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SHRINE

Chapter Text

TRACK 1

There is a light that never goes out - The Smiths

 

“Ue-sama”, read out loud one of the highschoolers standing in front of a sign made in childish handwriting, with the picture of a cute lost kitten, “some people sure have a really weird taste on pet names”.
“C’mon, Yama-chan!” scoffed another girl with middle straight hair and glasses, “you can’t really talk about weird names, you name your dog after Zenny’s singer!”.
“What is wrong with you, Ami-chan!?” retorted the first girl, tall with short, light brown hair, “Zenny’s are like gods!”.
“Of course not! Hyakkyakou are the ones that are godlike!”
“What do you think, Hiyori-chan?!” asked both girls to the third one, still lingering in how sad was the fact that such a small kitty went lost. When she looked at her friends, the magenta hue in her eyes told them that she really wasn’t paying the slightest attention to what they were saying.
“I… think Ue-sama is a really pretty name” Hiyori doubted, shifting her scarf over her neck and freeing some tresses of hair from underneath it. Ami and Yama let out a resignation huff.
“Hiyori-chan is always in her own little world, isn’t she?” laughed Ami.
“Sorry, Hiyori, it was actually our fault to make such a stupid question” added Yama, with a bit of embarrasement. Hiyori kept looking at them with wide eyes, completely lost. The three girls kept walking.

 

It was a cold day at the end of autumn. The kind of cloudy day in which you would usually expect snow to fall at any moment. Hiyori looked from behind to both her friends. They were really close since middle school, but lately, however, she felt like with each passing day she was falling behind. Like today, for example, she was incapable of understanding the subject they were talking about completely, and it happened more frequently than before. Ami and Yama helped in what they could but sometimes it was certainly too hard to explain the backstory of absolutely everything they said. Hiyori, after all, always had been a special child. And even when at first things went out smoothly for her, lately she was beginning to realize being special was making everything way more complicated day by day after.
She was the kind of girl who never had to struggle for anything at all. Her father was the headmaster of the Iki’s general hospital, her family hospital, and having only one older brother that apparently was destined to follow the steps of all men in her family, Hiyori was never involved in the usually serious conversation about what did she wanted to become as an adult. Instead, her mother was determined to have her educated as a perfect little role model of a nice family girl.
Since then, Hiyori basically had no time for distractions. Ikebana, traditional dance, ballet, piano lessons, painting lessons. Every activity considered great for a good girl to have knowledge in, her mother listed her into, and was her guide even when she did had time to spare, deciding even over TV programs she could see.
“Hiyori-chan? Hi-yo-ri-chan!”
“Huh? Oh! I’m sorry Ami-chan! I got a little distracted, what were you saying?”
Ami and Yama laughed again. “You’re kind of a sleepwalker, don’t you?” teased Ami-chan.
“We were just asking if it was possible for you to make us a space in that clumped agenda of yours to go shopping after school” helped Yama.
“Shopping huh?”
“You know” said Ami, “go to the mall, try ridiculous clothes on, maybe eat some ice cream, the usual normal human girl stuff”
Hiyori smiled, a little bit ashamed but also somewhat hurt. “Next Tuesday my Ikebana class is going to cancel, so I can ask mother if I can go out with you guys”
Both her friends smiled and did a little dance while continuing with their way. Yama insisted on the subject: “But seriously, Hiyori-chan, don’t you think your routine is way too… stiff?”
“I don’t know what you mean, Yama-chan” Hiyori answered plainly, “I have enough time left to study, do the assignments and sleep fairly well”.
Yama laughed a bit. “I mean time to relax, to rest, to hang out with us…”
“Or without us!” interrupted Ami-chan with amusement.
“Yeah, yeah! I mean, you’re sixteen, Hiyori, and you’re not even allowed to watch TV by yourself”.
“W-well that’s… Uhm…” blabbed Hiyori without any actual argument against them.
“At school you don’t get distracted, not even a little” added Ami, in the middle between joking and worried, “Is there even anyone you like? I mean in real life, obviously, because Jared Padalecki doesn’t count”
“But I told you that’s not true!” Hiyori squealed.
“Nobody looks at the screen the way you do when he’s in it! Imagine what your mother would say if she finds out you come to my house to study with Netflix full volume on my living room!”
“My daughter is getting mundane hobbies!” Yama cried, trying to fake Hiyori’s mother’s voice.
“This is such a disgrace to our family!” followed Ami in the same mood.
“Now stop it! You kinda do sound just like her and this is getting too weird!”
The three girls laughed and kept walking.
“So, Hiyori?” Yama insisted “is there anyone you do like?”
“Hummm…” said Hiyori, thoughtfully, making a genuine effort, “let me think…”
She gave up after a couple minutes. In fact, she didn’t even knew how it should feel to like someone, just as she had never went out shopping with her friends or considered she would become a fan of a ghosts and action TV show. “I think there’s… actually no one I like…”
“Look Yama-chan!!”
“Waaah! How cute!!”
Hiyori let her friends run to the front of a store that was full with Gudetama merchandise. She honestly had never realized that somehow the world around her seemed kind of off, somewhat foggy and distant, separated of her for a thin veil that even if it wasn’t entirely her fault, it wasn’t fair to blame on her parents either. In a practical way, Hiyori was a well-taken-care-of child, and compared to others, her family was a very loving one. Square, yes, but she always had her place on it. The world outside, on the contrary, Hiyori felt as if you needed to win the place to belong with somehow. Was it too much to ask to just be yourself? If she could she would keep being exactly the way she was being up until now… but again, how was it?

Blue.

Staring at nothing, Hiyori’s eyes crashed with a sharp, almost electric blue gaze. That visual contact made her shiver for an instant, and then she assimilated the rest of the face; fair skin, thin eyebrows, frozen in an indifferent expression, arrogant cheekbones and thin lips that barely shifted to the sudden encounter. After a few seconds, Hiyori felt as if a jinx casted upon her faded as the guy finished wiping his sunglasses in his white t-shirt and place them back at his face, keeping forward. Hiyori then followed him with her sight. Her mother will surely disapprove the length of his hair, that was about two inches longer than her brother’s hair. A guitar case hanged on his shoulder, and seemed heavy due to the guy continuously shifting the strap with one hand. The bad guy look, arms covered in tattoos...
“Hiyori-chan, what are you doing? Let’s go!”
“Hey, wait for me!”

He sighed, shifting again the strap of his guitar on his shoulder. He took his sunglasses off and cleaned them again on his t-shirt in a compulsory gesture. He pushed the traffic light button, it was taking so long that was starting to drive him insane, specially after an encounter like that. He wondered if that girl had recognized him, and at the same time he scolded himself for standing there staring at her like an idiot during that much time, what the hell was he thinking? If that damn old geezer knew where he was, he will be in serious trouble. “And there I had to stay standing still like the goddamn asshole I am… WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS THING?”. He kept pushing frantically the traffic light button to make it go faster.
The little man in the traffic light finally changed position and got lit with green. The guy held the strap of his guitar case tightly before practically sprinting over the zebra crossing, unaware, submerged in his own thoughts as he was, that a shiny black audi was coming close to the traffic light at full speed.
In a few seconds the whole scene was a complete chaos. The driver barely had time to hit the brake when his attention went back to the road instead of changing songs in his stereo. The sound of tires screeching and the white smoke smelling like burnt rubber confused the guy that, after a hard push at the small of his back was safe and sound with no more than a few scratches on the other side of the street.
“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?! YOU COULD HAVE DIED!” squealed a faint voice beside him. Surprisingly, not knowing exactly what had just happened, he was in front of the magenta eyes from minutes ago.
“Huh…”
“THE DRIVER IS TRULY… A DUMMY!”
Dummy? The guy couldn’t avoid laughing a little.
“W-well, I think you should be more worried about yourself…”
“…huh?” blinked Hiyori, totally confused. A dense hot liquid made its way down her forehead, and all of a sudden all she could see was piercing blue, engulfing her whole, taking her to a nice warm and cozy place that a voice wanted to get her out no matter what.
“Hiyori!”
Her eyelids couldn’t move, but that voice was so familiar…
“Hiyori, dear, wake up, please!”
“M-mother…” Hiyori thought, and suddenly again the world around her seemed to materialize.

White.

A constant pressure in her head was about to become painful. Reaching her hand up she found a thick bandage, and from the white fog around her a few familiar and worried faces became clear. Her mother, her father and her two friends were around her bed, taking care of her at her hospital room. Upon the girl’s response, all four of them sighed in relief, and then smiled.
“Dear, are you okay? Can you hear me?”
“Hiyori-chan, we were so worried!” cried Ami, hugging Yama.
“Yeah, that sure was a though hit!” said Yama jokingly, trying solve the tension a bit.
“Easy now, let her come to her senses” said her father, approaching her bed with a calm gesture and getting his stethoscope to his ears, “let’s check upon you, princess”
Hiyori looked at everyone with cherish while her father proceeded with the examination. He concluded she was okay, apart from a few scratches and bumps that needed to be checked further with a CT scan.
“And now, honey, tell us” asked her mother, severely, “what happened?”
Hiyori tried to remember exactly what she saw.
“…the light was green for the pedestrian light… and then I heard an engine… the car was coming so fast that he would be certainly run over some…” after a little more effort, Hiyori got a flash memory of the guy with a guitar, “there was someone else!”
After the sudden change, the stares of concern made her rephrase her question.
“What happened to the guy that was with me?”
Ami and Yama exchanged a worried stare. Ami spoke: “Hiyori-chan… we couldn’t see anything… the smoke from the tires kept us from seeing exactly what happened but…”
“When we reach to the other side of the car you had fainted already” Yama explained, “you were bleeding at your forehead and somebody had already called for an ambulance, but there was no one else with you.”
Hiyori was growing more and more confused. “But you should have seen him! He was… he had…”. To Hiyori, try to remind something beyond the blue shade she saw, made her dizzy and got her a strong piercing pain to her head. She took both hands to her head and lied down, exhausted. Her mother arranged her pillows.
“Easy, dear, try to rest a bit. As you recover from your injuries I’m sure you will be able to remember more about it” advised Mr. Iki, “take all the time you need, I will arrange to keep you monitored as long as possible, so relax and focus in recovering”. He nudged her forehead lovingly and stepped out of her room with quick pace, and Hiyori felt a comfortable darkness swallowing her again. Nothing was making sense.
“There was someone, right?”

“Are you sure it’s OK for you to come along with us today, Hiyori? The accident was not that long ago.”
“Yeah, if you’re doing it because not wanting to make us feel bad about rejecting going out, we totally understand that you need to rest, honestly.”
“You guys sound just like my mother again. Cut it out!”
The three girls were walking slowly through the hallways of a nearby mall. In front of them a crowd revolved over a music store, many people standing in line in front of the main counter for paying the new Hyde’s single advertised all over the place. Ami and Yama smiled at Hiyori as an apology for worrying too much, and then focused on the music store. Avoiding people as good as they could they made it to the inside where they got two copies of Hyde’s record. They both looked like they could taste triumph.
“Ami-chan and Yama-chan really like this sort of stuff, don’t you guys?”, asked Hiyori, who witnessed it all from within a safe distance.
“THAT’S BECAUSE HYDE IS GODLIKE!” both girls said and fluttered back to the entrance to get in line for paying their records.
Hiyori assumed this was going to take a while, so she decided to wait over there. Shelf after shelf the records piled up showing their colorful covers. Hundreds of faces, hundreds of songs waiting to be discovered by someone. Hiyori started to regret not knowing any of it.
A group of middle school girls were making a fuss about a particular record, let out a few dumb giggles and left with a copy each.
“Is this what I should be doing with my time?” thought Hiyori, getting close to that particular shelf, “Am I supposed to be interested in this sort of things?”. She didn’t even looked at the name of the band or the record. Near that shelf they had a CD player with the record in it, so she just took the headphones and pressed the play button in the touchscreen.
A clear voice sang in her ears a beautiful but ripping sad tune about love. The music led her attention spectacularly from one part of the song to the next, and at one point a guitar rose above it all. The sound bewitched her, and Hiyori didn’t knew exactly what made her entire skin get goosebumps; either the emotional impact she had over the guitar solo, or the fact that right above her, from a big poster at the very top of one of the walls of the store, someone was looking at her with a cold ice blue gaze.

Ami and Yama found her staring at the cover of the record she was listening to, holding a copy with shaky hands.
Hiyori looked up to them.
“Ami-chan… Yama-chan… who is he?”

Chapter Text

TRACK 2


The boys in the band - The Libertines

 

“Ami-chan, Yama-chan, who is he?”
The two girls turned around to see what she pointed. Across the store, the young man returned their gaze with cold eyes.
“That’s SHRINE's guitarist, they made their debut about six months ago” explained Yama, and then added with a little giggle, “what happened, Hiyori-chan? Your feminine urges just woke up all of a sudden?”
Ami couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of the face Hiyori did when she understood what Yama was implying.
“…the hell are you talking about, Yama-chan?” her face turned into a very deep shade of red.
“To tell you the truth, Hiyori-chan, you have an amazingly good taste” teased Ami in a playful note.
“I-I don’t know what you mean, I just came to buy this record…”
Ami and Yama just couldn’t stop smiling.
“But we came to buy Hyde’s single”
“Well, yeah, but I do like this group and I’m purchasing this one…”
“’Group’?” both friends found weird Hiyori’s choice of words.
“Excuse me! Can you tell me the price of this record?”
“Hey! Hiyori-chan! Come back! We were just teasing you!”

“SHRINE made their debut with that label a few months ago, thought they say the band itself was formed around four years ago; which is surprising because the bassist is really young” Said Yama, over her iced coffee whipped cream. Hiyori was eagerly listening while carefully observing the record she just bought. Her monthly money was dangerously reduced because of her purchase, and she had to find an excuse for falling short of it at the end of the month, but she regretted nothing. “That’s why the last news we had about them were so scandalous”.
“What happened?” asked Hiyori, removing the booklet off the plastic case, trying to not get lost between all the new words she had to learn, which Yama managed as an expert.
“The singer left the band, there was even rumors about her retirement, but soon after that she was seen going out of the office of a different label.”
“With another man!” Ami added, when it seemed until that moment that her attention was completely taken by her ice cream cone. Yama snorted.
“That is SO just a rumor, Ami-chan”
Her friend looked at her from behind her glasses with sparkles in her eyes. This kinds of subjects were actually her specialty. “Do you SERIOUSLY think she just woke up one day and went ‘I want a change of band’, Yama-chan?”
“What do you guys mean?” asked Hiyori, making a true effort to follow the conversation.
“Ami-chan thinks the singer left the band because she wanted to run away with her lover.”
“It’s not just me, Yama-chan! There’s a lot of people who also believes it! Just look at the facts!” trying to overcome the embarrasement that the word “lover” caused her, Hiyori asked again:
“I’m so sorry guys, but I’m having a really hard time knowing exactly who are you talking about…”
Yama took the booklet off of Hiyori’s hands and quickly searched through the pages until she found the picture of an astonishing blonde woman with fierce eyes, and showed it back to her. The voice of that woman was exactly what the photograph portrayed: sexy, mature, and somewhat aggressive. She was extremely beautiful.
“Rumor has it that she and your boyfriend…”
“WHAT BOYFRIEND, YAMA-CHAN!?”
“…the guitarist, of course, had an affair years before the band got together”
“Hiyori-chan, the guitarist is really gorgeous, but even so, that girl fled to the arms of another guy”, Ami added, with a rascal tone, “supposedly her solo album is about to get released”.
Hiyori received the booklet again, flipping over the photos. Her heart skipped a beat when she looked at the portrait of the blue-eyed guy that had been on the verge of getting killed.

Later, laying at her bedroom, Hiyori was taking her time before entering the shower to get down to dinner. The album ended for the third time, and Hiyori pushed play on the worn-down button of an old discman; borrowed from Ami-chan since in Hiyori’s bedroom there was no way of playing music, and in her house “that scandalous music” was prone to be completely banished.
The music was strong, powerful, the singer’s voice enhanced the top layers, glueing everything together. And, interlocked with it, the guitar crunched and howled thanks to the musician’s skills. Hiyori saw him again clearly, his thin eyebrows, haughty nose and his eyes, thoughtful, intense, that seemed to want to swallow her whole and stripping her most hidden memory down…
“WHAT IS GOING ON WITH ME?!” Hiyori thought, with her face on fire, and threw the pillow she was hugging. The pillow bounced at the edge of her bed, exactly where the booklet had been, making it fall to the carpet, where it opened just at the middle. Hiyori got up from the bed and got on her knees besides the open booklet. Turning it around, she picked it up to read what it said.
“SHRINE members are:”
Her eyes flew swiftly over all the names until she found the one she was interested in.
“GUITAR – 夜卜”
“Yato?” she whispered, plopping back on her bed with the booklet opened in his picture. She let her arms drop after a few minutes, exhausted. With her earphones on and melodies filling her ears, the girl looked at the ceiling, thinking. She, Iki Hiyori, a regular schoolgirl, had jumped at the street to save the life of a promising rock star.
She chuckled to herself. Somehow, she finally felt herself enjoying her youth.

A dart hit the bullseye right at the center, sharing the spot with two others. The wrist halted in the midst of throwing another one, the hand wrapped around the dart and fell softly to the forehead.
“I’m stupid”, said the guy with jet black hair, laying down on his couch. He looked around from his spot searching some distraction for his mind. For some reason, since a week ago he could not stay still. The smell of burnt rubber could be recalled by his uneasy mind, running at miles per hour; he was certain that someday without a notice it will end up combusting inside of his skull, leaving his body inert, liquid brain dripping down his eyes disgustingly…
Jolting like he had a spring attached to his back he crossed the room, that despite the dim lightning he knew as the back of his hand. He opened the door at the very back and threw himself on his bed, taking his guitar in that same movement. Chords. Scales. Sketches of melodies that may or may not become something useful. He looked around to find a piece of paper and between scribbles and blurred patches he wrote quickly a new melody. He kept playing, changed it, strikethrough it and wrote another one. His mind had no way of stopping and the ideas struggled to come out, to be played.

Magenta.

He threw his guitar to the bottom of his bed and plopped over his pillow with a grunt. He felt again the push on his back, the pain on his knees and palms.
“I’m seriously stupid”.
He skipped at the nasty sound of the doorbell (didn’t he had disconnected it last week?). The hateful sound repeated, and again he was on his feet like he was being pushed with a spring, running across the room before that hellish sound was made again. When he opened the door it made a screech, and he remembered he should have greased the joints a long time ago. Outside, lit by the sunset light, a blond guy appeared, making a smug smile when he noticed the irky face of the blue eyed guy, and pushed the doorbell again, looking him dead in the eye.
“I just fuckin’ opened the damn door, Yukine!”
The youngster stepped inside from under his host’s arm.
“I’m also glad to see you, asshole”
Yukine turned on the light of the place, ignoring the complaints of his friend. A buzzing white light flickered before illuminating the basement they were in.
In front of the door was a small living room with two leather couches ragged due to overuse. At the center, a coffee table could very well go unnoticed if over it there wasn’t piles of instant ramen empty cups, empty beer cans, used paper sheets, notes, scores, different types of paper making a messy collage, that seemed to be on balance thanks to the dirty ashtray right at the top. Beyond the living room, against the bottom wall, a little kitchenette had noticeable signs of omission. The coffee maker was the only thing that seemed on acceptable conditions due its constant use. Everything else had that foggy appearance things get when they have not been used in a long time. A little beyond there was a door leading to a minuscule bathroom, and in front of it, at the very center of the place, a clean and very well kept pool table gave contrast with the rest, and further at the left, on top of a platform, covered by a sheet, the silhouette of a drum set and a mixer waiting for being used. Right at the bottom of that basement was his bedroom, in which there was only enough room for the bed, a little side table and the guitar stand. The natural light was supposed to enter through the window vents, but at that time the sunset light could not do much passing through untidy glass panes. Yukine sighed while looking for a place to sit. The black haired guy had thrown himself again on the couch he was lying.
“When was the last time you cleaned here?”
“Dunno’.”
“God damnit, Yato! You can’t even move that fat ass of yours to tidy up a bit in case someone comes?”
Yato jolted, “My ass is not fat!”
Yukine smiled when his plan began to work, “it’s so fat it makes you unable to move and clean, that’s why you stink the whole time!”
“I DON’T STINK!” retorted Yato, standing very still and quickly began picking up beer cans and junk food leftovers from the couch. Yukine seated once it was enough room. It was so easy making him do things. “Your feeding habits are so bad I’m amazed you’re not dead already”.
Yato huffed, busy picking up garbage.

His basement was at a place in town that the word “nice” wasn’t quite fitting. The entrance opened to a hallway that led to a noisy street full of convenience stores tended by foreign people, mixed between filthy bars and pawn shops. The wall in front of the entrance was covered by old announcements glued layer after layer with paste. The stairs leading down in a curve to the door was forcefully whitewashed with layers of cheap white paint, and of course with the course of time and weather changes it was stroked down with black lines of humidity along the railing. Years before, the place was probably a nice residential area, because the doorpost had a delicate and complicated design, and displayed a tin “203” number, painted black without the smallest sign of care. The door also shown important signs of decay; one of those was the screech it made when it was opened, and the dry thump it made due the swelling of the wood after many years of direct rain and sunlight. Yukine thought that place was dangerous and very low profile, but Yato kept saying he didn’t needed more. He was a weird guy, and Yukine and the others just let him be; even the fact that he refused to share the spacious house the label had given them to keep them together (“trapped”, said Yato, usually, “watched”) was something that everyone had simply accepted. After all, Viina was left and they didn’t had something that could be called “a band” anymore…

“Say, Yuki, d’you came by yourself or you’re being the carrier pigeon of that nasty old man?”
“I’m impressed about the faith you have in your friends”, snapped Yukine, faking to be seriously hurt. Yato stood speechless, and the boy continued, “since you haven’t been harassing me on my phone, I came to check if you were still alive.”
“Hey, it was just a simple scratch on the knee, and my guitar only lost one string, it isn’t something to make a big fuss about” said Yato, showing both palms in a soothing gesture. Yukine noticed the rubber gloves he was wearing to give a good scrub to the kitchen.
“You could’ve died. You were saved by a whisker”. Yato answered with a thoughtful “hummm” and kept scrubbing the kitchen counter. “Or should I say she saved you by a whisker?” Yato’s hands stopped the circling motion they were doing, as he kept his gaze over the vivid yellow of his gloves. “Had she not been there” Yukine had said, later the day of the accident, “you could not be drinking that gallon of beer by yourself”. He was right.
“Well… seems I have an amazingly good luck!”
Yukine scoffed.
“Yeah, right. And I imagine you already went to thank the source of your 'good luck' for saving your sorry ass.”
Yato turned around and pointed Yukine with the cleaning brush he was using, spilling foam everywhere, “now listen to me, you brat! I want you to go try and find a single specific person in this helluva town having nothing more than a name!”
“It’s not as hard as it seems, genious! If she was at that street at that hour, it was not very long since she might have gotten out of school, so her school is somewhere near that place! Just check on the nearby schools around, and if you can remember her uniform, then you have half of the job already done!”
Yato looked at the boy, astonished. This kid was not just a hugely talented bassist, but he also was a lot more clever than he seemed.
“DON’T TELL ME YOU HADN’T EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT THAT, YOU DAMN IDIOT!”

Chapter Text

TRACK 3

Knocking on heaven’s door – Guns n’ Roses

Blinding lights hit her eyes amongst the crowd ruckuss, crashing with her in an anguishing manner. She walked a little bit making her way through squeezes and bumps, paying attention to the sound they made. During a brief second there was a total silence and it was impossible for her to move anymore. Where she was she continuously received elbows to her ribs and stomps to her feet, and her heart skipped a beat when the music began. Trying really hard she made her way until the first rows, where she could clearly see the stage, lit with bright multicolored lights, and in that very same moment the sound of a guitar rose against the crowd’s euphoria. She raised her eyes and the guitar player received a haze of red light from his back framing his body, lean, strong, and she could admire the movement of each finger as he played. She could see each muscle on his arms that was moved, humid tattooed skin, covered in sweat, that disintegrated into micro beads in the air when he shook his head ending his solo. The ache on her heart rose again when both pairs of eyes crashed into each other. It was really an enigmatic blue, almost not human. Before being able to even react, his eyes were closer to her. The guitarist was coming down the stage and people around him was opening up, giving him space to walk freely, until he reached to her.
“Iki-san”, said a husky voice, calling her name. Deep, low, delicious. She could get used to hear her name on that voice, she thought, with her stomach turning to something liquid, almost starting to get painful when he reached with his hand to the small of her back and pulled her into him, closing the gap between their faces. With her chest on his, she felt the vibration of his voice, feeling her face combusting when she heard again, like a whisper:
“Iki Hiyori-san.”
“Ya-“
A loud thump scared her and her back jolted backwards, and all of a sudden she found herself sitting in her classroom, mid-literature lecture and with Miss Kamishiro practically hovering above, looking at her through her glasses. She had let a heavy hard cover book fall on her school desk.
“I-ki Hi-yo-ri-san!” said the teacher, again. Still a little confused, Hiyori stood up jumping. She had been dreaming -Mid-class? What was wrong with her? The teacher turned around and slowly returned to her desk in front of everyone. A quiet mutter and some snickers could be heard from her classmates.
“Iki-san, if you feel tired, you’re free to go to rest at the infirmary”, said the teacher, still turning away from her, “I would advise you to go, apparently you’re running a fever”. Hiyori realized her cheeks were still burning and wished to not be there with all her might. She barely could manage to talk.
“I-I feel… I’m fine.”
“Well, so I suppose you can be kind enough to continue reading where we left.”
Hiyori took her book between her hands but her brain didn’t seemed to know where they had stopped reading.
“We’re waiting, Iki-san”, said the teacher, insisting. Hiyori turned her eyes on panic to her friend Ami, who had her notebook raised over her face, seizing the fact that Miss Kamishiro was still giving her back to them.
“P. 168 6th line!”, said in thick and bold letters. Hiyori turned a couple pages and began reading.
“This tune goes manly.
Come, go we to the king; our power is ready;
Our lack is nothing but our leave; Macbeth
Is ripe for shaking, and the powers above
Put on their instruments.”
Hiyori ended the line with a faint little voice. It had been diminishing upon seeing the growing displease on the teacher’s face, as if she was eating something extremely sour.
“Hiyori-san”, she said, with a soft and sweet voice that didn’t matched with the rest of her face, “I understand that up until now your grades are a little less than excellent in every subject, and that you’re a top student even at a mayor quality institute like ours, but I need to ask you, and you need to be absolutely honest”, Miss Kamishiro shifted at her seat and looked at her again over her glasses, “are you really aware that this is an elite college guidance school?”
Hiyori felt something hard going down her throat when she swallowed. “Yes, Miss.”
“And I suppose you’re also aware what does that implies, not only on your credits, but in your professional future.”
“Yes, Miss.”
Hiyori lowered her eyes more and more. She was never the kind of person that teachers called upon. She kept listening to her professor while her sight traveled around. Outside the day was beautiful and from her classroom window she could see the end of the building number 2 and the main entrance, behind which the city seemed to invite her to float among the rooftops. Seemed nice.
A blue flash got her off the trance of her teacher’s voice and suddenly she felt her heart racing wild. Adrenaline told her to run to the front gate, where a dark figure was wiping their sun shades in the cloth they had around the neck. They put the sunglasses on again with a whimsy gesture and shifted the cap over their head. Hiyori was starting to wonder what kind of attire was that, when an irritated squeal from Miss Kamishiro brought her back into the classroom once again.
“Iki-san! Are you even listening to what I’m trying to say?! This is an elite school and therefore if you’re finding yourself unable to keep the rhythm, it will be better for you to reconsider.”
Clearly, Hiyori was not thinking straight anymore. “I’m sorry, Kamishiro sensei”, she snapped, “apparently I do have a bit of a fever, can I go to the infirmary?”
Even when it came out as a question, Hiyori had already stormed off the door as soon as she stopped talking, with her briefcase halfway open, trying to get Shakespeare inside, without waiting for any response from her teacher, who had been left blank. Was her imagination or she was really flying to the front gate?

 

“And what the fuck should I suppose to do now, Yukine?!” thought Yato, desperately searching for a believable excuse for a guy like him to be loitering outside a prestigious highscool. He found it after a few blocks searching. He could perfectly recall the lilac uniform of the girl he had shared a stare moments before she jumped at the street to save his life. He thought it would be better to hang around the neighborhood for a while until the school bell rang to be sure he wasn’t getting suspicious eyes over him, but yet he stood there, carefully observing the building. Halways, sliding doors, big windows, laughters. All those things gave him a nostalgic feeling and he wondered if highschool now was the same as back then. Most surely it wasn’t. At least not the way it had been for him.
A pale kid from an oval frame in the wall gave him a scared look. Due to the darkness of the room, he could barely tell it was his own face. The tie around his neck started to get uncomfortably tight and soon he noticed the itch the uniform gave against his skin, feeling heavy. He was an intruder at his own body, which felt numb and covered in cold sweat. From the other side of the haze of light from the window behind him, a cute little voice made the hairs of the nape of his neck to stand when it said, playfully:
“I told you dad was going to get mad.”
Yato noticed a warm and nasty feeling at his feet, and looked down. The checkered blue slippers he used to hang around that house were stained with a warm and dark liquid. The smell filled his mouth with an acid taste. The puddle extended a little beyond the light from the window, giving enough lightning for making it able to distinguish the scarlet red of the blood, and the caked fur around the wound-

A squirrel sprinted along the sidewalk between his ankles, and Yato jolted, surprised, trying to not step on the other squirrel following the first one. Intrigued and somewhat relieved for the two intruders good timing, Yato looked back at the direction they came from, expecting to see a cat. Getting down of a tree, gracefully, was the magenta eyed girl from weeks before.
Barely understanding what she just did, Hiyori ran to him. Flustered and breathless for the effort, she could hardly manage to speak. There was no doubt it was him.
“You!- here!...”
Yato placed a hand above his hip, staring at her with curiosity. “Good t’see you’re fine.”
“Wha’?” She had no clue what he was talking about, but her breathlessness and his intense gaze was enough to make her stutter and not being able to communicate properly was excruciating.
He had removed his sunglasses, and there was it, the paralyzing feeling of his catlike eyes, the thin bridge of his nose, the edge on his cheekbones.
“You’re quite verbal, don’t cha?” he mocked sarcastically, before making proper eye contact. The hair on his nape stood again and he cleared his throat to keep in check of what he had to do. “Anyways, gotta go now.”
Hiyori reacted until then, “Wh-why? You- How?-“
Yato reached at the back of his head with his hand “Listen, I really don’t know whod’ya think I am, but you’re surely mistaking me for someone else” he shifted his cap and the scarf before turning around. “I just came to check upon you, t’see if you were doin’ fine, so there’s nothing left for me to do!” he hesitated a bit before giving the first step, “anyways, thank you for saving me and stuff!” Yato began walking, but he couldn’t gave two steps away when Hiyori spoke, this time with confidence.
“Your name.”
Yato wasn’t sure to have heard well. “W-what did you said?”
“I want you to tell me your name!”
He turned around and blinked at her a couple of times.
“You’re kidding, right?”
Hiyori put on the most serious and steady look she could, even when her legs felt like jelly. She needed to hear it. She needed to know if the guy standing right in front of her was the same from the accident and the same she had been listening playing his music every night until falling asleep.
Yato was looking at her with interest, and she felt her skin get goosebumps with each passing second. He went from the brown hair framing her face, to her bright eyes, her tiny nose, the youthful lips. In an instant he got his attention to the gate before her. Three figures were crossing the main courtyard almost running.
“We have company” said Yato smiling, and to the confused look from the girl, he pointed at the gates with his chin. Hiyori turned around to see what he meant, and suddenly all the color left from her face, a shiver running through her entire body.
Miss Kamishiro, followed by the head teacher and the headmaster himself, were coming to her full speed. It was her first highschool year and she had already blew away her entire future, or so she thought when she saw the literature teacher looking at her with furrowed eyebrows in a way too severe expression. She felt something heavy in her hand and looked down, finding her briefcase which she had brought along with her the entire time. No matter from where you looked at this situation, it seemed like Hiyori was running away from highschool. A tall figure stood right next to her.
“Hey”, she heard Yato saying. She looked at him directly in the eye. The helpless look on Hiyori’s eyes, with the trace of little tears forming in the corners, made him stand straight suddenly and he looked to the street, to the teachers and again to her, alternatively. “Pop quiz! What did Gandalf said to the Fellowship of the Ring before falling into the mines of Moria?”. Hiyori furrowed her eyebrows. Was he insane?
“What?!”
“Fly, you fools!” and saying this, he took her hand and began running in the opposite direction. Trying to catch her breath, Hiyori didn’t know what to process first: if what was happening right now, or the electric feeling of Yato’s hand holding hers, or what the teachers were yelling at her, back at the main gate.

Chapter Text

Updating was a pain this time, I began working and I'm kinda writing this inbetween breaks and naps, so if there is some mistake I apologize, be kind enough to let me know.

 

 

TRACK 4

Monkey Business - Skid Row.

The sound of the bat hitting the ball and the thrilled yells of the players conceived the loud way the pair let themselves fall against the baseball field fence once Yato considered they were far enough from highschool. Hiyori locked her fingers around the square holes on that fence, trying to catch her breath and finish processing what just had happened.

Never, in her entire life, she had run that much. She had never ran away from school with the headmaster chasing her back. She had never climbed a tree and definitely never had fallen asleep in class. Of course, she never thought about discovering a rock band to obsess over, nor she had stayed awake so many hours past midnight listening song after song. “I’m so screwed,” she thought. A silent laughter brought her back from her own mind. Yato was sitting on the floor with the back against the fence. His hand was covering his eyes and by each passing moment his laughter was becoming louder.
“What’s so funny?” asked Hiyori, chest still hurting and breathing heavily.
“Shoulda seen your face!” he said, “seemed like the world was gonna end at the moment!” the man continued laughing, and Hiyori felt how her cheeks were turning red. She stood up and did the first time that came to her mind: throw her school briefcase to his stomach. Yato let out a loud and painful huff.
“I’m sorry but I don’t see exactly which part you find funny!” she said, with her hands on her hips and leaning forward to look straight into his eyes. “I’m practically running away from school! I honestly doubt this will look good in my good behavior report!”
Yato took her briefcase with both hands, looked straight to her and raised an eyebrow.
“Minutes ago I thought you barely knew how to speak and now you’re using words too big for you,” he smiled and got up, “but anyways, I think you should be thankful to me,” he handed Hiyori her briefcase with a graceful gesture, and smiled. This was too much for her to handle, was this guy being serious?
“…the hell are you talking about?! You practically made me run away from my teachers!” Hiyori panicked as she spoke, “And my headmaster -In fact I think the whole school saw me running away with a complete stranger!”
“Well,” said Yato, beginning to walk with the hands tucked inside his jersey’s pockets, “it’s really weird someone jumps the school fence to talk to a random stranger,” he plopped over one of the benches under a tree, by the side of the park trail, “and it’s even weirder that the random stranger actually plays along with the lunatic runaway to save her from her teacher’s anger.”
“So you actually believe you just saved me? The only thing you did was delaying the whole situation! This maybe will make it even worse!”
“Whatever, you don’t have to worry about it until later” he said, moving a hand in the air.
“I can’t continuously scape from all my problems” Hiyori said, with the most serious expression she could find.
“Oh, really? ‘cause I’ve been doing it 19 years of my life.”
Yato closed his mouth shut right there. He had said something very stupid and his cheeks were starting to look red. Hiyori looked at him, amazed, trying to contain her laugh. When she realized that Yato was embarrassed to the point of not looking at her, Hiyori sat next to him, on the bench.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t thank you for this”. Yato looked at her, completely confused.
“Oh, you’re saying that my considerate action doesn’t deserve a thank you? That’s so unpolite!” Yato posed as offended, crossing his arms. Hiyori was intrigued about his attitude swings. She closed her eyes and turned to face the wall in front of her.
“I can’t thank nothing to someone whose name I don’t even know yet.” The silence made Hiyori look at Yato with the corner of her eye. She found extremely hard to believe the same guy from the photographs, the virtuous guitarist from a popular rock band, was this goofy guy, looking at her suspiciously, sitting on a park bench, with a snapback hat facing backwards and a really weird attire, a jersey and boots.
“You mean you really don’t know who I am?” asked Yato, more for himself. She chose to maintain the façade.
“Why? Should I know?”
“Where is your self-preservation instinct? I could be on the most wanted list or even a Shapeshifter.”
“In any of those cases you would be here outside at broad daylight.”
“Wow, miss-well-articulated, you know what a Shapeshifter is, I thought you didn’t had TV.”
“What, you think I’m amish or something like that?”
“Well, you certainly speak funny.”
“Oh, so you think speaking politely and correctly is to live away from society and technology?”
“Uhm…” Yato was suddenly out of retorts.
“Anyways, the one that seems to be uncommunicated with the world is the person who doesn’t has enough decency to simply introduce themselves and goes out there without any sense of personal style.”
“Whats wrong with my clothes, granny?!”
“WHO ARE YOU CALLING GRANNY?!” Hiyori stomped hard on Yato’s foot, who apologized immediately. They both sighed. Yato stood up and placed himself in front of her. Hiyori stood up by reflection.
“M-my name is Fu… I’m Yato!”
“Yato,” repeated Hiyori, with a dreamy voice. It was actually him. “Nice meeting you, Yato-san, my name is Iki Hiyori.” She made a small reverence. “May our relationship be rewarding.”*
“How old-!“ Yato interrupted his mouth when Hiyori shot him a murderer look and also did a little bow, with his hand on the nape of his neck.“Uh… same to you”**
After a brief, ackward moment in which they just smiled at eachother, Yato spoke again.
“You called me Yato-san”
“Well, yeah, I barely know you,” added her, a bit confused, “but if you like, I can call you Yato”.
“What about Yato-sama?” he asked, with a big smile. Hiyori looked at him again, with a blank expression.
“I’m not going to treat you like a deity, Yato!”
“You already took away the -san” Yato cried.
“What other way should I call you?”
“Sometimes he answers for ‘idiot’” added another voice, “’damn bastard’ also works, or ‘asshole’, depending on the occasion.”
The blond kid with middle school uniform standing in front of the expending machines next to the fence opened his can of juice and gave it a loud gulp, while Yato got close to him with a menacing face and raising an accusatory finger at him.
“H-hey you! Kid! Shuddup!”
The kid ignored him completely, he pushed away Yato’s arm with his free hand and slowly came close to Hiyori, who was quite intrigued -and nervous, at being face to face with SHRINE’s bassist.
“My name is Tendou Yukine!***” said the blond, and smiled, “how d’ya do?” He was cute. Hiyori watched as he sat were Yato was, and the later also came close, giving big strides and an exasperated huff.
“My name is Iki Hiyori!” she said, smiling.
“You’re being too friendly now!” claimed Yato.
“I suppose he already thanked you for saving his life” Yukine asked, giving another sip to his apple juice.
“He tried.”
“ARE YOU IGNORING ME?!”
“Goddamnit, you’re too damn noisy! Sit!” snapped Yukine, massaging his forehead with his fingers.
“Are you seeing a collar around my neck, brat!?”
“I am seeing excessively ridiculous clothes, even for you!”
“Oh so you’re also gonna give me that?”
“Bet you woke up late as hell and you threw over yourself the first thing you could find.”
Yato let out a “Tch!” and ended up sitting at the other side of Hiyori, who didn’t know if it was better to buy a juice to excuse herself and let them finish their argument or just laugh. Her face was choosing the second option.
“Well, if he already thanked you, I have to take him with me now,” Yukine smiled. Hiyori’s smile faded out, and Yato snapped back.
“Take me where?!”
“Kofuku misses you.”
“You don’t say!” Yato crossed both arms and legs, “she coulda’ told me that herself. I’m not moving.”
Yukine had had enough.
“Do you always have to act as a fucking brat?!” Yato turned his nose to the sky with his face away from Yukine. The kid rubbed his face with his palms, exasperated. “Okay, Tenjin called. He wants to see us at home. Happy? Now let’s go.”
Hiyori was wondering who Kofuku and Tenjin were, when Yato stood up and walked a few steps.
“Say, Hiyori,” she jumped a bit, surprised. He had caught her by surprise, “do you still want to know who I am?”

It took them an hour and forty minutes to arrive to a nice residential area at the outskirts of the city. Hiyori almost had a rage attack when she realized where they actually were and that it should have taken them half the time to arrive… if Yato didn’t insisted in taking confuse and alternative paths. Yukine simply let him be, arguing he was trying to cover his footprints. Yato was too odd of a guy. So weird that his own existence was odd in itself. Yukine didn’t bothered to explain more about why was Yato always so defensive, so she didn’t do any attempt of asking further. Somehow she felt Yukine wasn’t entirely agree with her coming, and she could certainly understand. Walking through meandering streets, at sunset, she began to wonder how much more time will this façade last. To be honest she didn’t even knew why she chose to act as if she didn’t knew anything. Looking at Yato’s back from behind, covered from his black jersey, she concluded she needed to know more about this guy. He was just too inconstant, too mysterious, too… Yato stopped suddenly and with a feline movement he turned around to see her. His blue eyes pierced Hiyori’s ones and she imagined that’s the feeling a prey gets. Se surprised again when the guy’s face changed into a soft smile.
“We’re not that far away now,” and kept walking. Hiyori tried to regulate the sudden rush in her heart while trying to pay attention to the path they were following. Once to the right, two to the left  and they were finally in front of a long brickwall decorated with a bush asleep because of the cold of the incoming winter. It surely was lovely on spring, but right now Hiyori felt it was doing nothing to solve a little bit the ominous feeling she suddenly got. Who was this Kofuku? Who was Tenjin?
A little beyond the brick wall, a white fence closed the path to a little cobble street, framed by tall cypress trees illuminated by built-in lights in the road. That road meandered a bit and finally it turned abruptly to the left, hiding the rest of the property away. Over an edge of the fence they had a switch connected to an intercom, and Yukine pushed it with enthusiasm.
“You love doin’ that, don’cha?” Said Yato to the boy.
“Now you will have to say hello because your’e an idiot.”
Yato was about to snap back when a dreamy and young voice andswered Yukine’s ring.
“Helloooooo?!” sang the voice. Hiyori thought it was very funny that such a small kid responed the  intercom, but somehow she felt relieved.
“H-Hey, Kofuku! Um… It’s been a while, huh?” Yato spoke, doubting.
“YATTY-CHAN!” after her supersonic yell, the voice became muffled as she had turned around, “Daikoku!  Yatty-chan came to see us!” Again the little voice could be heard clear, “come in! we were waiting for you!”
A loud metallic “clack” was heard after a buzz, and Yukine pushed one of the halves of the gates  inside, holding it for Yato and Hiyori to follow him.
What from the outside looked just as a simple garden, from the inside it revealed a place full with comfort. To the left it was a pool covered in black plastic, to the right a terrace with a wooden  gazebo decorated with white string lights. The gravel cracked nicely below Hiyori’s shoes, that almost didn’t noticed they were turning left already. The twist on the road gave view to an spectacular fountain surrounded by some kind of parking lot. Hiyori saw several cars parked in it, and her attention was stolen from the huge black hummer, and for what evidently seemed like a Subaru of an intense blue shade, poorly covered with a dusty cloth. A little beyond was the residence, a California style construction, vanilla color with blue roofing. The lightning gave her the impression of entering a place within a dream. Her eyes went from one place to the other, the clear fountain, the white door with crystals that allowed her to see the hughe chandelier dangling in the stairs on the inside, the cypress that surrounded them, Yato, the wood entrance with beveled glass, the marble floor, the threatening figure raising in front of them with crossed limbs.
Hiyori stopped at the sight of him. No matter where you looked at him from, the guy looked like a Yakuza hitman, with a pink shirt rolled up above his elbows unbuttoned until the chest, 3-day beard and a lit cigarette between his lips. So that’s what this was all about? The house, the luxury, Yato’s nerves? Hiyori began to panic for following two completely rather strangers to the house of someone who looked like that, when Yato tried to say hello to that guy with good vibe, failing at the security of his voice.
“H-hey, Daikoku, long time no see huh!”
Daikoku furred his eyebrows.

*Hiyori used the standard Japanese  to introduce herself, in contrast with Yato which was entirely different and informal. “Douzo yoroshiku onegai shimasu” , which is the phrase you usually end your introducing, literally means ““May our relationship be rewarding.”
** Yato also used a formality here, by answering “Kochira kozo”.
***”Tendou” reads “heaven” or “cherub”, depending on the reading of the kanji. I think it suits him.

Chapter Text

TRACK 5

 

Go with the flow – Queens of the Stone Age.

 

Hiyori barely had time to react before Yato began to run through the enormous garden, followed close by that guy named Daikoku. Shyly, the girl approached Yukine, who was just watching the scene calmly, like an everyday thing.

“Is… is there any problem? Does Yato owes him something?”

Yukine turned to look at her, a tad confused. He then smiled and crossed his arms behind his head, lazily entering the house. The double door was open.

“Probably his life, you know. Being Yato, you never know.”

Yato also entered the house chased by Daikoku and Hiyori dared to follow them. Once in the hall, she let out a “sorry to disturb” that was barely perceptible, and began to wonder if she should take out her shoes, listening to the ruckuss the chase made. It was just then when she could heard beside her a youthful little voice. It was the same from the intercom at the gate.

“Hi hi! Why don’t we know each other?”

Hiyori turned around and was very surprised about finding a girl which age was hard to guess with just one look. She was wearing a t-shirt with a panda design and a pair of jeans that ran big on her, probably because the owner seemed to be the guy trying to kill Yato. Her bright bubblegum pink hair surely made her the center of attention wherever she went, plus, she was incredibly cute. Blushing over her unpoliteness, Hiyori began to introduce herself bowing down deeply, and when she looked up again, the girl was giving her a sweet smile. After a spark in her eyes, she took her by the arm with a powerful grip and led her -dragged her, to one of the adjacent rooms, a Japanese style living room, with a kotatsu at the center, while she chatted merrily.

“My name is Kofuku, Hiyorin~! It’s a pleasure meeting you! Here! Sit! Let’s eat some pastries!”

Hiyori didn’t know if to thank the fact she was being treated, to take off her shoes, or tell her it was completely inappropriate to give her a nickname when they had literally minutes of knowing each other’s names. When she understood what had happened, she was already sitting at the nice and warm kotatsu and Kofuku was pouring cups of tea. Yukine was at the kotatsu too, lying down with the TV remote in one hand, changing channels absentmindedly.

“Kokki, honey! Leave Yatty-chan alone and come have a cup of tea!~”

“Honey”. Hiyori felt really embarrassed, she just had noticed that not only Kofuku had confirmed that the man from before was her guy, but also that he was no Yakuza. The unkempt beard, a different hairdo and the clothing made hard for her to tell Daikoku was no one less than Kokki, SHRINE’s impossibly skilled drummer. Hiyori felt a gaze upon her, and turned to Yukine, who turned again immediately to look back at the TV. What the hell was all this?

Yato entered the living room sprinting, and hid behind Hiyori. Daikoku followed him.

“Are you really that pathetic that you have to hide behind a schoolgirl to avoid me breaking your neck in two?”

Yato smiled to Hiyori, replying to her curious look.

“Don’t worry, Hiyori, this guy looks terrifying but what you really should be careful about is that he is totally into kids.”

He told her that somewhat rushed and in a whisper, but it was loud enough for Daikoku to close his huge hands into fists.

“You bastard!”

“It’s nothin’ but the truth! Your happiness is endless every time you look at Yukine…”

“Don’t drag me into your stupid problems, dude” said Yukine, waving one hand without taking his eyes away from the TV.

Daikoku threw himself to Yato’s neck and dragged him a little further, so he could shake Yato to his heart’s content without bothering Hiyori.

“I’m glad to see things around here have not changed,” said a polite and manly voice. The girl turned around to the living room’s door, and saw an elegant gentleman with a sharp suit and a fedora flirtratiously placed over his crisp gray ponytail, and a goatee and moustache that gave him a sybarite look. Kofuku received him with a somewhat easy manner, but still showing respect, standing to ask for his coat and his hat.

“Tenjin-san! Welcome! We were expecting you!”

Daikoku dropped Yato and hurried to look for another cup of tea. Yukine turned the TV off and Yato -who had fell to the floor with a loud thump, simply arranged his clothes and retreated to a corner looking at the garden through the window.

“It’s been a while, Yato!”

The guy looked at Tenjin, who just chuckled. Apparently Yato usually behaved like that with him. He thanked his tea to Daikoku and turned to look at Hiyori, with curiosity.

“Young girl, it is a pleasure to meet you.” Hiyori blushed and bowed down so much she could actually see the bottom of his tea cup.

“I-it’s a pleasure to meet you, sir! My name is Iki Hiyori!”

“Iki Hiyori? My name is Tenjin Michio.” With a dashing movement, the man handed her a card with his name. Below the kanji in which ‘Tenjn Michio’ was read, were the words ‘Executive Producer’. “Are you joining us today for the meeting?”

Suddenly, Hiyori didn’t knew what to say. Yato spoke harshly from his corner: “She doesn’t know nothing, geezer, leave her. She won’t make no harm.”

Tenjin looked at her, even more interested. “Oh, I see, I see. It is indeed strange that someone your age does not know about this amazing band!”

She couldn’t remove her eyes from her tea, completely embarrassed. She could feel Yukine’s eyes staring at her. This pose was getting out of her hands.

“I… am busy with my studies, sir.”

“Oh, really? Which grade are you now?”

“It’s my first year of high school, sir.”

“What are you majoring into? Have you decided yet?”

The girl opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out of it. She closed it again with discomfort.

“Okay, enough of this interrogation!” Snapped Yato, “the hell do you want!?” Instead of getting offended, Tenjin smiled.

“Impatient as always, aren’t we, Yato-kun?” he continued, after another brief look at Hiyori. “Very well, let me get straight to the point. Right now, I don’t consider you as any asset to my company if you’re not producing anything besides your record’s sales.”

Yato looked outside again. Money. Of course.

“With this said, I’m seeing myself in the shameful need of giving you a deadline.”

Yukine sat upright. “A deadline?”

“That’s right, Yukine-kun. Thanks to someone, Viina ended up sick of this band and you were left without a singer. A band without a voice is like an astronaut without oxygen. He will end up dying sooner or later.”

Yato let out a loud huff. “She left b’coz she wanted! You’re never going to stop thinking it’s my fault, d’ya’?”

“I am not going to deny you have a very difficult personality and a very peculiar tendency to throw tantrums for absolutely no reason at all.”

“This is ridiculous!” Yato left his place,  jolting up. “Just settle your terms and leave! The others will pass me your memo!”

“Yatty, where are you going?” asked Kofuku, making a pouty face.

“I’ll be outside, where I can’t see this damn goat’s face.”

Tenjin didn’t lose his temper. Hiyori thought that was rather admirable due the horrible attitude Yato was displaying at the time.

“Always running away, Yato-kun! Why don’t you drop that act? It is rather obvious that even when you think you have total control over your life, I am actually observing closely each movement you make.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Yato said, barely turning his face to look at him, standing right at the door.

“You did not wanted to come living under the same roof as your fellow band mates, scared of us taking your precious freedom away. I actually know exactly where are you all the time, Yato-kun. Did you really thought we were going to let you out there at your fate?”

Yato furrowed his eyebrows, and stomped out the room with loud steps. The front door opened, and he went out slamming the door. Tenjin sighed when Kofuku tried to apologize.

“My dear, worry not. I actually did wanted to talk to him, and he’s at least aware of the most important part.” He stood up slowly and took his coat and hat from the hangers on the wall. “Please do not take this the wrong way, in this business, ultimatums are a dynamic thing. Work hard, in three months I want to see you with a new singer, and new material to review and schedule in-studio hours.” He turned to look at Daikoku, “make sure he gets his ass to rehearsals.” Daikoku nodded and set himself to see Tenjin away.

“Easier said than done, but I will.” The old man smiled. With a gesture with his hat, he bid farewell to Hiyori and the rest.

“I will see you later, everyone, Iki-san.”

The front door closed again with a tinkling sound, and this time they did hear the cracking of the gravel of the trail under the producer’s car tires. Hiyori met with Kofuku’s eyes, that looked at her as knowing all the questions she wanted to make.

“Tenjin is our producer,” she informed her, with a dreamy smile, “he has been from a long time. Some years ago, Kokki and the others performed at a pub in which he was at, and when I saw he liked the music I approached and we chatted a lil’ bit.” When she saw Hiyori still giving her a completely lost look, she noted: “I’m the band manager,” and gave her a bright smile. Hiyori looked at the two people remaining at the living room.

“So… a band,” she stated, even when she already knew the answer.

“And one of the best ones,” scoffed Yukine, proudly.

Hiyori smiled.

 

 

 

The sun had already gone when Tenjin left. Daikoku didn’t enter the house again. He walked to the left instead until reaching a tile porch from which a little pond garden extended forth. He took the cigar box out of his pocket and lit one skillfully. After the first cloud of smoke, he relaxed over one of the stilts.

“…the fuck are you looking at, you damn idiot?” he let out, apparently to no one.

“I f… I forgot my lighter.”

Daikoku looked at Yato.  The light of the little pond barely touched the young man’s profile, who was holding a cigarette between his lips, sitting hunched in one of the benches under the porch. Daikoku threw him his zippo, and Yato catched it mid-air.

“Thanks, man.” He lit his cigarette and threw the zippo back at Daikoku. After a somewhat brief silence, Yato spoke again. “I s’pose it’s time for us to get our shit together and work, huh?”

The man brushed his hand against his hair, exasperated. “Unless you make Viina come back, I don’t see how are we going to get out of this.”

Yato let out a bitter laugh. “Viina wouln’t come back for all the world’s gold,” he put out his cigarette against the floor with violent stomps “and I wouln’t ask her even if my life depended on that.”

“That goddamn pride you both have!” spitted Daikoku.

Yato began walking again to the inside of the house. He gazed upon the man with the corner of his eye.

“Sometimes I feel that’s the only thing I have left.”

 

 

 

Hiyori had barely realized what time it was. It wasn’t until Daikoku offered her a second cup of tea that she turned to look at the living room’s clock on the wall, and she stormed off, followed closely by Yato. He couldn’t reach her before the end of the street. Yukine was also behind them.

“Whoa whoa whoa wait! The hell you think you’re going by yourself?” let out Yato, when she finally stopped running. Hiyori was about to have a panic attack.

“I didn’t even realize it was this late! They are surely worried at home!” Walking fast, Hiyori approached the station.

“Hey! Relax! They haven’t even called you yet!” Yato laughed, following her much easier.

“Call me where?!”

“To… your mobile phone?” He quickly began to realize the situation, and Hiyori thought his eyes were coming off his face for the surprise. “YOU DON’T OWN ONE?!”

Pissed, Hiyori hurried up. The station was close.

“Repeat what you said previously about not being amis, please, I would love to hear that again.”

“Are you always this obnoxious? I don’t see the need for you to be like this.”

“It’s hard to know the usefulness of things when you haven’t thought you need a mobile phone.”

Hiyori let out a groan of exasperation, while she scanned her prepaid card on the station entrance. Surprised, she saw Yato and Yukine doing the same.

“The hell you’re doing?”

“Do you seriously think we would let you around there by yourself at this hour WITHOUT A MOBILE PHONE?”

“OH GOD.” Hiyori turned away, spinning on his heels.

Despite Yato’s constant teasing, the road back home was a lot quicker of what she expected. When she realized, she was already at the station closer to her home. The boys stepped out of the train with her.

“Thank you for the company, it was very nice of you.”

“Have a nice rest, Hiyori!”  Said Yukine, “It was a pleasure to meet you!” she smiled.

“Same to you!” and she began walking. A couple seconds later she heard someone running after her.

“Hey, wait! Where do I send the messenger pigeon? In case of, you know, you wanting to see me again.” Hiyori looked at Yato directly. A smug smile was spreading all over his face.

“If you keep bothering me, nowhere at all.”

“Aren’t you impressed?”

“About what, exactly!?”

Yato blushed.

“W… I- I have a band!”

After a few seconds of silence, Hiyori laughed. Yato looked away, totally embarrassed.

“What was that? You sound like a middle school boy!”

“Tsk! Whatever!” said Yato, rummaging at the inside of his pockets, and found one minuscule piece of paper. “Pen!” Hiyori blinked a few times before removing the inside of his portfolio. The pen was given back to her, along with the paper with something written in it. “Yo do know how to use e-mails, right?”

Hiyori gave him a venomous look.

“Of course! I’ll have to make my donkey walk faster to generate more electricity, but I think I have everything under conrol.”

Yato smiled.

“That’s better than a messenger pigeon,” he turned around to go back to Yukine, “give your donkey a carrot for me.”

Hiyori looked at them getting away, with her gaze fixed on Yato’s shoulder. After another few seconds, she jolted again and hurrily headed home.

 

 

“What the HELL was all that?” said Yukine, while waiting for the return train.

“What are you talking about,” Yato asked.

“Man, you look like a lost puppy!” let out the blond guy, wrinkling his nose. “It’s cool you ended up with this already. You thank her, you made her have a nice afternoon and you returned her home! We can all continue with our lives like if nothing happened.”

They entered a wagon in the train that just arrived. Yato paid close attention to the name of that station.

“Sure.”

 

 

Hiyori noticed the little piece of paper she had in her hand until several minutes later. Opening it carefully, she discovered that Yato had, indeed, written down his email there. “What does all this means?”. Hiyori was thinking about using a  computer from her school the next day to send him an email when, all of a sudden, she remembered that tomorrow she would probably have no school the next day. Disheartened, she folded the little paper away (was it a candy wrapper?) and saved it in her wallet while she thought what was she going to tell her parents. “Just one more corner” she thought, and she froze at the minute she turned to that corner.

The walls of her house were lit with blues and reds of the police car lights. Hiyori ran down the street, full speed.

Chapter Text

TRACK 6

A hard day’s night – The Beatles

Hiyori turned on her bedroom light, tossed the school briefcase aside over her desk and plopped on her bed, wrinkling her ruffly duvet. With the face against her pillow, she yelled. Once she calmed herself down a bit, she thought about those last few busy days.

When she arrived at home last night, her mother had hugged her, crying her heart out. After a couple uncomfortable questions and warnings from police officers, Hiyori’s parents thanked the officials driving around the neighborhood after the little miss perfection Iki Hiyori getaway was announced on her home over the phone, directly from the school main office. Hiyori was at the kitchen table, with a hot chocolate mug in front of them and the severe look of her parents fixed on her bangs. She couldn’t dare to raise her eyes off her mug to face them. Her father spoke first.

“I think you owe us an explanation, young lady.”

Mrs. Iki pushed further, seeing her daughter’s nervous silence.

“We will have to see the headmaster with you tomorrow to provide an explanation of what is really going on here, Hiyori”, and added, with an afflicted tone, “to think our daughter, our little treasure, a role model student, is out there on the street with a complete unknown person…”

Hiyori’s father took Mrs. Iki’s hand in a cherishing gesture to calm her down. He looked straight to his daughter, who was sure she was a few inches shorter.

“We just want to know what’s happening, princess.”

Hiyori sighed, containing a sob. “Role model student”, her mother had said. That was exactly the problem! She had always made an effort to be clean, to be good, to be correct. Hundredths of times she thought on doing the complete opposite, but she hadn’t; the problem was that the first time she had actually done it, it was so surprising that it had to be a complete scandal. It was so hard to feel that everything you do, everything you want, has to be thought and re-thought at least three times before you said it! “And then, you realize you never actually said what you wanted”, Hiyori thought, closing her eyes shut. Her mind was running wild everywhere without finding a clear answer. What should she answer to her parents? This two people had been worried about her wellbeing during all 16 years of her life, plus a few more from his brother, and now they were lost, worried and concerned about her, who had just acted by pure instinct. What should she say? She couldn’t just go with “turns out I found out the guy I almost break my skull in two for is a debuting rockstar with no sense of personal style and a way too strange attitude”, she had to think of something else. She would have liked to have the cold nerve of her brother, taking extra shifts on E.R., making really hard decisions in record time. But of course, her brother probably had never ran away from school like her, he was always perfect, always an example, the ideal son…

Hiyori opened her eyes and smiled. The answer was right there!

“I’m sorry I worried you, mother, father”, and she added, after a brief pause and a slight reverence, “actually this was supposed to be a secret for both of you”. Her parents traded a tense look. “It was a surprise… but I actually have never done something like this, so I think I was being way too clumsy to not catch attention.”

Hiyori let out a nervous laugh. Her parents shared a face of complete confusion.

“S-surprise?” muttered her mother, “honey, what are you talking about?”

Hiyori sat straight on her chair, and filled her lungs. “Your anniversary will be in a few months, remember?”

For a short period of time, the time at the kitchen froze. The couple’s faces were a mixture between washed out anger, absolute surprise and an almost hilarious confusion. Mr. Iki cleared his throat.

“25 years of marriage, true… it’s true…”

“Hiyori, baby, you…!” her mother couldn’t came up with no coherent statement, and placed her fingers over her lips.

“We were trying to organize it without you noticing...”

“So then, the “man” the headmaster saw you running with…?” Mr Iki began.

“It was brother, father. I’m really sorry to have worried you like this.”

 

Yet another lie. Hiyori felt as if her heart was made of lead for lying so many times throughout the day, but fortunately she seemed to be good at it – “what kind of a talent is that, Hiyori?”, she scowled herself – so good that at least for the time being her plan was working really smoothly. Her parents never spoke to Masaomi unless he called first, that was the agreement they did once he started working at E.R. They understood he was always packed up with work and it would be way too unfortunate if they had searched for her with him too. She heard the comments of her parents with a bitter taste on her tongue. They seemed happy. Because of a lie, but humans use to do that regularly, right? Happiness, however, tends to be ephemeral.

“I need to speak with Masaomi this time. You shouldn’t have bothered in making all this fuss in secret, you both can get into serious trouble”, said her dad, taking the kitchen phone and dialing a number. With each button, Hiyori was losing all the color on her skin, and a shiver traced all the way down her spine when she realized he was actually dialing her brother’s number. It had been too good to last long. After a few seconds, her brother picked up.

“I’m glad you answer, Masaomi! Your sister already told us what is going on, you really made us extremely concerned!”, Hiyori was trying to hide her panic and watched intently her dad’s change of expression. He was taking too long to explode, why did they delayed so much her agony? “You could have planned things in a much subtler manner! Appearing at her school without any notice, the teachers were honestly really scared!” Mr. Iki made a pause to listen. Hiyori waited, sure that her end was close. Weirdly enough, her father’s face didn’t show any changes. “Thank you for all of this, son, you know both are everything to us, and for you to be organizing this kind of event makes us really flattered!”, yet another pause; what the hell was going on? “Ah, sure, I will see you tomorrow at the hospital. Sure, here she is,” her father turned to look at her, smiling. “Masaomi wants to speak with you, Hiyori.”

The girl took the phone, crushed it between her hands and stepped back a bit, smiling nervously, before sprinting all the way to her bedroom. She closed the door behind her.

“Brother?”

The silence at the other side of the line was a clear sign that Masaomi was furious. His loud sigh confirmed it.

“So you finally lost your mind, huh?”

“L-listen, Masaomi, tha…”

“I don’t know what you are about to thank me for, but I really don’t want to hear about it…”

“Thank you for lying for me”, she said, boldly, with a hint of desperation on her voice about to begin to break. The line stayed silent again. Hiyori leaned against her bedroom wall and let herself fall slowly until she finished up sitting on the floor.

“Anything you have said or done,” he spoke again, trying to be completely clear, “I’m sure you had a really good reason to do it.”

Hiyori let the air she didn’t know she was holding on her lungs. She relaxed so much that she could swear she was about to vomit. Her brother was so nice to her that even when he didn’t understood a thing their father had said, he simply played along, just because it was about helping her sister.

“How can I pay you for this? You seriously just saved m…”

“Let’s just leave this matter aside, sister, before I begin to want to know more about why the hell you ran away from school and with who, but if you really want to pay me…” He raised his voice, because Hiyori couldn’t stop stuttering, “then let me suggest this: you involved me in a supposed celebration for our parent’s wedding anniversary. You would have to do that by yourself, and you will give me part of the credit for that, just as if we were doing this together. Not a word to mom and dad, what do you think?”

Hiyori doubted.

“Masaomi, I have absolutely no clue on how to organize a wedding anniversary party.”

“I told that as a suggestion, but actually you don’t have another option, Hiyori” he said, leaving her frozen. At the end she wasn’t being as blessed as she thought. “This was all your idea.”

“…leave it on me…” she muttered.

“Stay out of trouble, understood?”

“Yes, brother.”

“I’m going back to work, this phonecall already took too much of my time.”

“Take care.”

The line disconnected with a quiet crunchy sound. Hiyori dropped the phone as if it was made of lava and hugged her knees with her arms, burying her head on them. She tried to breathe, to calm herself down. The velvety darkness from the inside of her eyes turned into the clear image of a smiling guy, sitting on the bench of a park with the snapback hat placed backwards and wearing a jersey with boots. She immediately stood with an exasperated huff and threw herself over the bed. “Not now!”, she complaint. To her brain, maybe. Or to him.

She didn’t noticed falling asleep.

 

Her dad left the house early, so the one standing on the hallway next to her beside the door to the teacher’s room, was her mother.

It was just as terrible as she thought it will be. Miss Kamishiro was standing as a crow on a branch next to the headmaster, who had Hiyori’s file over the desk and began turning the pages once they were both seated in front of him and the secretary had closed the door behind them.

“Iki Hiyori”, he began, and in his square face a disappointed expression was beginning to form, “excellent notes since always, an outstanding sports participation,” he looked at her dead in the eye, “having all the assets of an elite student, I can’t believe you simply chose to put your college future at risk to escape, in the whole extension of the word, halfway the school schedule, with that young man.”

Her mother spoke.

“I can explain this, sensei.” Hiyori somehow felt bad about her lie had been successful; adjectives like “beautiful children” and “really touching” came out as bullets from her mother’s mouth, leaving the headmaster perplex.

“Well, the fact this man is her brother actually turns this into a less unfortunate situation,” he admitted. Hiyori dared to take her eyes out her file, and swiftly looked at the literature teacher, who again seemed to be tasting a piece of lime zest. The rest of the school year was about to turn into a complete nightmare. “But there are proper ways to do things, miss Iki.” Hiyori lowered her head.

“I’m so sorry.”

“I guess a lot of this comes out from the fact that you, young lady, have no activities on clubs or something similar after school hours”, continued the headmaster. He did have made his research on her file. “Social activities are extremely important in a good citizen education. There is no use in having outstanding grades if you can’t function as a part of this society.”

“Sensei, regarding that, Hiyori has lessons almost every afternoon, with its exceptions.” Said her mother.

“Oh, well, but I meant social activities inside the school. There is two or three good lessons a young miss her age can learn chatting and involving with her school mates in any after-school activity. I recommend you to reduce the number of lessons Iki-san goes to, if possible.”

“Yes, sensei, of course”

Hiyori, once again, had to sit tight while her life was being decided. She remembered Yato’s scene the day before, yelling and stepping out to Kofuku’s house garden. She reminded his thin frame, curling up in a corner like an angry cat before throwing a blow. Bad kitty. But I can’t be mad at you, kitty, you have a pair of eyes that could…

Not now, Hiyori! Goddamn it!”, she scolded herself again. It was weird to have this urge that made her brain go running full speed to places where it shouldn’t.

The headmaster had already stood up and looked outside through the window, hands behind her back.

“There won’t be any punishment for Iki-san”, he finally said. Miss Kamishiro jumped a bit. “However”, he continued, “she will have a limit of two weeks to return to my office with a club form properly filled out. Pick one you like, Iki-san, you will surely find something to help you develop your social skills.”

Her mother returned home a bit after that. Hiyori took a little longer to return to her classroom, and passed in front of a cork board in the hallway. She stopped to look at the big amount of posters and announcements pinned to it: notices of all kinds, an announcement about the bathrooms on the third floor being broken, requests for volunteers to sport clubs, tutorings, the kitchen club, the music club, the club of space enthusiasts…

Hiyori sighed. She had to stop her brain again of thinking every decision she had to take: “What would my mother pick?” She couldn’t just simply pick one randomly and sign in. Mrs. Iki would consult in all possible manners all the options her daughter had and would pick the one that gave the better looks for society. “But what do I want? Why I don’t have any idea? Who am I?” Giving up, she dragged her feet to her classroom. There was the door. She put her hand in the tin plaque to slid it, but she just stood there, frozen. “Why do I do the things I do?”.

The bell took her out violently from her thoughts. The first period had already ended, and her teacher would soon come out to the hallway through the other door. Hiyori took a big mouthful of air and opened the door with confidence; confidence that faded away as soon as she noticed the stares of every single of her classmates fixed upon her. It couldn’t be true that the whole school had seen her the other day, could it?

Nervously, she approached to her desk and slid the chair, making much more noise than she expected. The stares of everyone had followed her throughout the way. The silence was almost absolute, disturbed only for the voices of the other students changing classrooms outside. It couldn’t be possible that everyone had seen her jumping to the street and running away hand to hand with Yato, could they? She wondered if it was actually possible to feel this small, this many times in one single day, just like Alice would. “Take me with you, Cheshire Cat”, she thought, and wondered why this Cheshire Cat on her mind had big bright blue eyes, and at the same time two figures stood right beside her spot.

“Well, Hiyori?” Yama spoke, “don’t you think forgetting to tell us the fact that you have a boyfriend is kinda big of a deal?”

Suddenly Hiyori completely forgot about the fact everyone was staring silently at her. She went tomato red up to the tips of her hair and yelled.

“WHAT?!”

“Aw, c’mon, absolutely no one jumps like that and runs away from school for just any random person.” Ami added.

“Y-you’re wrong! T-t-that was…!” Ami and Yama emphasized the fact they were trying to pull some sense out of what she was saying, raising the brows. “He’s my brother!” she could finally let out. Of course she didn’t felt any relief when her friends showed in their faces they didn’t believe her a word. But what was she supposed to tell them? “SHRINE’s guitarist came to look for me at school to thank me I jumped to the street to save him the other day and I ended up spending the entire day at the band’s house, and just by chance meeting their producer”? She would surely end up at some psychiatric hospital, and it was pretty clear she was not insane. The blue-eyed Cheshire Cat at the very back of her mind let out a tingling laughter, “we’re all crazy here”, and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Ami and Yama insisted again during recess, on the changing rooms and at the end of school day.

“There’s absolutely nothing to tell!”, Hiyori snapped, finally, completely exasperated, “we wanted everything to be a surprise to my parents so we simply didn’t tell anyone we were planning this stuff!”

Yama was already halfway upset, and the tone Hiyori used ended up breaking the little composure she had. “Whatever you told your parents it’s not gonna work on me, Hiyori.”

“Yama…” called Ami, concerned, trying to hold her friend from one shoulder.

“I wouldn’t dare to assure that guy we saw matches anything you’ve told us about your brother, Hiyori, I’m not going to fall for that!”

“Yama, that’s enough…” said Ami, almost in a whisper. Hiyori reached her limit. The classes had ended and she didn’t had any other reason to stay there.

“I don’t see why you should be falling for something, Yama-chan! That’s the reality and in case I was lying to you, I have the right to keep my secrets to myself, I have enough just with my mother sneaking into my life and I don’t need to be spitting out explanations to my friends also!”

“Hiyori-chan!” Ami tried, but Hiyori was walking quickly to the gate already.

 

Her afternoon class had been a complete disaster. Ballet made Hiyori feel like a monkey on a tutu, and adding up the fact she was already mad wasn’t making it better. Her classmates looked at her angrily when raising up her leg suddenly became a kick to the ribs of one of them, and the teacher decided to interrupt the class to give her five minutes to go to the bathroom to fresh up and recover the focus. Hiyori turned the handle of the faucet so hard she ended up with it on her hand and spent 10 minutes trying to make it fit in place again.

When she came back, the teacher sent her home right away. It wasn’t like she was too bothered about it. Actually, Hiyori knew for sure she didn’t had any kind of talent for any form of art.

She arrived home with her head low, almost didn’t touched her food, and went straight up to her bedroom. This had been, without a doubt, the hardest and most tiring day of her life. However, no matter how much she wanted to fall asleep for the rest of the night, she still had to do her homework. She took her blazer off and placed it on the chair of her desk, took her briefcase and carefully took out its contents, spreading it over the top of the desk, more on routine than on intention. She suddenly looked around, interested, to all her belongings, clean and organized on her desk; despite sitting there every night during most of her life, somehow suddenly wasn’t right. She couldn’t recognize the meticulousness the person using that desk had for organizing absolutely every book and binder and notebook she needed, the pens, the stationary, the planner. All clean. All almost new. No notebook had any sign of use, no personal embellishments. Her pencils and pens were simple, sober, standard. Who lived in that room?

“Hiyori”, she answered out loud, leaning on her chair’s back, which felt aggressive against her back. “Hiyori lives here”, she sighed, staring over her stuff, deciding where to begin. She knew that just one quick look to her planner would be enough to know that, but right when she was about to take it, a candy wrapper sticking out of the front bag of her briefcase took her attention away. She took it between her hands, and let out a small laugh. It was the wrapping of a banana flavored KitKat bar, that Hiyori thought until now nobody on this world ever bought and repeatedly before she had thought it didn’t made any sense they even sold it. At the back, hurriedly written with spidery signs, was an email address.

“You do know how to use email, don’t ‘cha?”, he had said. She scoffed. Tomorrow she would show that dumb guy that used movie quotes to speak, whose aspect didn’t made any sense and whose mood changed every 0,3 seconds, that she could send properly an email. She placed the wrapper on her wallet carefully, stretched out her arms interlocking her fingers, and opened her planner.

Chapter Text

TRACK 7.

 

Liar - The Sex Pistols.

 

The commercial zone near Hiyori's school was two parallel avenues connected with each other through small pedestrian streets and regular streets. Hunched in the shadows behind a vending machine -FOR THE THIRD TIME, the store clerks in that zone were a pain in the ass, Yato waited intently the right moment to get out of his hideout. 

Hiyori almost died from a heart attack when she saw Yato walking casually by her side after receiving a light knock in her shoulder. 

"WHAT TH..." Yato placed a finger over his lips to indicate she needed to be quiet. He again was wearing the scarf, the cap and sunglasses. Hiyori spoke in a normal volume, "What on earth are you doing here?" 

"Well, I asked around in a lot of veterinaries if anyone had cured a broken donkey, but nobody could tell me anything, so I thought it was quicker to come check at the street to avoid you jumping in front of another car", smiled Yato mischievously. The girl looked at him, annoyed and amused at the same time. 

"I don't write you in a couple of days and the first thing you do is coming to hide at the street waiting for me to get out of school?" 

"I can't believe you forgot to write me back!" he cried, faking a pained face, "I'm so charming that anyone would write the next day!" 

Hiyori began to walk faster. 

"Bye, Yato!" 

"Hey, hey, wait!" He said, reaching her, "I j-just..." He blushed suddenly, making Hiyori to blush a little, as a reflex, "wanted t'know if I didn't have ended getting you into more troubles after what happened. If that's the reason why you've not contacted me..." 

Hiyori interrupted him with a loud sigh. 

"I actually was thinking of telling you everything that happened in just one e-mail after things settled down a bit, that's why I haven't written." 

"So you did got into trouble", added Yato, a bit disheartened. 

"Just a few..." Cut Hiyori again, "it's really not the time to tell you about it and we're on the middle of the street anyways, it's really not a short story." 

"I have all the time in the world!" 

What was going on with him? 

"Why are you being so insistent? This is just simple teenage girl drama, and you are..." She stopped herself, realizing her entire facade could crumble at the slightest mistake, "apparently a really important person." 

Yato doubted for a second, before answering. 

"If this is something I caused, I simply want to know if there's any way I can help you solve it." 

It was really hard for Hiyori to believe this person who was near the edge of becoming maddening was capable of writing that music. It was too absurd. 

"Listen, I promise I will tell you everything that has been going on, but right now I have a class to make it to and I'm already kind of late." 

"Wow, so you study after school also? You keep yourself busy, huh?" 

"Well, it's not like I'm actually too good with that..." She muttered. 

"What's the class about?" 

"Painting..." 

Yato looked at her in disbelief. 

"I don't see you dying to get there", he said, suggestively. Hiyori stopped walking suddenly. He was right. She looked straight down to her feet, thinking. It was something she felt she didn't had the talent for, anyways. The headmaster had told her to make time for a club at school, anyways. Why not just simply forget about painting? 

 

 

 

Yato looked at her from a distance. She was bowing down, apologizing again and again with a teacher with loose long straight hair, outside a really tiny studio buried deep in a corner of a shopping mall. When she returned, somehow she looked calmer. 

"This is going to sound a little bit crazy", explained Hiyori whilst getting down the stairs, "but I actually feel like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders." 

"Why do you do this?" 

"Huh?" 

"Running around one place to another with hellish schedules, taking lessons of things you don't even like or care about at all". Hiyori tried to answer, but only a short "hm" came out of her lips. "God, being so young the last thing you should be doing is wasting your time in things like that." 

Hiyori couldn't say a word after they left the mall and walked a bit along the avenue, apparently aimlessly. The sun was setting, the lights would be turned on soon, and Hiyori had time to spare. 

"T-thanks", she said. 

Yato halted, surprised. "Aren't you polite by reflex?" 

"Says the person who wipes his sunglasses clean when he's nervous" 

Touche. Yato laughed, and he was surprised about the sound of his own laugh, about the tension in his jaw and the leant back position of his head. "I have no idea why are you thanking me for, Hiyori, but if you really want to do something for me, I have a favor to ask you". 

 

 

The girl began doubting this had been a smart idea when they got down the subway in a part of town a bit far from her usual zone. People didn't say a lot of pretty things about this area, and she wasn't even sure of what would happen once they arrived at his house. However, she couldn't help but trust. For some reason to think Yato could do something to harm her felt in her mind as unnatural. Talking to him was easy, a bit unnerving because of his arrogant behavior from time to time and his awful proneness to make really stupid jokes; walking beside him made crossing streets on a neighborhood as dangerous looking as that one felt as safe as walking up and down her house stairs. Between silences, Hiyori tried to unravel this situation in her head, why being with him felt that good? Where was the extra effort she usually had to make to interact with other people? She was used to watch carefully and listen to every inflexion and pause the other person made to know exactly what to say. Yato changed and flowed like water, and she just let him pass along. She answered when he spoke, said things when they crossed her mind and kept silent if the talk was over. What was this? 

They stopped before entering an alley and Hiyori could see the stairs leading down to his basement. Yato searched for the keys in his pocket, blabbing something about a TV commercial about kittens he had seen last night that had him puzzled. Right before twisting the knob, his face turned pale and turning around, he sticked his back to the door with his arms spread, like a lizzard. 

"Yato, what are you doing?" 

Notoriously nervous, he stuttered. 

"I-I-I don't have n-nothing to offer you for a d-drink!" 

"Huh?" 

"Can you go buy... drinks?" Yato smiled, but Hiyori couldn't ignore the fact that all of this was pretty weird. 

"O...kaaay" the girl turned around, "Oh, there's a vending machine right there!" She began climbing the few stair steps, searching for some change in her coat, when Yato's yell startled her. 

"NOOO, NOT THAT ONE!" 

"But why?!" 

"I don't like those!" 

"...the hell are you talking about?!" 

"I want those from there!" 

"But I have to walk the entire street!" 

"Just go!" 

"I don't understand, what kind of drink you want?" 

"I don't give a... it doesn't matter! just GO!" 

Minutes later, Hiyori came back annoyed from the farthest vending machine to Yato's house with two canned drinks. He was a really strange fellow. 

 

When she made it back to the alley the first thing she saw was the huge pile of black trash bags piled up in front of the stairs. She made her way between the remaining space in order of not touching anything and stepping carefully knocked on the distressed door three times. Yato opened immediately. 

"Hiyori! I was about to go searching for ya!" 

"Yato, what's up with all this bags?" 

"Noth...! I mean yes, I wonder! Fuckin' weird people!" He laughed nervously and right away he pulled her inside from her arm, closing the door behind. 

Hiyori made herself confortable in the couch and looked suspiciously around. She knew pretty well the behavior of boys this age. On the days he was being careful and neat, her brother left at least one drawer opened in the kitchen, and his room always showed signs of his way in it. This flat was strangely tidy. With the corner of her eye, she saw Yato working his soul out in the kitchen. 

"Is it okay if I brought you iced tea?" She asked out loud, doubtful. 

"Oh, don't worry, Hiyori. I'm actually not thirsty." 

Unbelievable. 

 

 

 

 

A few moments later, Hiyori was feeling incredibly embarrased about being laughed off by Yato. 

"D-don't laugh! It's incredibly unconfortable running into Yama-chan pretty much everywhere when all she does is sticking her nose up high and leave!" She whined, making a sad face, to which Yato stopped laughing slowly, but kept staring at her with a smile. 

"Now I get why you've been not writing!" 

Hiyori had agreed to tell him everything that had happened, and after trying to persuade him not to make a list of all the lies she had told in those past days, she also proceeded to tell him about her friends and the annoying attitude Yama had taken, mumbling bad things about her when she was sure she could hear, and the fact Ami was still trying to middle between them. 

"And not just that, apparently no matter how I try to dispell rumours at school, people is coming up with stories about a life I didn't knew I had!" 

Yato finally stretched his arms and legs, and looked at the ceiling, thoughtful. 

"People's really a pain in the ass, no?" 

"What do you mean?" 

"Like that friend of yours, that Yama girl. I kinda get she's mad 'bout you lying and stuff, but going around thinking people owes you an explanation with full detail about their lives is hella damn annoying. Is she always like that?" 

Hiyori thought about it for a moment. Yama had always been the kind of impertinent friend they always ended up getting out of her own troubles, but aside from that she was really a loyal person, capable of running wherever needed in order to help them out. Suddenly Hiyori felt extremely wrong. 

"Yama-chan is always paying attention to what Ami-chan and myself need", muttered, "I suppose that's why she's so apprehensive when she finds out about something she's not aware of." 

Yato scoffed loudly and Hiyori looked at him with furrowed eyebrows. In that precise moment he seemed a cold, distant and completely different to the guy she thought she knew a few days ago. 

"What is she expecting to get in exchange?" 

"Huh?" 

"People is not just good because they can. Proof is she got mad because you're not showing her the reality she wants to see." 

Yato was alone. Hiyori looked around. He had deliberately cut himselff off people. Was this about a discussion he had in the past with Viina? The one who made her resign the band? The girl looked at him, sitting with his eyes looking straight to the front, searching solitude to be able to put his pieces together again after a painful break. Hiyori sighed, why did her chest began to hurt? Suddenly Yato seemed to get off a trance, and looked straight into her eyes. His face was different again. This time it was the soft and kind face he had back then in the park after running away form her teachers. He smiled sweetly. 

"I'm nobody to decide and judge over your friends, Hiyori. What you think is perhaps more accurate. It's entirely up to you if you go and fix things up with her or you keep on figuring it out by yourself." 

Hiyori thought again for a minute. 

"What would you do?" 

"I would let her rot in hell for the rest of her life" said Yato with a  straight up deadly deep voice, and his eyes lit up with something unknown to the girl. Seeing her confused stare he smiled again and got off the couch, walking towards the bottom of his basement. All of a sudden Hiyori asked, curious: 

"What was what you wanted to ask me?" 

Yato came back with his guitar on one hand and a bunch of crumpled sheets on the other. 

"I want you to listen to this" 

The couch sunk again under the renewed weight, and Yato began playing. He showed her one tune, and the complementary riff. Hiyori listened intently and threw questions here and there. As minutes went by, Yato became more and more concentrated in what he was doing, speaking less and less. Intrigued, Hiyori noticed his face changing again, this time shining internally with some kind of strange, mesmerizing energy. "How 'bout this?" he would ask suddenly, and she would notice the slight differences between one idea and the other, commenting which had been better. Yato discovered himself making small crosses over the notes instead of furious strikes, shifting the melody over the same idea. He ended with a solid idea of a song, coherent, fluid, fresh, completely new. The guy took the paper between his hands, staring at it as if it worth a billion dollars. Then he looked at her as if he just discovered how to make fire. 

 

 

Hiyori tried to dissipate the stupid smile in her face and breathed deep to get rid of that strange fast heartbeat that she was having all the way back home after Yato had seen her off at the station. It had been extremely hard to shake him off for some reason; she couldn't understand why he couldn't stop offering to buy things for her. He tried to buy her a cake in a store near the station simply because she had stared at it, and it was twice as hard to convince he didn't needed to invite her dinner. He agreed to see her off at the station only when Hiyori threatened with not writing ever, and she apologized later with the fact his parents still didn't knew she had ended her painting lessons that same afternoon and they weren't going to allow one more unjustified delay. The sight of Yato staring at her behind the station entrance bars, waving his hand off, was precisely what kept her stupid smile, and somehow when she noticed her face seemed made of rubber, going back to the smile when she tried to chage the expression, made her smile even more, had she lost her head? 

"Something good happened to you?", asked a familiar voice right beside her. The sunset light reddened the blond hair and ambar eyes of the boy who reached her at the grove walk in front of the station. 

"Tendou-kun!" said Hiyori, feeling lucky, "It's really nice seeing you!" 

"Call me Yukine, please!", he answered, with a too sugary voice. Something inside the girl pieced together with a click, and she reacted with caution. 

"What brings you around here, Yukine-kun?" There was it again. The extreme attention. Her nerves activating. The quick thinking before any reaction. She surprisingly found herself wanting to be with Yato. 

"A friend lives around, but I was already going." After seeing the surprised face Hiyori did by learning Yukine had friends so close to her house, the boy asked, "Where are you coming from, Iki-san?" 

Ah, there was it again. She hadn't noticed that tone the last time she spoke with him, what was he planning? Why did his voice sounded that... dangerous

"Please, call me Hiyori." She didn't know if it was okay to continue. Why did she felt it wasn't a good idea to tell him she had seen Yato? After a brief pause, she continued. "I actually think this is really funny, I just saw Yato a while ago." 

Almost immediately, Hiyori regretted saying that when she saw Yukine's grin. In wasn't a real smile. His whole face was a facade, and she felt getting nervous about not being able to see what was lying behind. 

"Yato? it is indeed funny, Hiyori." He let out a laugh -"Fake", Hiyori thought right away, and then he said, "where did you saw him? I hope he didn't actually followed you around like a shadow, the way he planned." 

"Planned?" 

Yukine got closer to her, venomously. 

"He hasn't stopped talking about you since he gave you his email. It was actually a torture listening to him complaining about you not writing. Yesterday he decided going to look for you. I tried to make him realize it was a stupid idea, but I can see he actually did found you the way he wanted." 

Why was he talking like that? Hiyori decided to leap forward and face him. What was this brat planning? 

"Actually, Yukine-kun", Hiyori made sure to state her phrase as precise as possible, "he met with me after school and we spend the afternoon at his flat." 

Yukine stopped suddenly. 

"Oh, I see", he looked straight into her eyes, with a fiery spark. On that same note, Yukine asked, "did you guys had fun?" 

"Lots, Yato is working in new material and he showed me some ideas for new songs" 

Hiyori could see, even when the light of the surroundings was getting dimmer, that in the eyes of the boy was building up anger and alarm. A swift look below made her aware the knuckles of Yukine were almost white. 

"Listen", he said, with a completely different voice, no suga-coating, no disguises, "I don't really get what are you planning to do, but you can begin to drop your little act with me." 

"I don't know what you're talking about", she said, defensively, with a flat voice. Yukine got even closer to her, menacingly. Hiyori didn't moved an inch. 

"You know quite well I don't swallow shit about what you say. The rest is also very wary about you, but Yato is much too naive to notice." 

Hiyori began to feel anxious. 

"I don't know exactly what are you planning, but if you already went joyfully to his house, it means this has gone way too far." 

"I don't know what you're talking about", she repeated. Yukine shook his head, furious. 

"Stop playing dumb already!" 

A third voice got them off each other's focus, and Hiyori looked back at the station, feeling a squeeze in her chest when she saw the black haired guy running towards them, with her pink scarf on his hand. 

"Hey, guys!" he waved, merrily, from afar. Hiyori was about to answer, relieved he was there, when she felt a strong pull in her briefcase. 

To her utter horror, Yukine emptied the contents of it in the floor right in front of them, in spite Hiyori trying to get it back at any cost. 

"What the heck do you think you're doing, brat?!" Shouted Yato, rushing to the place, finding Hiyori trying to pick up her stuff as fast as she could. 

She couldn't let him see it

Yukine tossed her briefcase aside, and Yato looked at him furious, while he kneeled beside Hiyori to help her pick up the mess. "What the hell got into you, asshole?!" 

Yukine's answer was a devilish look at Hiyori and a stomp over her composition notebook... and a CD case. The girl's fingers were just millimeters  off being crushed against the ground by the angry boy's foot. 

"YUKI-!" 

"PAY ATTENTION JUST ONCE IN YOUR GODDAMN LIFE, YATO, FUCK!" Exploded Yukine, and pointed at his foot, lifting it from Hiyori's stuff, who was frozen in fear. 

Yato's shaking hand picked up the CD. He looked at her with wide open eyes. The same eyes minutes before had looked at her as if she was one of the world's greatest wonders now were questioning her, analyzing her, trying to understand. 

"Hiyori?" Dared to ask Yato. The stinging in Hiyori's eyes finally translated into ashamed, angry tears. She quickly stuffed her things into the briefcase, sobbing. 

"I'm really sorry" she said with a faint voice, and left the place running. The street lights began to flicker. 

Yato followed her whith the sight, with SHRINE's album in one hand, and her pink scarf in the other. He barely listened Yukine talking. 

"Hey, dude, leave her. We're much better like this, she could've been a crazy fan or something worse. I think is best for the time being if you stay at home with us..." 

 

Yato refused to talk to Yukine throughout the first week he spent on the house with everyone.

Chapter Text

TRACK 8

 

Psycho - Muse

 

 

 

“Ami-chan, Yama-chan, wait”, Hiyori reached out to her Friends while crossing the main yard. Yama huffed in annoyance and made the gesture of leaving, but Ami held her from the arm, forcing her to face Hiyori.

“I want to… specially with you, Yama-chan, I…” doubted Hiyori, twirling her knuckles around her briefcase handle.

The long silence made the girl to look up to her friends, thanking the fact they were not rushing or put pressure in her for apologizing, which was already really hard for her. Ami had a concerned stare, while Yama tried to keep her annoyed face, but she didn’t move an inch even with Hiyori doubting right there.

“What you’d do?”

“I would let her rot in hell…”

Bits of her conversation with Yato days before came to her mind, and for her horror, they were far to make her feel better. The memories of that afternoon, those intense blue eyes, so expressive, letting her know from his comfortableness to his confusion to mistrust, the only thing they caused was that tears began trailing down from her eyes, leaving wet traces on her cheeks. A wave of anger and embarrassment made her weep, scolding herself for not being in control of her own emotions. She tried to keep talking but she was actually making an awful job at that. Her friends tensed up.

“H-hey!” Said Yama, baffled, “D-don’t cry! It’s actually not that big of a deal! Apology accepted!”

“Ow, Hiyori!” Sighed Ami, and squeezed her in an embrace. “We’re really really sorry too!”

Yama placed a  hand in one of Hiyori’s shoulder. “I’m really sorry too, Hiyori-chan.”

The three girls walked to their classroom while Hiyori wiped away her tears. Somehow they had thought those were apology tears, and she wasn’t going to correct that mistake. She was actually relieved to not having to give any explanation.

During lunch, Hiyori managed to fill the gaps on her story for SHRINE, but she ended up telling them about her little run-away with “Yuuto”, the cruelty Yukine had revealed a white lie she just slightly mentioned – and that fortunately Ami and Yama didn’t asked about, and the “punishment” imposed by the headmaster.

“Wow”, sighed Yama, overwhelmed, “well, if it serves you of anything, my judo club still has some spots opened.”

“If I go to my mother telling her I’m entering judo club I’ll surely sent her to hospital, but thanks, tho’”, said Hiyori, lowering her head.

“That’s right, you need to really ponder your options”, said Ami, with a finger on her chin. “And about this dude, Yuuto-san, you said? I’m sure if he really cares about you, he’ll listen whatever you have to say”, se added with a smile.

“He has to choose!” yelled Yama, passionate, “It’s either his friend or you!”

“…And that’s why you don’t have a boyfriend, Yama-chan”, sighed Ami, “That’s so not appropriate”

“Hey!”

“I actually don’t think is so simple as telling him to pick one of us”, said Hiyori. In that moment the bell announcing the end of lunch break rang, and the girls stood up, heading back to their classroom. Hiyori smiled. She finally had her friends back, but she couldn’t stop feeling wrong; she still kept lying to cover things that were not so easy to say, anyways. But what else could she do? Tell everything just the way it was?

“Hey, guys?”, called Hiyori, and the three stopped walking in the aisle, “would you believe me if I told you I knew SHRINE’s members and I spent one afternoon with the guitarist?”

Ami and Yama looked at her with eyes wide open. Then they broke down in laughter.

“Whatever you say, Hiyori-chan!”, let out Yama, sarcastically, and they kept walking with Hiyori a little behind, with her head sunk between her shoulders.

“That’s what I thought…”

 


 

 

“It would be good if you get your ass to the kitchen to help for a change!” had said Daikoku some point within the week. He knew what he really wanted to see was some kind of reaction in him. There were five rooms in the house, but lately they were using just two. Yato had been locked up in the room he occupied when he was living there at the beginning, which was around the same size his whole basement in downtown was. He had tried to leave on the first days, but Daikoku had stopped him. He hadn’t left his room since. Kofuku had come to talk to him regularly through the door, when she also realized he wasn’t eating properly.

“Yatty-chan, you haven’t eaten one bite again…” Kofuku was saying today, “we’re sorry things have to be this way, but we have to keep safe. This time luckily nothing happened, but if you were here living with us there had been no need for you to be exposed like that…”

Yato listened to her in his usual spot, sitting by the little table near the window who showed directly the blue cover of the pool, smoking. His hair was a mess and the blanket over his shoulders made him look like an owl on his perch. He could listen to her clearly, he knew what he wanted to say, but he just stayed there, unmoving. An ocean of simultaneous thoughts flooded through him: the deadline, how long he had been on that house, the shame-filled face of Hiyori, Yukine, that stupid brat, Hiyori, the new song he had left on the basement, the fact he didn’t felt like eating anyhtin, Hiyori, she still had his email, would she have written? Probably not, how easy would it be to just smash his skull against the window…

Yato smashed the cigarette butt with more violence than needed, burning his fingertips and getting them dirty with the pile of ashes from several days. He actually hated smoking, but nicotine was able to suppress his constant anxious impulses and slow down his mind a bit. He was sure it killed brain cells, but that was okay. The only thing those little bastards did was idiotic thoughts that paralyzed him and deemed him unable to finish anything.

The magenta shine on that girl’s eyes came back to his head with the strength and precision of a baseball bat and Yato hunched, hugging his knees, burying his face in the boney bumps.

“If you saw me like this, you’d surely think I’m a straight up loser”, he thought, at the same time scolding himself for thinking that way, and simultaneously remembering that afternoon in his basement, where ideas were flowing, organized, where he looked at her eyes and everything was silent, where all the pieces fell into place perfectly.

He got up from his seat, almost knocking the table in his way, ripping away the blanket from his shoulders, his mind punishing him again for depending on a highschooler he had just met a few weeks ago, and for letting things to come to this point. He opened the bedroom’s door, releasing the door lock, and he still could see Kofuku walking away hallway down, giving up. The sound of the door made her look behind, and seeing Yato made her face glow.

After receiving the bubblegum pink tornado on his arms, he looked at her, smiling.

“How can it be that we haven’t had a rehearsal if we’re all here?”

“I’ll call everyone immediately!” sung Kofuku, and ran through the hallway like a butterfly.

 

 


 

 

Yato smashed his face over the kotatsu, hours later, his hair still damp from the shower he took after the rehearsal… or whatever that had been. Daikoku growled angrily, asking him to stop getting the table dirty, and Kofuku slipped an arm over his shoulders, hugging him, speaking with the softest voice.

“Yatty-chan, c’mon, relax, OK? Not all rehearsals have to be good, much less after all that time”, his friend’s attempts to lift his mood only made his frustration bigger, and he turned his head to the other side. Yukine and Daikoku had turned on the videogame station and were having fun shooting the other team in an online match. At the current situation, Yato was unable to understand how a game of that kind allowed them to relax after that sucky rehearsal. He had been completely unable to concentrate, he kept missing his entrances, failed notes, and yelled in frustration about not being able to put two coherent ideas together. They decided to try the next day, although nobody really felt more calm. Hugged by Kofuku, Yato sniffed: “I wish I could concentrate like before.”

“Hey, man, take your time,” let out Daikoku, smiling. Seeing Yato out of his bedroom had relieved him somehow, “there’ll be something to bring the kazillion-dollar Yato back.”

“Bring a slut dressed as a schoolgirl, seems he likes that kind of shit” scoffed Yukine.

“Yuki…”, Kofuku tried to reprimand him. Yato didn’t even flinched with his words. The couple was completely aware that he was determined to ignore him as long as possible; but they were also sure Yukine said hurtful things on purpose, resented about receiving the cold shoulder, and they knew this was going to blow out really soon. Unfortunately, the teenager kept talking.

“Look at him, Kofuku! He’s being pathetic on purpose for us to feel guilty about opening his eyes to the truth of his girlfriend”, Yato blushed to the tip of his ears, but didn’t answered. Daikoku gripped the controller with more strength than necessary, counting on the seconds. Yukine didn’t looked away from the screen. “Anyways, I sent her ass back home and whatever she was planning to do will not happen, what a ridiculous thing to say she didn’t had any idea of who we were!”

“So what?” said a harsh voice rising up from the kotatsu. Yato straightened up, and pierced Yukine with a cold glare. “Am I not able to even pick my own friends?”

“Bah, accept it, you don’t even know who to trust and since you think you can’t trust us since what happened with Viina, you go and search for the first person to come across you”. Daikoku and Kofuku closed their eyes at the same time. Something was indeed about to blow up.

“Viina, Viina! Goddamn it! I would really like for you to stop bringing her up every chance you guys have! I’m sick of all this, Yukine! What the fuck y’think you’re getting with reminding me time and time again it was my fault she left?!” After the yelling, Yukine turned off the console, furious.

“FOR YOU TO DEEP-THINK ABOUT IT, MAYBE!”

“DEEP-THINK ABOUT WHAT?”

“HOW PATHETIC IT IS FOR YOU TO DRAG YOUR ASS AROUND SOME GOOD FOR NOTHING BRAT TO OBTAIN A BIT OF VALIDATION EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HER!”

Yato took Yukine by the arm with violence and led him outside. Daikoku made the intent of standing up, but Kofuku stopped him putting a hand delicately on his arm. Smiling sweetly, she made a negative movement with her head.

“Yatty-chan would never hurt Yuki”, she said, with a spark on her eyes, “he’s not the same as before.”

Daikoku sat down again and looked outside, worried.

 

Outside, Yato practically threw Yukine against the blue sports car and looked at him with rage, before starting to remove the covering canvas. He took the keys out from his pocket and removed the locks. He opened the driver’s door.

“Get in”, he said. Yukine kept standing next to the car, crossing his arms, “I SAID GET IN!”, insisted Yato with a growl, and Yukine walked around the car reluctantly, closing the door behind him with a bang.

“Where are we going?” he asked, not showing any trace of the attitude he showed seconds before, feeling nervousness building up. Normally, when a fight got to this levels, Yato was the first one in avoiding it, usually by leaving. Something had changed.

Yato put his key on the slot by the wheel and turned the switch on. He looked at Yukine straight in the eye and saw him revolve on his seat. This kind of energy was something the kid had never saw in him. Without answering to the question, Yato turned the stereo on and searched for an unexistent station. Static filled the car’s cabin and Yukine looked at him, confused. Yato didn’t broke visual contact while turning up the static’s volume to an almost unbearable level. The blond turned his face into a pained one while covering his ears.

“Does it hurt?”, Yato yelled.

Yukine looked at him in disbelief while he turned the volume up even more. Even Yato’s face was showing signs of pain.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!” Yelled Yukine, getting his friend’s hand off the volume button with an upwards slap, turning the volume down and punching the off button.

“That was my brain”, Yato said. The glare in his eyes made it hard to believe he wasn’t telling the truth. He turned the stereo on again and searched a station of calm music. A violin quartet caressed the notes sweetly. “This is my brain when I’m with her.”

Yukine smashed his forehead against the car’s board with a grunt.

“Dammit, dude! Obviously you have feelings for the girl but there’s no need to be so cheesy, you disgust me!”

Yato blushed instantly.

“THAT’S NOT IT!” he kept blabbing seeing the skeptical stare Yukine gave him, “Don’t you understand, Yuki? THE WHOLE TIME something is going through my stupid brain and I’m not able to filter everything… until I met her, at least…. For the first time in a long time there’s silence… I can focus. I know I probably shoulda’ been more careful but…”

Yukine opened the car’s door.

“I already knew you were an idiot”, mumbled Yukine, bitterly, “but I wasn’t aware you were this fucking crazy.”

Yato chuckled.

“I guess I am a bit crazy.”

Yukine got off the car and turned around, talking with his hand on the edge of the door.

“Do whatever you want, ass”, he passed the other hand through his hair, ruffling it, “but think about the fact that whatever happens today onwards would be entirely her fault, and therefore yours, for involving her where she shouldn’t be.”

Yukine closed the door, and Yato got the window down before the kid could go far.

“Say, Yukine, what would you think if I was in your place and Suzuha was Hiyori?”, Yukine froze at the spot, “what would’ve happened if when you invited him over I had showed the same attitude with him that you showed with her… stepping over him, making him feel humiliated?”

“It’s not the same thing…”

“Oh, really? Because it seems to me the circumstances are actually similar, Suzuha comes here all the time and only you know who he is…”

“But I trust him!” he said, hot-headed, turning around again and glaring at Yato with furrowed brows.

“And I trust you. I also trust Hiyori.”

Yukine snorted and kept walking.

“I would have smashed your face in that moment.”

“Apparently the one who’s in love is someone else”, sung Yato in an annoying tone, typical of him.

He immediately got the window up, turned the car’s engine on and pushed play in his stereo’s CD player. While he turned around the fountain to get off the house ground, he watched Yukine’s face turn red as a tomato, but he couldn’t listen the “FUCK OFF!” yell, nor see him throw a handful of gravel that didn’t made it to his car.

 

 


 

 

“You’re sure you don’t need any help from us, Hiyori-chan?”, asked Yama. Her and Ami were waving Hiyori off at the school gate.

“That’s very nice of you, guys, but the deal with my brother was taking care of it myself.” Said Hiyori, smiling apologetically, getting ready for an afternoon of hunting event halls, banquet services, florists, invitations…

The idea alone was overwhelming, but she had to begin somewhere. But Hiyori actually knew this was the perfect excuse to stop thinking about all that happened and get distracted from the constant jump to her mind of that pair of bright blue eyes appearing out of nowhere, in completely random situations, passing through any thought. While she was collecting phone numbers in the commercial district, she tried not to pay attention to her surroundings, that talked about him, that was trying for her to remember him painfully with every detail. It was completely inexplicable, even absurd. How could it be so hard to stop seeing someone who you’d barely knew?

An anger wave filled her starting from her stomach to the last fiber of her fingers, cooling them until they began to ache and she had to stop the pen’s movement that was still collecting phone numbers, even with her mind way too far from there. The girl kept walking, trying with all her will to blink until making the growingly bothersome sting at the corner of her eyes to go away. One rub in the eyes with her fists, a bit of a shake with her head, and she was ready to hunt again with a falcon’s eye some other place to collect information. She searched around, at the other sidewalk, trying to sharpen her sight. Maybe if she crossed the street…

She had barely made that choice, and she was shifting her feet to go there, when a loud honk made her jump like never before in her life, and with the heart pounding hurtfully looked at the damn crazy person who had smashed the horn of the blue car right next to her… an electric blue sports car… she had seen that car somewhere…

The tinted window of the co-pilot seat got down slowly, and it wasn’t even halfway down when from the inside of that Subaru WRX came out an extremely familiar voice.

“What happened, Hiyori? Saw a ghost?”

She would recognize that voice anywhere.

“Yato!” Hiyori hurriedly came near to the space left from the window, almost sticking her head in the inside of the car, “what are you doing here?”

“Isn’t that obvious?” he said, giving her a flashing smile, “I’m looking for people without a cellphone to put up an exhibition in a museum.”

“Ha-ha, very funny”, she said, stoic, “does Daikoku-san knows you stole his car?”

The face Yato did couldn’t have been funnier, and Hiyori almost couldn’t hear his reply from the laughter attack she had seeing it.

“Just for you to be aware, miss”, he said, crushing his chest with a hand, indignant, “this is MY car.” Hiyori let out an incredulous sound, and Yato snorted, exasperated, “Are you getting on or not?”

She smiled and opened the co-pilot’s door. She sat down, put her briefcase on the floor between her ankles and buckled her seatbelt.

“Where are we going, Toretto?” Hiyori asked, still smiling. Yato looked at her from head to toe, almost in disbelief. Inside of his head, at that time was nothing but silence. Without answering, his face turned into a mischievous smirk, and looking to the front, he hit the gas.

 

 


 

 

“Who are those?” asked Hiyori, dipping one French fries in a plastic pot filled with dressing.

“Red Hot Chilli Peppers -d’you really didn’t know this place?” Asked Yato, incredulous, taking one of the French fries of the bag she had.

The crisp-clean mat below Hiyori’s feet squealed when she shifted one of them, seeing them with a little smile. She had been asking him continuously the names of the bands playing the songs on his car’s stereo random setting, and Yato answered each band’s name with the patience and passion of a good teacher; he was indeed more concerned about the fact she had never been in that park in particular. It was a charming spot buried in Tokyo’s bay, in which throughout the years portions of land had been placed in order to be able to build more things. In front of them, like a cutout against the sunset light, they could see the shape of the Diamond and Flower ferris wheel, and Yato insisted to stay until the lights were lit. Meanwhile, they just sat in the car listening music.

Yato relaxed his back against the door, with the window down to allow the smoke of his cigarette to go out. Hiyori looked at him. They hadn’t really gotten into the subject.

“I’m sorry” she said, simply. Yato froze for an instant, but didn’t said anything for a while. He smiled sadly, looking to the front. She couldn’t see the expression in his eyes.

“How long had you knew?” he asked, finally, doubting before continuing, “did you saved me from that accident because I was a member of SHRINE?”

Hiyori doubted too. She actually wasn’t sure Yato was going to believe her.

“To be honest, I hadn’t heard about you until after the accident.”

“I don’t know if that helps me or it’s actually making me feel worse” he said, laughing a bit bitterly. He had relaxed again completely. “Actually, I think the one who needs to apologize here is me… Yukine… he’s…”

“Chill out”, cut Hiyori, shaking her head a little, “Yukine-kun was just a bit defensive.”

“And I really don’t know why to be like that with you, but it was indeed wrong… oh, by the way!” he said, and leaned to the back of the car, getting a pink scarf and Hiyori’s CD, “I didn’t had the change of getting those back to you.”

After a shy “thanks” from Hiyori, Yato returned to the topic.

“Hey, I know it’s not like a big deal but, in case you want, we can invite you over to a rehearsal…”

“COME AGAIN?!”

 


 

 

I love each and every single one of you! Thank you for reading!!!!

Chapter Text

TRACK 9.

Piano Man – Billy Joel.

 

It wasn’t until she wore again her recently returned scarf that she noticed one of Yato’s most unnerving traits: his perfume.

She couldn’t quite place her finger over what it was, because it didn’t seem like something store-bought. And it simply seemed to impregnate in everything he could lay his hands on, even faintly, but consistent nevertheless. During all that night, Hiyori was practically burying her nose on the pink fabric. Something in it was intriguing, intoxicating, even dangerous, and yet it was just a simple mixture of completely common smells, once she could sort of figure it out without feeling completely dumb or with that tickling sensation of rocks in her stomach. She could smell a bit of the cigarette’s tobacco plus one or two different kinds of candy and junk food, along with some sort of body soap, shampoo, and – surprisingly, fabric softener; and with all that, a little something that simply could be associated with him. An unmistakable note that had the power of standing all her hairs. When she realized what a simple smell was doing to her, she decided to go to sleep with a huff, trying to forget how hard it had been to shake Yato off herself to avoid him taking her right to her doorstep in that flashy car.

Along the day things weren’t much easier. Her mother and practically all the teachers had been constantly asking if she was running a fever. Of course, her completely reddened cheeks had absolutely nothing to do with being sick. She was wearing her scarf around her neck, covering her mouth and nose.

A very light snowfall made her breath to escape in the form of white clouds through the fabric, an Hiyori happily noticed that the smell seemed to reactivate with her breath’s humidity. She guarded below one of the eaves of the stores by the station’s door, waiting. Looking at the crowd, she suddenly felt paralyzed when she catched a glimpse of the blue-eyed smile of Yato in the distance, walking slowly, enjoying one of the last puffs of smoke of his cigarette. Today he looked quite different. He was wearing a long coat over a pair of jeans and a different sweatshirt, with a scarf around his neck, all in dark colors.

“Did you dressed all by yourself?” she let out. For an instant, he didn’t knew how to react.

“I shoulda’ left you go to Kofuku’s house on your own.”

Remembering Yukine’s little scene, her face went pale.

“No, I’m sorry! Actually you… you look fine”

“Flirting with me is really low, Hiyori, I thought you were better than this” said Yato smiling slyly, doing an awful job at hiding the slight red tint his cheeks had taken.

“Can we go?” she sighed, in the midst between annoyed and completely confused about how she felt at that moment with the sole fact of seeing him in an outfit that could be considered at least something presentable and the involuntary reaction of her face -blushing too. Yato looked at her, somewhat lost.

“Let’s go, but, are you feeling OK?” he said with a worried tone “looks like you’re running a fever”

Hiyori began walking hurriedly, and Yato was walking with her within short time. The cold made them walk faster without talking, and soon - “too soon”, thought Hiyori, before scolding herself internally and discarding the thought as quickly as she got it, they made it to Kofuku’s house.

It was in that point that the girl realized this hadn’t been a great idea, probably, according to what Yukine had said about not everyone being agree with involving her. Around the kotatsu were three faces watching her with different expressions. Yukine’s one was total annoyance. Kofuku showed a conciliating smile and Daikoku was avoiding looking at her at all. Hearing Yato was taking air to begin talking, Hiyori took a step forward and made a deep bow.

“I’m so sorry!”

The three people at the table answered with a surprised interjection.

“What are you talking about, Hiyorin?” asked Kofuku, getting on her feet.

“I’m so sorry to have lied to you guys… I’m actually…” the other girl took her from the arm and softly led her to sit at the Kotatsu. Her kindness filled her with courage. It was about time to clean up some of her lies.

Not very long after, finishing to tell her story on detail in front of a cup of tea, Hiyori took a deep breath. Daikoku raised his fist, effusive.

“You finding us was destiny!”

“I’m so sorry to have doubted you, Hiyorin!” cried Kofuku, pouncing over her, pulling Hiyori into a hug.

Yato and Yukine’s gazes crossed during a split second, before the teenager turned his face away, raising his nose. “It’s now your turn ignoring me, Yukine?” thought Yato, and smiled to himself.

“Okay, that’s enough already!” he said, standing up, “are we gonna begin or what?” Daikoku stood up too, and they left the room. Kofuku fluttered after them, and Hiyori waited a bit to let Yukine pass. The kid slid himself in front of her and stared at her with a piercing gaze that froze her right at the door. Yukine spoke with all the poison he could gather at that instant.

“I’m watching you” he said, simply, and followed the others. Hiyori felt her gut on the ground and a cold shiver ran through her back, until she heard Kofuku calling.

“Of course this house has a basement”, Hiyori thought, ironically, as soon as they opened that place’s door, revealing a room adequated entirely to achieve an ideal sound quality. Every wall was covered with carpet material, there were several speakers of different sizes located strategically around the place, a lot of microphones, the drum set, and all the instrument in their stands. Everything shone in chrome and silver and Hiyori searched for a spot to sit and admire the place in awe.

Yato, on the other hand, felt his body as light as a cloud and immediately began untangling the nest of cables on the floor before connecting everything in its place. If he could ignore the sudden sweat breakdown of his hands, he could feel the trace of an old emotion bubbling inside him. He identified that feeling at the moment he took his guitar in his hands and got the strap above his head. They were surrounded by an expectant silence.

Hiyori was just there, in front of them, she could feel the tension in the air when the three guys locked a stare.

Yato closed his eyes.

Black.

No noise. No strange thoughts eating his brain alive. No obsessions. He opened his eyes and glared swiftly to the brown haired girl sitting by the door before looking at Daikoku and Yukine. The first chord resounded not just all around, but also inside her brain, inside her stomach. She closed her eyes too, momentarily, and let herself sink in the melody. It was captivating, electrifying, even whithout the deep rich voice of Viina. When she opened her eyes again, she felt the little jump her heart did to the rhythm of music. Just in front of her, without any need of bending her gaze a bit, was Yato. His focused expression in the deepest part of the song gave him a seriousness she had never before seen in him; not even in the CD’s photos. The solo was approaching -Hiyori knew the songs really well, and the guy closed his eyes shut, letting his fingers caress the guitar, shifting his expression again, this time giving the impression of deep meditation, as a wandering monk in the climax of his prayer, and Hiyori felt a pinch in her heart again. Ending the solo, Yato let his eyes brush over her, and that momentary contact was enough to lit her face in red. “Why does he looks so good?”, she asked herself, mortified, trying to look somewhere else, without actually wanting. Kofuku watched her leaned in one of the biggest speakers, with her chin on her hand and an obnoxious smile glistening on her lips, with the stare of those who already know it all. Hiyori looked at her, confused, trying to discover what was so funny.

 

“That was amazing!” claimed Hiyori, getting close to them when they stopped to take a break. “You guys sound a lot better than the record!”

“That’s the idea!” informed Yato, giving a big gulp to his beer can.

“It would actually sound a lot better if we had a singer!” huffed Daikoku, staring at Yato, who opted to walk around rising the beer can on the air, “I think it is time for us to begin thinking about making auditions, you animal!”

“Why don’t you ask Kofuku-san? I mean, she’s always here with you and she knows the songs…”

The laughter of the girl interrupted Hiyori, “You’re too funy, Hiyorin!”, she said. At the same time, Daikoku sighed, smiling, and denying silently with his head. Yukine scoffed, sitting a little far from everyone, sitting atop of an amp.

“Kofuku is good with people”, Daikoku explained, “but she has absolutely no musical talent whatsoever.”

“I rather see how handsome Kokki looks playing the drums!” said Kofuku, merrily.

“I actually think it’s better like this, if we let her sing she’d surely break a speaker or something”, said Yato, placing his guitar on the stand.

“Oh, c’mon, Yatty… that only happened once!”

“And you were sober… I don’t even wanna think what would’ve happened if you had been drunk”, said Yato again, leaning against the wall.

“Then… what about Yukine-kun or Daikoku-san?” suggested Hiyori again.

“Singing? No way!” let out Yukine, blushing.

“The rhythm section is actually very important, Hiyori. It gives everything a base; it’s our job not to be distracted and if we can just do our thing, that’s better”, pointed Daikoku, explaining patiently.

“And what about Yato?”

All of a sudden everyone kept silent. Yato straightened up.

“Ha-ha! Yes, I wonder”, he answered vaguely, trying to avoid the subject.

“Actually, Hiyorin”, explained Kofuku, “Yatty-chan sings pretty good.”

“He’s a freakin’ useless bum in everything else”, said Daikoku, crossing his arms, “but respecting music, it’s difficult to find someone who matches him.”

“I would like to hear that one day”, said Hiyori, giving Yato a sweet smile that made him blush up to his ears. He faked a sudden cough attack and climbed the stairs up, getting the cigarette box out from his pocket, leaving everyone in the room surprised.

 

 

He took a drag of his cigarette, slowly, tasting the acid flavor of the smoke and the nicotine on his lips when passing his tongue over them, cursing silently about forgetting his coat inside. For some reason, Hiyori’s smile had been enough to give him a bolt of unbearable energy, and he had been about to leave running.

He was trying to figure what was making him behave like that, when his coat fell over his head.

“They say idiots don’t catch colds, but put this on anyway”, said Hiyori, with a hint of a laughter, shifting her coat herself. She admired Yato discreetly when he put the cigarette between his lips to be able to get the arms on the coat sleeves. She was still feeling the adrenaline rush of seeing them live, up close. “Yato”, she called, softly. He just looked at her, “thank you for inviting me over.”

“It’s not a big deal”, Yato raised a hand and scratched the nape of his neck, “thank you… for coming over.”

“You really have not considered to be the singer?”

The guy let an honest laugh out, and stared at the night in front of him. After another drag to his cigarette, he answered slowly, thinking each word.

“I’ve always thought that even when you’re able to do lotsa things at the same time, if you really want to be good at something, you have to really put your heart in it,” he looked at her again. He continued explaining when he noticed her furrowed brows, thinking, “yes, I’m good at guitar and I can sing. But I think about it this way: the best band needs the best guitarist, and I can’t be the best guitar player and the best singer at the same time. It’s either one or the other.”

Hiyori was so impressed about this way of thinking that weeks after she was still pondering his words. At that time, it meant breaking with absolutely everything she thought she knew and believed.

“I think” she muttered, “I’m beginning to understand what you said about my lessons.”

Seeing her mood go gloomy, Yato began to blab.

“We- but- not everything is bad! I mean, from the large selection of lessons you have, there has to be something good, I mean, you have to like one even a bit! And that’s okay! I’m just saying, the only one who should decide what to do with her time is yourself. What lesson you kept?”

“I still have to cancel my music lessons, but to be honest I would rather any other thing before seeing my teacher making his ‘I told you’ face…”

“Just hold on right there!” Yato cut her off, “You… d’you play?”

Hiyori giggled a bit.

“It’s nothing, actually. A long time ago I discovered I have absolutely no talent to anything artsy.”

“…But you play.” The surprised look on Yato’s face weirded her out a lot. He had even turned his body and seemed to be about to shake her from her shoulders at any minute.

“Y… yeah, you could say so.”

“What instrument?”

“I… piano – Yato, wh…?” she couldn’t ask him what was going through his head at the time, because he was already dragging her inside, back to the rehearsal basement. Yato took off his coat, throwing it carelessly and opening a little door in one of the room’s ends, almost disappearing through it. After several loud clanks, deaf thumps of something heavy being dragged and several rolls of cable being thrown away randomly out of that little storage, Yato came out again, carrying a black long case and a solid metal structure that formed an X once unfolded. The guy placed the case in the floor carefully, and Hiyori came near him slowly, as if watching a wizard about to perform a magic trick on the stage. The locks were removed, revealing a shiny electric keyboard, that Yato placed carefully on top of the base, and then walked a few times around it, muttering.

“How was this…? How…? Oh!”

He finally found the plug he was looking, and walked again several times back and forth between the keyboard and the audio console, searching for the ideal sound. When he finished, when the keys were pulsed, it let out a similar sound to that of a lone piano right at the center of a huge hall.  Yato dragged close one of the mics that they used to practice second voices during the rehearsal, and placed it in front of the chair, which he put at one side of the keyboard. He then stole the little bench of the drumset and sitted behind the key instrument, placing his hands over it, skillfully.

“I actually remember very little about this”, he smiled, as an apology. After a few chord practices, he indicated Hiyori to sit on the chair with a stare. She straightened her skirt, fearful. He kept speaking while exercising his fingers over the keys, playing scales on repeat. “Say, Hiyori”, she stared at him, “what’s your mother’s favorite song?”

The question took her unprepared. She raised her hand to her chin, thoughtful. She answered after a minute.

No frontiers.”

Yato stopped playing, and looked at her with agape mouth, totally surprised.

“Mary Black’s No frontiers? – Well, that IS a surprise, are we really talking about the same person that pushes her philosophy about being an upper class lady and all that garbage down your throat?”

“…Mary Black?” said Hiyori, a little ashamed, “no, The Corrs.”

Yato let out a big laughter. He was laughing a lot lately, he thought.

“Well, it’s kinda the same thing, The Corrs only gave the song’s popularity a boost”, saying this, he tried different key combinations, muttering to himself, “A? No, D?... maybe B… no, C? There you are!”

The melody flowed from his fingers like water. It was unbelievable, Hiyori was completely overthrown with this guy’s talent. How had she met him, again? His blue eyes were fixed on her.

“You surely know the lyrics… If life is a river…” Yato pointed to the mic with a stare, and Hiyori paralyzed. Was he singing? “c’mon! And your life is a boat…”

The girl approached the microphone with utter shyness, “and just like a water baby baby born to float…” Yato smiled, and urged her to continue, “And if life is a wild wind that blows way on high… And your heart is Amelia dying to fly… Heaven knows no frontiers…” Hiyori smiled singing the last phrase, “And I’ve seen heaven in your eyes…”

Yato retook the following verse. The atmosphere changed. Never, in all her life, Hiyori had been capable of thinking she would be able to understand so much with someone just by looking at them. Somehow, she knew what to do, when he was going to change and what did she had to do, and it didn’t had nothing to do with the fact her mother had sang sung that tune to herself every time she was happy.

Heaven knows no frontiers, and I’ve seen heaven in your eyes…

She had let her mind escape, and all of a sudden the song had ended, leaving them both with a gust of frozen air between the short half a meter between them. Hiyori’s face turned red, but Yato filled his chest, proud, with a huge smile. He was about to say something, when they heard movement on the stairs. Kofuku, Daikoku and Yukine had been there listening. Realizing it, Hiyori felt herself shrinking to floor level, to immediately after feel as walking between the clouds after what Yato said.

“Whaddayathink?”

“I think we are just going to need one audition”, stated Daikoku.

Yukine was still showing an attitude as bad as always, but his eyes showed absolute surprise, while Kofuku gave little jumps and clapped.

“What you say, Hiyori?” Asked Yato, “D’ya know the songs?”

After a brief silence, she answered, smiling confidently: “Every word.”

 

But it was actually quite different, once being in the midst of the dynamics she had seen from the outside. During the brief half minute of the intro of one of the most popular SHRINE’s, Hiyori started to think she was actually trying to occupy Viina’s spot; the one with the exceptional vocal range, the one who could threat of killing you and you would still ask for more; the voice that had been the main treat of the band during all those years. Suddenly she was feeling like a Chihuahua in a San Bernardo event meeting. The first words came out unsure, misplaced and week. Between the harmony created for all three instruments supporting her, she could hear Yato’s yell, “Feel it!” The pressure was almost unbearable, and Hiyori closed her eyes, trying to place her voice in some point within the melody. It was way too easy for Yato to say, she thought, because he already had years of experience and knew what was up with all of that.

But suddenly, everything became so simple. The lyrics were about feeling desperate for a love that after trying hard, it never goes back. Hiyori had no idea of how that actually felt, but trying to fill Viina’s place was stressful enough to identify the tone the lyrics should have. Yato again made use of a brief silence within the song to yell “Let it flow!” Every piece fell together into place. Again, the song ended too early for her, and that cold rush of air surrounded her again. Daikoku ended making his drums growl chaotically and laughing loudly, with joy, and Yato had again that look, as if he was in front of the biggest diamond in the world.

This time, he wasn’t looking at a score.

He was looking at her.

Chapter Text

First of all I really want to apologize to everyone for taking so long to update! This few last weeks have become really busy -I really should stop saying yes to every project that comes knocking at the door, somehow I feel like I’m killing my own agenda – Therefore, I will try my best to keep updating as soon as possible but don’t be weirded out if I have to put my sleep schedule first, I really love you but my body refuses to cooperate sometimes! I know this winter came with really strong snowstorms so stay safe, kids. I love you all!

 


 

 

TRACK 10

AC/DC – Thunderstruck

 

“NO! this is… I’m definitely not accepting this!”

“B-but Tenjin-san! Hiyorin is perfect! Just look at her! – cried Kofuku, whose bright pink tailored suit gave an interesting contrast with the producer’s office, minimal, elegant, with black leather chairs.

“I can only see a young schoolgirl who has no idea what to even do with her own life!” Hiyori, sitting in front of his desk, lowered her face, ripped apart. “Iki-san, I thought you were a lot more reasonable for you to gather with this flock of imbeciles!”

“Tenjin-san! How can you even say that? We’ve taken the company to figure in the pop-rock sales top ten!” begged Kofuku, but immediately her voice shifted to a dry, business-like tone. “I thought you had said you were grateful with us for being able to sell in a market that had been so difficult to this label! You can check your numbers again, if you want to refresh your memory!”

“But my dear,” said Tenjin, trying to recover some of his cool, “that was during the time Viina still liked to sing with you guys”. Yukine catched movement with the corner of his eye and looked at Yato, who was intently looking at his shoes, brows furrowed, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, awkwardly. “It’s not possible, Kofuku-san, for you to think this young lady can take the place of someone like Viina and sing like her! Viina imposed you an energy and an image to the band that only a carefully picked up person will be able to give you back, not a sweet highschooler that evidently seems to avoid getting into trouble and taking her own decisions!”

“Hey, didn’t you heard the recording?” replied Daikoku, who put both hands in the shoulders of his partner, showing support. “Kofuku and all of us believe in this change because we heard her and we think it’s going to work!”

“Pft!” let out Tenjin, and Hiyori could not be more agree with the old man: she had heard the recording herself and she couldn’t believe how was it possible everybody else considered her fit for this. “Her voice is like cotton candy. She’s way too sweet for you guys. I’m not going to spend one more yen in a project that there’s no profit for.”

There was a knocking sound and the head of a beautiful girl with short hair entered through the door.

“Sir? Are you ready for your five-o’-clock appointment?”

“Ah, Mayu! Coming right up!”

Before excusing herself out, the girl and Yato traded stares, and both gave each other a hateful look. Mayu pulled one of her lower eyelids down and showed her tongue.

“Bleeeh! Asshole!” she whispered, before leaving.

Yato made the gesture of going after her but Yukine stopped him with an elbow to his ribs.

“Exgirlfriend?” wondered Hiyori, baffled. Daikoku scoffed.

“Natural born enemies. Yato forgot her name one day, called her “Tomone” for some reason, and since then they can’t stand each other. He still calls her like that, just to be annoying.”

“Oh…” muttered Hiyori, wondering why she had gotten that defensive.

Tenjin finished picking up his stuff, preparing to leave. Kofuku didn’t took the eyes off him.

“I hope you reconsider”, she said, unmoved. Tenjin only gave her a stern look and shifted the knot of his necktie, briefcase under the elbow.

“Now listen to me” said Yato, talking for the first time since they had entered the place, “Viina is clearly ancient history, and I know you think our music is good enough to give us a bit of credit and let us pick the singer we think is fine” Tenjin moved and faced Yato. The height difference was minimal, “why did you gave us this ultimatum, then?”

“I thought you would be mature enough to go and solve with her all the stupid stuff you did, not to go search for someone else’s life to ruin.”

Yato was at his limit, he felt the blood rushing through his fists, and he would have been about to snap and through a punch to that old uptight bastard’s cheek, if he hadn’t heard the voice of Hiyori raising up, doubtful.

“I ch-chose this myself!”

She had suddenly jolted up. Tenjin stared at her, questioning. Kofuku smiled and sighed.

“Actually they… they heard me and… they think I can do this!”

“Wouldn’t you prefer to continue with your normal life? Go out with your friends, enjoy your youth, do normal teenager things?” the producer insisted, fixing his stare on her. “You still have a lot of things to live, and if you do this you probably would never be able to return to your old life.”

“…I can do this.”

“You will have to face many things you wouldn’t normally have to, living the way you did until now.”

“I…”

“You will be under the spotlight of thousands, maybe millions of people, and you wouldn’t be able to react just the way you feel like.”

Hiyori lowered her face again.

“You heard her already, Tenjin. Don’t be nasty.” Yato warned. Tenjin turned again to him.

“I hope you know how to behave. The next deadline, I want you to give me something I can sell.”

Yato came even closer to him, with a defying attitude. Both noses were almost touching.

“I’m going to give you the best damn band of Japan.”

“I wish I could believe you, Yato.”

Tenjin left, leaving them all feeling the tension prickling on the skin. Kofuku plopped down on a couch next to the window, and Daikoku sat on the armrest, taking Kofuku’s little hand between their own.

“Tonight I’m going to need something stronger than a beer”, she muttered in dismay.

“Guys, I’m…” began Hiyori. Yato turned around, ceasing to look with rage the door who had just closed.

“We owe you a  big one, Hiyori” he spat.

“What?”

“Tell you the truth, I didn’t thought you’d talk, much less against Tenjin”.

One by one, they thanked her for it, and made her feel part of the band. Yukine stucked his hands on his pockets and turned his face away when he spoke.

“It was fine I guess…”

Hiyori smiled, flushing.

“So, ready for another rehearsal? We can go to my place, it’s the nearest…” said Yato. He was living at his basement again, a few days ago.

“Nah, I need to go to Suzuha’s…”

“Oh? What is up with you both, little brats?” chimed Kofuku, and Yukine immediately took an awful shade of red.

“W-w-we’rejustrehearsing!”

“Oh, right!” said Daikoku, remembering, “Your school’s talent festival is coming up… Don’t forget we want tickets!”

“It’s actually not that big of a deal…” the kid said, and walked to the door. “See you later tonight.”

“C’mon Hiyori, I’ll take you home then.” Offered Yato.

 

 


 

 

The girl wasn’t able to understand why Yato didn’t simply just left her at the station and left. She was not exactly uncomfortable with the silence imposing when they ran out of stupid subjects to speak about, but she didn’t liked to begin asking herself questions that she didn’t had any answer for; Yato’s past, Yukine’s attitude, things of that sorts. She looked at Yato, sitting at her left in the long seat along the wagon’s wall. He was using today his blue jersey, but on top of that, the cold had forced him to wear a gray cap and a long jacket. He had his head leant on the window and he seemed to be sleeping. Who was this dude, really?

“I know you have questions. Shoot’em already.”

Hiyori was startled and at the same time she flushed. Yato seemed to know all that happened through her mind and showed it at the strangest times. She couldn’t just simply remain silent, so she asked what was bugging her more lately.

“Do you really think Yukine hates me that much?” Yato widened his eyes, but didn’t moved an inch.

“People change over the years”, he began, Hiyori thinking he may have not heard quite well. “I thought Yukine would be one more showing a radical change after going through puberty, but funny enough he has been someone that time seems to not affect”. He finally looked at her. “Yuki has a very difficult character himself, and it’s way worse when he doesn’t know people. But don’t worry”, he said, when she broke the eye contact to stare at the wagon’s floor. “Once you get his trust, you’ll realize he’s just a big ol’ softy”.

How to get the trust of someone who was that difficult to get along with?

“He really means a lot to you, right?” Smiled Hiyori, watching the kind expression Yato was using at that moment.

“Well…” he stuttered, “I probably shouldn’t let something like this to leak on my end ‘cause probs it would be better if he told you himself, but actually Yukine’s something like my padawan.”

“Seriously?” questioned Hiyori, with wide open eyes.

“Why are you so surprised?”

“Well, it’s kind of hard to believe you can take care of yourself.”

That car coming my way is completely out of this subject!”

“And your feeding habits, your clothing and your sleep schedule can’t get you an idea?”

“I pay my rent and I take good care of myself!”

“At some point!”

“What are you implying, kid?”

“Why are you calling me <<kid>>?!”

“You live with your parents and you’re stil on highschool! You can’t go around life thinking you can judge a responsible adult!”

Responsible.”

The argument, of course, ended with Hiyori slapping on Yato’s arm, who laughed trying to hide the fact it really had hurt.

“What you mean with padawan?” Said the girl, when they finally got down the train and were walking home. Yato took a lot of time to answer. After long seconds of silence, which he used to ponder his words, he spoke.

“A few years ago, because reasons, we were sheltering ourselves in Daikoku’s family business; they’ve had that for ages. Is a little souvenir store in the outskirts of a park not that far from here, and the store is glued to a house in which we loitered a lot, Viina, Kofuku, and myself. We were just a little older than you.” Yato stopped to light a cigarette, and he let out a big cloud of smoke. “A winter day I was arriving there, walking slowly, like the useless piece of garbage I was, and I saw a brat trying to force open the cash register”. He smiled to that memory. “Nobody was outside, so he thought it was easy to just jump over the counter and try to force that thing open. He wasn’t counting on the fact I would catch him faster you can say <<rat>>.”

“Was that kid Yukine-kun?” asked Hiyori, concerned.

“Right. I took him inside with an arm bent behind his back and told Daikoku.”

“What did you guys did?” Yato took a few steps ahead, stopped in front of her and looked at her dead in the eyes. Hiyori felt a spark going down her spine.

“You should really begin to understand, at this point” Yato said, with a deep, calm voice, “that all of us have our own stories and our reasons to do things. That’s why we all had troubles of this sort, big or small” the strength of his words let her freezing. Was he implying that all of them had records? “Yukine was obviously not completely conscious.”

“And he was stealing to pay…” cried Hiyori.

“Precisely. He was completely idle, and many years after I wondered how it could be that he showed that dependence degree being so young; but I really didn’t knew until he told me, and I want to respect that” he said, continuing his way. Hiyori didn’t insist on knowing the background, but waited for Yato to keep talking. “We never called the cops. At first he behaved like an ungrateful brat and several times he tried stealing again and running away, but we never thought about turning him over. I took him living with me to my apartment back then, and I began teaching him music, until the others made me realize having a kid his age sheltered with me without his parents consent could get me into trouble, so I let Kofuku and Daikoku follow a procedure to keep his custody. Now they’re the legal tutors and Yukine lives there.”

“What about his parents?”

“That’s a part of the story you would have to get from him” Yato laughed. “It’s really rare when Yukine talks about them.”

Hiyori plopped on her bed with a hole in the stomach. Suddenly she realized how much her life was different to everybody else’s. Even Yukine seemed to had lived much more time than her at his short age. Much to her dismay, she also realized she was beginning to ask herself if it was okay to keep being around people that clearly had been involved in situations people regularly frowned upon. But overall, she was also able to notice, maybe a little late, what she meant before Yukine’s eyes: a spoiled kid, that barely had gotten to show her nose to the world, outside the pink cotton candy setting her mother had laid around her, lovingly. Somehow, she felt she owed Yukine an apology.

 


 

 

“Hiyori-chan, what happened with the club’s thing?”

“Isn’t the deadline near?”

“The deadline is next week” answered Hiyori, defeated, while picking up her stuff at the end of school day, during which she constantly remembered what Yato had said about Yukine recently. Her problems right now were the last thing she was worried about.

“And do you already know what you’re going to do?” asked Ami, closing her suitcase.

“To be honest, Ami-chan, I have not the slightest idea.”

Yama let out a big laugh.

“That’s an answer worth of me! Who are you and what did you do to Hiyori?”

Embarrassed, Hiyori put her hand in her forehead. “I’ve been really out there lately.”

“Maybe you just need to relax” figured Yama, who had not made any effort in putting her stuff away, and whose feet were high above the desk.

“Actually, I think relaxing is right now the last thing I need”, answered Hiyori, with a light laugh, and excused herself out when the bell rang, running down the hallways up to the main gate.

After a few stations and some streets, she found Yukine’s school.

She smiled sincerely with her ticket on hand, remembering the blonde’s face when she told him she wanted to buy the entrance to his school’s festival. He had been a comical mix of shyness, horror, and not being able to say no.

“Over here, Onee-chan” pointed the girl at the door, after cutting her ticket in two.

“Has the band contest started already?” asked Hiyori, smiling and a bit hurried.

“It starts on a few minutes, the auditorium is over there” the girl indicated a point straight across the main yard.

“Thanks!”

“Ah, Onee-chan!” yelled the girl again, “At the end of the festival we will do a raffle!”

Hiyori waved thanks with her hand and jogged searching for the auditorium. Going through the point the girl had pointed, several food stalls formed a path. Roasted squid, takoyaki, crepes, all of that delicious food popped to her eyes and stole her nose’s attention. Making an effort Hiyori continued down the way, and she had made it to the auditorium quicker if a quirky attire hadn’t gotten her attention. He was right in front a taiyaki stall.

“Hey, Hiyori! Have’cha tried the food already? It’s great! I just love all this junk they sell at festivals…” saying this, Yato put directly in her hand a warm little bread fish, that had an incredible smell. Hiyori looked at him directly in the eye. Yato was taking a vast selection of food between his arms.

“I assume you haven’t even looked at the time.”

“What’re you talking about?” he said, taking his cellphone out of one of his gray wool cardigan’s pocket. He looked at the screen. “Oh, shit!”

They both ran to the auditorium’s entrance, Yato surprised her arm was so thin he could place his entire hand around it, and Hiyori trying not to drop the taiyaki he gave her.

A big group was waiting outside, in a side entrance. The girl, even from afar, got a hint of the spark of joy Yukine’s face got lit with as soon as he saw them running; but it was quickly replaced with nuisance when he saw the ton of food Yato had purchased.

“You really couldn’t finish until the show was over?”

“Do you really wanted me to stay still and walk all the way down here on such a path without buying anything? Here, eat a Konnyaku!” Yato practically pushed a big gray squishy konnyaku chunks skewer to Yukine’s face, who took a step away.

“N-now stop it you idiot! Where is Daikoku and Kofuku?”

Yato was surprised.

“They’re not here yet? ‘thought those two were arriving first…”

Yukine’s phone began ringing. The boy picked up and after a few minutes of walking around while talking, he looked as down as the beginning.

“Daikoku says something came up with Kofuku at the office and they’re not gonna make it… it’ll be good if they could be here for a change…”

“THE ODEN STALL IS ABOUT TO OPEN!” announced a teacher in a megaphone, and Yato sprinted towards him.

“Could you even listen up you fucking idiot?!” after yelling, Yukine sighed and turned away, kicking gravel off his way.

“Yukine-kun?” called Hiyori, shyly. The teenager turned to her. “Break a leg!” she said, smiling. Yukine blushed, and looked down to his feet. He nodded, letting out a faint “Hm” and continued walking.

Entering the auditorium, instead of finding a seat, she stood by the door. It would be more convenient to stop Yato right there and tell him a couple of things than try to reach him from amidst the crowd. The lights went off, and the stage of Yukine’s middle school lighted with several lights of vivid shades and shapes. The amount of bands at that school only allowed for one song each. After a few numbers, Hiyori could hear the anxiety from the girls around her. On the stage’s speakers a voice raised and announced the name of the next band.

“Coming next, the official music club’s ensemble: Snowbell*!”

The roar of the girls next to her took Hiyori completely by surprise, until she remembered Yukine was in his usual life an actual celebrity. The hype of schoolgirls seeing him in a different band playing right before their eyes was completely understandable. Hiyori had only met Suzuha a few times herself, and she had though he was a kind and respectful young man. In that moment, she also realized Yukine and him really had a unique type of friendship. Their chemistry flooded the stage, and even surpassed the connection they had with the rest of the band members. Yukine held completely the structure of what Suzuha was doing on the guitar. The singer gave impressive jumps through all the stage and the drummer didn’t fell behind keeping the beat of a punk-rock song. Hiyori had her mouth open, impressed.

“They’re good, aren’t they?” said Yato, standing next to her. “You haven’t eaten your taiyaki.”

Coming back to the real world with a startled jump, Hiyori bit on her mushy anko filled fish, thoughtful.

“So this is the real Suzuha-kun.” She muttered. “They are amazing.”

“That’s their effort paying up.” Explained Yato, proudly. “I almost can’t believe this kid is the same brat I met years ago.”

“I get you.” Said Hiyori, swaying a bit to the beat, side to side. “They’re seriously great!”

Inside of the girl’s mind, slowly, a resolution so vague that could barely be put to words was beginning to form, but she know real well what was it about. If you could do this in the music club… and they were this good… could she improve?

“Hey, let’s go right there!” said Yato, taking her hand.

“But I haven’t finished my taiyaki yet!” she replied, trying to ignore the sudden jolt of electricity that went across her starting from the point where their hands were touching.

“Leave that!” he said, tossing it to a near trashcan and dragged her up the front,  right in front of the stage. The speakers loudness hit her ribs, the instruments sound slammed against her ears and she wasn’t able to even listen to her own thoughts. She looked at Yato, who smiled saying something she couldn’t manage to hear, and threw both hands to the air, moving his head. Swimming in the euphoria of the rest of the students, she also let herself go and imitated him. During a few moments she simply danced, forgetting everything, even from herself, and she only made it back to earth when the spark of joy of the boy’s amber eyes over the stage seemed to smile at her. The song ended, and Hiyori joined the roar of everybody else, clapping. She was not only clapping to the boys who just won the audience’s heart, but also to herself, since she had already found the solution she was so eagerly looking for.

Yukine joined them when the raffle was taking place. The night had already fallen and everybody were joining them at the light of the central yard’s stage.

“It’s really a shame Kofuku and Daikoku had missed this festival, Yukine-kun.” Hiyori praised him when she saw him jogging to them. “You were absolutely amazing.”

“T-thanks.” He said, sincerely, slipping one finger below his nose.

“Hey, don’t get too cocky, you brat.” Scoffed Yato. “Here, eat some squid.”

“Stop giving me food!”

“One of the winner tickets number is 90839!” Announced the school’s headmaster, which was doing the honor of conducting the raffle, officially giving the festival a closure.

Hiyori went pale.

Never, in all her life, she had won something. However, it was completely clear. In her entrance ticket, with red numbers, was printed “90839”. Yukine and Yato practically pushed her to the stage, where she waved her hand, shyly, accepting the price from the school’s headmaster’s hands. Yato’s yell was heard in the entire school.

“A CAPYPER!!”

 

“I can’t believe you gave your prize to this piece of idiot.” Commented Yukine later, seeing her off at the station.

“Well, see it this way: I don’t have to carry it all the way down to my house.”

“CA-PY-PEEEEER!”

“You’re right about that.” Said Yukine, doing no effort to conceal the disappointment he was aiming at Yato right then.

“THANKS HIYORIIIIIII!”

“Okay, see you guys later.” She answered, trying to ignore the blue eyed boy, hugging a humongous Capyper plush by the neck, crushing it as if he wanted to deflate his lungs from oxygen.

She laughed again when Yukine had to drag Yato through the station by the cardigan’s neck.

 


 

 

“Music?” said the headmaster, almost yelling. He lowered the request form and found an impatient Hiyori smiling, defiant.

“Yes, sensei.”

“That’s… unusual, Iki-san. I was thinking you might choose a more… academic club, so to speak.”

“Sir?”

“Anyways, take this to room 18 on the third floor. The main teacher is on a temporary sick leave but the substitute teacher should be there right now. He’s a very talented young man.”

The sunset light filtered through the building’s windows. Hiyori passed by the board she had looked weeks ago, searching for an answer to the dilemma of what club to pick. The music club flyer was written by hand, in a mature, professional and elegant way. She was almost completely sure this club was not going to be remotely similar to the one at Yukine’s school, but she didn’t care. Practice was practice, and if she could take her voice to a level in which she could listen to herself in a recording without being embarrassed to death, then she would take any help she could get.

She walked down almost desert hallways until she found room 18, on the third floor. The club’s room was strangely silent.

“Excuse me…” she muttered, popping her head inside.

“Ah, so you should be the new girl they were talking about a while ago!” said a youthful voice coming from the bottom of the room. Hiyori entered and turned on a white tungsten light who buzzed uncomfortably. A young guy was sitting behind a violoncello. Skillfully, he began playing it with soft movements of the bow.

“My name’s Iki…”

“Iki Hiyori, right?” He looked at her with an interested gaze, without leaving his spot. His brown eyes fixated on hers, keeping the eye contact like a padlock. “I’m the substitute teacher, Fujisaki Kouto.”

 

*SHRINE’s name is a joke I enjoyed a lot making, Snowbell is also another joke I thought about mixing both name’s kanji, Suzuha and Yukine’s.

Chapter Text

Track 11.

Evil Ways – Santana

 

The guy looked up, takin his attention out of the glass of cold beer on the noisy bar, in which he was already a familiar face. Being faces and contacts his specialty, he hadn’t any problem recognizing the shape of the newcomer… even using a ridiculous outfit to, according to him, pass as inadverted as possible.

“Good night, Yato.”

The other man sitted next to him, really close, putting his finger over his mouth and making a loud “SHHHHHHHH”, which the first guy, wearing glasses, found really amusing.

“Oh, please, Yato. Half the place knows you’re here since you entered. Being inconspicuous is something you don’t really pull off well.”

Yato froze and then laid back on his seat, looking at him suspiciously.

“You always have to use those big words, Sera.”

Sera smiled and gave a big gulp to his beer. Tasting the bitter flavor of the foam, he pulled his eyeglasses up his nose.

“What brings you around here, Yato? Are you looking for another job, like before?”

Yato let out a loud laughter, and Sera eyed him with renewed interest.

“That was ages ago. Now things are different.”

“You do look different.” Pointed the glasses wearing man. “Did something good happened to you?”

“Is it that obvious?” asked Yato, a bit embarrassed.

“I haven’t seen you laughing like that in a long time.”

Yato stared at him directly in the eye. He bent his body forwards and let his chin rest on his hands, placing his elbows on the table.

“Sera Kaii,” he said, “even you, having the mysterious life you have, in your many businesses you should’ve had ups n’ downs.”

Sera could barely hear him on top of the pub’s noise. He finished his beer.

“It sounds like you have good news.” Sera said, trying to hide the curiosity in his voice. “Want a cigarette?”

 

 Once outside, Yato lit up his tobacco cylinder slowly, while Sera looked at him impatiently. It had began to snow.

“So? What’s all this mistery about?”

“Have you ever” Yato began, taking his time to speak, “had the impression that you run up to something that simply changes… everything?”

The other guy looked at him over his eyeglasses, not so sure about what he was meaning.

“Well, you are privileged, you can change whatever you want in the minute you want.” Sera pointed, bitterly.

“That’s not entirely true, but I imagine you’re talking about the double life you have.”

“What do you know about that?” behind his chill appearance, Yato noticed his friend shifted his weight, unconfortable.

“I only know you have bet on things you shouldn’t before.” Yato pointed to the bar behind them with his chin. “And you still doin’ it. You have a really solid support. I’m sure you have a good job.”

Sera let out an eloquent laugh. “You’re an extremely interesting person, Yato. It seems sometimes you’re completely oblivious to the world, and sometimes it seems you’re amazingly perceptive.” Yato scoffed. “What the hell did you found that made you change so much?”

“A singer. She’s fantastic.”

“To your standard, she should be really good.”

“She’s technically on diapers, but she has a huge potential.”

“Did you take in a rookie?” the voice of the guy with glasses bounced back from the wall in front of them. “Did you lost your mi – Oh.”

Yato looked at him in confusion, while Sera gave him a stern look.

“I see. That actually explains a lot.”

Yato reddened to the tip of his ears.

“Whatever you’re implying, you’re wrong. She’s actually exceptional.”

“But you have your doubts about her.” Sera pointed him with the cigarette butt between his fingers, before throwing it away. “You wouldn’t be telling me anything if you were completely sure.”

“I’m only thinkin’ if I should make some changes.” Said Yato. He took a few steps away, and turning his back on him, he continued. “We’re rehearsing at the label’s house. Call me whenever you’re available.”

“Sure do.”

Yato left, leaving fresh black tracks on the thin snow layer on the ground.

Sera sighed, curling his lips upwards. That smile turned into a thin small line when he felt the cellphone ringing in his pocket.

“Iki speaking.”

 


 

 

Iki Takamasa hung the hall speaker down, and sat at the table along his wife and daughter, who gave him an inquisitive stare.

“Masaomi will miss dinner again.” He said, in a serious tone.

Iki Sayuri, an elegant lady who still had traces of her youthful beauty clinging to her face, let out a strained sigh.

“He works way too much. I will ask for his share to be saved for him to eat something at the hospital tomorrow.”

Hiyori was not surprised by this scene anymore. Lately it seemed like her impressions were being abruptly melted down one by one. She had noticed they were not the same family as before. His father looked tired all the time and everytime he had to relax, he fell asleep. Her mom was beginning to show traces of stress on her face and a hidden tobacco addiction around her mouth. Masaomi was never home, and she had spent most her teenage hours studying. It was hard not recognizing the people you sit with around the table every night.

“You’re quiet today, honey,” her dad told her, “not hungry?”

Hiyori flinched. She had been staring at her plate during the last couple of minutes. Shyly, she began to eat.

“Maybe she doesn’t know how to tell you the news, dear.” Pointed Sayuri, with a suggestive voice. Takamasa froze right there in the middle of cutting his hamburger steak.

“What news, Hiyori?”

“Uhm…” she doubted. Right when she was beginning to talk, her mother cut her abruptly.

“She chose the music club at school.”

Hiyori closed her mouth softly, looking at the flower vase on the table.

“Music?” repeated her father, thoughtful. “Well, congratulations, dear. It’s not exactly a family tradition or something the Iki’s are particularly skilled on, but I’m sure you will do your best.” After a brief pause, he continued. “So? What instrument you chose? Flute? Clarinet? Violin?”

“They picked me up for the choir. I’m a soprano.”

“That is wonderful, sweetie.” Her dad got up from the table abruptly, answering his cellphone. “Iki speaking.”

“Oh, dear!”

 


 

“I refuse to keep talking to you through email like a caveman! Come to my house before rehearsal.”

Hiyori sighed, closed his e-mail session and turned off the centenarian computer on her school library. Through those weeks, his email had been cluttered with a million messages left by Yato (sometimes at very inadequate hours past midnight), some with a clear topic, but most of them were actually about any random stupid thought coming through his mind at the moment. Hiyori was beginning to think he was mistaking her email account with a notebook of dumb ideas. She made what she could to answer, but sometimes she could not manage more than writing two or three things full speed in her school’s computer. Of course, her father had a last generation laptop in his study, but Hiyori had never dared to touch his things. Libraries came really useful to write down papers and in case any emergency came up, she could count with Ami or Yama to lend her theirs. Yato and his urge to let her know even the link to that commercial that had made him uncomfortable in the morning was turning her world upside down.

Hiyori made it until the main door of the building with her school bag in hand, but turning to one of the hallways, she heard a voice calling her stubbornly.

“Hiyori-chan!”

When she turned back, Fujisaki Kouto reached at her.

“Sensei! Is something wrong?”

Sensei? I might be the substitute teacher, Hiyori-chan, but I’m actually just a few years older than you.” He blinked an eye at her, and Hiyori let out a small laugh, not finding any other appropriate reaction. “The music academy has its perks. You can call me Kouto-kun.”

“I… actually don’t think that’s really appropriate… sensei.”

“Ow, c’mon!” Fujisaki insisted. “Don’t be that serious. In fact I have something to show you, come with me.”

The guy took her by the arm with a powerful grip, a surprise for someone with his complexion, and he practically dragged her to the music room. Hiyori followed, nervous, expecting to brush him off quickly to make it on time to Yato’s apartment before the rehearsal with the band.

Once in the music room, Fujisaki took his baton, and pointed an empty chair. Hiyori sat on the edge of it, uncomfortable. The teacher turned his back on her and scrambled around the handful of papers piled neatly over his desk. Hiyori got one of the pamphlets.

La nuit” she read, a little lost.

“This is part of the repertoire we’ll go over next week.” Fujisaki leaned closer to her, and fixed his eyes really close, with his hands on his knees to be at her eyesight level. The necktie dangled forward in a very sloppy way. “Your voice is simply perfect for this solo.”

Hiyori skimmed over the score. “I have never sang something this difficult before.”

“This is for begginers, Hiyori-chan!” With an exaggerated gesture, Fujisaki raised both hands to the ceiling, and turned around to lean tragically over his desk. “Leave your stuff, we will begin right away.”

“B-but!” she began complaining.

“Or could it be that you have plans? Oh, don’t worry, I understand your personal life is more important than being responsible with your projects!”

Hiyori sighed and stood up. She didn’t move an inch. Fujisaki smiled and attacked the piano immediately.

“You enter right after the phrase with G, A…”

 

 


 

 

Every tick of the clock hand generated waves on the clear surface of his mind, like drops of water in a full basin, growing closer to knock over. With his chin over his laced up fingers, he listened every second and every minute passing, how many hours he had been sitting there? Every muscle on his body was unsure of working properly together with the rest, and when Yato finally used them to look at the time in the kitchen clock, they screeched in a peculiar way. He looked at the device furiously, as if it carried the guilt of being this late; then he took his jacket and stormed to the door. Before going out, he looked at the package laying on top of the coffee table, on a paper bag with handles. Exasperated, he returned for it and then he went through the door like a demon.

Walking with big strides through the street, he almost runs over Hiyori, who was running to his basement. Not long after they understood they were each other, they began talking at the same time.

“That’s precisely why one should get a cellphone! I can’t believe you simply can’t have any civilized way of letting anyone know you’re running this late! You could have never made it and I would be there waiting for you like a fucking idiot!”

“I’m so sorry! I actually wasn’t planning on taking that long and I had the intention of running to your place as soon as the classes ended but my teacher found me and insisted we should practice! I told you I’m sorry! Are you even listening to me?!”

They both sighed when the silence raised. Yato took one hand to his neck.

“Look, it doesn’t matter anymore. Let’s just hurry.”

Hiyori nodded and walked with her head low behind him all the time until they made it to the station. At the platform, Yato tried to engage with the normal small-talk.

“So they accepted your request for choir?”

Hiyori nodded again.

“The teacher is really strange.”

“Bet he is.” Pointed Yato in a distracted tone. After an uncomfortable silence, he went straight to the point. “I told a friend of mine to come whenever he has the chance to listen us.” He felt Hiyori tensing next to him. “He’s a nice guy, I’ve been trusting him from a while now. His specialty is moving contacts. He likes to invest his time and money in difficult projects.”

“He supported you guys?” asked Hiyori, shyly.

“Thanks to him we met that nasty Tenjin geezer.”

Another silence ensued.

“When will he come?” she finally asked.

“Dunno. He’s a busy man.” Yato muttered. “I want him to check up on you. I actually think we should adjust some stuff about our style, to make your voice pop up.” He took one hand to his chin. “And I fully trust Sera’s opinion.”

“Sera-san?”

“That’s obviously not a real name. He introduces himself as Sera Kaii.”

“What kind of name is that?”

“That’s a stage name! you really don’t think we are going to introduce our singer as Iki Hiyori, do you?”

“...But that’s actually my name.”

“No way! We will have to think of another name for you.”

“I still don’t get the point of that.”

“What about Anpangirl?”

“WHAT?!”

“It’s actually a cute name, everybody likes Anpanman…”

The conversation flowed on that same note during the rest of the trip. Getting down, they tried to make it to their friends house as fast as possible.

“Your late!” growled Daikoku, all the way from the kitchen.

“What are we waiting for, then?” said Yato mischievously, getting close to the basement stairs. One by one they began to enter the basement studio for another rehearsal.

Whatever it is you’re doing, musically speaking, Hiyori-chan, you better drop it right away. It will end up getting in the way for the choirs matters.” Had said Fujisaki earlier. And he had added: “You really should not get together with that kind of losers.

It had been an oddly specific comment. Looking at Yato’s back moving instruments and connecting things, commenting options with Yukine and Daikoku, she realized how mistaken her teacher was.

They were the reason she had come to him at the first place.

That night, she sang with a confidence she had never felt before.

 

 


 

 

 

“You sound tired.”

Hiyori jumped when Yato came from behind, sitting halfway on the bench’s back watching Kofuku’s garden.

“I just had a long day, that’s all.”

“Hmmm…” muttered the guy, searching around in his pockets. A paper bag dangled on his wrist. Hiyori interrupted him when he was about to spin the lighter’s  wheel.

“The choir teacher is giving me private training.” The man looked at her, surprised.

“That idiot with the baton and everything?”

“He’s the orchestra director, Yato.”

“All those guys are just assholes.” He snapped, mockful, and finished lighting his cigarette. Another oddly specific comment, Hiyori thought, and looked at her gloved hands in her lap.

Yato looked at her briefly and jumped over the bench like a cat, sitting next to her, staring. Surprised, Hiyori watched him stutter, even when the previous movement had been precise and agile.

“Listen… Hiyori…” she didn’t liked to admit the nervousness of the guy made her hear beat really fast. “I want to give you something.”

Saying this, he deattached the paper bag from his wrist, and offered it to her with both his arms extended up the front.

“I didn’t wrapped it or anything; it’s actually not a big deal, I don’t want you to think weird stuff.” Yato looked at the floor, and Hiyori surprised herself thinking how strikingly handsome he looked with his flushed cheeks, the scarf on his neck, puffs of steam coming from his mouth, with his hair up in a ponytail and offering him a strange bag that, actually, didn’t looked like it was light. The girl took the package and began opening with caution. It was thrill this she felt receiving a gift directly from him?

She froze when she opened the cardboard box and picked up the brand new smartphone carefully.

“Yato…”

“As I was telling you, don’t make anything weird out of this!” Yato spluttered, “It’s really annoying having to contact you through e-mail with no certainty that you read an important message or not!”

“But…”

But nothing! Take it, it’s yours.”

Hiyori’s teeth began hurting due to the cold air outside, having her mouth open, completely surprised. It seemed like all her ability to speak had just left her right there.

“If you don’t want it I can turn it back…” he muttered, after a few moments of uncomfortable silence. Hiyori came up abruptly from her dizziness.

“I’m so thankful for this!” She got up and made a bow in front of Yato, who waved his hands exaggeratedly, trying to avoid Hiyori took it too seriously.

“I only want you to have it in case we need to call you immediately, that way we won’t need to wait until you can confirm if you’re coming or not.”

“I promise I’ll pay you!”

“Tha’ FUCK are you talking about?!”

“These things are not cheap!”

“Okay, now, let me tell you something.” Yato went dead serious quite abruptly, and got up to get closer to her. Hiyori took half a step back. “If you really want to do something for me” he looked at her directly in the eye, deeply, “promise me you’ll always sing for us.”

She had a really hard time trying to undo the knot in her throat before speaking. “I will.”

Inside, Kofuku stepped off one of the windows silently, with a dainty smile covering her face.

“It was just a matter of time, Yatty.” She whispered, and continued her way down the hallway.

 

 


 

 

It was not hard to convince her friends that the phone had been purchased with her savings, and they gladly shared with her their favorite pictures, apps and cellphone numbers. It was a little bit more difficult to get the strange look off his father’s face when Hiyori showed a little bit more interest in technology that they thought. However, Yato, the reason behind that phone in particular, was beginning to get on her nerve.

Without any warning, at completely inconsistent times, Hiyori would get text messages from him, just as at her email before. This guy didn’t cared at all if it was 2 o’clock in the morning and she had a text the next day. She had ended up silencing her phone whenever she was at school, and she had finally came to turn it off during the night.

Maybe I would answer more gladly if you weren’t harassing me every single hour!”, she had written one morning that Yato’s endless messages had reached her phone after turning it on. The last one had been a “):” at 4 in the morning. She later apologized to Yato on the rehearsal that afternoon, but she pressed over the fact she had still tests coming up midterm and asked him to moderate the amount of texts he sent. Yukine found really funny Yato finally had someone else apart from him to pester on.

At his basement, Yato opened the door to shelter himself from the strong snow that began falling just after that days reunion, and he pulled out his cellphone from his pocket to ask Hiyori if she thought it was true ants didn’t sleep, before thinking twice and placing it on top of the coffee table, with his interest now over a yellow envelope someone had slid under the door.

Inside, he found a simple printed paper. The only phrase in it, just in the middle, on a really small font, read “Missed me?”. Yato felt a stone down his stomach and wrinkled down the envelope and paper with all his strength, throwing it with rage on the kitchen’s trashcan. It took a long time before he could actually manage to normalize his breathing and heartbeat.

Hiyori was walking alone the last blocks from the station to her house. In spite of being a relatively safe area, something about today made her feel watched over. For some reason the dark or shady parts made her walk faster and look behind her shoulder.

The vibration in her skirt’s pocket scared her and she almost yelped, reacting just in time to take the machine out and see on the screen that an unknow number was trying to communicate with her.

Hiyori slid the green button to the right.

“Iki speaking.”

“Hiyori-chaaaaaaan!” said a sugary voice, filled with danger.

 

 


 

 

Hey guys, It’s me. Again I thank you all for reading up until this point and I would give you the usual rubbish about why I’m taking a long time to update but actually, at this moment I do have a really good excuse.

Turns out after all the things going on with my life I finally managed to transfer my school to Japan. It might sound unbelievable, but it’s true. So right now since obviously I don’t have an appropriate visa, I can’t work so I have a lot of free time on my hands when I finish school everyday. So besides of homework, chores and going out to know Tokyo, I do spend a lot of time at my apartment doing pretty much nothing else than writing.

So expect an update really soon! Thank you all again for your kudos, comments, reblogs and everything. I deeply appreciate it!

Chapter Text

TRACK 12

 

Jaded – Aerosmith

 

“Fujisaki-sensei! This is a surprise! What can I do for you?” asked Hiyori, trying to recover from the initial surprise and recover her composure.

“There you go again with the <<sensei>> thing!” he replied, giving an overdramatic sigh. “Tell me, when are you going to start warming up to me? I told you before, I’m only a couple years older than you!”

“But… you’re my teacher.” She said, hesitating. “Talking to you any other way would be inappropriate.”

“We will become closer, Hiyori-chan, I can assure you that”. Something in his voice made Hiyori specially upset to be called like that, but she could not explain why. “By the way, that friend of yours, Yamashita, she’s very kind, she gave me your phone number right away.”

“Oh, I see”. Hiyori made a mental note about talking to her the next day. “Did something happened? What can I help you with?”

“Nothing to be worried about, sweetheart”. The girl swallowed the impulse of hanging up on him right then. “I just wanted to inform you that you turned out chosen to be the main soloist of the choir”. “Picked by whom?”, she thought, concerned, but opted not to say anything for now. Upon the silence, Fujisaki insisted again. “The cat ate your tongue? Are you not happy?”

“I was just wondering if you could not wait until tomorrow to tell me about this, ¿is this really that urgent to ask my friends for my phone number?”. Hiyori realized too late the tone she had used was definitely not appropriate to talk to a teacher. The worst thing about it was that Fujisaki’s reaction wasn’t even strange to her. He just laughed hard.

“You’re absolutely right, Hiyori-chan, you’re a very clever girl!” and he added, with a different set of voice: “I actually wanted to say good night.”

“Oh… I… see?” she doubted. What was all this? “Good night?” she finally suggested. Fujisaki laughed intently again.

“Good night, honey! I hope this phone call gave you a nice thought to fall asleep to.”

He hung up. What was all that about? Trying to follow her way, Hiyori felt a shiver down her spine only for daring to think maybe a teacher – what an abominable idea, were flirting with her over the phone. Of course, Fujisaki was not exactly the least handsome man on earth, in fact Hiyori could see clearly the face Yama made when the music teacher approached to ask for her number and the reason why she had given it without any second thought, but something in him was just simply… too weird. There was something about his features…

Hiyori flinched when she passed by a street light. Just in the middle of the circle displayed by the lightbulb, there was a girl dressed on a kimono, standing still at that time of night, without signals of anybody around or that she was waiting for someone. She was just there, looking straight up front. Hiyori passed next to her, and flinched again when her intense black eyes fixated upon her. There was no expression, not even a glare. Hiyori hurried and tried to get out from her mind the ghostly figure of that pale girl, with black short hair, looking at her with eyes like that, black as hollow, expressionless.

She could never forget that face in her entire life.

 


 

 

“In what moment in life exactly you thought it was a good idea to give my cellphone number to Fujisaki-sensei, Yama-chan?” Hiyori asked to her friend the next day, without second thoughts.

Yama opened her sports bag from school and sticked her head right into it.

“I’m so sorry, Hiyori-chan! I wasn’t thinking in that moment!” even her voice was ridden with how embarrassed she was. Hiyori couldn’t help but feel a big affection for her friend, and smiled.

“It’s okay, Yama-chan, don’t overthink it. I just think is weird to receive calls from a teacher straight to my phone.”

“He called you?” asked Ami, quite interested, and Hiyori nodded.

“Yesterday.”

“Why such a hurry?” Ami asked again.

“Well…” Hiyori doubted. Clenching her fists over her skirt, she told them the teacher’s decision. “Apparently, they chose me as main soloist of the choir.”

“Wow, Hiyori-chan”, said Yama, sticking her head out from her bag. “Since when you’re so good in music?”

“Yeah, I mean since we know each other you’re barely more than a mess in everything else that doesn’t involve studying until your lashes burn”, laughed Ami.

Hiyori felt a bit disappointed, if she had to be completely honest.

“I’m just as surprised as you guys. I can’t stop asking myself who chose me for this.”

 

 

 


 

 

 

Apparently, judging by the looks of the other choir members expecting to be picked up, no one except Fujisaki had chosen her for the position. Just to get a second opinion about someone that knew a bit about the subject, Hiyori invited Ami and Yama to stay and watch the choir’s practice after school.

The mood was pure tension.

It was way more uncomfortable when the choir mates realized the special treatment Hiyori received from the teacher. Every time she noticed a new innuendo the man directed at her, the same ugly feeling creeped up her back. Fujisaki stared at her deeply in the eye, with a half-smile in his face, while directing everyone. Both his hands in the air, he had complete control over them all, with an iron glove, but he didn’t take his eyes off her. It almost seemed as if he was directing her exclusively. All tension accumulated during that hour and a half of practice passed the toll over her when she came out of the classroom, relieved. Her friends received her, but the reaction was way too different to what she expected.

“I definitely want to know when did you became this skilled singing, Hiyori-chan”, asked a confused Yama.

“When did you find time to practice?” tried Ami.

“I sing on the bathtub, don’t be so dramatic.” The girl answered, a bit alarmed. “Actually I don’t think I’m even half good as I would need to be considered a good singer…”

A loud alarm interrupted her. Her smartphone had activated a reminder telling her she should run to the station if she wanted to make it on time with SHRINE. This schedules were becoming pretty hard.

Hiyori excused herself out and ran. She ignored the heavy stare she felt upon her back while crossing the main yard.

“Run as fast as you’d like, rabbit.” Muttered Fujisaki, from the music classroom window. “I already have you in my sight.”

He pointed his fingers at her, making the shape of a gun with them, and with a sinister smile, he turned around.

 

 


 

 

At SHRINE’s house, the normal volume of conversation was being exceeded. Hiyori entered trying to be discreet and to understand what was being said above the big voice of Daikoku. He was, apparently, scolding Yato. Hiyori knew why the moment she went through the livingroom’s door.

She had never seen Yato in such a shape. He didn’t just look drunk, he looked terribly tired. Hiyori wondered if that was the normal effect of having too much alcohol or if he really hadn’t slept all night.

“You were the last person he saw”, said a voice behind her. Startled, she turned around to find Yukine there, watching the scene. He then stared at her, concerned. “Did something happened to you guys?”

“Something?” Hiyori was completely lost. “Like what?”

Yukine sighed.

“Sometimes he… well this happens. I don’t know exactly what is the trigger, but he’s more paranoid than usual, he doesn’t sleep, and tries to get away himself by drinking. He says he drinks to try and find some peaceful sleep and he has spans of really bad insomnia.” Hiyori looked at Yato. “I think there’s something else behind this.”

“Last night I didn’t notice anything weird, at least not until we split. He did the rest of the way alone.”

“NOW PUT THAT SHIT DOWN!!” Shouted Yukine, seeing Yato trying to open a new can of beer.

“Noooo!” he cried when the boy took the remaining cans to the kitchen. “You don’t understand!!!” just as if he had a sixth sense, Yato looked at the door and grinned widely, standing on his feet tottering. “Hiyori’s-‘ere!” to her surprise, Yato threw a limp arm around her neck. “Time to begin’ d’practis’”. The smell of alcohol and his doughy tongue didn’t made things easier for the girl, that the only thing she could fully think of was how close they really were, the warmth radiating from Yato’s body, and his smell – he was too close.

“G-get off me!” Hiyori slipped under Yato’s arm and made her way alone to the basement. Yato followed her with the eyes, perplexed, until she disappeared through the door. Daikoku came close to him.

“That was really smooth.”

Yato opened his mouth to complain, horrified, but no sound came out of him.

Hiyori realized, alone in the silent basement, between the controls and all the gear, that her knees were shaking, her shoulders were heavy and her heart pounded violently between her ribs. Was it the fact that she had actually never been that close to someone in such ethylic state, or simply…?

Everyone else entered the practice room with the usual noisy vibe. When Hiyori turned to look at Yato, he averted his eyes quickly to the floor, blushing.

“Wha…” passed across Hiyori’s mind, but she rather replaced her thoughts with the warm up exercises she had learnt on the choir practice.

Once everyone was ready, Yato let out a loud distorted chord and let it ring. His hand was up in the air, and after the sound disappeared a bit, the intense sound of the guitar got feedback from the amp and let out a hoarse howl. Hiyori usually limited herself to concentrate and cover her part. Something this night though made all her senses excited, and waited intently for Yato to begin playing. He then lowered his arm and made a movement with his head, and suddenly, uncomfortable, Fujisaki popped to her mind.

Her mind began working like crazy. The replacement teacher, wrapped in a brown suit, the shirt well tucked-in, with a tie; Yato was using a muscle t-shirt one size too big for him under his coat. Fujisaki had a rather thin frame, and the few times he worked with his sleeves rolled up, his skin didn’t show any spot, not a single mole; Yato had a muscular build that was not immediately evident through his every day clothes, but one simple look to the man behind the guitar directing this band was enough to convince that under that shaggy look was the true brain that made SHRINE work, every muscle of his arm embellished by some tint, some figure, some kind of mark. Hiyori entered in the right moment with the correct notes, going with the flow, entranced. She had no idea why she was comparing both guys, but the shiver down her spine remembering the teacher directing the choir was noticeable enough: she didn’t liked Fujisaki at all. Yato, however… where should she put Yato?

Dumb Yato. Annoying Yato. Smelly, irresponsible and careless Yato. Talented, mysterious and irresistible Yato. Kind Yato. Umpredictable Yato. Handsome Yato.

The voice part of the song ended, and Hiyori analyzed the tips of her toes, barely touching the heavy microphone stand’s base, with wide open eyes. What the hell was she thinking about?

 

 


 

 

 

“Hey, Hiyorin, is everything ok?” Asked Kofuku when the practice was over, “You seem worried about something.”

The girl only could manage a short “Uhm…” while swiftly gazing with the corner of her eye at the guy picking up every cable he could find out of place. The muscle t-shirt let the movement of his arms and his back to shine through. Hiyori averted her eyes right away and tried to suppress the sudden heat on her cheeks and that annoying feeling of a claw clenching her stomach. Kofuku smiled sweetly.

“Oh, I see.” Said merrily the pink-haired girl. “I heard about the phone.” She suggested, slyly.

“Well… that’s…”

“Good luck, you idiots”. Jumping childishly, she got out from the room.

“What were you guys talking about?”

That blue.

It was not just any color, it was that one in particular, precisely the one she could not stand to look in that moment.

“Oh, just…” Hiyori hesitated. Yato seemed to have lost the alcohol effects by that point, but he still had droopy eyes and huge dark circles. “Kofuku-san only wanted to know if we could exchange numbers.”

She smiled nervously to Yato’s inspection. Her smile vanished the moment a new idea began to form, and the man realized her change of expression, stepping back when she raised her hands to her mouth in panic.

“Hiyori…?” Yato tried.

“I completely forgot!” the surprise made her stutter. She had forgotten to call all the event planners and hotels that may rent a hall for her. “What the hell am I supposed to do know?”

“Hey, chill” said Yato. “What is wrong?”

Hiyori was worrying more and more by each passing second. How could she have forgotten about it? She hurriedly let out an apology and ran to the door, picking her stuff up in her way out. Before she could storm by the basement’s stairs, Yato got a firm grip off her arm.

“Are we not a team, Hiyori?”, he said, and added with an affected tone: “Don’t you trust us?”

Hiyori stopped the overflow of ideas that knocked over all other thoughts inside her mind. She slowly turned her face to Yato. She had no idea her actions were able to affect him this much. He looked at the floor, worried, not daring to raise his eyes, and his eyebrows furrowed. The girl sighed.

“I completely forgot I had to plan my parent’s wedding anniversary party. I have a few weeks ahead and I haven’t even made the research.”

Yato let her arm loose and turned around to search into his coat’s pockets. He took his smartphone and plopped into a chair. Hiyori smiled, a bit hurt, seeing he had completely lost interest so quickly. She was beginning to walk when she heard Yato speaking.

“Ishida-san? Good evening! I’m sorry to be bothering you at this time! I’m Yato, you remember me?” he began walking aimlessly across the room. Kofuku came back with snacks and placed them carefully over an amplifier while Daikoku and the others followed Yato around with the eyes. “Thank you! I’m fine… actually I was calling to ask you for a big favor. Do you still have that big hall we fixed up last summer?”

Bit by bit Hiyori’s face was turning from confusion, to surprise, to total joy. After a few phone calls Yato had appointments in different points all around the city, and every person he spoke to were glad to show him places right away.

“T-that’s amazing, Yato!” Hiyori stuttered, puzzled. “How did you do it?”

Yato wasn’t sure if he should be proud or ashamed about the circumstances.

“I’ve had this bunch of jobs…” he muttered, raising a hand to the nape of his neck.

“That’s not a lie,” pointed Yukine, “he has had more jobs than birthdays.”

Hiyori could not believe it.

“I thank you so much, Yato!” she watched as the boy fiddled dorkly with his nose before jumping  back to his phone. After a few seconds he stared at his other three friends.

“We’re not done yet. Are you still in touch with that restaurant owner in Odaiba, Daikoku? The guy way-too-into fusion food?”

“Ah…” said Daikoku, thoughtful. “I haven’t talk to him in a while, but I’ll get in touch right away.”

“Cool! Yuki!” the boy raised his nose from his bass and stared back reluctantly, “Kofuku’s family has a big storage vault full of furniture, make some time tomorrow, we need to select what we will be using.”

“I get to be the carrier?” he whined, “I still want to grow taller, you ass!”

“This sounds like fun!” Kofuku squealed. She actually didn’t had any idea of where she had put the key to the vault, but she would surely find it somehow.

“Thank you all so much, guys.” Said an overwhelmed Hiyori. “Actually when you already have so many things under control, I don’t think I need to do anything.” She laughed a bit, ashamed. Yato pointed at her with his phone.

“Your job is the most difficult one!” he put a hand in his waist, extending the other one towards her. “You’ll have to coordinate everything and don’t let us slack off.”

Hiyori laughed again, harder this time.

“Leave it to me!”

 


 

 

Yukine popped his neck while walking during sunset through one of the parks nearby Yato’s basement. The furniture was ready, Hiyori was better than she thought for coordination, especially after having a more precise idea of what she was trying to accomplish. Yato walked by Yukine’s side, while making their way to the basement, where Yukine wanted to check thoroughly one of the parts he should play on a new song.

Yato looked straight ahead, undoubtful, firmly, and with a slight smile curving the corners of his lips. Curious about the silence, Yukine stared at him intently.

“You’ve been weird lately.” He begun. “Are you sure tha-?”

“Everything is okay?” Yato interrupted, “of course. Now everything is okay.”

After another brief analysis, Yukine bent his arms behind his head, locking his fingers together, and sighed.

“Does this have anything to do with Hiyori?”

Yato could barely manage to keep his balance.

“THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, YOU BRAT?” Trying to give a smack to the kid’s head, he barely hits a trashcan.

“<<We’ll help you set this up>>; <<We’re a team>>” Yukine mocked, “Since when you’re so into getting up and do things? I think if you really try you can be a little more obvious, moron.”

Yato rubbed his knee, but looked up at the sky, thinking.

“Are you trying to say that…” He stopped and tried to avoid blushing “I like Hiyori?”

“No.” Said Yukine, simply, and began walking again. Intrigued, Yato ran after him. “I think you are deeply, stupidly and totally in love with her.”

“Sure.” Yato scorned, pretending his young friend’s words hadn’t made his heart jump.

“You can try to lie to me if you want.” The blond suggested.

“And what could you know about those things, midget?”

Yukine avoided his eyes and blushed strongly.

“Shut up.”

Yato stopped in his tracks again. Yukine did the same, even though he was not sure what was going on.

“Go to my house, I’ll meet you there.” Said the older boy, giving his keys to the blond kid.

“WHAAT?” Snapped Yukine, trying to read the look in Yato’s eyes. They were cold, steel hard blue, and his jaw clenched, almost making it possible to hear his teeth screeching. Yukine tried to follow his eyesight, but couldn’t spot anyone. There was a girl further ahead drinking water from a drinker a few meters ahead, but that was it.

“You’re definitely a freak, now what the f-?”

“I told you to go! I’ll catch you later.”

Yukine went ahead, surprised by the roughness on Yato’s words, not without turning around to look at him suspiciously.

Yato was finally alone in the park. Strangely alone. A cold breeze went through his jersey and the wool sweater he put over it, but he was sure it had nothing to do with the temperature.

It seemed all the cold air was coming from the eyes of the short haired girl coming closer to him, after closing the drinker’s tap.

“I’m so glad to see you,” she began talking, with a sweet voice, “Yato.”

He clenched his jaw even more. Something about the way she spelled his name sent shivers down his spine.

“What are you doing here, Nora?”

“Isn’t that obvious?” said the girl, and took Yato softly by the arm. “I come to take you.”

“Not this time.”

“You’ve become harsh, Yato.”

“I’m not going to be available every time he needs. I have a life of my own.”

“With them?” asked Nora softly, tilting her head, and then looking to the path Yukine had gone by. “That’s impossible. You know the only ones who truly love you is us, Yato.”

Again with that, Yato thought, and ripped his arm off Nora’s soft grip.

“You can tell that nasty geezer I’m never going back.”

The long silence made him look back to her. Her black junior high uniform gave her an air of innocence Yato knew very well couldn’t suit her better. Nora smiled, holding her briefcase with both hands. She was the stereotypical image of a japanese dream girl.

“Father will get mad if I come back without you.”

“I’m sorry about that.”

“You’re not sorry enough, Yato.” Nora slowly began to walk away. “Not yet.”

Something in her words made all the alarms in Yato’s mind ring.

“See you later, brother.”

Chapter Text

It’s getting warm in Japan! We’re preparing for summertime and with all my tests and the fact that this is an ongoing fanfic I really came to a writer’s block on the last chapter. Luckily I was able to overcome that and now I’m translating episode 13 after a long time. Remember, if you notice anything weird going on with the grammar don’t hesitate to tell me! It will be much appreciated.

 

TRACK 13

 

Pictures of you – The cure.

 

The chromed plate on the entrance of the establishment said “Lion’s nest”. Hiyori went through the automatic doors feeling anxious and wondered if this was really the best studio in Tokyo, as everyone had told her. It kind of reminded her more to her father’s consulting room.

After a hallway with grey carpet and several plants to the sides, a waiting room opened up, making way more inconsistent the fact this was a recording studio. In fact, Hiyori would have walked down the hallway again just to be sure she was at the right place if she hadn’t seen four familiar faces already waiting for her, in different spots of that waiting room. Kofuku was swinging her short feet since they couldn’t reach the ground, restless. Yukine was looking at the photographs completely filling up one of the walls. Daikoku was reading an old newspaper from the magazine rack, and Yato was sitting with a straight back, listening intently, prepared to run away any time. Hiyori gave a faint hello, oppressed by the ominous sensation that invaded her after seeing her companions turning the previous enthusiasm of recording a new demo of their new material into this evident nervousness. Suddenly a door next to the pictures Yukine was looking opened and an attractive dark haired woman asked them to come inside.

“Kuraha will see you now.”

Yato stood up quickly and looked behind the woman’s shoulder, confusing her and Hiyori and making the rest of the band let out a sound sigh. Yukine pushed him inside. Hiyori was half expecting to see an office, but the man named Kuraha was standing with the back against the wall of a hallway that only had doors and glass panels.

“Thank you, Kinuha”. Said the man with gray hair to the beautiful receptionist, who left right away. Then he came close and greeted them with a handshake, in a very western style. Hiyori asked herself how had he lost an eye, looking discreetly to the patch covering his left eye socket. Kuraha addressed Yato: “I don’t know if you’re brave for coming or you’re a straight up idiot.”

“D’ya think she scares me?” he scoffed. “Please.”

Kuraha gave him a stern look.

“So you say, but I don’t remember your hand shaking this much before.”

Yato flinched, surprised, and Kuraha let out a good laugh. “Just kidding. This way, please”, he kept talking while guiding them through the long hallway full of doors and glass panels that turned out to be windows opening to small practice rooms. “It’s true Viina-sama prefers the way we work here, but that doesn’t mean you’re forbidden to work here as well, Yato-kun.”

“Which means while she doesn’t know I’m here then all’s fine, right?” the guy shot, giving a cold glare to the rooms that until that point were empty. Hiyori saw Kuraha losing his shoulders and gave a little defeated sigh.

“I wish dealing with you both by separate were as easy as dealing with you together.”

Nobody said nothing and the silence began to get awkward. However, the fact that suddenly one of the further cubicles had music in it distracted them enough. Hiyori stopped dead upon the gaze of a practicing band, and the few sounds that could filter to the hallway were really good.

The girl looked at the band members. The guitarist had an outstanding voice range, and Hiyori admired how good he looked with his long hair pulled back in a half ponytail. Apparently, he and the bassist also shared a similar bond like Yato and Yukine -with a few differences. The platinum blond of the bassist hair swayed because of the natural movement of that man’s hands, but all the rest looked serious and professional. Catching the drums rhythm, Hiyori rocked her body side to side. The singer looked at her with a red pair of piercing eyes and made a grimace when his eyes turned to her right.

“What the hell are you doing, Hiyori?”

“What?” she asked, confused to see Yato so upset. “Nothing! I just stopped to see them!”

“No way, move!”

“But I like this band!” Yato looked at her as if she had said something extremely rude about his mother. He took her shoulders and shook her up a bit.

“You can’t like this band, Hiyori! That is totally off the question!”

“Bu…” Hiyori stopped when she saw Yato and the black haired boy exchanging really obscene hand signs and a really childish faces. Then he turned her around from the shoulders, and led her through the hallway, pushing.

“We don’t like Raijin! We don’t talk about Raijin! We don’t exchange words with them or little flirty stares with Take or Kiun or any of the others!”

“What? Why?”

“The guitarist is a dickhead” whispered Yato, pushing her a little bit more.

“Wow!” she exclaimed, astonished.

They made it quickly to the bottom of the hallway and turned right. Kuraka opened a door that let out a slight hiss, due the pressure change, and let them inside. Closing the door before them, Kuraha stepped up to turn the lights on.

Hiyori let herself get blind and confused for the strange feeling she got from this chamber. It was a completely isolated room, separated from the world outside, and the girl doubted being in such a silent place before. Libraries are quiet, same as the subway and the train, but you have environmental noise there. This place felt like you could drop a pencil to the floor and you wouldn’t hear a thing. In front of them there was a huge control panel filled with buttons, knobs and switches, each one with a little light on top, connected to three screens that once turned on, showed the entrance’s logo. To the right of all that, the wall had a glass pane that looked extremely thick. Inside of that room there was a huge drum set surrounded by plexiglass panes; a big number of chrome stands rose above it holding a big number of microphones. Hiyori had found SHRINE’s practice room impressive, but it just couldn’t compare to the place she was right now. She had never seen a place so neatly arranged, so quiet and professional. She almost thought of it as a shrine, and couldn’t avoid her heartbeat rose with anxiety. A freckled tall guy came through the door they had entered from moments earlier.

“This is Saiki”, said Kuraha. “He’s a good kid, please be nice to him. Yato-kun, did you bring the maquette?”

Yato searched on the pockets of his jeans and took out an USB drive he immediately gave to Saiki.

“I’m going to let Saiki on charge of you, guys. I should head back”, the gray-haired man apologized. “I’ll try to be back in a while.”

“Say Viina-chan hello for me, Kura-pon”, said Kofuku with a merry playful tone. Kuraha blushed and fixed his tie.

“I’ll brought it up later to her, Kofuku-dono. At this moment, I don’t think that would be very wise. Thank you for coming.”

The man let Kofuku pouting, and Yato looked straight to Saiki, which took back one step and a half, nervous.

“So what are we waiting for? That psycho bitch is close by and I want to finish before she makes this entire place to blow!”

“Y-yes Yato-san!” Said Saiki, and rushed to turn on and connecting to the console everything he needed. “I-I’m going to need Daikoku-san to be ready. I will turn the click on his headphones and the maquette as a guide for him to do the foundation for the drums.”

“Oi!” claimed Daikoku, and rolled his sleeves up, entering the room with confidence, while Kofuku looked at him, entranced.

“Yukine-san is the next one, if you could prepare yourself”, indicated Saiki, respectfully.

“Whatever you say, bro”. Said Yukine, and began to tune his bass strings.

Hiyori felt the bite of air conditioned that Saiki had turned on for the heat not to be unbearable and tampered with the sound quality of the instruments. She twisted her hands, anxious, trying to loosen up her fingers on the inside of the sleeves of her school blazer. Yato had finished tuning his guitar and he put it in one of the stands. Hiyori knew you had to let instruments to temper up to the room before checking the tuning again, but when he finished she was freezing. Yato gave her a puzzled stare, and then he came close to Saiki, who felt that he wanted to say something removed one of the headphones from an ear. After a few rushed whispers, Saiki pointed to a door further away from them and went back to working. Yato made a gesture with the head to Hiyori for her to follow, and opened the door the freckled boy had pointed.

Gray.

Silence.

She had never been in such a weird looking room. It was very reduced, it only had one chair and a microphone output with a pair of headphones, and it was covered entirely with some sort of foam cut in a pyramid pattern that was very confusing to the eye. The silence on there was even more noticeable than in the room outside. Yato closed the door behind him.

“Yato… what…?” He put a finger over his lips to make her stop talking.

“Y’see, Hiyori.” He began, and she notice a bit of pinky shade forming at the tip of his ears. “Kuraha’s place is really awesome, and even though I trust you, we need to finish this up soon for a number of reasons.”

“What reasons?” she said, looking at him with a dead stare.

“Well first of all, everyone here is a slave of that Psycho-chick”. Something inside Hiyori snapped, breaking the last of self-control she had, but Yato interrupted before she could begin talking. “We’re gonna practice your parts.”

“Now?!”

“That’s what this bubble is for! What better time to practice than now we have a bit of time?”

Hiyori started babbling, stubborn and insecure, but Yato stepped right in front of her and took her firmly from the shoulders, making her arms stick to her body.

“You need to be firm, but relax, with posture, but not stiff,” he began. “We’re gonna take a deep breath through the nose…”

“What on earth are you doing?” snapped Hiyori, confused.

“I’m teaching you what you need to do, we’re gonna finish your parts in one go.”

“WHAT?!”

“D’you thougth we were having the studio forever? Is the best one in Tokyo but that also means is one of the most expensive!”

A nerve on one of Hiyori’s eyelids twitched.

 

 


 

 

 

She felt the practice had lasted for hours. She realized, however, that no matter how many times she screwed with a high-pitch note or something important in the song, Yato asked her to repeat it time and time again, until she had it well mastered. He had gone through the minimum detail in her interpretation that needed to be corrected and were crucial for the new songs of the demo. Constantly Yato, listening to her standing barely foot and a half away, corrected pitches in the songs, indicating she had to lower or raise them with his hand. Hiyori tried to memorize how to land each note, and after a while on her own, while Yato recorded the base guitars, she finally had to step inside the room.

It had been changed quickly to fit a voice recording, with anything to interfere with the voice quality, and Saiki gave her a pair of big headphones, same as the ones everyone else had used. Kofuku sat right across the glass, expecting and smiling, while Hiyori adjusted the huge device over her ears. There was a crushing silence again and she jumped when she heard Saiki’s voice as clear as if he was standing right in front of her.

“We’re going to begin, Iki-san. The mix is not ready yet, so we’re going to guide ourselves with the metronome click plus the guitar.”

“U-understood…” said Hiyori, by mere habit. Saiki laughed a bit from the other side of the glass pane.

“I haven’t opened your microphone yet, so we can’t hear anything you say, but nod twice if you’re ready…”

“And raise both your middle fingers if you’re not.” She heard Yato’s voice just as Saiki’s one, clearly, directly on her ears, and her heart skipped a beat. Yato had twisted the long and flexible microphone Saiki had in the top part of the console and spoke through it. Trying to steady her heart down, she nodded twice and yelled internally how annoying he was.

“Ah, Yato-san!” said Saiki, startled. “We’re about to begin, please do not touch anything.” He spoke at her, correcting his microphone again. “Okay, I’m opening your mic, please don’t make any noise right now.”

Hiyori inhaled quietly and exhaled slowly, allowing the air to hit the circular membrane of the filter standing between her and the microphone. The click began clearly in her headphones. One, two, three, four; the guitar began to play the intro. Things are heard different in a recording studio, and even Yato’s guitar took a different color. Even so, Hiyori was always impressed about the way he played. Stupid, annoying Yato.

The metronome was marking her entrance, and she sang.

Outside, the only one listening at her was actually Saiki, but Hiyori didn’t know that. Minutes went by and Yato paced back and forth across the short space of the control room. Yukine was lost inside of his portable videogame, and Kofuku and Daikoku exchanged whispers. The young guy watched Saiki rubbing his forehead with one hand. He wasn’t touching anything in the console, and he seemed to have lost a bit of color behind his freckles.

“What’s wrong?” asked Yato, not being sure if he would listen. Saiki gave him his headphones without taking his eyes off Hiyori.

Things are heard very different in a recording studio.

Yato almost fell on his back. He observed with wide open eyes to the person singing. He could not believe she was the same shy girl he had knew. But it was her. He gave Saiki the headphones back with triumph written all over his face.

The girl inside that crystal box was a raw diamond Yato could see as if it was already cut. No matter how bad his eyes hurt by looking at her, he never adverted his gaze.

 


 

 

 “H-here you go…” muttered a blushing and embarrassed Yukine, raising a juice at her from the vending machine in the waiting room. Hiyori received it, flustered and really touched.

“T-thank you, Yukine-kun!” she quickly opened it and gave a big chug. Yukine flinched.

“Hey, wait! Don’t drink that fast! It’s cold and you just sang for a good while! Drink it slowly!”

Hiyori tried to drink slowly a mouthful already too big for her, Yukine found her face hilarious and both broke down laughing, the girl trying to contain the liquid with her forearm sleeve. She spoke once they both calmed down a bit.

“Thank you for worrying about me, Yukine-kun. To be honest I didn’t think you’d ever trust me.”

Yukine turned around to look the pictures on the wall, same as when she arrived.

“I’m overprotective with people around me. You can’t blame me, you got closer on a shady manner and I thought it was really weird you jumped to save Yato without actually knowing who he was.”

This was the first time she actually was confronted directly about that subject. She froze down. Getting closer to the white kid, she stood right beside him and started looking at the pictures as well.

“I suppose I followed some sort of instinct”. Actually, why had she ran to push Yato? She kept questioning herself up until this point. “He simply caught my attention, and I guess I would never have some peace of mind if I hadn’t done anything about it.”

“Even on something as an accident?”

“It was a totally preventable one.”

“Whatever you say.” Sighed the boy.

A glimpse of something in the photographs jumped at her sight and she got closer to be able to distinguish the faces better. The wall was covered entirely with black and white photos of bands and artists posing with awards or performing on a stage.

In this context, the photography she was staring at was pretty common, except in this one you could see Yato. Next to Viina. The blonde diva, wearing heavy makeup and with shine on her face due to the sweat, had her arm around Yato’s neck, both showing their face to the audience. Viina was raising up the microphone between them, and Yato was singing in it as well. It was an intimate gesture… so close… so…

“This studio has always followed the careers of everyone they had been related with, client wise”. Yukine did a little shrug. “Kuraha-san is that kind of person.”

“They seem really close”. Hiyori didn’t knew why she had to avoid her voice to come out broken.

“Hm? Oh!... Well…” Yukine hesitated. “I actually never had any clear idea of what kind of relationship was going on between her and Yato, but apparently this happened before I get… to know them better.”

It was clear this was a subject he didn’t knew too much about, and that it went over subjects he preferred to avoid. Hiyori let him excuse himself to the toilet, and she stood alone in front of all those memories of a time that, apparently, everyone cherished and longed to return to. She analyzed Viina’s profile. To anybody’s eyes, she was a strikingly beautiful woman. It was pretty obvious that whenever she started her soloist career, her face would embellish magazine covers and she would be the image of many beauty brands. She was simply that kind of girl. Yato was smiling. The unmistakable spark of light his eyes took sometimes was evident on that photography, even behind all the sweat.

She slammed the door behind her and without looking at the mirror she opened the tap and ruthlessly began to splash water over her face. After a deep sigh, she looked up and stare at her reflection. She had never paid attention to those things. However, in this moment, looking at herself, she realized she was, somehow, less than she was expecting. Everything about her face screamed normality. Standard eyes, if you disregarded the uncommon shade. Common hair. Regular mouth. Small nose. She actually didn’t considered herself ugly, but after seeing someone who could wear smeared makeup and still look heavenly, questions began popping to her mind. Not only about her looks, but also about her talent; having heard and seen Viina, she got the feeling the world was a tremendously unfair place. There were people that were born with everything, and who was her in comparison?

 

 


 

 

 

Hiyori wasn’t thinking about telling Yato any of those things, but sometimes it amazed her how perceptive he could be, compared with how clumsy he sometimes seemed to be. This was another common, routine journey back home, but she felt as if people looked at her with pity. “You’re nothing next to Viina”, she could read at their faces, “not for SHRINE, not for…”

“I was hoping you were a lil’bit more upbeat, we just finished recording the demo” snapped Yato, making a frown. Hiyori looked at him, and she lowered her gaze when their eyes clashed together.

“Do you really think I should be more optimistic?” she asked, almost whispered.

“Well of course! I dunno whaddaya’ think, but not many people have that chance in life”. Yato furrowed his brows more and more, what had gotten into her?

“Maybe that’s because not everyone has what it’s needed”, shooted Hiyori, without taking her eyes off the floor. Yato was completely lost.

“Wh…at?”

“I’ve heard Viina, Yato.”

His reaction was not exactly what she had expected. Yato grunted and buried his face between his hands, with the elbows on his knees, and rubbed his face.

“I’m sick of that”, he almost shouted behind his fingers. “I simply can’t believe you as well, of all people, have that strange damn habit of pulling Viina out when clearly she has nothing to do with this.”

He was using a really harsh tone, and she felt how her heart shrunk. He had never spoken to her like that, not even when she was starting trying to sing. She wondered if he had used that tone with Viina before. “Surely not”, she answered herself.

“How is this unrelated? It has everything to do with her, she was the singer!” Hiyori realized she might have gone up the hill with the tone of her voice when Yato straightened up and stared at her with wide open eyes and furrowed brows.

“That’s something I have pretty fucking clear, Hiyori!”

“So how can you still be giving me false expectations?!”

“I really don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about!”

“Are you aware that I can’t sing like her, nor I will be able to in a million years?!”

“Well I’m certainly not asking you to do so, and obviously, you have not heard yourself sing!”

“I’ve heard myself enough to know what I can and cannot do!”. People on the car looked at them with disapproval, but nobody said a word.

“It’s not my fault you don’t believe in yourself enough!”

The train stopped, and Hiyori got off running. Yato followed her up to the stairs.

“I’m going to give the world the best band of Japan, even if I’m the only one who believes in it!” He yelled, letting her continue. Hiyori didn’t stopped running until she entered her room.

 


 

 

She didn’t knew why her interest hadn’t been piqued to search old SHRINE’s live recordings, but she regretted it immediately. Every time she looked at the dynamics between Yato and Viina, she couldn’t help but compare the moments they had been sharing at the practice. The blonde and Yato were always having some sort of interaction, support, or exchange, by singing together, or talking to each other to their ears to be able to understand what the other was saying, exchanging looks, things like that. Yato and Hiyori simply reduced themselves to do their own thing listening to each other, but he always kept his distance. Most of the times, the guy didn’t stared at anything in particular, or stared at his guitar, or stared at the floor. She received instructions from him yelled across the room between silences, short, essential, straight to the point. She wasn’t bothered by it, even when the others said it was something admirable from her to stand so much instructions. Hiyori always said it was something natural, he was instructing her in something she was a rookie at, and anyways, she had always been receiving instructions from someone to do something. It wasn’t new. It wasn’t particularly obnoxious. What she could not stop from spinning inside her was the fact that it was so different.

She had spent most her Sunday morning with the face buried in her pillow after late-night binge-watching SHRINE’s live videos all night. Yato hadn’t wrote since two days ago, no calls, nothing. She had finished a good chunk of her homework, which she had fallen behind at, but that didn’t made her feel more easy. The heavy feeling kept her pinned down to her bed, Viina’s images with Yato still twirling around her mind, making her stomach and chest to scorch. She was exhausted about not knowing what the hell was going on with her lately.

Her cellphone buzzed, and Hiyori almost jumps off the bed for the surprise. Unplugging it from the charger, she stared at the name on the display and her heart skipped several beats.

It was from Yato.

She opened the audio file attached to the message and listened. It was her voice. SHRINE played alongside, without overbearing her and without staying in second place. The mix was absolutely perfect. It wasn’t quite the same quality of the record she had, but it was fairly good, beyond a demo. Her voice, her own voice, the one she had been used to for many years, shone at the right places, didn’t missed a single pitch and was clear as crystal. She was lacking the toughness and character of Viina’s and it was not the least similar to it, but it wasn’t bad at all. In fact she liked it more than she could have guessed. Right away she felt her cellphone buzzed again, and she opened a second message.

“D’you still feel like a run-of-the-mill girl?”. She was sure Yato was trying for that to appear as serious as possible, but the angry kaomoji at the end made it run down on impact. Hiyori sighed and texted back.

“That’s pretty good, is the final mixture?”. After a pair of minutes, that Hiyori used to change off her pajamas, a new answer made her cellphone chime.

“Sounds good ain’t it? I told Tenjin to come to Kofuku’s tomorrow. Make sure to be there early.”

So this was it. Finally Yato was willing to hand down the material Tenjin was requesting to continue their contract at the label. It was an important moment. Hiyori smiled and opened her curtains. Looking outside, the sun seemed to light more than usual. Another message fell to her cellphone.

“You’re way more that you can imagine, Hiyori.”

 

 


 

 

Yato closed his basement door and strode quickly to his car, trying to avoid getting too cold in the snowy blizzard that had arrived earlier. He took his car from Kofuku’s house to pick up the master record to the studio and come back home to get the scores. He considered he would do less time that way and he could do everything in a single trip, without risking the master or the scores to spoil on the way.

He still hadn’t turned on the engine, when he received a call. The display showed “Sera Kaii”.

“Sera-kun! What a weird moment to call!” he said, picking up.

“Ah, is this a bad time?” the guy at the other side apologized.

“Not at all, shoot.” Yato put the key inside the switch.

“I’m interested in this new material you’re telling me about, do you think I can listen to it right now?” said Kai, enthusiastic.

“Ah… you see...” Yato started, “in this particular moment I don’t think that’s possible, Sera-kun. I’m sorry.”

“Oh?” asked his friend, a bit puzzled. “I’m not intending to dig in things that are none of my business, but could I ask you why?”

“Do you have to be so polite?” Laughed Yato.

“If you want me to be less polite, any day you want I can punch you in the face.” Laughed Sera.

“What kind of sucky joke is that?” this time Yato laughed hard. “I actually have to give the master record to my boss in less than an hour.”

“Ah, that ol’ Tenjin? Please send him my most sincere greetings.”

“I don’t think he appreciates your greetings, Sera, to him you’re just a lazy bum that…” Yato interrupted himself after seeing something unusual outside, a sharp figure on the alley in front of his door. “Can I call you later?”

“Oh, sure…” the guy answered, confused about the sudden change of tone in the conversation. Without saying goodbye, Yato hung up and threw his cellphone on the co-pilot seat, on top of the manila colored envelope with the scores, and the clear plastic case with the CD, reading “SHRINE:MASTER” handwritten in black marker. He let the key inside the switch.

He got down the car, shaking.

The white kimono of the girl standing in front of him shone with a ghostly light in the gray sunset. Yato hated to admit how scared he was of seeing her using that white kimono, surrounded by the falling snow.

“Nora.”

The girl smiled.

 


 

 

The first thing Hiyori noticed arriving at Kofuku’s was the empty parking space where Yato’s car usually were. The pink haired girl greeted her with the usual demeanor and invited her to step inside and warm up on the kotatsu. Sitting there, she couldn’t help but notice the passing of time and the absence of Yato. Between small talk, she noticed Yukine taking his phone and press it against his ear regularly.

The accorded hour arrived, and there was no sign of Yato. Hiyori tried to call him on her own, leaving to the hallway to have a little bit more privacy.

“Yato here. I’m busy now but if you really have to, leave your message and I’ll call you later”. The beep from the answering machine went off, and Hiyori hung up. Where was he?

A car’s headlights went through one of the windows, and Hiyori ran to scold that dumbass for arriving late.

When she saw the gray-haired gentleman getting down the black mercedez, Hiyori looked at the time on her phone.

A shiver went down her spine.

 

 

Thank you all so much for reading up to this part! The next following episodes are going to be LOADED with angst and I actually have a few trigger warnings so be sure I’m going to let you know properly.

Lots of love!

Chapter Text

TRACK 14.

 

Failure – Breaking Benjamin.

 

 

Tenjin killed the deadly silence at Kofuku’s living room by slowly standing up while gathering up his belongings. Hiyori clenched her fists over her skirt’s hem, her heart beating like mad and biting her lower lip. What was going on? Where was Yato? This wasn’t normal, it couldn’t be possible that the person that really believed he was going to give the world Japan’s best band wasn’t there on time. Yato was the only one in possession of those recordings, the only one who had the original scores, and the only one who could deliver everything. To think someone with that much responsibility would fail them just like that…

Even without staring, she could perceive everyone’s mood. What hurt the most was the generalized feeling of disappointment. Hiyori wanted to believe, she wanted to make them see he only was facing a mishap, but the time and the answering machine of his cellphone made it look plain bad, even when she didn’t wanted to admit it.

“It’s a shame such talented people like you guys lose their time and their chances to a person like him.” Said Tenjin, with a tired tone, heading to the door. “I enjoyed very much working with you all, but just as I thought,” he stopped and looked at Hiyori with the corner of his eye, “this band ended the minute Viina chose to leave.”

Making a lot of noise, Yukine stood up and left, like a furious cat. Daikoku was staring out the window, and Kofuku smiled, pleasantly, holding Tenjin’s gaze. She got up as well, to guide him to the door. After a few steps, she muttered.

“We’re very sorry to made you lose your time, Tenjin-san.”

“I am sorry, Kofuku-san.”

Without exchanging more words, the man left the house and searched inside his pocket for his car keys. Hiyori heard the door opening and her body moved by itself. She had no idea what she was doing, but she put her shoes on quickly and sprinted towards the producer.

“Tenjin-san!” she called, and the gentleman stopped in the act to turn to look at her. She had red biting marks on her lips.

“Miss Iki, what can I do for you?”

“You have to give us another chance!”

“Hiyorin!” shouted Kofuku, surprised, from the door.

Actually she didn’t know what was making her talk, or why she was saying what she did. She felt her mind working out of control and needed to relieve the spinning sensation somehow. “I’m sure Yato just – something happened to him – He had, more than anyone, his hopes on this recording! I can assure you it exists! It’s really good! Better than the first one, even! Just let us find Yato and I assure you…!” she stopped for a second, what was she assuring? What can she promise to someone like Tenjin? “I can guarantee you we will give you the best band of all Japan! Just…!”

She could not continue anymore. A tight knot in her throat got stuck when she remembered Yato saying those very same words, days before, on the train’s platform. Without being able to control it, two big drops of water rolled down her cheeks. Frustration took control out of her, and made her see she was just making herself embarrassed in front of the band’s producer.

“Young lady.” Said Tenjin, with an unusually sweet voice. Hiyori lifted her face and saw a gracious smile. “It’s upsettingly sad to see you have let yourself be deceived by the words of that varmint.”

Hiyori took a step back.

“Varmint?”

“He’s nothing more than a felon, an opportunist coward person who runs away at the first chance he gets” the old man sentenced, horrorizing the girl. Was this the way he always looked at Yato? “I understand you and your friends wanted to do big things. I also understand Yato is a great composer and a talented guitarist.” He threw his suitcase to the passenger’s seat. “But he doesn’t have an ounce of guts. In this business, not having guts is a big mistake, it’s just a contradiction. No one who thinks straight would want under their company’s name a coward as big as him.”

“He’s…”

“It’s a shame, really,” interrupted Tenjin, “I hope you can find him so he can explain himself.” He got on his car, but didn’t closed the door, and instead, he addressed Kofuku. “We’re surely going to ask you to leave this house shortly. It will be good if you start preparing to move out.”

Kofuku didn’t said anything, but Hiyori raised a tremoring voice.

“So… that’s it?”

“That’s all, Miss Iki. Think about it this way, this is the best for you. You can go back to your studies as before, and you won’t risk yourself to be embarrassed by a clown like that Yato-guy.” He bowed his head. “Farewell.”

Once he said this, he closed the door and turned on the engine. The gravel cracked below the tires slow turning, leading the car to disappear on the long, tree-flanked entryway to the street. When he was out of sight, Hiyori’s legs stopped holding her and she fell on her knees on the parking lot ground. Kofuku ran to help her stand up.

“What are you doing, Hiyorin?”, she tried to laugh lightly, but ended up sounding utterly awkward. Hiyori felt Kofuku’s little hands putting her arm over her shoulders and picking her up, stepping to the inside of the house that, apparently, won’t be theirs anymore.

“I’m so sorry, Kofuku-san.”

“What are you talking about, Hiyorin?”

“I think... I ended up making things worse…” replied the schoolgirl, voice trembling. “Talking like that to Tenjin-san… I’m…”

Kofuku knelt down with her in front of the kotatsu. Hiyori suddenly felt imprisoned, with a surprising force, between the pink haired girl’s thin arms, and hugged her back clumsily.

“Don’t feel bad about it, dummy” sang Kofuku, “nothing you said worsened things for us, in our situation. In fact,” and Kofuku’s voice wavered, “I’m really moved by you showing so much faith in Yatty. I’m sure he would be at the verge of tears as well.”

“But…” She felt herself crying again, “you just lost the house and I’m…”

“Tch.” Spatted Daikoku. It was the first time he said something since Tenjin’s arrival. “This is the label’s house, Hiyori. We simply lost the contract. We don’t work for them anymore, and they won’t give us anymore benefits. The house is one of them.”

“That’s right, Hiyorin. This house was never ours to begin with.” Kofuku held her by the shoulders, making the girl look straight at her. “I’m very grateful to be your friend. And I’m doubly grateful for finding a singer that truly believes in this project.”

“It’s sad we didn’t found you before everything ended.” Said Daikoku. Kofuku glued her eyes to the floor. Hiyori stood up suddenly.

“What are you talking about, Daikoku-san?”

“This project is screwed, Hiyori”, he explained, tiredly. “There’s no one who wants to sign a contract to a project known for not delivering works on time.”

“But…!”

“Hiyorin,” started Kofuku. The change on her voice made the girl lose all will of arguing. “You haven’t known us long, so you really don’t know this is not that weird.”

“W-what?” she stuttered.

“Why do you think we’re so calm about this?” Daikoku tried to reason with her, “Do you think Yukine would stay without moving a finger knowing Yato has been lost for an hour?”

“This… has this happened before?”

Kofuku nodded once and smiled bitterly.

“It happens once or twice a year. I know Yatty since High School. He usually disappears one month or two. He comes back and completely isolates himself from everyone. He rarely speaks and doesn’t answer any questions about what happened, plus he comes back with traces of wounds.” Hiyori found disturbing the tone Kofuku was using, as if she was just talking about something as normal as going to the supermarket to buy fruit. “Daikoku and I have always think that, actually, Yatty has never…”

Kofuku interrupted herself, and stared at the floor again before looking at Hiyori in the eye. Within her, Hiyori thought she knew what her friend was implying, but she didn’t dare to put it in words.

“Do you understand, hun?” asked Kofuku, softly, “We all have problems here.”

“And some issues are bigger than others,” said Daikoku. “Yato’s one is yet big enough to make him lose himself for several days.”

“You should really begin to understand, at this point, that all of us have our own stories and our reasons to do things. That’s why we all had troubles of this sort, big or small,” Yato had said, that day she was introduced to Tenjin as the new singer. Everything was starting to make sense now. She was facing a group of people that had overcome an addiction. However, Yato…

Hiyori ran around the house, picking up her stuff. She then ran like a bullet through the main door, without answering Kofuku’s yelled question about where she was going. It was obvious.

The distressed wood of number 203’s door seemed to smile, mocking to her anguished and nervous face after knocking several times without result.

“Yato.” insisted Hiyori, ringing the doorbell in-between knocks.

Nobody answered.

White.

White in the floor, over the windows eaves. White of the blizzard that had just stopped falling. Hiyori wailed for the floor covered in snow. There were no footprints of anyone coming in or going out the alley. Sheltering in the small curve of the stairs, she took out her phone, trembling.

This is Yato. I’m busy right now…” Hiyori let him continue, and spoke after the beep, rushed and choppy. She realized she had nothing planned to say.

“We were waiting for you, Yato. Whenever you hear this message, please call, is important.”

She hung up. Tried again. Six or seven rings.

This is Yato. I’m busy right now…”

Hung up. Tried again, twice, with the same result.

Wherever he was, Yato had no intentions of answering his phone.

Tucking her hands between her arms and her body, Hiyori ran to the station, surrounded by another haze of wind.

 

 


 

 

“You look awful, Hiyori! Have you been sleeping well? We still have time before midterm tests, you know!” said Yama, noticing the big black circles under her friend’s eyes.

Hiyori simply let them jump to conclusions and let out a deep sigh.

“I think Yama-chan is right, Hiyori-chan. You should take a break.”

“If only I could…” she answered, with a sad smile.

They were walking to the school grounds to eat lunch in a bench during break. The students were everywhere, since today was particularly warm and sunny. Hiyori had to look out the window to fully realize that long cloudy week was finally clearing up. Even so, the sun tingling her skin softly was not enough to make her feel a little more cheerful.

Yato had been gone for a week.

Every once in a while, Hiyori checked on his phone line. She called often. Still no answer. Throughout all that time, she wondered if it was reasonable to just call the police and report a missing person, but Kofuku’s arguments made her drop that idea. If this was truly such a delicate subject, she didn’t want Yato to end up affected because of her dumb impulse of filing a report. Normal life seemed as veiled and distant as always. She couldn’t understand why people smiled, didn’t they realized that he was…?

“I think is about time for us to go hang out together again” suggested Yama, interrupting Hiyori’s train of thought. Ami agreed, and she had no other choice but to accept. Her friends were the only thing that kept her feet on the ground. Everything else seemed so far away, like within an extremely vivid dream.

“Let’s go to the theater!” Ami suggested, “They’re giving a movie I’ve been wanting to watch.”

“Gotcha’! Let’s go tomorrow then!”

Hiyori nodded faintly. She actually didn’t wanted to go out, but she couldn’t stay home forever. No Yato meant no practice. And it wasn’t as if they had a place to practice anyway.

The school bell shook her away from her introspection. That was happening a lot lately. Turning back to the classroom, she could hear Ami and Yama faintly chattering about movies while she went back to the same subject. Where could he be? What could he be doing? She wondered if he ever thought about her and dropped that idea instantly. He obviously not, else he would have called already. Unless he wasn’t carrying his phone with him… in which case…

“Iki-san! Can you hear me?”

Standing in front of her was one of her teachers, holding a good amount of papers in his hands and looking at her with a worried face.

“Y-yes, professor! I’m sorry!”

The small laughter around her rose while her teacher, frowning, delivered a thick pile of papers.

“I know you’re in the choir, could you please take those to Fujisaki-sensei?”

He was saying “please”, but it was an actual order. Hiyori nodded, firmly believing if she opened her mouth to answer she would nag about having to see precisely the professor she didn’t even wanted to come across.

“I’ll catch up with you in a bit, guys, I have to go search for the teacher…” she said, with an obvious lack of enthusiasm. Ami and Yama said they could go with her and the three walked to the music room.

They didn’t had to go all the way. In one of the main hallways, crowded with people, professor Fujisaki was talking with two students, with his back leaning on a window pane.

“Sensei”, called Hiyori. The reaction of the guy took her completely aback.

“A-ah! Iki-san! W-what can I do for you?” he was crushing a little box juice with one hand. When he saw her he had to do a juggle for not dropping it and a slight pink tinted his cheeks.

Who was this guy?

“Yes… Kimura-sensei asked me to give these to you”. She handed the papers without much protocol. Fujisaki received them quite humbly and skimmed over them. Uncomfortable, he looked at her, and then stared at the tips of his shoes.

“Thank you, Iki-san. There was no need for you to bring those immediately. You could have waited until today’s rehearsal.”

Somehow, his voice echoed through the whole hallway in one of those obnoxious moments the entire universe plots for everyone to be quiet at the same time. Hiyori’s mouth went ajar upon hearing it.

“We-well, Kimura-sensei didn’t told me that”, she said, hesitating.

“Thank you very much,” said Fujisaki, and sprinted down the hallway, covering his face, leaving behind two confused students who looked at Hiyori as if they had never looked at a girl before. Not only them, but she felt a lot of eyes fixed upon her.

What had been all that?

The girl turned around and came back for the same path she had arrived, noticing the questioning looks on Ami and Yama’s face.

“Don’t look at me, I don’t know”, she answered, and kept walking. Her friends simply shrugged and went back to the classroom with her.

 


 

 

The GPS location Yukine sent to her didn’t made her any easier to get to Park Shakujii. In fact she found really weird for Yukine to invite her to a park like that. It took her 15 minutes to walk from the station to the park gate, walking along a big pond in which, judging by the furnishing, one could fish during the summer. Yukine was waiting for her with his smartphone on one hand, at the side of a big old map of the park.

“Yo’” greeted the boy, casually.

“I’m so glad to see you, Yukine-kun. I’m sorry for being this late”, Hiyori said.

“Don’t worry, Hiyori. I know trains are a pain in the ass”, he began walking. “Shall we?”

The girl followed him, without knowing if they would do one more stop, since he was actually stepping inside the park instead of down the street.

“It’s a real shame I have to do that much time to come to see you guys”, she sighed, “but I’ll definitely come visit as much as I can!”

Yukine limited himself to give her a bittersweet smile.

The road cut through the park, keeping the pond to the left, and the green parts on the right. Soon they reach a playground, and a little further away from the road a circular clear gave sight to a cute little store selling kid’s items. Toys, balls, baseball bats. A hallway ridden with vending machines curved inwards, leading to a restaurant selling udon, ramen, and other winter treats. Hiyori was tempted by the smell, and saw light a little beyond.

Yukine went down the hallway, to Hiyori’s confusion, while she eyed the souvenirs, candies and tobacco they sold as well.

“I’m home!” claimed the boy, climbing the wooden platform below a porch, from where the homely light was coming from. The shoji* were open.

“…I’m sorry for disturbing!” muttered Hiyori, entering the restaurant platform, through the hallways and finally finding one last shoji. The usual kotatsu was there. She didn’t had the time to look at the new room’s distribution when the bright pink hair girl threw herself to her arms.

“HIYORIIIIIIIN!”

“H-hi!” she still could not get used to Kofuku’s effusiveness. After they all sat around the kotatsu – funnily enough, the room was almost identical to the one they had at the big house, Daikoku poured tea and served some candy, as if nothing had ever changed. Seeing Hiyori looking around confused, Kofuku explained.

“This place belongs to Kokki’s family. When we left, the store kept running thanks to the employees. It has always been part of his history.” After a nostalgic smile, she looked at Daikoku, who was just returning from putting the kettle back on the kitchen, and touch his arm softly when he sat next to her. “Yatty and I would get into all sorts of problems during high school. Kokki saved us from several serious issues, and in fact he hated Yatty-chan hanging around here.”

“Well you can’t blame me!” Daikoku replied, “The guy was a leech!”

“Kokki can’t hide the fact he really cared about Yatty-chan”, Kofuku laughed, fueling the man’s anger, who took out a cigarette and lit it up immediately. “We all cared about each other back then… Bisha too…”

’Bisha’?” asked Hiyori.

“You know Kofuku nicknames everyone” said Yukine, lifting his gaze up his cookie for the first time. “Viina came to be ‘Bisha’ and she did nothing to correct Kofuku.”

“We were basically sheltered here, and in this very spot”, added the girl, dramatically, “was where we came up with SHRINE. But none of that would happened without Kokki here.”

“You should’ve seen that, Hiyori. It was a complete mess” laughed Daikoku from behind his teeth. “Thanks to Yukine-kun we could settle things up enough.”

“Before that we would make Kokki’s life a hell.” By the face she did, Hiyori noticed Kofuku didn’t liked that subject very much. “I couldn’t be calm without being slightly drunk… and Yatty- “ she hesitated. She looked discreetly at Daikoku, who just stared back at her with a blank face, and spoke again. “You would have to wait for him to tell you that. But in short, Hiyorin, this was our batcave.”

Hiyori noticed the picture Kofuku was handing her over the kotatsu table, which originally was over a crate next to many others.

The black lackered frame displayed two teenagers sitting in that same engawa**, taken from behind them left. The first one showed strong and wide shoulders, much to anyone his age, and hair slightly shorter, but those eyes were unmistakable. He had a cigarette between his lips, and in front of him, on his arms, bulged out the figure of an acoustic guitar. With the same school uniform, next to him, leaning on one of the pillars, a several years younger Kofuku smiled to the camera.

Hiyori slide her fingers over the frame, looking the cold expression on Yato’s face.

 


 

 

Yukine had gone to his room after a while, claiming he had homework to do. Confuised, Hiyori went after him after a while. His room was on the attic, the roof was very low and the only window on the place was big enough to get out through it without any issue. Hiyori poked her head out to the cold winter breeze, and discovered Yukine sitting on the rooftop, hugging his knees.

“I thought you had homework”, she said softly, trying to not startle the boy.

“Nah, I hate history. Plus I can’t concentrate enough, so I came out for a bit” answered the blond kid, without looking at her.

“You mind if I take a seat?” asked Hiyori, politely. Yukine shrugged, and she sat in silence at his side. “Why did you really called for?” she asked. It was obvious Yukine wanted to talk about something, judging by the way he had invited her over.

“S’pose I was actually testing you.” He said, looking at the distance. She laughed a bit.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“One can’t be too sure.”

After a brief silence, Hiyori couldn’t keep it in any longer.

“You’re way too quiet today, Yukine-kun. You sure you’re alright?”

The boy looked at her for the first time. He sighed when he saw the worried expression his friend had.

“I’m definitely not. But I don’t know what else to do.”

“Well”, she thought out loud, “definitely not this. For what I know, a lot of things could have happened to him, and not all of them are optimistic.”

“So what?” he lashed out, “You’re planning on looking for him in any garbage bin in town?”

“I would do it if I need to”, she answered dryly, “that’s better than sit around waiting for him to show up. Besides,” she continued, with a lower voice and staring at her shoes, “I realize I know very few things about him. I would need the help of someone who knows him better to know where to begin.”

Yukine searched for her eyes with his gaze, and looked at her formulating a question that even without words Hiyori understood. She felt resolved, unstoppable.

“I’m not going anywhere.” She said again, clearly.

Yukine smiled.

The story he told her afterwards would unsettle Hiyori’s heart for the rest of her life.

 

 


 

 

*Shoji is the name of the traditional Japanese sliding paper doors often depicted in traditional houses.

** Engawa is the name of the elevated deck-porch traditional Japanese houses also have, it usually leads to a garden.

Chapter Text

Hi guys! It’s been a while since I uploaded any chapter, but I want you to know that this story is currently ongoing in Spanish, so you just need to wait for me to translate it! Actually I don’t know if I’m going to be able to post anything next month, I need to make the arrangements to transfer myself back to Mexico after six months of studying in Japan, so please please bear with me. Maybe next time I write for you guys I would be cozy and relaxing back home, but I’ll try my best to post something in September.
Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy, and remember any misspelling or grammar mistake criticism is very well taken since I’m really bad at socializing and I don’t have any beta. I’m sorry if you find something weird because of that.
Again, thank you so so much!!

 


 

 

Track 15.

Perfect – Simple Plan.

 

The blonde kid smiled with complicity.

“I’m glad I was wrong about you, Hiyori.”

His friend smiled, and she inhaled the cool sunset breeze, looking to the front.

“I’m sure we will find him.”

“Did you know Yato is something like my tutor?” asked Yukine.

“Really? How come?” She already half knew the answer, but waited for Yukine to tell her his side of the story.

“My mother was a foreigner. Apparently, she was a model and she came to Japan due to some kind of job that kept her here during a few years, and meanwhile she met my father. Both idiots had me without knowing anything from each other. My mother left after she had me, leaving me with my dad, an alcoholic abuser that didn’t even know how to take care of himself.”

Hiyori couldn’t find her voice. Everything had spiraled way down, way fast.

“I have no idea how I made it to survive back then. I remember his mother would take me with her for long periods of time to her house where I could have a decent meal. Grandma died when I was five, so there wasn’t anyone else to take care of me but my father, who took any chance he got to remind me the fact that my existence made him unable to spend any fucking dime he earnt in alcohol and whor…”

Yukine cleared his throat, suddenly remembering he was next to Hiyori.

“It didn’t take me much more time to try to escape”, he turned his gaze away from Hiyori, who was looking at him behind cloudy eyes. “They always catch me and took me back. One day they realized my dad was a conflictive person and took me to the foster system”. He made a pause. “I couldn’t stand much time in there either. Eventually I ended up in the streets. I met a lot of people. Many left. Many others died after a season and many more were catched and locked. I made my living stealing what I could in order to eat, and when there was nothing to eat, I used any available substance to make hunger more bearable.”

“I had ten by that time, and that was around the time I met Yato. After catching me trying to steal, instead of turning me over, took me with him to his house and fed me, dressed me and educated me as well as he could.”

The bright smile he gave Hiyori could have lit up the entire city.

“He’s an idiot and he actually knows shit about teaching things, but he tried really hard to turn into a role model to me. He taught me to play bass and work hard. I will always be thankful with him for that.”

Hiyori wiped her tears away with her sleeve and tried to return the smile the best she could.

“Yato is very proud of you, Yukine-kun.”

Suddenly the kid’s smile turned out.

“I would like him to show me that by talking me about him.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked, in disbelief.

“All I know about Yato is what I’ve lived next to him and what everybody else has told me.”

“That’s true”, she added, “Yato doesn’t talk about himself that much.”

“He never talks about himself under any circumstance.” Said Yukine, fiddling with his coat’s zipper. “I actually think the fact he gets so upset when anyone brings up Viina, is because she’s the only one who truly knows him…”

Yukine said that just because, tucking his hands in his military green coat’s pockets, as if it was as obvious as saying “water makes you wet”. Hiyori, on the other hand, tried to suppress the black and heavy feeling forming not so much at the bottom of all the emotions she had at the time. Yukine stood up suddenly, halting her thoughts away.

“I’m sure” he said, repeating her words, “we will find him.”

 


 

 

 

Hiyori squeezed the couch at the waiting room of the “Lion’s nest”, anxious. She had requested for Kuraha in order to speak with him for a few minutes, and the attractive receptionist had gone through the door a few moments ago.

The ominous sensation the black and white photographs almost yelling at her to turn and look was almost unbearable, and she suddenly felt too self-conscious. She wriggled on her seat, uneasy, while she felt every fiber of her uniform’s fabric touching her skin. Upset, she stood up and tried to distract herself, lost in the portraits of other people, trying vainly not to look at that picture in particular.

She had been lost in the shiny sweaty features of Yato’s face -She felt like reaching up and touching them, when suddenly the door opened. Smiling, Hiyori got closer to say hello to Kuraha, but she almost flied backwards due the surprise.

She wondered if that photography had become reality.

Dressed in a spectacular black short and tall boots outfit, a stunning blonde walked to the exit with majesty. Hiyori moved away to let her pass. She could see up close her peachy cheeks, the thick dark eyelashes, the perfect lipstick on her lips and the long waterfall of straight blond hair. Viina looked at her harshly through the corner of her eye, and almost immediately she turned away, not showing any emotion or thought. Behind her a young man with short brown hair made a short bow she didn’t hesitate in returning, and pushed his glasses up his nose. They were gone before she could figure it out.

“Miss Iki,” called softly a voice beside her. The kind Kuraha was staring her intently. After Hiyori’s blabbing, he smiled. “The great Viina. She comes here regularly. We’re very thankful to her.”

Hiyori stayed silent. There was actually nothing she could say. Kuraha made it easier for her.

“What brings you around here, young lady?”

Coming back to reality, Hiyori stared at him with decision.

Minutes after, Kuraha left softly a cup of tea over his desk. Austerity was, apparently, a personal choice of his. The furniture was classic, made of wood, without excessive embellishments.

“Yato-kun…” he thought out loud. “where could he be?”

Hiyori tried to brush away the uneasiness caused by Kuraha telling her the day Yato had scheduled Tenjin’s visit, he had picked up the master and then left.

“That’s what I would like to know”, she said, “Although it seems it’s not that weird of him to just disappear like this.”

“I would love to give you more information, miss.” Kuraha made a bow for an apology. “Unfortunately, I know even less that you.”

Before leaving, she looked briefly to Yato and Viina’s portrait on the wall. Hiyori stepped out the “Lion’s nest” wondering how hard it would be to get Viina to allow her a couple of minutes. She shook her head immediately. It was a ridiculous idea.

 


 

 

Memories began to slide away as a calendar’s pages. One day, her and Yukine had spoken with the owners of the pubs and bars the kid knew Yato was a usual customer, leaving emptyhanded. Another day, Hiyori retook the activities of her parent’s anniversary party. Another day, she remembered staying for dinner at Kofuku and Daikoku’s. Some other day, Fujisaki-sensei had given them the scores of a program called “Christmas Recital”. Hiyori had several solos. She could almost hear her choir mates whispering, angered. She constantly left voice messages at Yato’s voice mail, and she usually checked his last connection. It had been the same afternoon of that Monday he hadn’t appeared to the appointment.  Periodically, she also made sure of passing by his basement. There were no signs of use by the door. The only noticeable thing was the passing of time. She picked a third time the publicity accumulated on the doorway. It was very strange she couldn’t find any invoice or bank statement among the things delivered by mail, not even a letter.

That’s when Hiyori realized a month had passed between her fingers.

She dialed again the already memorized number with gloved fingers, shivering in the doorway, hiding of the wind the best she could. She couldn’t stop thinking that the last time they talked face to face, it didn’t end very good. She spoke after the beep.

“Yato, it’s me. It’s hard to believe you hadn’t been able to listen to your messages by now. I understand if I said something that made you upset. I’m not asking you to call me when you hear this anymore, but…” she made an involuntary pause, what had that pinch on her chest had been? “You should at least try to get in touch with Yukine. Or Kofuku. They both love you very much.” She stopped again, only them? “Yukine thinks very fondly of you, Yato. We would simply like to know you’re okay.”

The recording time ended. The phone call disconnected automatically, and she began walking again.

 


 

 

There was one Fujisaki Kouto at the school’s hallways: evasive, shy, avoiding her at all cost. It even seemed as if any time there was people around them he tried his best to make Hiyori look guilty of making an honest man to blush like a ripe apple.

There was another Fujisaki Kouto, appearing after rehearsal, when he dismissed the rest of the choir, making clear that Hiyori had to stay some extra time to practice solos and unclear passages or things that needed some extra polishing. Needless to say, Hiyori had improved exponentially thanks to so many hours practicing. However, this other side of the professor was everything she despised: he was aggressive, officious, maybe even cocky; charming, yes, but in a way Hiyori thought rather invasive. She couldn’t tell which one was the true Fujisaki, but she had better things to think about, even when the teacher complaint about it lately, accusing her of maybe not paying enough attention.

Another week went by. Her life consisted on an excruciating routine between school, choir practice, family duties, and spending time with Yukine asking between their acquaintances if anyone had seen the missing Yato. She realized how long it had been when all the stores and businesses displayed obviously festive decorations. Christmas was right around the corner. Yukine also began to notice the passing of time, and she was certain time had begun to tamper with his good mood, but he made his best for not showing it.

The Christmas Recital was the immediate Saturday before said holiday.

Anxious, Hiyori took a peek from behind the curtain to the audience. The reflector illuminating the stage kept her for seeing concrete faces between the public, but judging by noise it seemed they had full house. Ami and Yama had come backstage to wish her good luck. Hiyori had a stomach ache and her hands hurt for her twisting and wringing them. As soon as the choir stepped inside the stage and everyone took their seats, her nervousness turned out completely and she could see everything in slow motion, like out of herself. She knew she was singing. She knew she was surrounded by everyone else, but what would happen once she stepped up front to sing her solo parts?

Her answer came awfully fast; so fast that she wished she had had more time to process. Standing in front of the choir, facing a full auditorium, suddenly the faces of the audience came to her sight with complete clarity, despite the strong light contrast. Her parents were there, along with her brother. Yukine took a seat at the back. Daikoku and Kofuku had stayed home, as usual.

She felt empty.

The first notes for the intro of her song sounded, bringing her a clarity of thought she had only experienced a few times.

If she was there in that moment, it was because of him.

And he, regardless how much she wished it, was gone.

The person sitting next to Yukine looked fairly awkward and out of place before her eyes. She tried to visualize that random stranger with his stupid jersey and a scarf around the neck. A deep sigh broke up her throat, coming out shaky and miserable.

Yato wasn’t there.

Hiyori closed her eyes and sung.

When she finally stepped down the stage at the end of the night, all nervousness that came to a halt during her time up there, returned like a blast to the gullet. Gathering her strength she managed to not ran to the bathroom to throw up, and reunited with her family. Masaomi gave her a pretty flower bouquet and a tight hug, and said goodbye hurriedly. Her mother cleaned tears from her eyes with an embroidered handkerchief and her father gave her a kiss to the forehead. Yukine watched it all from a cautious distance. They both greeted each other with mutual understanding.

“Thank you for coming, Yukine-kun.”

“You went to my school to see me play, it’s only fair.”

Silence ghosted between them after that.

“You sung well.” He said, blushing a bit.

“I thank you very much.” She answered softly, uncomfortable.

“I wish Yato could have come.”

Yukine left immediately after that. Hiyori couldn’t find any possible answer to that. It seemed everything had gone white, like an unused notebook sheet. She didn’t make a sound on the car during the journey back home with her parents. She didn’t even bother eating dinner. Almost dragging her bouquet up the stairs, she closed her bedroom door after her. She let the bouquet fall on her desk, took off her coat and plopped on her bed. Ami’s discman was always below her pillow. She put the earphones on and pressed play.

Yato’s guitar greeted her with melancholy.

I wish Yato could have come,” said Yukine’s voice over and over inside her head.

Where could he be at? Why he had left them? When was he coming back? Did he even remember them?

She felt a silent sob piercing through her. Then another one. Out of her control.

Did he remember her?

Before she could even realize, she was crying.

For Yato.

Stupid Yato. Talented Yato. Misterious Yato.

She fell asleep clutching the pillow to her chest.

Indispensable Yato.

 


 

 

With winter break coming dizzily close, school life also seemed to have stopped, frozen. This gave them, on one hand, a good rest, and on the other, a chance for Ami and Yama to notice the obvious concern shading their friend’s face. Hiyori was pretty much walking asleep since the Christmas recital. SHRINE had been the soundtrack of her last few nights. In fact, Hiyori’s mind had never gone through that introspective chore. While she kept opening doors on her mind, she had been realizing lots of things about herself, her personality, and her life. She noticed she didn’t really knew herself or had any idea of how would she managed different circumstances. Sometimes she wondered if she liked any other things beside singing with SHRINE and spend time with her friends. She was certain she disliked the feeling of wet hair sticking to her face and Fujisaki Kouto. But then there was Yato’s subject. That was the only door she didn’t dare to open. She felt as doubting with the hand on the doorknob, about to figure out important things, but being ultimately unable to make that decision. Remembering those hypnotic blue eyes, she let the doorknob loose as if it was burning her hand.

“By the way, Hiyori-chan,” spurted Yama at the end of classes, one of the last days of the year, “Fujisaki-sensei told me that since you guys are not getting any more practice until after winter break, he wants to ask you if you would be nice and go to his classroom to give you some extra homework.”

Taken abruptly out of her thoughts, Hiyori couldn’t stop a whimper to come out of her.

“Oh my god, he needs to give us a break, seriously.”

Ami laughed.

“Never in my life I thought I would hear you complaining about homework, Hiyori-chan.”

Hiyori started to fill up her school bag with more violence than needed.

“Guys,” she said when she finished, “I’m thinking about dropping choir practice.”

Suddenly the two teen’s voices were making a racket.

“NO FRIGGING WAY!”

“But, Hiyori-chan, you’re the best one of the choir! Why would you…?”

The girl raised her bag strap to her shoulder. She answered doubting.

“I don’t know… actually… don’t know…” she sighed, “I think I really need a break from all this.”

Without further ado, she let them behind and stepped out of her classroom, finding her way to the music room.

Ami and Yama looked at each other, confused.

All this?”

 


 

 

“Hiyori-chaaan!” sung Fujisaki as soon as he saw her coming inside the music room.

“Sensei.” She greeted, dryly.

“Well, well! I thought you would be happier to see me.”

Stepping in front of him, Hiyori dropped her school bag in one of the seats closer to the window. She extended both arms to her sides, showing her palms as a question.

“Well?”

“Straight down to business? If you were a samurai you would be dreadful, my dear.”

“Professor, I really think vacations cannot come fast enough, so can we go straight to the point?”

Fujisaki had been leaning on his desk, on the opposite side to Hiyori’s. He smiled intently and began surrounding the desk to stand right beside her.

“There’s actually no ‘straight to the point’, honey, but your friend Yama is way to easy to convince”, he sang-sung again. An alarm went off inside of her, but the next immediate thought told her to wait.

“So there are no scores for vacations, then?”

“I love the tone you use on me, Hiyori-chan. It is so… electrifying.”

Fujisaki stared her in the eye, and she notice she had let him come too close. She was about to step back, but a powerful hand, almost a claw, clasped her shoulder strongly and kept her in place.

“Even the fact that you constantly show me your rejection makes me think if it would be better to be a tad bit more aggressive.”

“Sensei,” said Hiyori, with the calmest voice she could muster, since she was terrified. “You’re hurting me.”

“I’m hurting you?” asked the teacher, mockingly. She watched slowly his features, those that resounded deep inside her mind without any apparent reason. She watched the outline of his eyes and the muddy mousy brown of his hair. She watched his hairdo and that blaze inside his eyes every time he spoke. Who was this man? Why was he so familiar? “I think not, Hiyori-chan.”

Hiyori tried to step back while Fujisaki shortened their distance again, but his hand slipped from her shoulder to her elbow, making her unable to move it and waking a shiver of repulsion down her spine, as if her foot had stepped on something slimy. She felt his breath on her cheek.

“I think I’m about to spare you from a lot of pain, but you keep refusing.”

“This is extremely inappropriate, sensei.”

“I think is fairly more inappropriate that apparently you prefer my stupid brother over me. But I don’t blame you. He’s a stud, ain’t he?”

Silence.

After silence then came confusion. Several things happened at the same time. Hiyori’s heart began racing inside her chest. Of course. She noticed. Fujisaki Kouto, the one sharing those features so familiar to her, generating awkwardness when she was used to associate them with calmness. The idea was there, but with different shades. Instead of that intense azure and raven black they were muddy brown, but the outlines of the mouth and eyes were copied with delicacy. Hiyori opened her mouth and took a grasp of air to ask something she didn’t even got the chance to elaborate. At the same time an intrusive sensation formed over her lips, and she realized -way too late, that Fujisaki was kissing her. He was holding her hard, from both her elbows, making it impossible to run away. She noticed the sound of the sliding door to the music room and the surprised interjection of a feminine voice that came inside suddenly. She noticed -again, way too late, Fujisaki’s change of posture, putting Hiyori’s hands on his chest and suddenly pushing her backwards, leaning back on his desk, putting his sleeve over his mouth, wiping It. She realized way too late the impression the person was receiving of what she had just seen.

“Iki-san! This is extremely inappropriate!” said Fujisaki, with an afflicted voice.

She stared at him, putting up an act before her, like a puppeteer. Faking a blush, faking being offended, faking running away from the classroom, indignant, stepping aside one of the school choir members.

“So this how you got your way, Iki-san?” spat the girl, mockingly.

Hiyori was still frozen. She was realizing everything, too late. Way too late.

“T-this is not what you think!” she hurried to say. The other girl smiled sadistically.

“What a surprise, the role model student, Iki Hiyori, doing this sort of lewd things on the music room.”

“Wait…!”

“What a surprise would that be for everyone, Iki-san!”

Hiyori ran behind her choir mate. She didn’t even remember her name. She didn’t know what to feel. Adrenaline spoke by itself. Closer. She ran behind her. Was she actually running to the principal’s office? She couldn’t. She wouldn’t dare. Closer. Hiyori could count the baby hairs on the girls' nape, not well tucked inside her hairdo. Hiyori stretched her hand and landed it, precise, over the hair band holding her hair in a ponytail, and pulled.

She watched her classmate, now on the floor. She, Iki Hiyori, had ran behind a girl who was only a victim of this unfortunate circumstance, had pulled her hair and made her fall to the floor. The girl stood up and stormed over Hiyori, who coldly connected an impressive right hook to the girls cheek.

She, Iki Hiyori, had puched one of her classmates, who now was crouching on the floor, face down, right in front of the teacher’s room. Fujisaki Kouto was coming outside in that exact moment, along with a handful of teachers, towered from behind by the principal.

Chapter Text

Track 16.

 

Blue Christmas – Elvis Prestley

 

Trying to wrap up the facts on following years, Hiyori actually remembered very few details of what happened next. All those memories became shreds that her mind bring back like shards of a broken mirror, somewhat blurry as if she was sedated. Amidst the fog, she remembered things she wasn’t even sure had happened the same day. As far as she was concerned, five years could have passed and she would not be able to chronologically list everything anyways. She remembered her mother crying and her father looking rather disappointed while defending her from the furious parents of the girl she had hit and from the horde of teachers threatening to kick her out of school. She also remembered the headmaster talking, telling her that Fujisaki Kouto, being the honest, exemplar and good person he was, he had chosen to quit his substitute teacher job in Hiyori’s consideration, since she still had a bright future ahead, and that he had simply vanished from the city, surely to save both of them from any further embarrassment. She could remember the entire school whispering at her wake one morning, and Ami and Yama turning their back on her immediately, quickening their pace when she tried approaching them. She remembered the silent dinner at home with her brother, that suddenly turned into a heated argument about what to do about her. Her mother burst down crying while saying their public image was totally ruined because of her. Masaomi yelled something she couldn’t manage to listen. “Brother”; she repeated inside her mind constantly, “Fujisaki Kouto’s brother…”. She recalled running away one day after school, not being able to stand the pressure for one more moment, without knowing exactly where her feet would take her. She saw the old wooden portal, the familiar screech, that warm embrace and the crackling voice talking over the phone. “Yes, Sayuri, she’s here with me, and I think she could use staying over a couple of days”. The ceiling, all well known, full of good memories, greeting her from within the nightly shadows, dancing in gray tones leaking through the shoji, veiled, inviting her to sleep. She recalled the nice and calm face of her grandmother, doing chores with her, keeping her safe from the winter. She didn’t know if she was missing school because she was on winter break, or if she just wasn’t going. Whatever the reason, Hiyori was protected. She was safe and sound in that huge traditional house, serving her once again in the hide-and-seek game she was playing with the world.

 


 

 

Grandma wasn’t asking, she realized after a few days. She just looked at her smiling and she returned to her chores if there was nothing else to talk about. They ate breakfast silently, sitting around a kotatsu, watching the garden’s pond that had gathered some ice during the night. Hiyori knew that her grandmother, the one that had raised her mother, was a lady with very refined manners and a lot of finesse. She would not touch that subject unless she herself did; it was a very curious way to discipline, very much grandma-like. Hiyori was debating herself internally early one morning, between telling her everything that had happened, or simply remain quiet as until now and let the thing die on its own. She disapproved her own cowardice for not saying things after spending several minutes opening and closing her mouth like a fish, without making any noise. Her eyes were digging the miso soup her grandma had served.

“You’re not hungry?”

Suddenly she saw the old lady’s sunny and wrinkly smile. Hiyori had spent the last days in an almost catatonic state, without reacting and almost without talking, but somehow, in that precise moment, that morning, she felt defeated and torn apart. Thick tears slide down her cheeks and the girl couldn’t avoid falling apart. After a few strong sobs, her grandmother’s kimono surrounded her in a warm embrace, and Hiyori buried her face in one of the granny’s arms, that quite on the opposite of her fragile image, was strong as an oak. She wished to be like grandma.

“I didn’t do anything”, she whispered, sobbing. “This has been an awful misunderstanding… I just… I was in the wrong place at the wrong time… grandma…”. The lady stopped hugging her and looked her in the eye sweetly, “no one believes me and that’s awful.”

The elder hugged her again and they remained silent for a few seconds. With her crackling but extremely sweet voice, once her granddaughter had calmed down a bit, she stated:

“Honey. It’s impossible for me to think you had been capable of doing anything wrong”. She touched the soft little tresses on Hiyori’s forehead, “that’s the main difference between parents and grandparents. We’re always going to believe our grandchildren are right.”

She put some distance between them to be able to look into Hiyori’s eyes.

“That makes us able to listen to our kids better than parents do. Whatever you want to tell me, is totally fine.”

Hiyori told her everything. As soon as she opened her mouth the words came flowing like a river. She didn’t even had to worry about having some timeline. She let everything around her flow, and when she realized, she had already finished. She had told her about Yato, about the house, the band and the accident. She also told her about the choir, Yukine, the house in the park and the oden shop. She talked about Fujisaki Kouto, his ways and his subtle threats. When she finished, she thought she had let the elderly woman perplexed, but she kept looking at her with a soft smile on her lips. Once everything had been said, her grandma made a gesture for her to follow her around, and guided her through the big house’s aisles until a locked room. That room was only occupied by boxes, in different shapes and sizes, arranged so labyrinthically that, of course, only her grandmother could be there without getting lost. She heard her walking around until they finally sat side by side in a very used zabuton. The woman put in front of them a long white cardboard box, completely innocuous.

“Grandma?” she asked, profoundly confused.

“We all have secrets, my child” grandma said, and took the lid away.

Inside, the first thing that caught Hiyori’s attention was a white and elegant cigarette holder.

Underneath it, of course, there were pictures.

Hiyori saw the beautiful lead singer of a band playing on the bottom of the picture, wearing white jackets with black collar and very oily hairdos. The girl was wearing a wide dress, short gloves, and a handkerchief on her head. On that singer’s features, she could recognize a well-known face. She picked up the photograph carefully.

“Is this you, grandma?” she asked, flabbergasted.

“Apparently, we carry the same blood, Hiyori”, grandma took the photograph from her granddaughter’s hands lovingly, and looked at herself with nostalgia. “I could never even dream about telling this to my parents. I kept it secret during my whole life. I think I used every available excuse in the universe when despite my efforts, I came home later than expected. And many times, I hurt and made my parents angry”.

Suddenly the honorable lady Hiyori had known since she could remember had transformed in a girl with a lot of drive and hunger. Someone with more history than normal. She recognized herself in her grandmother, almost as if she was looking into a mirror.

“But times are different now, dear,” said grandma, giving her a tender look, “I’m sure that, with your determination, you could do whatever it is you plan.”

The girl smiled.

“You’re amazing, grandma.” The elder responded with a smile ten times sweeter than the previous one.

“Don’t you think you should be on your way?”

 

 


 

 

 

The days between Christmas and New Year, although the former wasn’t an official party in Japan, felt slow and sort of sleepy, and coming out on the street Hiyori felt that strange sensation of isolation. She only remembered her smartphone when she found herself on a train station, looking at the free charge stations. Startled, she stirred the inside of her bag and turned the device on. She couldn’t even remember turning it off, but the text messages soon freshed up her memory.

Somehow her phone number had filtered all across the school, and each time someone had some idea of what had happened, Hiyori would receive text messages, instant messages or calls to the voice mail. Few minutes after, she was aware of every single thing that could’ve been said about her. True or false, the harassment was there. She searched for her friends’ contacts on the list. They had both blocked her from the message service.

Hiyori deleted all notifications and dialed the same number her fingers had memorized.

The answering machine picked up again.

“Hi, Yato. It’s funny to think this has become soothing, somehow”. The other side of the line remained silent. “Fujisaki Kouto made the resolve of ruining my life completely. Luckily, I think he hasn’t get that yet”. She waited to hear if there was any reaction and leaned against the vertical stone sign that had “Shakujii Park” engraved in kanji. “I want to offer you an apology for taking so long in understanding my hunch. Since the first day you went away I have been very anxious and I have this nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something. I will find you, I swear. Oh! By the way! Fujisaki mentioned a brother… Yato… Could it be that-?” the girl realized she will soon exceed the recording time, “I hope we can meet soon and you can tell me everything. I realize I know nothing about you.” She let another silent second pass. “We will find you, Yato, for sure!”

When the line disconnected with a crinkling sound, Hiyori began walking through the entrance path to the park. The flags with the “Oden” signs were vibrating a bit due to the soft wind that had woken. She stepped slowly inside the store and called softly.

“I’m sorry for disturb---“

“HIYORIIIIIIN!” A bubblegum pink ball almost knocked her to the ground, and she received the little girl on her arms. The energy was the same. Daikoku asking Kofuku to show a little composure and Yukine trying really hard to be a good boy and start the homework before the deadlines began eating him alive.

After the usual initial greets, Kofuku made Hiyori sit on the kotatsu and flew behind Daikoku to help him serve snacks. Hiyori turned her eyes to Yukine’s assignments. They were eight grade exercises, and Yukine seemed to be struggling with them a lot.

“Would you let me take a look on it, Yukine-kun?”

Astonished, Yukine hand her one of his math notebooks over, and Hiyori analyzed it carefully. The boy was really surprised when she approved his efforts.

“Actually, Hiyori”, he confessed, “I kinda suck hard in math and physics. History is a nightmare and I don’t get to understand why should we speak English.”

“I don’t think you suck at all, Yukine-kun!” laughed Hiyori, lightly. “Yato is bad interacting and dressing himself. But this” she pointed to the notebook, “This is incredible, Yukine-kun. Congrats on that!”

Yukine plank-faced the kotatsu. “It’s way too hard and almost always I have to study by myself!”

“Well…” she thought for a bit. “If it gives you any help, I can come here and do this period’s homework with you, and you can ask me whenever you have doubts.” Suggested the girl. Yukine’s eyes sparkled with joy.

“Would you teach me? Really?”

“Well of course!”

Kofuku and Daikoku came back with the snacks.

“It was being time for this kid to get proper orientation!” exclaimed Daikoku, on a good mood.

“And Hiyorin will come much more often!”

“I want to thank you all for everything.” The girl said abruptly, confusing them. A little bit dramatically, she took a big breath and began to narrate everything related to Fujisaki Kouto. It was time to get as much answers as she could.

“I HOPE TO SEE HIM SOMEDAY TO KILL HIM!” yelled Daikoku.

“Oh Hiyorin! You sure had an awful time!”

“That Fujisaki bastard has been messing with you the entire time” pointed Yukine, cleverly.

“Fujisaki…” muttered Hiyori, trying to swallow the moment of rage filling her up in that instant, “he mentioned something about his brother…”

“And you think it has something to do with Yatty-chan?” asked Kofuku, straight to the point. “Fujisaki is not the last name Yato used during high school, and I never heard anything about any family…” she added, thoughtful.

“Actually, my love…” said Daikoku, “you have to admit you never knew too much about Yato’s background.”

“What do you mean, Daikoku-san?” Asked Yukine.

“Well, to be honest, Yatty constantly was missing school and somehow he always got leave after leave…” Kofuku explained, dubious. “We never paid much attention to it. Our school was full of people just like us, and we all thought we knew what was the reason behind his absences.”

Moved by an insatiable curiosity, Hiyori was going to continue making questions, when she notice her voice not being heard due to a series of hard steps on the wooden floor of the store’s room. Yukine got up to receive the customers but came back almost right away.

Following the boy entered two persons. Hiyori got really surprised, but made an effort not to react.

Facing her was a brunette guy who pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose on a graceful and almost professional gesture after greeting them all very politely. Behind him, flipping her long blonde mane was the girl she saw that day on Kuraha’s studio. Dressed in black from head to toe, she didn’t even stop to remove her coat, and received Kofuku with open arms, but with a totally blank face.

Hiyori was in front of the infamous Viina.

“Bisha, this is Hiyori, our new singer!” she heard Kofuku explaining after greeting Viina. “She’s amazing!”

A piercing violet gaze made Hiyori shrink, ant size. Viina raised a perfectly shaped brow. She had no need to do anything else for Hiyori to be unable of thinking of herself as something better than trash.

 


 

 

The amount of tea cups and sweet snacks on the kotatsu increased for the guests. After a very casual chat between people knowing each other for quite a while, and regardless of not fitting very well in the group, Hiyori already knew two things:

First, the guy with glasses was called Kazuma. He was pretty smart, apparently, knowing a lot about music and IT. All the tracks Viina was singing over now were produced almost entirely for him, and they were getting close to releasing their debut album.

Second, Viina and the others, different to how bad Yato made the circumstances look, were actually in a very good relationship. Kofuku adored Viina, and the blonde felt at home on their place. Somehow, Hiyori was not very comfortable with this idea.

What she really was interested in, was the fact that Viina was there, right there, sitting on the kotatsu drinking tea and eating sweets. It wasn’t as if it was not okay, she was an adult after all, and she could come and go wherever she wanted. However, the true reason of her visit was something that began itching in the back of her mind, nagging her constantly.

That question received its answer later on.

“By the way, Kofuku,” the blonde spoke, “where is that jerk?” the room fell silent while Viina stood up, leaving the kotatsu. “I was half hoping he came down very pissed off as soon as he knew I was here.”

She walked to the hallway and peeked through the stairs leading to the attic, yelling in that direction.

“COME DOWN, YOU BLOODY IDIOT!”

“Uh, Bisha…” said Kofuku with the tiniest voice. “Yatty’s not here.”

“What?” laughed Viina, “he saw us coming in and flew like a cockroach?”

“Yato has been gone for almost a month.” Hiyori spoke coldly, earning back the cold stare of the blonde singer.

To the girl’s surprise, the first worried sign came from Kazuma. Viina stood frozen in the hallway.

“It can’t be!” he yelped, correcting himself immediately, returning to his polite and formal speech. “Iki-san, that’s terrible! Viina, I thought he…!”

“I also believed that.” She pointed, looking at the tips of her toes. “But it all seems to say Yato hasn’t…”

“No.”

The last voice was Yukine’s. He stood up facing everyone, with suprising sureness for a boy his age.

“I don’t think this has nothing to do with Yato’s issue.” He stared down at Hiyori with complicity. “We both think he should be having a hard time and might be in danger.”

Viina raised her eyes and stared at Kazuma. “In that case, I think we’re bringing bad news.”

Kazuma opened his messenger bag and opened a thick manila envelope. It fell heavily over the small table.

Daikoku picked the envelope up and slowly opened the thread closing it. He pulled out several very distressed sheets of paper. He suddenly froze. His cigarette got consumed and the ashes fell on his hand, burning him. Rubbing the burned skin, he passed the sheets over to Kofuku, who passed them to Yukine after a bit.

Hiyori understood their silent reaction until she could read the contents. She felt dizzy right away. The songs written on the score were ones she knew way too well.

It was Yato’s handwriting.

 

 


 

 

I’M SO TERRIBLY SORRY FOR KEEPING YOU GUYS IN SUSPENSE!! Things have been going a little unsteady for me so I can’t really find any path to settling a routine these days but I promise you I will keep up since I have this all planned! So don’t despair and as always thank you for being here and reading every time I post an update! Thank you!

Chapter Text

TRACK 17 

Aerosmith – Livin' on the edge 

 

As soon as the school bell rang with its characteristic chime, Yukine stormed down the hallways running towards the gate. Focusing in getting out as fast as he could, he was unable to hear someone was running after him, until that person gave him a slight bump on the shoulder, making him lose his balance and barely saving himself of falling on his nose. Astonished, he looked at the boy laughing out loud beside him. 

"Hey, Suzuha! I could've died, you know?!" 

"Nonsense, you'd only need to make a slight change in your nose." 

"Well, I do like my nose the way it is, so you better not do that again", the blond winced, scoffing. 

"You're right, I do like it as well, my bad!" Let out Suzuha, doing a charming gesture while scratching his head and sticking his tongue out. 

Yukine tried to hide his slightly blushing cheeks. "O-okay, see you around!" 

"Hey, dude, wait!" Pressed Suzuha, "Do you want me to join you? Any news about Yato-san?" He used that concerned voice people make when asking for a hospitalized family member. Yukine was very moved. His best friend knew everything about the latest incidents, and recently he had gone with him to Viina's big house. 

"I don't want to be a bother, Suzu." 

"I think you better save your tsundere role for less serious cases, Yuki", Suzuha said plainly, and kept walking the hallway leading to the main doors. 

Yukine followed him diligently, surprised after noticing how blended they were in each other's lives. 

Inside his mind, he thanked for having him around. 

 

 


 

 

Recovering after seeing Yato's must-have-turned-down original scores that day on Kofuku's house was not an easy task for Hiyori, more so after listening the complete story. 

"I went outside my house for a minute", said Viina, "just because I needed to buy some stuff in the nearby convenience store. It was around dusk when while walking home a car passed by and a piece of paper fell to my feet. Since i saw it was a score I picked it up and began reading." 

Viina laughed through her nose while remembering her reaction. 

"I felt pretty pissed off and began searching for that idiot everywhere. I searched down a couple blocks, but the only thing I could find was another bunch of scores leading to a ripped garbage bag." 

Kazuma joined in. 

"Viina called me back then and I got there to see what was wrong. We had to take the bag with us home to be able to properly examine it, and that's where we got the complete material." 

Kofuku slowly buried her forehead between her palms, desolated. 

"Oh, my... Yatty... that means you don't have any significant trace, Bisha." She whimpered. 

"I'm sorry for not bringing a lot into the subject. I went myself to his basement a couple of times but I couldn't find anything useful." 

After a long silence, Hiyori came back from her lethargy. It was hard to properly process everything, but now she understood, and her mind was working faster than ever.

“Actually if you remember where you picked up the bag from, we already know a lot. It could come from a nearby house. You have given us a place to start searching,” she made a small bow. “Thank you.”

Yukine cheered up immediately. “That’s true! Viina, if you know someone around we can also go ask around a bit!”

“Unfortunately,” added Kazuma, a bit worried. “we’ve been living there a relatively short amount of time. We don’t know a lot of people.”

“When are you starting to search?” Viina asked.

“Right away,” stated the schoolgirl.

So this was where she was now.

Viina’s house was actually a traditional manor similar in size to her grandmothers home. Luckily, the neighborhood –famous for being home to several celebrities, wasn’t very far away from Iki’s residence. She still had to take a train back, but different to Kofuku’s house, going to the point where Viina had found the music sheets didn’t need to do any train transfer.

Yukine and Suzuha had arrived earlier.

Frankly, all this “Yato’s past” affair blowing straight to her face was a lot harder to assimilate than what she feared. Yato and Viina were actually in the exact –or worse, conditions that Yato always said. However, there were still traces of that past cherishing that made her uncomfortable. That, and the fact Kazuma spoke about Yato as a very dear childhood friend. With all of that, she realized she didn’t knew big part about Yato’s important moments, and she had no idea how was it possible for her to believe they would be able to find him like that.

They had scanned the area, slowly, passing through the point in that Viina had seen the scores. No one unusual, no familiar faces, nothing. When they grew tired of it, Kazuma took out his favorite toy.

The drone flew high above their neighbor’s rooftops and rushed through the air, from one place to the other, sending video files directly to his owner’s smartphone. Those few last days, Kazuma had let the boys drive the drone; usually there were needed two pairs of hands to operate the flight as well as the camera, who could also send video to the small screen in the controller. Hiyori had just came after wandering around the neighborhood, drawing a bigger curve each time, terribly frustrated they didn’t let her pass on flyers or get active in any other way. The news, and conditions in which they might find him wouldn’t be an easy blow to anyone’s career. Sulking, she slumped on a chair, watching the three boys operating the machine in one of Viina’s mansion terraces, while her warm breath formed a cloud through her pink scarf. Apparently her sigh had been more hearable than what she thought, because Yukine, without taking his eyes away from the little flying toy, spoke to her.

“Cheer up, Hiyori. We’ll find him.”

She just shrank on the chair, sinking her head between her shoulders, allowing the scarf to cover her nose, and sticking her hands on her coat’s pockets.

Warily, Kazuma took the seat next to her.

“Yato has a lot of tricks under his sleeve”, he patiently explained. “Things always turn out to his advantage, as weird as it may seem.”

After a brief dubious silence, Hiyori dared to ask: “Kazuma-san, how did you met Yato?”

The man laughed. It counted as a genuine laughter, but even so he managed to make it sound overly polite. Hiyori asked herself if Viina had chosen him over Yato due that obvious contrast between them.

“Well, Iki-san, that’s a story for another occasion; but on a very broad line, there was a time Yato made me a favor so big that for me, trying to repay him is an impossible idea-“ he glanced at his surroundings, and then continued, almost whispering: “Viina doesn’t know this, but I’ve always tried to keep up to whatever he could need.”

Hiyori sat straight, understanding that Kazuma may be the answer to her lack of information.

“So you know each other from a long time ago?”

“Well… I was on middle school and Yato was mid-high school when everything happened”. Absorbed, he stared at his phone and continued talking, while still receiving the images of the surrounding neighborhood. “Around that time, Viina was…” Kazuma froze in the spot, and just when Hiyori was about to ask if he was okay, time began passing too fast. “Suzuha-kun, start recording now and adjust the camera angle a few inches to your right! Yukine-kun, do the same thing you did now but backwards! Bring it back! Now!”

Surprised, both kids followed Kazuma’s orders, who ran inside to get his laptop and plugged his smartphone, transferring the video’s information. Suzuha yelped, surprised.

“Saw it already?” asked the man with the glasses, just to release some anxiety.

“You have an amazing sight, Kazuma-san” nodded Suzuha, triumphant.

“The hell you’re talking about?” snapped Yukine.

“Yukine-kun, Iki-san, it’s better if you see it for yourselves.” Said the oldest, and signaled for them to come closer to the screen, after Yukine catched the drone under his arm.

The camera’s resolution was not great, so the displayed image on the screen was just clear enough to be able to faintly distinguish facial features. However, without a doubt, it was him. Hiyori would recognize those eyes and hair wherever it was, even sitting on a wheelchair in a strange house, dressed with a cozy bathrobe. What she couldn’t recognize, however, was the expression he seemed to have.

Hiyori got so scared that the three of them had to make a huge effort to keep her from running outside right away.

Yato had never shown such an empty face.

 


 

 

The house was completely surrounded by a thick concrete wall. Nothing inside the state was visible from the outside.

During the rest of that week, they could see Yato a few more times. A short, jet-black haired girl used to take Yato outside to the garden or the balcony during sunset. He never moved, regardless of cold or hot days or snow. After a couple of minutes the same girl came to take him back inside.

Hiyori even managed to completely turn around the house, searching for a way to get him out from there. She wasn’t able to find anything, but she realized that during certain hours, rounds of security guards came inside and out. She had no idea what she was facing, and that filled her with frustration. The most irritating fact was knowing Yato was inside there, a few meters away, behind that huge wall. Her grandmother gave her concerned stares when Hiyori fell asleep, head on her hands, elbows on the table, with the pencil between her fingers and the notebook open. Unfinished assignments, lack of concentration. She realize the only thing her body wanted to do was to gravitate around that tall, impenetrable wall that haunted her even on her dreams.

The news had attracted Kofuku and Daikoku to Viina’s house, who watched the videos. Both women went over what they knew about Yato mentally, staring each other with mindful eyes, talking about what they could while Hiyori wasn’t around, which wasn’t very often because the girl spent most her time wandering around the neighborhood, around that big house’s block. Somehow they had managed to do such a regular wall that it was very hard to know her way back once she felt tired of roaming around the place.

Yukine had to scold her once the weather worsened and Hiyori showed signs of getting sick.

“You need to stop now!”

“But… Yukine-kun…”

“If someone is going to take that good-for-nothing idiot out of there is you, Hiyori, but if you end up dying of exposure I don’t think you’ll be able to do a lot. Much less you’re gonna pierce that wall just by staring at it.”

She didn’t know how to reply to that. Neither how did she end up going to her grandma’s home in Daikoku’s huge car. She didn’t know if the voice she heard during her hallucination in the middle of the night was her father’s, Masaomi’s… or if it was indeed looking at a bright pair of blue eyes inserted over unmatching features.

When she came down to eat breakfast next morning, Masaomi was drinking a cup of coffee.

Those few uncomfortably silent seconds that passed between them while their grandmother served Hiyori’s breakfast were interrupted, to her surprise, by her brother.

“I don’t know what has gotten into you lately, sister, but I should say I’m not surprised at all you’re as mad as a hatter with the mood back there.

Joined to the fever’s residue and the inherent tiredness of being sick, confusion sticked to her head like cobwebs.

“Wh-what?” she asked softly.

Masaomi laughed soundly, leaving her even more confused.

“The rebel phase, Hiyori. To be honest you’re handling it way better than I thought. To come and search for a place to stay with grandma instead of with that Whatshisname that you ran away with is, truly, a very yours decision.”

She blushed while trying to explain herself, but she wasn’t even sure about how to take Masaomi’s words.

“…thanks? …you have a very weird way of doing compliments?”

Her brother stood up with a mysterious smile as soon as their grandma returned.

“Take one pill of acetaminophen every four hours, and drink plenty of liquids. You’ll probably not get hungry in a couple of days but I don’t want any complains”. He took his jacket off the coat rack and turned to look at her. “Anything you’ve stick your nose into, I know you’d be able to overcome it if you have enough determination. Just be careful about the rest of the things you need to do, and remember I have your back.”

The dreamy state Hiyori was in didn’t save her from getting a knot on her throat, and she offered him a muttered thank you while bowing her head a bit the best she could. Masaomi stifled the laugh that gesture provoked.

“You never stop being you.”

Then, after yelling his grandmother goodbye, he left.

 

 


 

 

Despite of what he told his friend, Yukine would have really wanted to pierce a wall just by staring at it. During the days Hiyori was at home, resting after getting sick, he had taken upon himself the task of casually wandering around the mansion. By that particular moment, he felt incredibly frustrated.

Regardless of Suzuha’s efforts to try and keep him on a high spirit and making him see things wasn’t as bad as they seemed, he began to realize there were bits of his life that Yato had deliberately left untold, parts he noticed not even Viina and Kofuku were able to reconstruct. Yato seemed to have no family, seemed to have no past and seemed to came out of nowhere. For what he could surreptitiously gather from the two ladies whispered conversations, Yato had just simply appeared one day at Kofuku’s high school. From Yukine’s point of view, Yato had always just been Yato, but listening all that coming from their bubblegum haired friend made him realize he simply didn’t know him. He had no idea what his true last name was. There had been no chance for that conversation to come afloat, and he just gave his first name during introductions. There had also been no excuse to ask that, or what his hometown was, not even if he had any family. He didn’t know who he should call in case of an emergency. He wouldn’t had been able to give a name in a hospital in case he needed it.

He felt terribly stupid.

And, apparently, Viina and Kofuku wondered if it was possible to somehow piece together more information with the pieces each of them had, but the story seemed to end in some point before entering high school.

The sun was setting and Yukine kicked a can of soda laying sloppily out of a bag of trash, so hard that it hit the gray wall and fell to the ground, scaring a cat that sprinted from the dumpster down to the corner farther away, where it almost hit the legs of a slender and rather pale brunette that was turning up to where he stood.

“Hiyori!” he cheered.

Even though the surgeon mask covered most of her face, it was undoubtedly her. She could finally attend school and now she came back to check how things were going.

“I can’t say this is a common situation, Yukine-kun –“, she said, with a shivery harsh voice, after the boy had told her everything that had crossed his mind up to this point without taking a second to breathe. She couldn’t quite get it either. “—there’s something in Yato’s past that he doesn’t want us to know.”

“Do you think it has anything to do with this goddamn house?” spat the teenager, looking around for something else to throw to the wall in frustration.

“I can’t assure it”, muttered Hiyori, not wanting to jump into conclusions. “But we will figure it out somehow.”

 

 


 

 

Yato had stopped appearing in the balcony the last three days. Hiyori got down in the long missed train station and began walking in big strides to the basement the young man had occupied before, trying to keep a low profile.

Her heart stopped for a painful second when she saw the door’s number 203 repainted in black and a yellowy light coming from the inside. Before she could realize, she was already entering the flat, talking at the speed of sound.

“Yato?! You’re back?! We were so worried, we’ve been looking everywhere we could but we actually weren’t sure where to begin and we thought we saw you on a balcony near Viina’s house, can you believe it…?”

The last question got cut off by the upfront sight of a man that didn’t matched at all with the description of the lush and almost childish features of Yato’s face.

“Miss, did you know the young man living here?” he asked softly. Hiyori stared at his attire: baseball hat, loose t-shirt and heavily stained jeans. He was wearing a pair of working gloves and a suitcase with tools. She then looked around. There was no trace of Yato’s belongings.

“I…” she began, quietly. “I thought –He…”

Out of the corner of her eye, Hiyori could see the man’s concerned and slightly quizzical look he was giving her. She had a pretty good idea of what he was actually imagining about her.

“I’m Mr. Sakamoto. I rented this guy the flat, but a week ago I received a phone call from him.”

The girl looked at him, eyes as big as humanly possible.

“REALLY?”

“He told me to keep the deposit and maintenance fee as thanks, and that someone would come to pick all his stuff,” said the landlord, showing his palm to her to try and calm her down. “I am very sorry about this, honey. When I arrived a short time later, the door was unlocked and they have taken all his stuff out.”

Hiyori let her back search the closest wall to her, and once she felt she had made contact with it, all the air got away from her lungs.

Wasn’t it around a week ago the last time they had seen Yato in the balcony with the girl? Wasn’t it true they had stopped seeing him? Yato had called the landlord instead of calling them? Was he deliberately making them aside?

Instead of falling apart, she remembered Yukine.

“Sakamoto-san, may I ask you a question?”

“Tell me, child.”

“What was the name this house was registered at?”

The silence of the man told her how much he was surprised about the question. He flipped his cap nervously back and forth, and let his tool suitcase on the floor, searching for his cellphone. After a few clicks on his contact list, he spoke.

“Funny you ask. This flat has always had some irregularities. It seems this young man wanted to cover himself as good as he could. The name he gave me was Fu* Yato.”

“Is it an abbreviation?”

“That’s how he appears in all his identifications”, mumbled the man, “I didn’t think there was anything weird back then… miss? Are you feeling alright?”

The girl got pale in a matter of seconds, but instead of passing out at the spot, she began running.

Yato wasn’t there anymore. He wasn’t going to return to that place. His name was fake. His ID’s were fake, she was certain of it. He wanted to cover his tracks. He was used to disappearing as soon as the situation turned bad for him.

Fu Yato?

Fujisaki?

She wished trains were a lot faster.

 


 

 

“I really don’t know, Hiyorin.”

After the girl had asked for a fifth time, Kofuku brought her high school yearbook with her to Viina’s house.

Under a younger Yato’s picture, appeared one single kanji.

“Fu.”

“That’s the way they did the roll call?”

Daikoku laughed behind his cigarette: “They didn’t even made it to class, Hiyori.”

“Oh, Kokki, that’s not true!” whined Kofuku while patting her partner’s shoulder.

“That’s just absurd.” observed Viina, sitting on her kitchen’s counter. Suzuha, Yukine and Kazuma were still exhaustingly searching with the drone’s help, not daring to go across the big gray wall. The yellow grass beyond talked about abandonment.

“I’m sorry for not being able to tell you more, Hiyoriin”, said her pink-haired friend, watching her deflate progressively. She sighed.

“I hate the feeling of being this close, and yet not enough…”

 “EVERYONE CHECK THIS OUT!” interrupted Kazuma.

Rushedly they got closer to stare at the screen he was seeing. Yukine flew the drone close by the window where usually Yato came out in the afternoon, and Suzuha made his best for focusing the camera. The glass sliding door opened. Hiyori muffled a scream.

The person that came outside this time wasn’t Yato.

Faster than what they could completely understand what was going on, they saw a Yukata opening over the chest area, and the shining of a metallic object pointing on the stranger’s hand, directly towards the camera.

They couldn’t hear the shot, but the transmission ended.

Still livid, Hiyori sprinted next to everyone, boarding Daikoku’s huge Hummer. Viina and Kazuma lead the way on their Skyline.

She kept repeating inside her mind how impossible was all of this.

She shamed herself for not acting earlier.

But above all things, she reminded herself how much she hated that face.

Kazuma found his drone and they stopped the car. Daikoku drove a bit further and let Hiyori get down at the corner of the state. She and Yukine ran toward the automatic gate that was letting a black business style car.

The smile of the same face that had shot Kazuma’s drone sent shivers down her spine and at the same time let her with her blood boiling.

Fujisaki Kouto blew her a kiss from the passenger’s side window. He rolled it up, and the car sped up the street.

 


* "FU" is "譜" which is related to music, and to a family tree.

 

Chapter Text

TRACK 18

 

Every breath you take – The Police.

 

He remembered fighting. How exactly, he wasn't sure, but the pain in the knuckles was unmistakable. It also was the burning of his cut face and the cold, hard floor against his cheek. That seemed to have been a constant position this last few days. Or should he say day ? He wasn't sure if the liquid dripping on the floor was his own blood or someone else's.

 

Brown.

 

Those detestable eyes, that stupid smile. He was also unmistakable. Such as Nora. Usually after seeing her everything turned pitch black. Velvety and almost comfortable, if not for the constant pressure on his cheek, letting him know, still half-conscious, that he was lying on the floor. A pinch on his arm hurt after pressing on that same spot with his thumb. He thought he saw a needle. Yes, he knew very well that sensation. It felt like a huge wave of pleasure, that unfortunately never lasted enough. It left his body as soon as he could enjoy it and everything around hurt. It stung. It really didn't sting, he was cold. Shaking, he felt the soft and lulling voice of someone beside him. He knew it was Nora after a quick glance. He rubbed his eyes and the light pouring in confused him, blinding him and making him fail to recognize the long brown haired silhouette facing him, that instead of singing a lullaby, seemed to want to wake him up.

 

All this was too confusing. As confusing as the balcony and the view the city gave him. The fact he couldn't move was a signal that he was being drugged again. He wished to be able to remember, that shit felt great. Almost as great as composing. Composing!

 

He felt the weight on the soles of his feet as he stood up. The floor was freezing but he didn't care. Where had he left his scores? Where was the master? Where...? again that lulling voice, taking his hand and another calling, more urgent, at the very back of his mind, begging him to wake up. Deep from within his shredded memories came a piece of sleepy reality, shaped as a name.

 

Hi... Hiyori?”

 

But the hand holding him was wrong. Next to him he saw Nora's little smile, and he dropped her hand as if it was a piece of burning coal. Under his feet laid a pool of blood, and a bit further, pieces of animal fur, rising and dropping, painfully. His eyes flooded, his will incapable to interfere.

 

Yato!”, the voice called, urging him to look behind. He did as that name got him closer and closer to reality.

 

Hiyori!” he yelled, and his own voice sounded groggy and weird on his throat. He learned not to do it again when a strong pain on his side made him fall once more, and he could see Nora, between the legs of the man kicking him, surrounded by snow, ghostly, keeping herself at the brink of a cruel scene.

 

Fucking bastard,” though Yato, sinking his cheek on the ruthless cold of the floor.

 

Or maybe it was snow.

 

 


 

 

If there was something Take hated more than anything was asking for favors. He knew very well that sooner or later they would come back to bite your ass. Paying favors was something he avoided in as much as possible. Right now, for example, he reproached himself for owning Viina, above all people, a favor. She would charge back her favor even if he wasn't willing to pay for it, and hers wasn't a favor that should be taken lightly. Probably back then would have been wiser not to ask for anything on the first place, but there was no use crying over spill milk. Or at least that's what he thought when Viina called him to require her payment back. However, in this precise moment, he regretted knowing her whatsoever. Viina had used his police officer training skills to locate one particular vehicle, but she never told him why. Take sighed and removed his hat while leaning on the driver's side of a car with the same description as the one the blonde was searching for.

 

He was on a countryside highway, forgotten to the point it could be mistaken by a dirt road. Up hill, a trail twisted between the bushes. Searching in his pocket, he took his smartphone and instead of calling straight to the police station, he called Viina, as previously agreed.

 

I found the car,” he said, plainly. “Tell me what do you want us to do with it now.”

 

He thought he had taken Viina unaware, but nothing farther to the truth. Once she heard where her friend was, she didn't take long before answering.

 

Wait for me right there, I'm on my way!”

 

Could I know what's the big fuss over a car?” he asked, quite peevishly. Viina chose to ignore his question.

 

What's around it? If there's a rabbit hiding under I want to know what he ate for lunch.”

 

He sighed.

 

Fair enough.” He muttered, and wandered around the area, still on the phone. “In fact there's a trail...” he commented, somewhat surprised. “It's not too noticeable and it's still fresh, but that's...”

 

Stay right there, I'll call you right back!”

 

Take put his cellphone back on his pocket and waited, on guard. He didn't like this place one bit. The “trail” itself was just an open path through the scrubs through which something voluminous had went recently. Stepping through the bushes, the guy followed the trail slowly. Bit by bit a small cabin appeared, rising at his right. The most noticeable trait was the grayish shade it had because of exposure, and he couldn't help remembering somehow the main building of a shrine. Following the path a little further, after the cabin's platform he could see an ajar shoji, but the inside was so dark he couldn't see anything.

 

A starting engine sound came from behind, and Take began running all the way back, just in time to hear a girl yelling and a big, scary male voice rising. He arrived just in time to see a big cloud of dust, and the car he had found escaping full speed. A big Hummer was badly parked on the middle of the road and the prevailing confusion made him understand that it would have been better not to move from there. He knew that for sure when a girl with long brown hair stood up and dust off her dress. She should have identified his uniform because she looked at him with swiftly desperate eyes, and then she seemed to recognize him. Of course, they had seen each other before, through a glass pane.

 

Are you Viina-san's friend?” she asked, getting closer with resolve, while the blond drummer kid ran behind her cursing under his breath how worried he was that she had been injured.

 

I imagine she told you I found the car.” He said, pointing with his head the cloud of dust that had begun to set.

 

Hey, kid, don't get all discouraged,” said Daikoku, seeing Hiyori's worried face. “We will get to him no matter what.”

 

Meanwhile, Yukine's ramble hadn't stop.

 

You should move all your joints to make sure you didn't got hurt anywhere. Can you move your knee? What about the elbow...?”

 

Yukine-kun, I'm fine! I only jumped off the road to avoid getting hit and fell, please don't overreact!” she calmed him.

 

It was obvious the group was tense. Take followed with his eyes the pink tornado getting closer to them, talking over the phone, to then end the call and telling everyone that Viina was arriving any minute now. He doubted speaking, but he thought that anyways it could be they wouldn't even pay him any attention.

 

...there's a cabin about a hundred meters away over...”

 

As soon as Take's hand raised to point to the place, Hiyori was already sprinting towards there full speed, followed by Yukine. The rest, perplexed, took a few moments to go after the kids. It was hard catching up to them.

 


 

 

After the trail, a clearing in the bushes opened to a cabin that, even without being modern and well-preserved, at least it was standing up in one piece. Maybe with a little burnishing the wood would show a little house, picturesque even. The gray humidity spots weren't helping at all. Hiyori and Yukine put their feet carefully over the creaking planks of wood from the porch reaching a bit beyond the rooftop above, followed by a shoji after which nothing could be seen. The structure cried below their weight, but both went inside the room without a glimpse of doubt.

 

I can't see anything...” Hiyori whispered.

 

Wait...” said the kid, and took out his smartphone. He adjusted his screen brightness to the max, and a faint circle of light shone in front of them.

 

Very clever, Yukine-kun!” she praised him, and did the same.

 

She struggled with remaining calm and not dropping her phone once they pointed the lights a little further.

At first, they thought it was just a pile of rags gathered in a corner. Then, they realized it had a human shape and that they knew him very well. His skin looked frail and pale, somewhat greenish, and an incipient malnourishment began becoming evident in the shape of his face and his arms. Hiyori ran to the very back of the room and removed the bamboo curtains that covered the windows. She could see him moving faintly through the corner of her eye and got closer so she could reanimate him. He looked even worse under the light of day.

 

Yato!” she called. Yukine also knelt beside her. Not knowing what to do, the girl shook the guy lying on the floor by the shoulders. “Yato!”

 

The shape showed even more signs of free will with a grunt and trying to turn over his shoulder, obviously too confused to even know where the voice came from yet. Hiyori yelled louder, but she could only get Yato to raise his head when she took his hand. Scared by how cold and bony it felt, she kept calling him a few more times, with a sharp and almost neurotic voice.

 

Yukine was trying to reanimate the legs of his friend, stiff due to the cold and bad feeding, when his attention was dragged for a glimpse of movement in a dark corner of the cabin. He immediately pulled back, putting on guard. He was giving Hiyori his back, and his friend was not paying attention to anything else than Yato.

 

Hiyori”, Yukine called her, with a quenching calm that surprised even himself. The cold steel on his voice made the girl pay attention to him right away. “Get up.” he ordered, and regretfully, but quickly, Hiyori let go of Yato's hand and stepped beside her young friend.

 

At the back of the room, a silvery sharp flash smiled at them from the hand covered in a pure white kimono, as white as the almost fully melted snow outside.

 

Those untimely friends of yours had foud us... Yato.”

 

Her voice was cold and almost as sharp as the knife she carried, and however the soft and almost motherly tone she had used was so sincere than the result was simply blood-chilling. She was a beauty ideal, worthy of a traditional painting, a delicate doll, but she had poison on her voice.

 

With short steps, walking with the kimono-worthy etiquette, the girl came close.

 

Against everything her brain was telling her, Hiyori tried to reason with her.

 

Look, I know you should be very close to Yato. We really don't know what's going on, but we should take him to a hospital soon.” she hesitated seeing the girl not reacting or stopping. “I'm sure he worries you as much as us... that's why... the best thing to do would be letting us take him away.”

 

The girl sped up. Hiyori felt a hand pulling her back on her arm. In front of her remained a silver trail and a hum on the air that confirmed just how lethal had been that girl's attack. Yukine couldn't handle correctly so much weight, and couldn't save Hiyori from falling again to the floor, dragging him along.

 

After attacking with the knife, the girl on the kimono remained in a relaxed posture, with both arms hanging both sides of her torso, the hair covered her face, and that was why they both were baffled when, without any explanation, she began laughing quietly.

 

If I worry about you as much as they do? Did you hear that, Yato?” Somehow she refused to speak directly to them. Hiyori was pretty much convinced Yato wasn't even able to hear her, much less understand what she was saying. She began to wonder seriously if this girl was in full use of her mental faculties, but she was interrupted with more rambling. “Could it be that there's someone in this world that loves you more than me? It's a ridiculous idea, right... Yato?”

 

Slowly she stood straight again. The jet black hair curtain slid over her face, revealing her eyes staring straight at them. Hiyori and Yukine shifted, tense, preparing to escape. Her face showed an utterly maniacal grin.

 

NO ONE loves Yato more than me in the world.”

 

After saying this, she charged against them. Hiyori hid her face with one arm quickly, while Yukine slouched to jump against the girl at any moment -but suddenly, Nora fell forwards with a stump, as if she had tripped with something. Horrorized, the girl turned to look at her feet. A slightly bony, but strong hand, was wrapped around the delicate ankle clothed in a traditional shoe. A paralyzing blue spark shock her on her place, noticed by Yukine and Hiyori, who didn't dare to move an inch.

 

But... Yato, you-” the girl babbled, while observing the guy struggle to gather strength out of wherever he could to stop her.

 

Yato!” yelped Hiyori, and the same intense gaze shone over her, before he closed his eyes heavily. However, he didn't let the teenager's ankle go. Seeing Yato's friends staggered forward to help him, she shook her leg and stood in front of them, wielding the knife again with resolve. This time around, Yukine extended an arm in front of Hiyori and gave Nora the most ferocious stare he had.

 

Impossible,” she stammered, “No one in this world loves Yato the way I do -The way we do...” she placed the knife's blade over her throat. “No one. And I'm willing to do anything to prove it.”

 

This changed radically the situation. Yukine soon found himself thinking for a safe way of ripping the weapon off her hands. Hiyori showed both palms in a conciliatory gesture.

 

Calm down! Please don't-!”

 

Are you really trying to reason with a lunatic, Hiyori?!” spat Yukine.

 

Well it's better to let her kill herself, right? Listen, kid, yo-!”

 

Hiyori couldn't finish her sentence because a police whistle blew in the distance. They both got distracted by the movement of the bushes outside the cabin, and when they noticed, one of the back sliding doors had been open, and the brush moved by the rush of a person running through the tall grass and bamboo patches. Yukine obeyed the adrenaline on his feet when his friend called him over, avoiding him going after that shady girl.

 

Yukine, help me out!”

 

Hurriedly, Hiyori was trying to get Yato's dead weight off the floor, before the police arrived and began asking questions. A note about something like this in the news would be fatal to their career.

 

Once inside the cabin, Yukine tried making Yato come to senses by gently slapping his cheek. Hiyori was trying to pick him up by the hands, when they clasped around her forearms.

 

Hi... yori...” stuttered Yato, softly.

 

Yato, it's me! Wake up! Yukine is here with me, but we need you to walk to get you out of here before the police arrives!”

 

Yato opened his eyes again. The girl was surprised she forgot just how shifting those sapphires really were.

 

Hiyori? You're-” they both got closer to hear what his friend was saying; his voice was so brittle and hushed that it was hard to understand. “Beautiful... like an angel-”

 

Overly flushed, Hiyori let him fall. Yato gave a thump against the floor boards and let out a small whimper.


“He's delusional! We need to get him to a hospital!”

 

Yukine stared at her, baffled and a bit annoyed.

 

You're honestly being ridiculous. Take one arm and I'll take the other one.”

 

Lifting the almost deedless weight of an adult man wasn't an easy task for both teenagers, which let out an anguished groan just barely out the cabin when they saw Take arriving at the scene. Expecting to see more policemen, they got surprised when they saw Viina and Kazuma, and Kofuku and Daikoku. The short pink haired girl was merrily blowing Take's whistle hanging around her neck. Relieved, Hiyori began talking a thousand words per second.

 

We need to take him as soon as possible to a clinic! He's intoxicated and starving and probably very sick but we also need no one to see him! If they see him like this they will realize about everything and his career would...”

 

Whoa, calm down, I didn't catch half the things you just said!” interrupted Viina, startled.

 

She has a point, you know...” argued Kazuma, thinking.

 

If we get him to a regular E.R. everything will come to light.” Added Daikoku, switching places with Yukine, whose legs began trembling under his friend's weight.

 

The face of Hiyori shone with resolve as soon as one idea formed in her mind.

 

And remember I have your back.

 


 

Masaomi knew it was serious, because his sister never called if she could avoid it. On the other hand, her slurred speech deemed him almost unable to fully get what the situation was. And third, this was the first time Hiyori used her new smartphone to call him. After a brief explanation of the problem, there was only few words he could say.

 

Bring him, soon.”

 

The detox clinic he had guided them to through simple telephone instructions had a parking lot on the back, discreet enough to admit this friend Hiyori was trying to help with all she had. Sometimes his sister's strength surprised him.

 

Today in particular, he was worried because of her sister having friends who needed to be urgently admitted into a hospital of these sorts.

 

As soon as he saw the black hummer crossing the threshold separating the parking lot from the street, and confirmed his hunch when a tear-ridden Hiyori hurriedly opened the door and turned a disoriented Yato in, there were only few words he could say.

 

You son of a b--”

 

Chapter Text

Track 17. Evanescence - Bring me to life.

 

 

Hiyori turned her visitor pass hurriedly at the reception and ran up the hallway to ride the elevator. Nervously fidgeting with her fingers on the handles of her school bag and with the paper of the carefully wrapped flower bouquet she carried, little she cared about her anxious image raising more than a couple of inquisitive stares inside the lift, and as soon as the doors opened, she got down almost kicking people out of the way. She hadn’t stop running since receiving Masaomi’s message in the morning, midway the first period.

“The patient is awake.”

That was it, no more complicated explanations or unnecessary words. She knew her brother very well to know his attitude last week had been due to worry, directed more to her and the fact that a person like Yato was involved in her life to that degree, than the status of Yato himself. However, Masaomi, much to the family style, had kept himself for making any kind of question about it.

The minute she get to the hospital room and found an empty bed, Hiyori released a sigh she had been keeping for weeks. Getting close to the window, she examined the room’s appearance; the white walls, that monitor over the headboard and the night table almost devoid of the patient’s trace, except for a framed picture that Daikoku and Kofuku had brought before, showing all four of them smiling in front of the main gate of Capypaland. Hiyori picked the frame carefully, and smiled. She wondered if someday she and Yato –along with the rest of them, of course, she quickly added, could enjoy a trip like that to Capypaland, when all the recent events were just bad and foggy memories. She let her school bag to fall over the couch after returning the picture to the night table, and got busy changing the flower vase of a round table at the end of the bed.

Once finished, the door behind her closed softly, and she gathered all the bravery she had to turn around showing a glistening smile.

“Hi…” she sang, shutting up immediately.

Masaomi was watching her, leaned over the door with a concerned face. The window shining over his glasses didn’t allow her to know if she was being stared at, but she felt the gaze he had perfectly taken from their dad, reinforced by the white robe.

“What’s going on, sis?”

Confusing his words for a casual greeting, Hiyori greeted back.

“Hi. I thought you were off-duty”.

“I decided to better stay and wait for you since I do want to know what’s going on, Hiyori”.

Dread made her nape’s hair to rise and made her voice waver pathetically.

“N-nothing is going on, Masaomi, what do you mean?”

“I’m talking about the fact that a couple nights ago you brought a friend of yours to the clinic, about whom I had to keep an almost absolute silence because it turns out he’s one of the best-selling musicians from a couple months ago, in a place I work a few shifts a week, and yet you’re here behaving like a picture-perfect wife even when you know what kind of history he has.”

Hiyori didn’t even had the chance of complaining about the word “wife”, and her brother kept talking in a way that didn’t allow her to feel ashamed about it either. Masaomi threw a thick file on the table in front of her, next to the vase.

“Meth, heroin, cocaine, LSD, THC, and many other, equally outstanding substances”.

The girl took the file within her trembling hands and skimmed it. She knew. Somehow she suspected all that to an amount that at this point it wasn’t so big of a surprise. She stared back to her brother, who gave her a patient, inquisitive stare, waiting for an explanation.

“What do you want me to tell you?” she asked, knowing that was the worst thing she could probably say.

“Are you for real, Hiyori?” he sighed, and raised one hand to massage his tired eyes. “Look, I hate playing mom’s part in here, but I doubt you are fully aware of what you’re getting into”.

“Then explain, please, since I obviously have no idea of what are you talking about”, her sister spat, losing her temper.

“Tell me how an honor roll student of every single academy she has been at ends up visiting a scum of his proportions at a rehab clinic!” he yelled on his own accord, a little bit harsher than intended. Dropping the file on the table, Hiyori leaned on her hands over it, avoiding eye contact.

“I don’t know how to explain something that even I don’t quite understand, Masaomi”.

“Aren’t you thinking about your life? About your future?”

“No”, she said, dryly, and then she stared directly at him. “You told me one day that it was okay to not know the answer to everything”.

“This is different”.

“How come?”

“It’s just is!”

“So, another adult telling me what to do with my life?”

“Wow”, joined another voice. The blond kid had opened the door but went unnoticed by the pair. “Please ignore me, I just came to get a robe”.

Yukine crossed the room, hanging a plastic bag on his forearm, took a robe down from a hook on the bathroom door and set his way out. Masaomi stepped out before him.

“Think about the consequences of all this, Hiyori.”

“I’m sorry if mom didn’t let you follow your own dreams, brother, but I want to make my own choices freely, and everyone treats me as if I wasn’t able to do so”.

He stood there, frozen and speechless, and after a few seconds he left the room slamming the door closed. Yukine approached the girl, lightly touching her bent back.

“You okay?”

“I’m very sorry about this, Yukine-kun”, she said with a string of voice.

“Don’t worry. I’m glad I came at the right moment”.

“Thank you”, she replied, granting him a sad smile. “Where’s Yato?”

“Outside, at the garden. I think he’s listening his voice messages”, the boy answered, pointing outside through the window with his chin. “He just got back his phone line. Here”, he said, and gave her the plastic bag. It contained several plastic bottles. He also gave her the robe. “It’s kinda cold outside”, Yukine suggested, while leaving the room.

“W—where are you going?” Hiyori asked, nervous.

“Suzu said he wanted to go to the mall. We’re playing videogames”.

“Yukine-kun! W—wait!”

 

--------------------------------------

“Yato…”

Beep.

“…I’m not asking you to call me when you hear this anymore, but… You should at least try to get in touch with Yukine. Or Kofuku. They both love you very much...”

Beep.

“…It’s funny to think this has become soothing, somehow…”

Beep.

“Fujisaki Kouto…”

Yato snapped close his old cellphone --red, flip-phone style, with stickers hiding bumps and scratches, hauled from some dark corner in Kofuku’s home. His fairly new smartphone had disappeared. In fact, his phone line had a cancellation order, mysteriously signed by his own handwriting, and by sheer luck of some administrative failure at the time of filing a complaint through Yukine’s line with a confused employee, Yato had been able to recover his old cellphone number, along with the messages in his clogged answering machine.

There were messages from Yukine, always starting with a creative arrange of curses.

There were several others from credit card services, offering one to his name. A name he could barely recognize.

Some others were from Kofuku, painfully drunk –which he blamed upon himself, partially. She called complaining about his absence from Daikoku’s old phone line, the one from the house in the park.

Most of them, however, gave him the impression of looking to the sky on a bright day. They were Hiyori’s. Dazzled, he kept playing them on and on. The name Fujisaki Kouto was none of a surprise, but he was still enraged. With that scum. With himself. With the world. With Hiyori for staying enoughly close to become a collateral damage. With himself for not paying enough attention to protect her. He crossed his arms, and felt the pressure of his hand against the crease of his elbow shrouded in bandages, a treatment to his needle-bruise-ridden arm.

He could see it clearly now, and he realized how big of an idiot he had been. He remembered the times she had talked about choir practice. All those times her professor had pop on the conversation. He wished he had asked his name earlier. In that case his disappearance may have been sooner. And even so, he might had lost everything he had still, same as now. However, the price was relatively low if it meant he had kept her safe.

Keep that dumb girl safe.

That girl that had become so…

“WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YUKINE?!” jumped Yato, by the touch of something ice cold against his cheek. He turned on the spot, still sitting on one of the garden’s wooden benches, and removed the plastic bag that blocked his sight. Again he felt dazzled by her smile, being unable to avoid his face stayed frozen in a completely stupid expression, blushing at the sight of that dumb Hiyori.

“You asked for cold drinks”, she said, simply, surrounding the bench and sitting close to him. On her hands she carried a robe that she began arranging with an almost obsessive precision.

“The… medicine… makes me thirsty…” explained Yato softly, while the girl took one of the robe’s sleeves and rolled it up between her hands, as if she was going to put a sweater to a small kid. “What are you doing?”

“It’s cold out here! You’re not gonna think it’s okay for you to be dressed with the hospital pajama, do you?” she said, as if she was stating the most obvious thing in the world, opening up the sleeve and offering it to him to put his arm inside. Yato felt his face burning.

“I can do it myself, Hiyori, jeez!”, he took the robe from the girl’s hands and put it on without hesitation. Consequently, she also began feeling nervousness boiling on her stomach, while he anxiously stirred the contents of the bag. She still couldn’t believe she was seeing him move on his own, awake, without the greenish tint on his skin from days ago, and generally clean.

“What are you looking for?” she tried to make her voice sound causal. Yato simply stared at her. They were no longer those bloodshot and cloudy eyes from the day she found him. This time she could feel again that paralyzing shade of blue. He watched him squint for a second, and then staring at her with a patiently demanding face.

“Please,  Hiyori”, he extended his palm almost below her nose.  “Yukine would never forget my cigarettes.”

“I have no idea what are you talking about, Yukine gave me the bag and ran to see Suzuha”, she claimed, with the best innocent face she could find.

“You wouldn’t fool Patrick Star, Hiyori, and Patrick is really stupid”, he said, moving his hand up and down softly. “You’re insulting me”.

Clicking her tongue, the girl handed a close package of cigarettes and a lighter she took out from her skirt’s pockets.

Yato took the box and hit it several times against the bench’s edge, shaking it.

“Are you aware that you’re in a hospital? “ Hiyori deliberately stressed the last word, while Yato opened the package and pulled out one of the small paper tubes. He lighted it, and then answered puffing out a mouthful of smoke.

“There’s people here addicted to worse things. Tobacco is the smallest of our problems”.

Hiyori stared at her feet, remembering the thick file from before.

“Why don’t you quit?” she dared to ask. Yato let out a wheezy chuckle and once again he took his time to answer. There was it again. His smell.

“To people like you, the answer is just that simple, ‘just quit’”. Yato stared at the sky. A blank in the gray roofing of the clouds opened up, revealing some clean blue bits. “You’ve never been in this situation, and for you the world is only black and white. You do something or you don’t. Either you’re in or you’re not. You stay or you go”. He searched her eyes with his gaze. Hiyori felt her shoulder touching the guy’s arm. “Reality isn’t that easy”.

That smell.

“I don’t get what stops you”. She said, with the tiniest voice. The perk of being sitting down was that her trembling knees weren’t noticeable. She gulped and stared away, only to end up posing her eyes upon Yato’s thin and fragile lips, who took his cigarette to his mouth and puffed out some smoke in a white cloud, having the politeness of letting it out through the opposite corner of his mouth to avoid smoking out her face. Maybe it was the cold weather, but Yato reproached himself having his arm pressed against the girl’s shoulder. Or was it backwards? That annoying sensation of sweat on his palms was making him really nervous. Or was it backwards?

“I’m too coward to quit”. His voice had changed. Hiyori looked swiftly into his eyes. That crystal-clear stare engulfed her whole. Yato’s face took her entirely by surprise. He was heavy-lidded staring at her. Not staring, admiring her. He went from her eyes to her lips. Her nape’s tiny hairs began rising, and the entire atmosphere surrounding them shifted into something almost tangible. She needed to do something, or she was going to blow out from the tension.

“Maybe you just need a bit of help”.

“I don’t wanna talk ‘bout it now”.

The mood shifted again. Yato leaned his back against the bench’s backrest and stared at the garden in front of them. A sleeping cherry tree nodded, moving in the midst of a soft breeze.

That breeze brought his perfume to her nose again.

Suddenly, Hiyori realized she was very upset.

“You don’t want to talk about it now?” She clenched her fists, realizing she had been wrinkling her skirt all that time inside them. “So when are you going to?”

Yato stared at her, astonished. The voice she had used was seeping more rage than he had ever heard from her.

Hiyori was that sort of peculiar people who cries when they get mad.

And that was something that embarrassed her to no end.

“I think you owe us a good explanation, Yato!” she was almost screaming, between sobs. “We spend over one month searching for you and when I finally get the chance to talk to you, you tell me you don’t want to talk about it? Do you realize your attitude?”

“H-hey! Calm down! I just…” Hiyori stood up and began walking very fast through the gravel path across the yard, pretending to enter the building before allowing Yato to excuse himself somehow. “I didn’t say I wasn’t gonna explain anything! Hey, d’ya listen?! Hiyori!”

------------------------------------

The bathroom door closed with a loud bang after her.

-Dumbass!

What on earth was wrong with him? A few minutes before he had been the same as always, but the sudden change of mood had proven too much for her. She couldn’t stand it. She couldn’t stand that one second he looked at her as if she meant the world to him and the next he refused to give her even an explanation. One that, besides, was necessary. That was why she was so upset, right?

-I’m an idiot.

She let the water from the tap to run until it got slightly warm and she splashed her face.  Internally, she felt thankful for her lack of habit towards makeup, since she didn’t need to touch it up after washing her face. Then she remembered Viina, with the makeup melting due to sweat, hanging from Yato’s neck on the Lion’s Nest picture.

-You’re an asshole! –She yelled against her hands, and searched for a papel towel to dry her face. She stared at her reflection, sighing.

What happened to her? Wasn’t she happy to see him again? Of course she was, and much indeed. She was happy to finally see him well, thanks to her brother and the other doctors. She remembered Masaomi accusing her of behaving like a perfect wife. Yato’s wife. That idiot with a perfect nose and sharp cheekbones and striking smile and sparkly eyes and…

She tossed the ball of paper to the trashcan with a little more violence than needed. Her pulse was fast and her cheeks were red. Scrubbing her face with a paper towel wasn’t good, she thought. Ignoring the beat of her own heart, she stepped out to the hallway.

On her way to the elevator, she realized that when Yato wasn’t there, that rollercoaster of emotions wasn’t either. Everything was constantly and steadily spiraling downwards. Now he was here again with her (with them, she quickly corrected), suddenly everything seemed to be exactly where it belong, still with a few missing pieces though, but basically everything felt as if it was coming back to life, defrosting.

It wasn’t definitely of any help that he didn’t want to talk about what had happened or why he had disappeared like that. A new wave of anger spread all around her being and she stomped outside the building, set on going back home.

When the automatic doors of the main entrance closed behind her, she turned back around, red as a tomato.

She had forgotten her school bag on Yato’s room.

Trying to keep her cool, she sighed again pushing the elevator’s button down.

 

----------------------

 

Against all the girl’s prayers, Yato was sitting on his bed, feet covered with a blanket, looking out the window. He looked at her intently, following her with his eyes, but not saying a word. She stuttered shyly.

“I-it’s nothing! I—just… forgot my school… bag” Her voice had started loud and high-pitched, and lowered as his eyebrows raised as a response to her nervousness.

“You don’t really need to explain anything, Hiyori. I came because a nurse told me my doctor was around and I want to thank him”, he sipped his canned drink. “I asked her to call him and I came straight up here”.

“Oh”, Hiyori muttered, stupidly. After two seconds of deliberation, she said: “Then I’ll stay for a bit”.

“Oh?” asked Yato, doubtfully. “You want to thank him as well?”

“Not… exactly”.

“I’ll behave, I promise”.

“It’s not that! Just…” She hesitated during a split second. “Just trust me”.

Bewildered, Yato furrowed his brows and immediately the door opened. A nurse stepped in and let the door free, waiting respectfully.

“The doctor will see you now”, she said, while Masaomi stepped in. The first thing he saw was Hiyori, standing at the side of the bed, and told her a few dry words.

“You better go home now, Hiyori, grandma will worry if you come back late again”.

“But…” his sister started. She turned dubiously to see Yato, only to discover his jaw was almost dislocated from his face and his eyes wide open. He almost seemed about to jump out the bed to have a better look.

“Se-SERA KAII?!”

“Wha—Yato?”

Masaomi let out an annoyed huff.

“Go home, Hiyori”.

Yato stared at her with the same stern surprise expression. He pointed at Masaomi.

“D’you know him?!”

“How did you just called him?”

“Sera Kaii! Hiyori, this guy’s…!”

“Hiyori! Go home!” punctuated her brother.

“You know each other?” Hiyori exclaimed, looking at both of them alternatively. Masaomi put out a defensive posture, raising both his palms.

“You’re not going to believe what this man tells you! He’s a drug addict!”

“Knock, knock!” Sung Kofuku from out the room, joined by Daikoku. They both froze on the spot.

“Bad timing, I guess”, suggested Daikoku.

Yato kept the same baffled expression from before. He couldn’t articulate anything coherent.

“Kofuku!” he gestured his arms toward him, energetically, “Sera Kaii!”

“Humm…” she put a tiny finger to her chin, thoughtfully crossing his arms. “The guy that’s always hunting for talents at clubs?”

“Brother?” Hiyori stared at him, disbelieving.

“Okay, that’s enough!” ordered Masaomi. “You may go, nurse”. The nurse stepped out silently. Hiyori’s brother walked around the bed until reaching Yato’s side. “I remind you his state is still delicate and he needs to remain at rest. He’s obviously still confused”. He began sticking the sensors to Yato’s skin, who let him do, startled.

“But… Sera… you… at the phone… before…”

Masaomi put his palm on his face and pushed him backwards, pressing Yato against his bed.

“At-Rest!”

“Brother!”

“H-hey! What’s going on here?” jumped Yukine, entering the room with Suzuha.

“Yukine-kun! I thought you were going to the game center…” Hiyori claimed, surprised.

“Ah, Suzu wanted to say hello to Yato as soon as I told him he was awake”.

“Hi, everyone!” Suzuha smiled, like a sunbeam.

“Wait a sec!” spat Yukine, again. “What’s going on, doc?”

Masaomi rubbed his hands vigorously against his face.

“Is anyone else going to join us?” He asked, casually, with a tired voice.

“You better tell me what’s happening here, Sera!” Yato insisted, straitening up on his bed.

“Oh?” Said Hiyori, crossing her arms. “Did I just heard Yato asking for an explanation?”

“I think you both need to explain something at some point, don’t cha’ think?” Daikoku raised his voice, in that peculiar tone that allowed no replies.

“Explain what, Daikoku-san?” asked a jovial voice from behind them. Turning around, Daikoku let Kazuma in, still giving him a curious stare, and Viina, who stepped inside with grace, removing her sweatshirt hoodie and her shades.

“Well, well. Seems the rat is way less dead than we thought, huh?” she spat when she saw Yato sitting straight on his bed.

“The fuck you’re doing here?!” Yato yelled, almost kicking the flower jar mid phrase. Suzuha grabbed it before it knocked down.

“No one saw me getting here, if that’s what you’re worried about”.

“Excuse me”, called a calm, but authoritarian voice from outside the room. Daikoku turned around again to reveal a nurse standing behind him. “Other patients need some quiet time. We would like to ask you to lower your voice”.

She walked away after everyone had apologized quietly.

“See what you did?” Yato scolded Viina with a harsh whisper.

“That’s the way you welcome your visitors, you goddamn ungrateful ass?”

“Did you got an invitation you pervy hag?”

“Jeez. I think we need to limit the visitor passes in this hospital…” Said Iki Masaomi, leaning his forehead against the window.

Chapter Text

Track 20.

 

Living on a Prayer - Bon Jovi

 

 

 

A lonely crow cawed and landed in the middle of a cobbled path flanked by tall pine trees. After a careful examination of a nearby trash can, he flew again, protesting by the firm strides of the blond guy, walking towards a little pond, where turtles were lazily swimming. He found the girl squatted beside one of the big stones by the edge, covered in a gray wool coat and her usual pink scarf.

“Turtles will be OK, Hiyori.” He spat, sinking his hands in the pockets of his green parka. “But you’ll catch a cold again if you stay out here”, he turned his face to the sky. “The weather report says it’s going to snow.”

“Thank you, Yukine-kun. I’m okay.” She spoke, with a dreamy voice that convinced the boy it was quite the contrary.

“You’re still thinking about that?” Hiyori didn’t answer. Yukine sighed and with small steps, he stood beside her. “I’m sure he’ll understand if you don’t come to visit for some time. He seems to think if you never come back that’ll be understandable as well.”

“That isn’t…!” She jumped, staring at him from below with wide eyes. “It’s just…” She stared back at the turtles again, and carried on, thoughtfully. “This is still a lot to process.”

“You’re still not ready to face him, right?”

“We’re talking about Yato here, I wonder if I will be ready for anything about him.”

Yukine let out a sarcastic huff, and muttered: “You have no idea…”

“Pardon me?” Hiyori asked.

“Nothing,” the boy said and turned around. “Don’t stay that long outside, at least go to the lobby.”

He left her immediately, alone with her thoughts.

A turtle looked back at her questioning with the stare from the surface of the pond.

Hiyori knew she was being absurd behaving like that, and even so… it was even worse because she was sure no one would actually reproach her anything. Not even Yato. However, she couldn’t help but hate the fact of not being able to remain more stoic and stay, just where Yato needed her the most, and needed her strong.

She couldn’t avoid obeying the impulse of raising her hands to her ears when she remembered his words, as vivid as the time he told them, almost deafening her.

“My name is… Fujisaki Yaboku.”


 

 

Yato swiftly stared at everyone in his room, sitting on his hospital bed, and dropped his head.

“I want to ask everyone for an apology. It’s actually two of them, but the first one is that I want you to forgive me for disappearing for so long and so suddenly without having any chance of letting you know.”

The room stayed silent. Everyone could listen to Yato take a deep breath before continuing.

“In order to explain what actually happened to me that day, I need to go back many years in the past. And that’s where my other apology comes in.”

“And that’s because…?” Asked Daikoku.

“I’ve been lying to y’all.” He answered, straight away.

“About what, Yatty-chan?”  Kofuku intervened, worried. “I’ve known you since forever!”

“About everything. I’m truly sorry”. Yato bowed in front of everyone. Hiyori had to divert her eyes because of the deep sting she felt in her chest because of that statement and seeing him humiliating himself that way.

“The hell are you talking about, dude?” Yukine laughed, trying to lighten the mood. Yato straightened on his bed again.

“My dad… no, my grandfather was, in the beginning, a modest Osaka moneylender. After hard work and earning the trust of his customers, he finally became a powerful banker. When he died, my father ran the business and took it to everything my grandfather would have loathed. Of course, that old geezer got to amass a great fortune because he grew learning from grandpa, but he hadn’t his same spirit nor his same heart.

“Dad was hungry for more, and that made him put the business on a stake by involving with the mob. He didn’t lose a penny, but people began hearing things, and he eventually lost reputation. When the Bubble era ended, the bank stopped generating any income, and he decided to sell it all since at the end of the day it was just an empty shell that served as a cover for way less… legal activities.

“I was very small back then. Dad would provide and we never lacked anything, but my mother couldn’t stand being known as the wife of a mobster that besides held a lot of affairs and she decided to… stop being there”, Yato’s bitter laugh took everyone by surprise. “She couldn’t even wait for me to not be at home to see it… she just didn’t appear for dinner. If there hadn’t been any time before when her chronic depression made her stay locked in her bedroom for several days, we would have suspected something. The house staff called the police only when the house began smelling.”

“Yatty-chan”, Kofuku sniffled, quietly weeping. Hiyori let her weight sink into the visits couch, and Suzuha let the seat free for her to use. Suddenly her knees stopped holding her up.

“The main house was the one my father used to greet his partners and his women. I was taken to a different house. Sometimes he would visit, and at some point, he brought a kid a couple of years younger than me, the consequence of some of his affairs. Then he brought a girl. The three of us grew in a big house meant only for us. The only rule was not making father angry. The old man was very scary when he was pissed, and if he was outraged the beatings really hurt.

“Father could have anything he wanted. He was, without exaggerating, the owner of the city. He had bought off the police. The judges. Everyone who was useful to him in some way or another ended up being contacted, weighed and bought off like fish at the market.”

Hiyori could see Yukine clenching his fists, trembling. He surely wanted to say something but was stopping himself. She could only wish for Yato’s story to end faster. Kazuma, Viina, and everyone else listened, but stared at anything but Yato, uncomfortable.

“My siblings adored the old man. I can understand them,” he bitterly laughed again, “He never laid a finger on them.” Yato pulled one of the robe’s shoulders and revealed one specific tattoo: an eye on black ink, surrounded by three crows.

“I got my first tattoo at the age of thirteen. But I covered it up with something else when I got older.” He pointed at the pupil of the schematic eye. “Dad put down a cigarette on my arm from falling off one of the yard’s trees and ending at the hospital with a broken elbow. My siblings didn’t see any of those things. I was the legitimate son, the firstborn, and who, at the end of the day, my dad planned to leave in charge of everything once he died.

“That fucking bastard took me off to my first ‘hunting trip’ when I was fourteen. It was a skirmish between the faction of a snitch who promised the head of several of the leaders and the main faction. Unfortunately, I came out alive of that one, and father decided to turn me into one of his soldiers.

“That worked out for a while. And I have to admit back then I thought the same way my siblings did. After that…” Yato stared at his palms open over his lap, then he rubbed his face with violence. He huffed and kept on talking. “After that, I opened my eyes. I escaped when I was sixteen. I changed my name and lived in relative peace while I thought nobody knew where I was.”

“They found you…” suggested Kazuma.

“No, Kazu.” Yato denied with his head. “Everything that happened until now is because it’s been allowed to. If  I was a regular dude, d’ya think it would’ve been that easy to change schools and hide my name? would’ve been that simple to live alone in a place I barely knew? Anything I did after that would have clearly ridden me to a teenage reformatory, and finally jail, but that never happened. Father always knew everything about me.

“But…” Hiyori didn’t know where she had found her voice. “That isn’t… I mean we brought you back with us.”

“I’m deeply thankful for what you guys did for me”, said Yato, roundly. “However, I’m sorry, Hiyori. You guys didn’t rescue me. You were allowed to take me with you.”

Yukine flinched.

“That girl…!”

“She’s my younger sister. Her name’s Nora.”

Hiyori stood up the couch as if something had stung her.

“Then… Your brother…”

Yato didn’t dare to look her in the eye and lowered his head even more.

“My brother is just two years younger than me, and he graduated from Osaka’s Music Academy recently.” Hiyori held her breath. She wasn’t staring at him either. “His name is Kouto”.

“Yato…” the name came out of Hiyori’s lips like a whimper. They finally stared at each other. Yato bit into his lower lips before continuing.

“My name is… Fujisaki Yaboku.”

Time stopped right there. A swift tear ran down one of Hiyori’s cheeks when she stared into the shame-filled eyes of Yato. She immediately understood. Yato loathed himself whenever he called his other name. He hated his background and wanted to run and wash with the purest spring water to get rid of everything. But it wasn’t possible. Yato was Yato because he had gone through that. Even if he hated it. Even if he didn’t understand it. Even if Hiyori was terrified about it. Yato was Yato because of all of it.

She wanted to say that to him, but her lips never moved.

Daikoku’s voice brought them back to reality.

“S’you’re trying to say that the day you didn’t appear they actually kidnapped you or somethin’ like that?”

“Nora and Kouto found me getting out of my flat.” He stared directly at Hiyori’s brother. “I was talking with you, Sera.”

“That day?” Masaomi was clearly baffled. Hiyori raised her head. The mood didn’t allow her to do much more. Looking at her, Masaomi knew she was waiting for him to talk as well. The look on her sister’s eyes broke his heart. “I’m really sorry, Hiyori. I’ve actually been Yato’s acquaintance for a considerable amount of time.”

“And you choose to tell me just now?” the girl felt she was answering on automatic. She was worn out.

“What did you expect me to say? “I’m a band broker by hobby and I know the best bands of this generation”? “I went drinking with the trendiest rock star last week”? Please!”

Hiyori was left speechless. Her brother sounded just like her.

“I didn’t know you of all people were stuck in any of this. You can imagine that father and mother don’t’ know anything about this. I guess your situation is the same.” Since she didn’t answer, Masaomi kept talking. “I started along with College, precisely right after returning from America. Being away allowed me to do things I wouldn’t have dared to do while living in the same city as my parents. Once back here it was way too easy to connect with people from that world. I might add, not everyone has me in their best mind.” He stifled a laugh. “Tenjin is a really square person.”

“He surely told you not to waste your studies.” Kofuku laughed.

“Did he say something to you?” huffed Masaomi.

“Tenjin’s like that.” She concluded. “Your sister got some of it as well.”

They both stared at each other for a second.

“How deep you really are in this situation, Hiyori?”

The girl tensed upon the impulse of staring at Yato for him to answer instead.

“I’m SHRINE’s new singer.”

Masaomi now stared at Yato with the mouth wide open.

“She’s--?”

“The person I talked to you about.”

“I can’t believe you got my sister involved in all of this! She’s sixteen years old!”

Hiyori was about to burst.

“I told…!”

“I actually agree with you, Sera, and I do apologize. You as well, Hiyori, forgive me. Yukine, everyone. I really think I had no idea what I was doing.”

“W… what are you talking about, you jerk?” replied Yukine.

“Kouto and Nora came for me that day. I don’t know where all the rest of the people came out from. The only thing I know is that somehow I ended on the ground and everything hurt. They had the advantage of my record as an addict and they made me get rid of everything. I lost the flat, the car, the master record and everything I owned. My account is empty. We don’t have a label and at this point, not one of them would want to work with a band that doesn’t make it to the deadline. I’m really sorry.  I destroyed SHRINE.”

“Let’s go, Kazu.” Said Viina, standing up abruptly. Kazuma followed suit and simply bowed at everyone before stepping out. Yato could only look at them through the corner of his eye.

“Yato.” Called Daikoku. “Most of the time you’ve heard me saying I think you’re a good for nothing. But right now you’re about to prove my words.”

“I’m sorry.” He answered, without looking up. “I don’t know what else to do. By all accounts, you guys could leave me here rotting. And I would let you.”

“That’s it?” Said Yukine, pacing forward. “You’re just gonna let everything slip through your fingers?

“Yuki… I…”

He didn’t finish speaking. Hiyori stood right next to him. Yato had no other option but to look up. The girl’s face was traced with tears.

“Are you giving up?” she asked, using the last fragments of voice she could muster. Yato stared at her with his eyes peeled and his eyebrows arched. “You want us to leave you here? Are you serious?”

“Then what the hell do you suggest I do, Hiyori?”

“Anything but this! We can still figure this out somehow!”

“Stop insisting, you brat!” Yato spat, injecting venom to his words. “This isn’t like your after-school lessons! This is the real world! You can’t solve this by bullshitting your way out with the teachers! I don’t understand how is possible you can’t understand that it would be better if you never came into my life!”

The sound of skin against skin ripped its way into the room. The red mark of Hiyori’s hand against his cheek began stinging almost immediately. It hurt again when he saw her crossing the hospital grounds hurriedly.


 

Staring at the turtles in the pond, Hiyori shivered, in part due to the cold, and also for having left in such a way that day.

Lately, Yukine was the only one who still kept in touch with her. She was very touched that the boy that at first was doubting in letting her into their lives now went above and beyond to keep her informed about anything new. Hiyori kept showing her interest and kept being available to him, and meanwhile, the fact of still being waiting for some message from Yato kept biting her pride.

She hadn’t been contacted by her brother by any mean, either, and her cheeks puffed on annoyance upon remembering. Calmly she patted her uniform’s skirt and slowly entered the building.  She found him near Yato’s bedroom, on the waiting isle, without his doctor attire. They sat next to each other, silently. Masaomi spoke first.

“Don’t get angry at me for wanting the best for your future.”

“What a conversation starter”, the girl sighed. “I’ve been well, brother, thank you, how you’ve been?”

“I didn’t think you would be in the mood for small talk” The eldest laughed, and fixed his eyeglasses.

“Not really. But your communication skills are brutal.”

An uncomfortable silence dawned upon them. Hiyori stared at her polished black shoes.

“You sound exactly like Tenjin.” She said, with a really small voice. Masaomi stared at her with eyes wide open before answering.

“Oh, you can’t be serious!” when he received a glacial stare from his sister, he continued. “I don’t understand how you can keep choosing to still be a part of this after everything you heard. Even I am thinking about pulling away, and I have nothing to do with it!”

“It’s a rock band, Masaomi, not a gang fight.”

“I don’t know what you think, sister, but Yato hid his story for a reason.”

“And what about you?” she spat, acutely. “What reason you got for hiding your story?”

The eldest sank his back on the couch, directing a defeated stare at her.

“Do you think… mom and dad… ever…” he began, hesitating. “Ever questioned themselves about what they were doing with their lives?”

“Well, you don’t exactly have two kids on accident.”

“I’m not talking about that! I mean…” Her brother buried his head between his hands and twirled his fingers on the short tresses of brown hair. “Would dad had wanted to become a doctor by his own choice or because grandpa was also a doctor?”

Hiyori looked away and also sank on the couch, deflated.

“To be honest, I don’t know. Not even I have a clear idea of what I’m supposed to do with my life.”

“You should start thinking about it. High school doesn’t last forever.”

“I’m not taking any career advice from someone who does what he’s passionate about while hiding.”

“And what option you suppose I had?” he retorted, straightening up and crossing his arms over his chest. “Is easy for you to say what do you want or not…”

“With mom breathing down my neck? Are you kidding me?” she jumped, cutting him off. “Maybe they don’t shove that career path down my throat, but they definitely need me to maintain the looks of a high society lady.”

“Do you think they would’ve allowed me to live with grandma?”

“And what was all that living abroad about? Do you think they would’ve given me that option?”

“You still have it.” He cut her off this time. “ If you choose right, you can move to Timbuktu and never come back.”

Hiyori remained silent again for a few moments.

“Is this what it’s all about?” she muttered, sadly. “Do we have no other aspiration than getting away from our parents?”

“We’re doing an amazing job, don’t we?”

“We’re trash.”

Hiyori lost herself for a few minutes in between the cream colored veins from the clinic’s floor. His brother shifted, uncomfortable, and he finally stood up, causing her to shoot up a confused glare towards him.

“My turn will start soon, so I’ll go change.” He took a few steps, turning his back on her, but he stopped and spoke over his shoulder. “He asked about you several times.”

“I don’t know if you’re his friend or you actually hate him.”

“I could say the exact same thing about you,” Masaomi replied and left her to herself.

Hiyori swallowed before standing up. She silently tip-toed towards Yato’s room and put her hand on the doorknob. She stopped there, not daring to open it.

Hiyori had opened a lot of doors inside her before. She liked singing with SHRINE, drinking tea while staring at the rain slowly pouring down the window and martial arts movies. She hated the feeling of wet hair over her face, touching the floor with her naked feet on the mornings and Fujisaki Kouto.  However, about Yato, she couldn’t bring herself to open the door, just like now, froze with the hand on the doorknob and with her guts twisted into a tight ribbon. She let go when she remembered Yato’s humiliated look while telling his story. She turned around on her heels and hurriedly entered the bathroom to lock herself up in one of the stalls. The strong odor of chlorine assaulted her nose and seemed to remember how stupid her behavior was.

“Beyond that door, it’s only Yato,” she thought. “The same obnoxious and moody Yato I’ve known. The same as always.” Just like Masaomi did, she buried her face on her hands and twisted her fingers around her tresses. “The same…”

 


 

With reddened cheeks caused by wiping her face too hard with a paper towel, she stepped, resolute, into the hallway, walking with the most confident strides she could get. She put the hand on the doorknob again and allowed herself to have just a second of a doubt before entering the room as if it was hers.

It was empty.

Hiyori leaned against the door frame, letting out a relieved sigh. She thought it would be better to wait for him with her back to the door, staring through the window. She shifted, preparing to take the first step.

“Hiyori?”

With her breath forcefully retreating into her lungs, she turned around quickly and found Yato’s blue stare right behind her, so close that she had to give several steps back into the room and tripping with the little table at the foot of the bed. She was able to stop herself from falling by clinging to both things. Yato hurried to help her stand, while she searched for words behind the deafening drumming of her own heart.

“I… one day… you’ll g… you almost kill me!”

“I’m sorry!” he offered while holding her forearm to weigh her down and help her stabilize. Hiyori noticed he had enough strength to be able to wander around the clinic and enough confidence in it to pick her up when at the end of his apology his voice trembled a bit by trying to suppress a small laugh. “I didn’t think you were spacing out.”

Hiyori forgot again what she wanted to say for a second that she used to stand up straight and pat her clothes into place, and meanwhile, a cold silence fell between them. Hiyori raised her eyes and found again his clear stare, that Yato couldn’t keep and looked away, raising a shaky hand to the nape of his neck.

“The same as always…” she thought, and her lungs filled with air almost on their own.

“You scared us to death back then.”

“Look, I don’t think I can apologize enough for that, but I’ll keep on trying anyway; I’m really sorry.”

She thought about it for a few seconds.

“Actually that’s really not an issue anymore”, she locked her fingers together behind her back and walked towards the window. “How do you feel?” She asked without looking back.

“To be completely honest, I feel like shit. But I’m doing better.”

His nearby smell let her know he had drawn closer. She could feel his body leaning with his back against the glass with the corner of her left eye. Both his hands were on the windowsill. She kept looking out, but without really seeing anything at all. His sudden closeness deemed her senses completely numb. For some reason, her body felt slightly lethargic, but something in it screamed due to the magnetism she felt coming from the guy standing lazily beside her. It screamed because she needed to confirm he was actually there. Drooping her head, she could only mutter faintly.

“I’m so glad you’re ok.”

Without thinking about it, not really grasping what was going on, she closed the short distance between them and leaned her head softly against his shoulder, not straying her eyes from what laid outside. Yato tensed a bit for the surprise, but he didn’t move an inch. His scent reached Hiyori’s nose in an almost aggressive way, and when she felt the body heat radiating from Yato transferring to her head, she was attacked by a blush almost equally as aggressive.

Without thinking about it, not really knowing why, suddenly all the stress she had kept locked somewhere during their time apart seemed to pour through the cracks, scorching her inside out. Frustration, anger, sadness and worry, everything hit her right there, and unwillingly, she shook under the weight of a sob.

Yato reacted right away, removing his arm from her warm touch, moving that hand to the head of the girl –how small she felt then, being that close –pressing her against his chest, his unwavering stare still on the room around them.

“I’m sorry.”

He could only say that much. I’m sorry, forgive me, I didn’t mean to worry you like this, and many other words crossed his mind, knowing well that uttering them would be pointless. After another sob, Hiyori’s arms surrounded Yato’s torso, who allowed himself a faint sigh after breathing in the scent of her hair.

“You’re such an idiot.”

Hiyori’s tiny voice got a small laugh off of him, that drummed against his chest, low-pitched, making her feel the vibration on her face, her throat, her stomach.

They separated for a brief moment. A really short instant that lasted forever when they both searched each other’s eyes. They could get closer for a millimeter before someone knocked twice, softly, on the door frame.

They ripped their arms from each other so quickly that it could have hurt. A nurse was at the doorway.

“Sorry, Mr. Fujis…”

“Call me Yato, please.”

“Mr. Yato, you have a visitor.”

She quickly left, leaving other three figures standing on the doorway.

“W-what the HELL is this prick doing here?!” Pointed Yato. Take was standing there, bearing the face of someone eating something really bitter, besides Viina, who rolled her eyes and stepped into the room, ignoring the loudness of his retorts. “You want to ruin my day, do you, you fucking psycho?!”

“Shut up for once in your life and listen to something that could potentially save your ass, you goddamn fucktard!”

“What are you talking about? And why the hell are you still here?” spat Yato at Viina and then Take. “Who let you in?”

“I think you have no idea how gladly I would proceed like I should with you, you big ass piece of turd.”

“Who you’re calling turd, you piece of shit?”

“Shut up and listen what he has to say!” growled Viina, losing two extra minutes of patience.

“Yato!” called Hiyori, after wiping her eyes with her fingers. Yato froze instantly. “Please, listen to him.”

He looked away and crossed his arms.

“Ok, but make it quick would ya?”

“I agree.” Take answered, shifting his police uniform necktie. “I owe Viina a favor, but I could actually lose my job if we don’t manage this carefully, so listen carefully.” Yato stood silent, and Take took it as a signal to proceed. “This clinic has a very tight privacy policy, but someone let them had your entire file. Every piece of your record is right now in the hands of the board of directors. Iki-sensei called us precisely about this, he wanted to assess the management of a delicate patient, beyond the medical reasons.”

“Your police record, Yato.” Viina asserted. “Do you realize how grave is this situation? If anybody finds out who you are, what are you into and why are you here, you could go to jail as soon as they release you.**”

“I know.” Answered Yato, faintly. “I’m aware of what can happen from now on. This is what I get for rebelling against my family.”

“Well, it doesn’t need to be that way because I got a plan.” Viina dropped, casually.

“And what would you g…?”

“Shut up! I want you to know someone.” Viina cut Yato before he could start rambling and waved in the direction of the third person, who stepped in and offered him a hand gloved in black leather. The short hair, the square chin, and the muscular build made him resemble, almost comically, to a gorilla. A suited gorilla. With a very expensive suit. Yato received his hand, startled.

“My name is Kunimi. I came on behalf of my boss.” After a handshake, he offered a white card with an impeccably laminated name. “I do hope the surname Ebisu is familiar to you, sir.”

 


 

 

 

* The bubble era is something that has been mentioned before in the show and manga. It is the name they give to an economic prosperity period in Japan around the 80's decade up until mid 90's. After that growth period inflation got so high that the economy began falling. Nowadays Japan is still trying to recover from that period taking market measures to help their coin get into a competitive value. 

 

** Drug issues: Funnily enough I had no idea about this throughout the planning of my plot. While living abroad in Japan I got several legal insights a bit more precise related to drug use and regulation within the country. Basically, in Japan, any drug use and possession is forbidden. Marihuana is not legal. Not even in "personal consumption" amounts. There are no "recreational drugs". And no, police is definitely not as slack and easygoing as I portrayed here, but this is fiction and I'm going with a bit of "creative freedom", mainly because if I didn't, Yato would be completely screwed, and also because I couldn't figure out more since going a bit further about the "normal gaijin questions" provoked a bit of a stir between my japanese aquaintances. Please when in Japan don't purchase or consume any kind of drug or you'll get into trouble. Serious trouble. The "I'm a foreigner and I didn't know that" is not a valid card to play. Just don't.