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to invade, to invite

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Portrait peepholes were cheesy narrative devices used to humorous effect. As opposed to actual paintings like the Mona Lisa and the Laughing Cavalier that so inspired the phenomenon, there was no realistic way to create unnoticeable slots for the eye holes unless the portrait had enough texture, thus dating the artwork style to a much later period and making the inherent romanticism of the idea fall apart. Thus, Subaru mercilessly annotated in his reference material, they weren't worth writing about.

Those weren't the real reasons why he avoided thinking about them.

Peepholes, you see, were intrusive by nature. That was true of all devices used for spy work, of course, but no amount of wiretapping, room bugging, and device hacking carried the same kind of perversion: the first two, his cat detective could handle, and she was immune to the third by virtue of not owning a mobile device.

Portraits, however, were another matter. They were there, hidden in secret corridors behind four corners of the room, defiling privacy with an all-seeing gaze, boring into the sanctuary provided by empty rooms. It implied that the house was more than just a house, and every move the cat detective made within its premises could be seen.

 

"That's really what you're focusing on, huh," Hiroto commented, chewing on the usual fish sausage as he leaned on the door frame of Subaru’s study. Old habits died hard for someone who stubbornly stuck to comfort zones with such regularity, and it was a miracle his friend hadn't switched to something like Calorie Mate for convenience. Not that Hiroto would even suggest it, when it'd make Subaru's barely present eating habits worse. "If you ask me, it sounds like a horror show."

"Genres can overlap," Subaru murmured, looking through the reference materials Kawase dropped off yesterday. It wasn’t often his writing was a topic of conversation when he needed time to work out the plots and character arcs in his head, a first draft that existed only in memory. Little by little, however, he slipped in small comments once his ideas had ripened, even if they came across as odd tangents to others. Sharing these thoughts was an incredibly awkward process, a voluntary exposure of vulnerability beneath the armor of distance. The first time it happened, Kawase’s excitement was unforgettable, as was the warmth in Hiroto’s grin.

That trip to Tokushima really did him good.

The flashes of insight he received in return, of small details he never considered, also blew him away.

"You'd know it," Hiroto replied amiably, setting down the clipped stack of notes back on the pile he'd found them, and contented himself with watching a distracted Subaru rummage through the box. He’d taken the sudden shift of topics in stride, folding them into a thread of conversation with his usual ease. "Gotta admit, if I saw a pair of eyes peeking out of a wall, I'd wonder why they'd even bother. Think they'd come out if I asked them if we could talk?"

"What was that?"

"If someone was behind the walls, think I'd be able to talk to them?"

"...yeah," Subaru admitted. "Not like you'd let them go back to hiding."

Hiroto let out a bark of laughter. That sounded like him, alright.

"Yep," he said, finishing the sausage with a relish and licking his fingers. "No point in them being a creep.”

Subaru looked at him, surprised. He was sure he hadn’t that part when he declared out of the blue that he hated peepholes.

"Hmm?" Hiroto touched his chin and the corners of his mouth. "Something on my face?”

"No, it's -" Subaru let out a breath and glanced away to hide a smile. Hiroto knew him well. "Got it in one."