Love.

Was that the word he'd been trying to put to the feeling?

Love.

Was he really allowed to feel that emotion?

Love.

Did he really have what people in fairy tales had?

All his life, Yato had been abandoned, mistreated, and used. So this incredible emotion was very foreign to him. There was no chance that's what he was feeling, right?

"Yato, you're back!" Yukine eagerly rose from his seat beside the kotatsu.

This gain the attention of Kofuku and Daikoku, who popped their heads out from the kitchen to see the god of calamity on the front steps with a dull expression and his hands in his pockets.

"Is that necessarily a good thing?" He asked.

"Did... -something happen…?" Yukine asked.

"Nothing." He dismissed it. "If Hiyori stops by, tell her you haven't seen me."

Yato brushed past Daikoku and Kofuku, who exchanged confused glances with each other. He dragged his feet upstairs to the attic bedroom, and they all listened as he closed the door behind him.

Yato slumped down onto the futon, letting his thoughts consume him. He placed his shrine beside his pillow, reached into his pocket and pulled out his red flip phone. He checked the time, only to remember his lock screen was a picture of him, Yukine and Hiyori together at Capyra Land.

How long…? How long had he felt this way about her? Had he realized this before, or had he never really thought about it?

What would happen if he let her love him? What would happen if he allowed himself to be loved?

What if Heaven found out?

Yato shook the thought out of his head.

No. He'd protect Hiyori.

Even if Hiyori never came for him again - even if she forgot about him and continued her normal life - he'd live in the shadows and make sure nothing hurt her. He'd devote the rest of her life to be her secret guardian angel.

When he thought of it that way, it didn't hurt so much. He'd still continue to see her same smile, hear her familiar laugh, and enjoy her radiant aura.

But then a dreadful thought washed over him.

Hiyori, if she continued living a normal human life, would have a normal human husband and normal human children.

This idea sent Yato back into the depths of despair. Only then, he was given another new emotion.

He had gone through jealousy before. But that was usually when his father chose Nora for a job as opposed to him.

No, this one was different. This jealousy burned a special fire inside him.

There's no way I'd let anyone have my Hiyori.

And then - like a sledgehammer, it hit him.

Oh no…

I love Hiyori…

And he completely turned his back on her!

All because of what? He was too scared to be loved?

"Baka, baka, baka!" Yato cursed to himself, fisting the sheets under his hand.

He had to do something. He had to get her to forgive him. Somehow.

But what was he going to say?

. . . .

"Yatty, dinner's ready. I have a plate for ya!" Kofuku cheered from the hallway.

For a long moment, she waited for a response from the god inside the attic bedroom, but there was no sound.

"Yatty?"

No answer again.

Kofuku carefully slid the door open and peeked her head inside, only to find Yato sitting in the windowsill, trapped in deep thought.

"Yatty, you've been quiet all day. Daijoubu?"

"O-oh, Kofuku." Yato blinked and focused his gaze on the pink goddess before him. "Sorry. Just thinking…"

"Hmm." Kofuku set Yato's plate of food on the table and stepped close to her friend. "Something wrong?"

Yato sighed heavily and turned away to look out the window again. "No offense, Kofuku, but you're not good at keeping secrets."

"Of course I am! Tell me anything!" Kofuku protested, shaking her fists.

"This isn't something you can just let yourself slip up with. You need to really keep it between me n' you."

"Please! I promise I won't tell anyone!"

Yato cringed in response, but he finally gave in. "Kofuku..., how do you... tell someone you... love 'em...?"

Kofuku went silent for a second, and she straightened up, blinking. Then, she suddenly gasped and leaped up with joy.

"Yatty! You love a girl?!" She cried out eagerly.

Yato glared at her. "This was obviously a mistake."

"No, no! Tell me! Is it a Regalia? Is she cute? Who is it?" Kofuku said, grabbing Yato by the shoulders.

"You can't tell anybody!"

"I won't, I won't!" She pleaded.

Yato puffed out air between his lips. "... it's Hiyori," he murmured.

Kofuku's violet eyes widened in surprise. "Really?! I knew it!" She squealed excitedly.

Yato's face turned dark red in response. He pulled away from Kofuku's grasp, flustered.

"Kofuku, focus! How do I tell her?"

Kofuku blinked again and tapped her chin. "Wait, why do you need to tell her so bad?"

Yato rolled his eyes.

"She told me first when I saw her earlier. It wasn't really romantic, or anything - she was yelling at me, actually. And then, I ended up turning her down."

Kofuku gasped and knocked Yato upside the head, causing him to cry out painfully. "Yatty, you idiot!"

"I know, I know! Please, just help me out here!" He begged, rubbing the sore spot on his head.

Kofuku tapped her chin thoughtfully again.

"Stand up."

Yato raised an eyebrow in suspicion, but he did as she said.

"Now, pretend I'm Hiyorin. And say it!" Kofuku grinned.

"But you're not Hiyori."

"Just pretend!" Kofuku crossed her arms.

"Okay, fine!" Yato groaned, giving in.

Kofuku smirked, enjoying it already.

Yato took a deep breath and focused on Kofuku.

"Hiyori, I-I-... you."

Kofuku looked at Yato in surprise and confusion. "Was that it? What the heck!"

"W-what? What'd I say?!"

"You left out the key word!"

"Y-yeah, so?!"

Kofuku puffed out her cheeks in annoyance. "You act like you've never said 'I love you' to anyone before."

"I-... I haven't…" Yato admitted glumly, scratching the back of his neck as his gaze dropped to his boots.

There was a moment of silence.

"Oh…" Kofuku mumbled, then she seemed to have another idea.

"Okay, well. Let's try this."

She took Yato by the shoulders and turned him around so he faced the wall. Yato looked at Kofuku over his shoulder.

"Look at that wall n' say it!"

Yato raised an eyebrow at her in confusion. "You're serious?"

"Say it!"

Yato groaned and faced the wall. He stared at it for a long minute before he opened his mouth and spoke.

"I love you?"

"It's not a question - it's a statement!"

"Shut up! I know!"

Kofuku stepped in front of Yato once again and placed a hand on her hip. She pursed her lips and pointed at him with her finger.

"Now say it to me."

Yato swallowed hard and breathed slowly. However, what came out when he spoke was far less than perfect.

"I-I... ub…'oo…?"

Kofuku smacked Yato in the back in response.