spoke.

 

“Are you not afraid of them?” - asked Natsume in a thin voice. That's right, Natsume had spent his entire life fearing them and being troubled by them. Of course he was preoccupied, he didn't want him to be in the same position and experience such sad and terrifying situations.

 

“I am.” - replied Tanuma. Natsume looked at him with wide eyes. - “But I'm more afraid of letting you face all of this alone. It´s part of you after all, and not all of them are bad, like Ponta or Natori´s familiar.” - continued the raven haired teenager. “That´s why I would do the same thing over again and as many times as I'm allowed. I know I'm being intrusive but I really want to be closer to you. You're not alone anymore, Natsume.” - saying this was embarrassing as hell, but if it made Natsume understand just how much he cared for him he didn't mind saying it.

 

“Tanuma…” - Natsume was left speechless. He lowered his eyes and seemed to be in deep thought. After a moment or so, he timidly looked back at him. “Do you really care so much for me?” - his voice was frail and the question came out almost as a whisper.

 

Tenderness, helplessness . Just how damaged was Natsume to think that people didn't really care for him? What horrible things had people done to him so that he was always so cautious of everyone and everything? - “I do.” - his words were firm but caring. - “You mean a lot to me. More than anyone actually.” - he meant it. He felt like it was an appropriate time to say it, and although his cheeks were burning he didn't stutter.

 

“More than anyone? Like in…?” - Natsume's expression wasn´t that of rejection but that of surprise and expectation. This gave Tanuma the motivation he lacked.

 

“Actually, I like you, Natsume. As in a romantic way.” - confessed Tanuma. And there he said it. There was no turning back now.

 

Natsume´s expression was unreadable for a moment. - “I know this is sudden but I'm not really expecting an answer. I know this might gross you out but I want you to know just how much I care for you and that you can rely on me for anything you need. I don't want you to feel lonely anymore.” - Tanuma´s cheeks were as red as the fish he saw last night in the pond. Natsume seemed troubled for a second, and when Tanuma thought he had messed all up he saw a hesitant Natsume reach out to him.

 

“Na..tsu...me?” - Natsume was hugging him. His best friend and crush was hugging him. Was all this a dream and he was still sleeping outside the Omibashira mansion? Was this not Natsume but a youkai pretending to be him? Questions arose in his mind, yet he found his arms had made their way around Natsume´s thin frame. Warmth, expectation . He squeezed the blond teenager slightly, making sure to keep him comfortable. Tanuma hesitated to talk.

 

“How should I take this as, Natsume?” - he didn't want to ruin the moment, but he needed to ask.

 

“As as yes, stupid.” - replied Natsume shyly while hugging him slightly tighter.

 

“I haven't even asked.” - the reply was more of a joke. - “But I guess now's the time to ask. Natsume, would you let me stay by your side as your boyfriend?” -   Bliss, elation. He knew his face was burning and so was Natsume´s.

 

“Jesus Christ you are so embarrassing. Yeah, I would love to.” - Natsume´s words showed his embarrassment, yet he felt him relax in his arms. Unfortunately, the bell announcing the next period rang and made them step back. While Natsume stared at the floor with his cheeks, ears and neck red Tanuma was smiling from ear to ear. With their bentous unfinished and their hearts fulfilled they walked to their respective classrooms in comfortable silence.

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Tanuma spent the rest of his classes replaying the scene in his head. Natsume’s chin had felt so warm against his shoulder. Or was it him that was overheating from the embarrassment? Ah, but he was now Natsume’s boyfriend. Was it alright to call him that? Obviously not in front of others, but would it matter in front of youkai? Would they bully Natsume because of it?

 

After thinking so much and what felt like an eternity school ended and so Natsume was waiting outside for Tanuma. When the latter came out of the building he rapidly spotted his new boyfriend waiting for him.

 

“Hey Natsume!” - greeted the raven haired boy with a wide smile. - “Were you waiting for me?”

 

“Tanuma-” - started the blond. “Yeah. Actually, I am a bit preoccupied. You told me you could see youkai now, so I thought I should keep an eye on you for the time being.” - Was Natsume being a tsundere? Innocence, cuteness .

 

“I wouldn't mind you keeping an eye on me from now on.” - joked Tanuma.- “My dad´s out of town this week so we can spend all the time we want together.”

 

“Then, would you come to my house today?” - the raven haired boy was a little bit surprised by the boldness of the question, uncharacteristical from Natsume. The latter seemed nervous, but who was him to deny his beloved?

 

“Yeah, I'd love to. But is it alright with Touko-san and Shigure-san? I don't want to intrude too much.” - replied Tanuma.    

 

“They are probably okay with it. They like you, after all.” - said Natsume with a sincere smile.

 

“Less food for me then!” - a sudden voice came from above them. When they looked up they saw Nyanko-sensei sitting in the school’s veranda.

 

“Ponta!”

 

“Nyanko-sensei! Please do not be mean to Tanuma, you already eat too much.” - Nyanko-sensei just replied with a grumpy hmph! and they continued their way to Natsume’s house. On their way Tanuma could see Natsume avoiding some small youkai on the street. He would also randomly smile at some of them and even greet them. Being able to see them really did change his perspective. Everything seemed more lively and suddenly the streets didn't feel so empty.

 

“You can see them.” - affirmed Nyanko-sensei towards Tanuma.

 

“Ha? Ah, yeah. Since the incident with the Omibashira mansion.” - replied the black haired boy. He could see Natsume making a discomforted face.

 

“Hmm, that´s probably caused because you spent so much time in that place. It will probably go back to normal after a few days.” - finished the cat-shaped youkai.

 

When they arrived at Natsume´s house they saw Touko-san outside hanging some clothes. “Ara! Tanuma-kun you came. Are you staying for dinner?” - asked they middle-aged lady kindly.

 

“If you are okay with it, Touko-san.” - “Of course, please enter the house, I´ll make some tea.”

 

“Thank you, Touko-san.” - thanked Natsume. The teenagers went inside the house and into Natsume's room.

 

“You seem nervous, Natsume.” - stated Nyanko-sensei. - “Wha-what are you talking about? You are just imaging it.” - rebutted the blond with a slight blush in his cheeks.

 

“Hmp! You're just so weak I´m afraid you might collapse any time soon. If you're as fine as you say then I'll be leaving to have a drink with the middle-ranks. You watch him!, he's always a problem to take care of.” - he demanded towards Tanuma. - “Yeah, I'll make sure he stays put.” - answered Tanuma with a chuckle. “Oi, don't go saying such things with me right here!” - replied Natsume while slightly flustered. - “Do what you want. I'm leaving, I'll be back tomorrow, probably.” - finished Nyanko-sensei while leaving through the window.

 

“Jeez that cat!” - complained Natsume.

 

“Takashi-kun, Tanuma-kun dinner's ready!” - yelled Touko-san from the first floor. The boys proceeded to the dining room and sat down in the table. Shigeru-san had already gotten home.

 

“Your food is delicious as always, Touko-san!” - said Tanuma happily. - “Ara, I'm glad you liked it!” - “Will you be staying the night Tanuma-kun? It's already late.” - said Shigeru-san while drinking from his beer. - “I wouldn't like to intrude.” - replied Tanuma shyly. - “Please don´t worry about that. You're such a good kid.” - said Touko-san. - “Well then if Natsume´s fine with it I´ll stay the night.” - said the raven haired boy while looking at Natsume. They had just started going out and didn't want to overwhelm Natsume. Yet the blond just smiled and asked him to stay the night.

 

After dinner they both took a bath (first Tanuma, then Natsume, just in case you were wondering) and they sat down in the blond's room.

 

“I am sorry I could not find any bigger clothes.” - apologized the blond with a chuckle as he saw Tanuma in way too short pants and a really tight shirt.

 

“It´s alright, although I could have gone back home to bring some clothes.”

 

“Yeah, but it's already late and I would not like you to find any evil youkai.”

 

“You´re right. I wouldn't like that either.”

 

“Are you tired? Should we sleep?”

 

“That might be a good idea, I'm a bit sleepy.”

 

“Then I will set the futons.” - Natsume proceeded to get from his closet two sets of futons. While he was doing it, Tanuma saw a glimpse of something from the lower part of the closet and remembered what Natsume kept in there. He sluggishly crawled there and took a look at the pictures. Kitamoto, Nishimura, Taki, and even Sasada were in several pictures. But when he looked deeper in his new boyfriend's closet, he saw that he had more pictures hidden.

 

“Oi Tanuma! Do not just look into people's belongings!” - said the blond haired teenager when he saw Tanuma inspecting his closet. A slight blush adorned his cheeks.

 

“I´m sorry, but can't I take a look at the one at the back?” - asked Tanuma even though he didn't even look back, but kept on observing the pictures.

 

“Uwaa! Not those!!” - tried complaining Natsume, but it was too late. Inside the closet (no pun intended) Tanuma observed in amazement a certain picture of him sleeping with his mouth open in the cultural festival. In the middle of his daze he could feel his feet being pulled from behind him and he suddenly found himself back outside the closet (again, no pun intended). When he looked up he saw Natsume completely red and flustered.

 

“I´m sorry Natsume. Though I didn't know you liked me that much!” - said Tanuma with a wide smile that complimented his pink cheeks. - “Stuupid, of course I like you.” - answered Natsume, his voice thinning towards the end and his whole face turning redder. - Playfulness, joy . - “Anyway, let us go to sleep.” - said Natsume while he finished accommodating the futons.

 

After that they said their ´goodnights´ and proceeded to sleep. Lightheadedness, hopefulness. Sleeping next to Natsume was something he never imagined himself doing. He could hear Natsume´s light breaths and could almost feel his body heat radiating from beside. The silence of the night slowly but surely brought Tanuma into a deep sleep.

 

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About two hours had passed since Tanuma fell asleep when he heard noises. While becoming conscious of his surroundings he could tell the light was on even though his eyes were still closed.

 

“I thank you, Natsume-dono. Now I will be taking my leave.” - “Ahh, you are welcome.” - He could hear Natsume's voice and one he didn´t recognize. Then he felt a light thump next to him and heard a tired sigh. He then opened his eyes and realized the lights were on and Natsume had been talking to someone.

 

“Is someone here?” - he asked as he sat. Natsume stood rapidly. - “Tanuma! I am sorry I woke you. It is nothing, I will turn off the lights.” - the blond proceeded to turn off the lights and accommodate himself back in his futon.

 

“Are you sure?” - a moment passed before the blond answered.

 

“Actually, it was a youkai. It was not a bad one so do not worry. They sometimes happen to visit me for-, ...various things.” - replied Natsume.

 

“Do they usually visit at night?”

 

“Well, yeah. But it is no big deal, seriously.”

 

“That does make sense.” - it was until he was fully conscious that Tanuma started to listen carefully to the sounds of the night. Whispers, the rustling of air through the trees, crickets, cicadas, laughter. Since when were nights so noisy? Overwhelm, bewilderment .

 

“Do you hear them?” - asked Natsume after Tanuma was left dumbfounded.

 

“Yeah.” - he took a moment before he looked back at the blond. - “Now that I've started to see them I can hear them even from the inside of your room.” - indeed he could. If he paid close attention he could even make out what they were talking about. Their voices were so different, somehow distorted.

 

“They are very annoying sometimes. There are times even I am not able to sleep because of them.” - confessed the blond teenager with a distant look.

 

“Do you feel troubled right now because of them?” - asked Tanuma. Concern, care . It took a moment for Natsume to answer.

 

“Yes.” - the reply itself was dull but so full of sincerity that the dark haired boy couldn't help himself into reaching for his beloved and hugging him tightly. Innocence, purity. He found himself falling in love with him all over again.

 

“I never thought this was so hard on you, Natsume.”

 

“It is alright, I am mostly used to it… but there are times I do feel a little bit overwhelmed. I am sorry I am being this petty in front of you.”

 

“Please do rely on me more. I've already told you that I don't want you to face this by yourself. You are not alone anymore.” - the words felt so relieving for Natsume that he leaned closer into the hug.

 

“I care for you too much, I do not want to cause you any more trouble, Tanuma.” - Natsume's voice was so thin he almost missed it.

 

“And it is because I care for you that I want you to share your burdens with me.” - the black haired boy was calm and understanding. He then grabbed Natsume's cheek with precise care and pressed his lips into Natsume's soft ones. The act lasted for a mere second, he then leaned back a little bit to look into the blond's eyes.

 

“Natsume, I like you. You mean everything to me now. Believe me.” - Natsume was left speechless.

 

“Tanuma…” - the blond looked deep into his boyfriend´s eyes and saw the frankness behind them. He then leaned forward to return the kiss. Tanuma was surprised by the sudden reaction, but returned the kiss with gentleness. He felt Natsume´s hands touch his nape and his fingers grab at his hair. He could feel the blond's arms shake slightly and his lips quiver in expectation. When he noticed that Natsume had no intention of stopping, he let his hands wander throughout Natsume´s back, groping carefully along his shoulder blades and tracing circles with his fingertips.

 

Intrigue, curiosity. Their inexperience led them into sloppy kisses powered by their want for more; Tanuma´s youthful mind led him into biting his beloved's lips somehow harder that he wanted, and Natsume´s sudden boldness led him into inviting his boyfriend´s tongue inside his mouth.

 

Warmth, earnestness . Natsume's lips let a slight moan escape and Tanuma felt his insides quiver. Blood flowed rapidly throughout his body and when he felt the blond's hands caress behind his ears he experimentally lowered his hands to Natsume´s waist. Because of the darkness of the room and the fact that his eyes were closed, his senses became more keen and he could feel in his hands the contractions of his boyfriend´s muscles beneath his skin.

 

Fervor, intensity . Up, then down, from his waist to his stomach and back at his spine. Their lips were numb and their lungs begged for air yet they kept on kissing. Natsume was overwhelmed with the situation, Tanuma felt so soft beneath his fingers and his body was so hot that he wasn't able to concentrate on the noises outside his room. He was also afraid because of the suddenness of the event and because of his own inexperience. But more than anything he felt safe with Tanuma, and that was all that he needed in order to continue.

 

Excitement, enthusiasm . Tanuma was so engrossed in exploring the body in front of him that he needed every bit of self-control he possessed in order not to scare Natsume. Above all the new sensations that his body was having, his mind was intoxicated by the fact that Natsume was trusting him enough to do this, that he wanted to do this. Or was it just his selfish thinking?

 

“Natsume, “ - he gasped while breaking their kiss for a moment and placing his hands firmly against his waist. “Are you sure you feel like doing this? I don't want you to do anything you don´t like.” - his beloved's breaths were harsh with the new sensation and his cheeks flushed with shyness.

 

“I am sure, Tanuma. I would not do anything I do not feel comfortable with.” - said the blond while staring at the floor. He then looked firmly at his boyfriend with crystalline eyes. - “You make me feel safe from the world.” - Emotion overtook Tanuma and he felt like crying. But he didn't, and instead he smiled from ear to ear and gave Natsume a kiss in the forehead.

 

Connection, trust . Tanuma returned to kissing Natsume and let his hands tug at his shirt. When he felt no resistance he let his fingers ghost over the blonde's skin up to his chest. Natsume in return also embraced Tanuma beneath his way-too-small shirt.  Suddenly the situation felt more heated and their hearts throbbed inside their chests.

 

Passion, intensity . Because of their closeness their legs had somehow become tangled and thus at some point their angle caused friction between their lower regions. - “Mmmhm.” - a muffled sound came from Natsume's lips. He felt so embarrassed that he halted the kiss and furrowed his face between Tanuma´s neck and shoulder. Tanuma thought of stopping, but then he felt Natsume rubbing his boner into his own. If his face could get any redder he would be turning into a tomato.

 

Anticipation, shyness . The black haired teenager traced his fingers along Natsume´s hard nipples and felt the way he arched his back. Their boners kept on rubbing until he felt the blond's trembling fingers tug at his pants.

 

“...Tanuma. Tanuma. Tanuma.” - Natsume was quietly calling his name. He then pulled his right arm away and brought it in front of Natsume's face. He placed three of his fingers in the blond's lips and the latter put them inside his mouth. With closed eyes and red cheeks, Natsume licked the fingers thoroughly while Tanuma kissed along his jawline. After they were wet enough he placed his hand in Natsume's pants. He carefully let his hand slide through Natsume´s buttocks and felt the arms around his torso tremble. Natsume had started kissing and biting slightly at his neck, leaving a wet trace which together with his shallow breaths made him shiver.

 

Excitation, sultry. - “Na...tsume.” - he called as he felt one of Natsume´s hands enter his boxers. The blond slowly patted his way until he grabbed Tanuma´s hard cock and started stroking it. - “Hmmp.” - a groan escaped Tanuma´s mouth. He had started massaging the blonde's entrance with his wet fingers and proceeded to push his index slowly inside. Tanuma felt a rather harsh bite in his neck and felt the blond contract, the hand at his cock stopping for a moment.

 

“Please tell me if it hurts.” - his voice was hoarse with desire.

 

“It is okay. Continue.”

 

Worry, caution. Tanuma moved his finger with care in order to relax his boyfriend. He felt Natsume rub his cock once more without a specific pace and his mouth in his cheek. They kissed and he placed one more finger in, then another one until he felt the blond relax properly.

 

“Tanuma… it is okay now.”

 

“Are you sure about this?”

 

“I am sure. I trust you completely.”

 

“I love you, Natsume.”

 

“...Me too. I love you”

 

Vulnerability, entrust . Tanuma was scared. Scared that Natsume had let him do this; scared that he had so much power over Natsume at the moment; scared of the moment itself; scared of what his inexperience might bring them; scared of Natsume; scared of what he might do wrong; scared of him losing his virginity; scared of Natsume's eyes. His beloved's eyes were looking straight at him as they laid on Tanuma´s futon, without the usual wall he felt between them. They stared raw and unfiltered at his soul. Gold, amber, the color of falling stars, the shade of the sun in a spring morning, the hue of sunflowers. Black holes, deep seas, hidden treasures- he couldn't describe them.

 

“How would you describe the color of love, Natsume?

 

“...The same I would describe the shine of your tears. Why are you crying?”

 

“I´m crying?”

 

“Yeah. Are you sad?”

 

“No.”

 

“Then, do you regret this?”

 

“No.”

 

“Then, why do you cry?”

 

“Because I love you.”

 

“Do you regret loving me?”

 

“No. I just can't help feeling genuinely happy.”

 

Joy, love . Tanuma placed himself between Natsume´s open legs and gave the latter a chaste kiss in the lips. He then grabbed his throbbing cock and placed it in Natsume´s entrance. Slowly and carefully he made his way inside the blond. Grimaces and groans of pain and discomfort escaped Natsume's lips, but he never complained. With painful control, Tanuma started to move inside his boyfriend, a steady pace bringing shallow breaths from his mouth.

 

It was until minutes later that Natsume kissed Tanuma in order to hide his moans. Having Touko-san and Shigeru-san sleeping in the first floor brought anxiety to Natsume, but he was experiencing such strong emotions that he wasn't even able to hear the random whispers of youkai on the street outside his house.

 

“Ta...nu..ma, I-I am coming!”

 

“Me too, hmm, just a lil´ bit more.”

 

“Ugh, ahh, Ta...nu..maa!”

 

“Natsu...me.”

 

Climax, extasy . After they came they were left exhausted, specially Natsume. Tanuma had laid down in Natsume's chest, and when he felt his erection shrink he came out of him and laid beside his beloved. They were facing each other, both enjoying the aftermath.  Tanuma snuggled closer to Natsume and hugged him.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“For?”

 

“Letting me love you.”

 

“... That is my line.” - Tanuma just embraced Natsume tighter as he heard him cry quietly. - “I love you, -sniff- Tanuma. I really do.”

 

“I love you too.”

 

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The next morning Natsume woke up to a snoring Tanuma hugging him. ´Just like the picture´ he thought. It was still dark outside and he didn't see Nyanko-sensei close by. Relieved he closed his eyes and remembered the night before. Was it okay to let Tanuma get more involved in his world? Would he get injured again? Was he allowed to be loved so much?

 

“Hmmm. Natsume, good morning.” - Tanuma had woken up.

 

“Good morning.” - when the fact that he was still naked came back to him his cheeks turned pink like cherry petals.

 

“We should probably change, I don't think Ponta or Touko-san would appreciate the view.” - joked the black haired boy.

 

“You are right.”

 

After they changed they went down and ate breakfast, but it wasn't until they left for school that they saw Nyanko-sensei.

 

“Did you guys missed me? I drank such a good sake with the middle ranks.”

 

“Ahh, sure.” - replied Tanuma. Natsume blushed.

 

“Can you see that guy on the tree?” - asked Nyanko-sensei toward Tanuma.

 

“Which? I think I can't see it.”

 

“As I thought. The effect has already passed. You´re back to normal.”

 

“Ah, I guess.” - Tanuma wasn't happy, but he wasn't sad either. - “I guess I'll have Natsume telling me himself what he sees.”

 

“Yeah, I will.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

Nyanko-sensei just looked at them for a moment before they continued their way. He also pretended not to see the two boys holding hands.