hc where one day kaneki raps gently on the bar’s of touka’s room and, when she looks up at him, he holds up a small plastic bag.
“good evening,” kaneki says, shyly.
“hey,” touka replies, carefully shoving a calendar underneath her pillow. “what’s up?”
“i…um…have a present for you. presents,” he amends, sitting beside her when touka sits up to make space for him.
he gives her the bag, which contains a handful of books and magazines.
“i noticed you read the same things over and over,” kaneki says. “so…i don’t know…maybe…”
“this is great,” touka confirms. “thanks.”
she sees his face color, a little. “no problem.”
she starts to rifle through them. it’s high-brow stuff, the stuff she often saw him toting into anteiku, or reading slowly aloud to hinami. short stories, poetry. touka starts to read a poem and finishes and then rereads it and then looks at it a little longer and kaneki laughs, nervously.
“sorry…if you don’t really like it, i can get something else.”
“it’s not that.” how to explain? she rubs her thumb across the side of the page.
“i’ve read a lot of stuff like this,” she admits finally.
back when the only way to touch him was by cracking open a book. back when the only way to hold him was by carrying more and more novels beneath yomo’s silent gaze to :re’s bookshelves. she sorted them by which ones she thought he would like more. she dog-eared the pages of certain passages and pieces that she thought he might favor, as if there was ever a possibility that she might ever discuss them with him. presently, she strokes a stanza. she feels his warmth beside her.
“oh,” he says. “you have?” his eyes brighten, instantly. she finds herself smiling, despite a sudden queasiness that she stabilizes herself against with a hand on her stomach. she feigns a yawn.
“i’m tired,” she announces, lying down on the cot. “why don’t you read me some?”
“okay,” kaneki says quickly. he shifts around as she gets settled, so that they are still touching. “um…do have any requests?”
“just read me your favorite one,” she says, closing her eyes. he starts, and —
perhaps it’s only because she’s read this piece before. but somehow — his recitation feels so familiar. like a sound she’s like heard often before. like the solid thunk that followed when she slotted a books into :re’s brimming shelves, filling them, completing them.