He kicks up sand on the beach. Mother and father watch from under the parasol, their only defense from the sultry heat. By the waves he now stands, letting the break of the ocean submerge him underwater. He soon rises, much to the relief of his parents, who rush to his side in an assault of hugs and kisses. Like any boy his age, embarrassment never strays too far away, cheeks flushing red. The other kids snicker at him. Father and mother pick up their son, hair covered by sand, and walk past the din of laughing children, hand in hand.
He tends to a garden. He has a little help from his new friends, a brother and sister who recently moved in. Nothing much is the little plot of land, but it does his mind well. The adults, who admire his penchant for creativity, offer advice on how to cultivate different fruits and vegetables on the soil. He finally has enough to make dinner. The sister and brother gather the plants on his command and they steal to the kitchen to cook. None of them can read, which poses a challenge or two, but they have all the time in the world to learn. Nothing can stop youth.
He goes to school. The brother has since lost his sister. Now they are brother and brother. A girl with red hair approaches them. She talks often of the mind, power, and ability. The latter is her go-to word for everything. A gruff-looking cop stands in the background, taking infrequent drags from a cigarette. After she finishes, his brother asks her a few questions while he remains silent, looking about the room. The girl seems to be part of something far bigger than anything he can wrap his head around. A few days later, he meets Castor.
He fights. Tears, addiction, trauma—he is a world-class athlete in the sport of battling demons. Very little escapes his leer, the penetrative gaze that scorches red-hot magma through that which gets in his way. He may not seem like much on the surface: five foot ten, eyes of steel, but beneath the faux-menacing visage is a resilient, and sometimes foolhardy man. One more to go, his teammates shout. Because he is back in the fight, he goes for the finishing blow. They stand in awe. Like the boy he used to be, he does his best to conceal the blush spilling over onto his face.
He watches the sky. Hoarse voices bray in the distance. He makes out whose they are, but anything beyond that is asking too much. They seem content on screaming his name, for whatever reason. Don’t call it that, he insists. The wry smile on his face tells them he is merely taking a break. No stranger to a comeback, he promises that his next return will be twice as good, if not better. For now, however, he needs a little space. The world has become too cramped for his likes. So he closes his eyes and goes for a stroll down the avenues of his past, reliving the frames of yesterday as though they were still happening…
You are exhausted, so you decide to rest.
She stumbled twice, shuddering at his words. “I-I’m afraid I don’t understand. You have done everything on your own. I did not assist you.” Words spoken consisted of genuine nervousness, with a hint of curiosity, a dash of surprise. A recipe she won’t forget.
He scoffed, trying to lessen the flush spreading all over his face. “I didn’t do shit. You’re really one of a kind.” Naturally, it failed.
Because there’s no where else to go but deeper in. “L-Let us not forget you did a fantastic attempt as well—!”
She exposed her back to him. Big mistake. “Couldn’t have done it without your support, ojou-sama.” With small steps, he began closing the gap between them.
"I will admit—it is rather strange to hear such things from you, Aragaki. You have my gratitude…” Although the blush never stopped.
“Hey, I’m just calling a spade a spade…” His mind was becoming fraught with warm, fuzzy static. “…ain’t nothing to it.” And it felt nice.
"I—ah. I appreciate your kind words…" Did he have to say it like that?
“I mean…it’s just that you’re really something else, Mitsuru.” He uttered her name with the consistency of gravel.
"Why, thank you. I would like to believe that I was capable of handling it."
“Well, you’re pretty deep and moist. Makes things easier for when we actually do it.”