the iron in my blood
is magnetized to you in such a way
that i'm sure that we must have met before
in another world.
another life.

.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.

Renaissance

.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.

The first time he meets her, she's shoving him out of the way of a motorcycle.

He feels a twinge of misplaced deja-vu deep in his chest as he hits the concrete, but her arm punches his breath out from in-between his shoulderblades before he can think too hard about it. She lands half on top of his back and half against the asphalt, and as she scrambles to her knees, Yato pushes himself up on his forearms. He wheezes a little as he rolls over to sit up, and catches a glance at his savior.

She doesn't look like the kind of person to shove a guy out of the street, but he tries not to base opinions on appearances.

He doesn't miss the way she tucks her left arm gingerly against her chest. Yato's about to open his mouth to apologize, but she beats him to the punch before he can, brown hair escaping her pink scarf as she shouts at him.

"Are you nuts?!" She flings her right arm, her good arm, out into the direction of the street. "That guy could have hit you!"

Yato pushes back the urge to scoff indignantly. So much for apologizing. "Not my fault he was going over eighty on a public street!I had the right of way anyway!"

She pushes herself to her feet, wobbling a little on adrenaline-weak ankles. He can tell she's got an era's worth of ferocity left in her, but he blinks and it's gone, leaving a brown eyed girl with windswept hair and a hurt shoulder. Her fingers tighten around the wrist of her other hand. "Whatever. Just look both ways next time."

As she turns her back on him, Yato numbly realizes how many people are stuck in place, observing the entire encounter at a safe distance. Their eyes follow her back across the street, and suddenly Yato is alone again, watching some girl gather her things and walk away from the mess he made. He's dusting his hands off on his pants when he looks back up, and their eyes meet one last time before she turns away again, taking long strides across the bus terminal.

He gathers his violin case and and trudges back to his apartment, wishing that for once, people would stop looking at him.

.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.

The next time he sees her, it's 10pm and he hates his life. Daikoku is hounding his ass over a snide remark he made at a customer, and the bell jingles cheerily from the front of the diner. Daikoku whirls away from him to greet the newcomer, and Yato moves to find Kofuku as she calls his name from the break-room.

A flash of brown and pink stops him in his tracks.

She's all smiles and bright eyes, a stark, strange contrast to the furious girl he'd seen a few days prior. Her right arm is in a sling, the white linen glaring at him from under her unbuttoned coat. Yato's heart drops. He had truly fucked her over, and the heavens were punishing him for it. Her eyes move to him, brown and searching, and Yato ducks behind the counter in the blink of an eye.

He hears her stutter her order, and he hopes desperately that she didn't recognize him. He doesn't move until he hears the bell jingle again, and by then his heart has stopped its wild thrumming in his chest. Kofuku kickstarts it again as she leans off of the edge of the counter, her face suddenly inches from his.

"Why are you hiding, Yatty?"

Yato narrowly avoids knocking his head against the cabinet as he scrambles away. "I can't be seen by her." He spits out, words tangling together in his mouth, and Kofuku doesn't hide her confusion.

"You mean Hiyori?" She asks innocently, and Yato rubs angrily at the back of his neck. She must have dislocated her shoulder or something when she was saving his ass. Just his luck, the only person to ever notice him beyond a few idle moments got struck with physical injury.

When he doesn't respond, Kofuku takes it as a sign to continue. "Hiyorin is super sweet, she was really late on her order today though. Usually she shows up before your shift and gets a piece of the coconut creme cake for her mother." Kofuku paused, tapping thoughtfully on her pink lips with a painted nail. "I wonder what happened to her arm."

Yato scrambles to his feet, and with a glance to the clock, he rips off his apron and shoves it towards Kofuku. "I gotta go. You can dock my pay- but I gotta get home."

He's out the back door and into the street before Daikoku or Kofuku can run him down and ask him questions, and the winter air stings his face. He really should have grabbed his coat before dodging the last two hours of his shift, but that girl is stuck on his mind like glue.

It was his fault she was wrapped up in a sling. Gods, he was such a douchebag.

He folds his arms, hunching his shoulders over to shield himself against the chill. The rest of the walk is cold and miserable, and his apartment isn't much different. He figures he should be thankful he found an affordable place to sleep at all.

For the first few weeks after his great escape, he was alternating between sleeping on benches and under bus stop awnings. He'd holed up at a homeless shelter for a week before he finally landed a job at Kofuku's, and after months of working double shifts and sleeping in the breakroom, he'd managed to put a down payment on his own place.

He supposes that's as good as it got for any teenage runaway his age. Maybe even better.

Yato sniffs as he sets a kettle on, and after a moment he hops up onto the counter beside the stove, feeling the residual heat from the gas burner. Winter was coming on strong, and since groceries and bills left little room for anything besides the bare necessities, he also figures he's going to have to pull some extra hours to afford any kind of heating. He clicks his socked heel against the cheap pressboard of his counter. He doubts he can even afford heating; A winter coat, maybe, but not heating. His electric bill was enough already.

His eyes wander to the violin case in the corner. There was always a few odd hours in the cold for a couple thousand yen, but he never liked doing that anyway, much less when it was freezing cold out. Tucking his chin in his palm, he contemplates dragging himself out there just to play for a bunch of strangers for a mystery value at the end of the day. Was it even worth it?

With a pouty look at the (late) bills on the countertop, he figures it can't be much worse than any other odd jobs he'll find around town.

.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.

Yato notices his one-person audience after about two pieces, but waits until the third to acknowledge him. The sniffling from the bench a few feet away prompts him to turn and look at the visitor, and Yato is dimly surprised his guest is an adolescent boy and not a homeless man.

He looks small for whatever age he's supposed to be, but ruffled enough Yato supposes he's trying to make himself seem bigger. The messy blond hair and scruffy winter coat makes Yato think of a stray cat. He's reminded of Mizuchi for a moment, with her razor sharp smiles and stone cold goodbyes.

The kid sees him looking his way, and puffs up a little underneath the shoddy faux fur of his jacket. "What are you looking at, you college reject?"

"I'm looking at the kid who's been watching me earn a winter coat for the past hour." Yato calls back, raising his voice over the distant roar of a subway arriving.

The kid bristles at the comment and turns his face away. "Whatever. I'm not sure why I bothered to listen to you anyway." He shoves himself up from the bench with a huff, and tosses a 1000 yen note into Yato's open violin case. Yato stares at the note long after he's gone, and wonders why such a young kid was hanging around a bus station alone anyway.

The kid is back the next day, and he sits and watches from a spot two benches away. Yato pretends not to recognize the olive green of his coat. They don't exchange words this time around, but it ends similarly, with a 500 yen note in his case and a retreating figure.

He shows up again day after day, and by the fourth Yato's set up a routine. Come at 3, when the students are starting to get off, and play until his shift at 7. He cycles through pieces like clockwork, muscle memory and improv guiding him while his mind wandered.

The kid shows up right as he sits down to rest his feet. Figuring he should give his biggest fan at least a little attention, Yato leans a little to call in his direction.

"Hey, kid."

He jumps when Yato acknowledges him, like he's surprised to be seen at all, and Yato wonders if he's used to lurking like this. Yato sits up, propping his elbows on his knees. "You can sit closer when I play, you know. The sound's better anyway."

"Like I wanna sit next to a smelly street musician." The kid fires back, and Yato feels the corner of his mouth twitch. He can't tell if it was into a smile or a grimace, but he figures it doesn't matter anyway.

"I shower daily, probably more than you, you little dirtmonkey." Yato sits back again, stretching his legs out in front of him, and pretends not to notice the kid's angry gaze boring into the side of his head. It goes silent for a few moments before the kid finally moves again, and Yato is surprised when a shadow blocks his view of the bus terminal. He'd been expecting the punk to drop another couple of coins into his case and go on his merry way again, but it seemed time had made him bold.

His arms are folded in front of his chest, probably to make him seem tougher than he is, but Yato just sees a bitter kid with an attitude. A uniform is peeking out from under his coat, purple on black. He was just in middle school, it seemed.

"Where did you learn how to play?" He asks, and Yato shifts.

He closes his eyes. Images flash behind his lids, of hardwood floors and the steps to the Tokyo Concert Hall; of motel rooms and train stations. "My father."

"That's not an enlightening answer." The kid says back, and Yato cracks an eyelid to glare at him.

"Why are you so interested?"

If the question bugs him, he doesn't show it. "I play."

Yato raises a brow and takes a deep breath before sitting up. "Play what?"

"Cello." He answers, but Yato sees a glimmer of uncertainty flicker behind his amber brown eyes. Obviously the kid was looking for some kind of advice, but if there's one thing Yato's sure of, it's that he's looking for it in the wrong person. If he needed someone to teach him shit, he should look for some cute girl on the honor roll, not some street musician.

He figures he should be saying all of this to the kid instead of thinking it, but instead he folds his arms over his chest. He was good at resigning himself to things, and this is no exception. Yato nudges his violin case with the heel of his foot, pushing it farther up under the bench. It seemed he was going to be here a while. "What do you want to know?"

"How do you remember all those pieces? You never use sheet music or a mp3 player when you play."

The stinging snap of a ruler echos in the bones of his forearms, and Yato averts his gaze to the grubby tiles of the terminal's floors. "I just memorized them. Muscle memory goes a long way, kid."

The kid scrunches his nose at him, the little wrinkles making him look even younger than he already did. "I'm not 'kid.'" He mumbles. "I'm Yukine."

The sound of snow.

His eyes are a weird shade of orangey brown when Yato meets them, like someone lit a match behind his irises, but Yato shrugs and sits back. "Alright, Yu-ki-ne." He draws the name out in syllables and watches the kid's brows furrow in irritation. "I'll tell you a secret: it's all practice."

"I know that." Yukine retorts. Yato puts his hands up in a retreat.

"Well I mean, I only got good because of my father's standards." Standards. Sharp pains and wounds along his arms. Standards. You couldn't hurt the hands, the hands were the livelihood of the instrument. Always the arms, always aim for the arms- Yato twitches his nose. "You got someone lookin' after you and that cello pipedream?"

The kid, Yukine, does a complete one-eighty. His muscles freeze solid under his skin and his face tightens, and Yato wishes he could snatch the words out of the air. The moment passes and Yukine seems to snap out of it, whipping his head to the left to glare at the signs along the ceiling. "No."

Obviously something wasn't right here. Yato studies at the side of the kid's face, searching his profile and coming up with nothing. "Who are you playing for?" He asks, but the question falls flat.

"Myself." Yukine snaps back, turning back around to give Yato a bristling glare. "I'm not playing for anyone."

"Inspiring." Yato says back, narrowing his eyes. Not something he could relate to, not much anyway. "What's your goal, then?"

Yukine folds his arms tight across his chest. "To get better, that's all. I want to be good at something, good enough that people notice and admire me. I've been playing for a year and I don't feel like I'm getting any better."

Yato feels a twinge of nostalgia deep in his chest, sweet and bitter all at once. He wanted to get noticed, huh? An admirable cause, although very different from his own drive. He knows the things he's pushed himself for, but none of them were self-satisfaction. Self-preservation, maybe, but he doesn't think that's entirely internal. He watches Yukine fidget with the hem of his coat for a moment before standing up. "Come back tomorrow, I'll bring something that might help."

"Like I'm gonna trust a random dude I met in a bus station." Yukine says, but Yato rolls his eyes in response as he dips to pick up his violin back up out of the case.

"You were gonna show up anyways, weren't you?" When the kid gives a halfhearted, guilty stare to the floor, Yato shoves back the urge to laugh at him as he pushes his case back into the walkway. "Now you'll at least get something out of it."

"Fine."

Yukine goes rummaging in his pocket, most likely for some money, and Yato stops him. "You don't have to give me your lunch money every time you stop by. Don't you have something more important to spend it on?"

Yukine looks away again and shrugs roughly, the shoulders of his too-big coat almost touching his ears with the movement. "I figured if I'm gonna take up space, I should at least make it worth other people's time."

Yato ignores the pang in his chest. This kid was confusing him like a crossword puzzle, only he was more time consuming and harder to walk away from. He raises his violin and set it on his shoulder, nudging his case with a foot. "You shouldn't feel obligated to pay for the space you take up."

The kid gives him one last lingering look before turning on a heel and heading the other way, and Yato watches him go as he rubs wearily at the side of his head. A headache is just starting to build, throbbing weakly in his temples, and he's not surprised.

It's been a long week, after all.