Kabuchi-cho, Shinjuku, Tokyo
In front of the Sumeragi apartments
sometime in Autumn 1990
Subaru searched his pockets again. No, his keys hadn't mysteriously manifested while he'd been ringing at Hokuto's door. But then, she'd talked all morning about the event at Tokyo Dome and the group tickets her school friend had managed to get. She wouldn't be back until way after midnight. And the Ogiro Corporation's office, where he'd forgotten his school bag with his keys, his student commuter card, and his -- unfinished! -- homework, wouldn't open until next morning.
Subaru sighed. He didn't want to sit on the staircase for four hours flat. It was hard and cold and Hokuto would have his head if she ever figured out he'd even thought about it. But what else could he do?
He turned the satchel with his magical paraphernalia in his hands. There was the option of using an opening spell on his own door. But he'd had three jobs after school today and was already feeling aftereffects.
He yawned, stuffing clammy hands into his pockets. At least, this "creation" of Hokuto's had pockets. Why didn't hadn't he put his keys into them? He shook his head.
He had to find a place to wait for Hokuto.
Wasn't it Thursday?
Sakurazuka Veterinary Clinic
With relief Subaru saw that the small "Veterinarian on Call" sign glowed in the clinic door.
He slipped in when a burly man with an equally burly dog wearing a spiked collar came out. Subaru quietly wondered whether the man should wear one, too, to perfect the similarity between master and dog... He shook his head. He'd been spending too much time wedged between Hokuto's boisterousness and Seishiro's weird humor. The two of them were infectious!
He headed towards the open door of the vet's office. He didn't want to call out. The animals would be resting already. Surely--
He froze, felt his eyes widen.
Seishiro was poring over his accounting books.
It wasn't that the veterinarian was a model of good posture. On the contrary. He sat leaning forward, one of his elbows resting on the desk next to a set of half-filled forms and a notepad filled over and over with scribbles. A socked foot was carelessly hooked around the swivel chair's socket, as the man frowned, then -- lost in thought -- sucked on the end of his ballpoint pen while burying the hand of his propped up arm in his already tousled hair. A few blue spots on his lip spoke of the business end of the pen having been involved at least once, too.
No, elegance was something different. But...
Seishiro being taken up by an intellectual task was so very different from the nice, spontaneous man showering him with affection and frivolous, mortifying declarations of a love that Subaru found hard to believe. Yet...
The intensity of those light amber eyes behind narrowly rimmed glasses trained on the paper in a hunter's stare was unsettling. If that intensity was ever focussed on him... solely on him... An involuntary chill of dread and fascination raced down Subaru's spine. He wouldn't have a problem believing him then. His racing heart missed a couple of beats at the thought. He felt his cheeks grow hot. It was tempting, so tempting -- Seishiro's glasses had slipped down to the tip of his nose -- he could go over and take them off and-- and--
"Subaru-kun?" Seishiro-san was looking at him, squinting in innocent surprise over his glasses. "What are you doing here so late at night? Did something happen?"
"I-- I..." Subaru choked, feeling as if his head would burst into flames any moment. "I forgot my keys at a client's and Hokuto's not home yet and--" He spluttered, hiding his burning cheeks behind his gloved hands. Oh no! His scandalous thoughts from before had to be written all over his face!
If Seishiro noticed, he didn't show it; instead he got up and left his desk. "Come on, let's get you a nice cup of tea. You look positively frozen--"
Frozen? Subaru blinked.
"--sister's creations are surely exciting but they don't seem to be made for a chilly autumn night."