Shinou was a pest. A beautiful, charismatic pest, but still... He'd grown up some over all this time, but that fact hadn't changed in 4000 years, Murata thought. He felt his face twist in a familiar way, pulled at once into a grimace and a smile.
"You still love me," Shinou said, laughing at him for trying to deny it.
Murata wasn't sure he was right, actually. He wasn't sure what he felt for the man, never had been.
In some ways, he realized, he'd never been sure about anything at all, never really knew why he did what he did. The intellectual exercise of it all, the logic and planning and the careful application of knowledge, a compulsion and a pleasure that had stayed with him through almost all of his lifetimes (with a few notable exceptions; Christine had been anything but logical). All of that, he'd often told himself, was reason enough, along with the practical purpose of saving the world from destruction. He did rather enjoy the world of the living, after all. He'd told himself, back then and now, that he didn't do it for this arrogant, annoying, golden king, specifically.
It would be easier and probably, he hoped, truer, to say that he did it now for Shibuya. King Yuuri was easier to love, easier by far to admit to loving. Everyone had loved Shinou, too, but in a different way: idolized him, admired him, swooned over him in a way that seemed entirely natural, especially to the golden boy himself. Shibuya, on the other hand, inspired a different kind of emotion entirely, a protective kind of affection, a sense of admiration that caught the admirer by surprise. He'd seen it on others' faces, and suspected it had even been visible on his own, for all his practice at hiding what he felt. When he knew what he felt enough to know that he should hide it, that is.
Shinou expected to be loved, but Shibuya Yuuri didn't. That was part of what made Shinou so annoying, but it only made everyone else love Yuuri even more. Shinou had only appeared inaccessible to those who held him in awe; in fact, he'd made himself a little too available, in Daikenja's eyes. Shibuya welcomed everyone, friend and foe alike, with open arms, an open heart. In the long run, though, Murata realized (just as he knew Conrad Weller had realized long before) that by this, Shibuya Yuuri made himself more inaccessible to any one person than the great King and hero of the land had ever been; lovable, but ultimately, impossible to love in the way that Murata might have started to love him.
Yuuri had everyone to love and to be loved by. Shinou, Murata realized, had no one left but him.
He sighed, adjusted his glasses with a finger to the bridge of his nose.
"Yes," he agreed finally, sneaking a glance at Shinou's golden, gleaming smile over the rims. "I suppose I do."