tougher than most
Humans, Yato had already learned, were shockingly fragile. A mobile maze of organs, all trembling on the verge of collapse. It only took one finger in the socket. One step into a busy intersection. One drop of venom in the bloodstream.
Some humans were built tougher than most.
Hiyori was built tougher than most.
She felt so alive—soft in her curves, sharp in her joints. Warm and messy, and flawed, and present.
She hadn’t moved for a little while. She hadn’t made a noise.
“I’ve got you,” Yato said. “You can rest for a few minutes. Then get up. Okay?”
He shifted with her in his arms. Her forehead slid against his chin. A nod.
“We’ll take something back with us to Kofuku’s, when we go tonight,” Yato said, musingly.
They would stop by the bakery. Hiyori loved the bakery. She would go out of her way to walk past it, just to smell the steam coming out the door. She would probably like walking past it today.
The wind teased her hair, lifting it against his face and carrying the smell of her shampoo. Her hair stuck to his cheek. She liked the kind of shampoo they sold in a little pharmacy a few blocks away.
She liked it because, she said, it smelled nice.
Nice like a worn tracksuit.
Or, maybe, she had never said that at all.
“You aren’t ready to go yet. Are you?” Yato said, knowing she wasn’t.
She was happy to sit here, tucked into him. They could sit here for a while longer. He didn’t mind. She would never have let him hold her like this before.
After all, she was tougher than most.
Yato’s nose wrinkled as the next breeze carried a blunt, metallic scent into his face. A war smell. A dying smell.
He angled Hiyori’s face into his scarf to shield her from it. Her eyelashes spidered against his jaw. Her nose pressed into the hollow of his neck, right behind his chin.
Warm, her skin against his. Maybe he was the one growing colder.
Hiyori might be tougher than most, but he wasn’t.
Gods, Yato had already learned, were shockingly fragile. A breath away from extinction, hitchhiking from century to century in the hopes that a wish might stick. It only took one worshiper lost. One shrine unused. One name unremembered.
Yato had let himself go. He had anchored himself too firmly.
“We’ll go back together pretty soon, all right?” he asked.
He had woven his existence into her fibers—absolutely, unreservedly bound to this girl who was tougher than most.