Chapter 26


This couldn't go on indefinitely.

Tokoyo sighed as the thought crossed his mind--not for the first time--and pulled his sweatshirt over his head. He tugged at the hem to straighten out any wrinkles, eyeing his brother as he did so. This growing dependency on Hiroki irked him. Where he'd once had to get physical treatments from his brother only in case of injuries, he now had to visit the younger man regularly. With the recent bout of weather--he didn't think of it as bad weather, since anything was a pleasant change from the relentlessly dull, sunny days that were the norm in Solace--he'd had to increase his number of visits to once every two weeks. Once a week, if the humidity was high. The whole situation had given him a bad habit of scowling at nothing in particular.

Hiroki, who was carefully placing a number of items wrapped in old cloth into an antique wooden box, seemed to feel his gaze; he looked up and smiled at his brother.

"What do you think of this weather?" His gray eyes glittered and he closed the box with a snap.

Tokoyo measured his answer carefully. "It seems very sudden. Though I can't say that I hate it," he added.

Hiroki's laugh was like the chiming of crystal. "I know what you mean. There are storm clouds on the horizon."

He wasn't, of course, speaking in a purely literal sense, though Tokoyo wasn't sure which of his statements he was responding to.

"We have to find a more permanent solution," he blurted abruptly with his back to the apartment as he was stepping into the entry way to slip his shoes back on. "This isn't going to work out long-term."

Graceful arms slid around his neck from behind and Hiroki rested his chin on his shoulder. "Aw, you don't like our visits?"

"You know what I mean."

The muscles in Hiroki's arms rippled in a subtle reminder that there was adamantine strength hidden beneath their delicate-seeming surface. "Don't be too impatient, Koyo-ko. Nothing good ever came from rushing into the future."

Tokoyo snorted at the warning tone and shrugged his arms off as he jammed his feet into his shoes. "I'll see you later."

"You will."

Tokoyo didn't look back to see his brother's unnerving smile as he let himself out.