Sano discovers something about Saitou that he would have considered impossible.
It didn’t seem the type of day for the fulfillment of secret desires. If Sano had been asked to guess, when he woke up in the mid-to-late morning or when he got up in the mid-to-late afternoon, what type of day it would turn out to be, he wouldn’t have been able to come up with anything specific. It was just another day, mediocre. He wasn’t wounded or starving or any richer or happier than usual, Tokyo wasn’t any better or worse than ever a place to live, and the weather was mild. Still, he was in a good mood as he ambled out of his run-down apartment and took to the street with no particular purpose; that boded well, as a good mood meant a run of good luck with the dice. Well, sometimes.
Greeting people he knew, smiling at people he didn’t, and grinning at people that whistled at him (it happened twice), he made his leisurely way in the general direction of his favorite gambling area, keeping a sharp eye open for anyone likely to want to treat him to a free meal on the way. He stopped to talk to someone about something, didn’t get any food out of it, and eventually moved on as the sun began to set.
Encountering a group of little boys among whom he ranked as a favorite, he was quickly talked into racing them down to their hideout a few streets over. After giving them a good head start, he took off after them with a roar he knew would make them run even faster.
At the corner he was just catching them up, but found, as he turned it, an unexpected volume of pedestrian traffic that he was not nearly so good at infiltrating as his small friends were. He dodged a sour-looking lady shouting at all of them, stumbled over someone else, and slammed into a third as the boys, laughing, outdistanced him and disappeared around another corner.
He was yelping an apology even as he lost his balance and fell. He had to consider himself rather the victim, however, as the other person didn’t go similarly tumbling or even seem to waver; indeed, it was almost like running into a brick wall. Oddly and unexpectedly, however, he found himself pulled back up again by a strong hand almost before hitting the ground. This wouldn’t have been quite so bizarre and disconcerting if the gesture hadn’t been accompanied by the remark, “Clumsier than usual today, ahou?”
Sano couldn’t speak; there were no words to express his sensations in response to this. He simply stared at the officer, dumbfounded. Saitou, smoothing out his jacket, seemed to be giving him time to think of a comeback… but Sano had none. Seeing this, the taller man smirked at him and strode on around the corner, leaving Sano still overwhelmed and motionless where he stood.
Saitou had just… been nice to him.
True, he’d hauled Sano to his feet roughly and much like a sack he intended to toss over his shoulder, but the result was the same: he’d helped him up. And though he’d mocked him immediately, there had been more amusement than ridicule in the tone. And that smirk… certainly one of derision, yes, but friendly derision. Almost good-natured, it all had seemed… if that didn’t feel so much like blasphemy against the god of assholes, and an insult against nature…
With a monumental effort recovering his wits and power of motion, though entirely forgetting his young cohorts and their race, Sano turned and ran back around the corner after Saitou.
The officer did not slow his pace when Sano reached him, only glanced at him without change of expression. “Hello again.”
Sano was nearly rendered speechless a second time. Who ever heard of Saitou saying ‘hello’ to him? Or even greeting him at all except with an insult? “Hey,” he finally managed, which, in its effectiveness in promoting conversation or conveying his wonder, was certainly close enough to having no clue what to say.
Saitou gave no reply, but Sano thought, looking at him, that more of a smile was riding those lips than he’d ever seen there for more than two moments together in all the time he’d known him.
Growing easier after walking half the length of another street with no sign that Saitou was trying to trap him somehow by feigning amiability and then turning suddenly and stabbing him, Sano ventured experimentally in a conversational tone, “Nice weather today, ain’t it?”
“It is,” Saitou agreed with a nod.
“All right,” the younger man demanded, having received the last indicator he needed, “what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Interesting you should ask that,” Saitou replied, bemused, “considering you’re usually the first to point it all out.”
Sano shook his head as if trying to clear away growing confusion and doubt. “You’re being nice to me!” It was half explanation, half protest.
“Am I? That is a problem.” And Saitou only barely rolled his eyes as he said this.
“Shit…” Sano stared him up and down as the only possible solution to this mystery slowly dawned on him and seemed confirmed by all the evidence he’d collected thus far. “I didn’t know it was possible for you to be in a good mood!”
Saitou merely smirked.
Examining this along with the rest of the older man’s face in continued surprise and possibly some growing bemusement of his own, Sano kept on at Saitou’s side. “You got blood on your ear,” he eventually remarked. “‘Zat why you’re so happy? You been out giving some Aku the old Zan?”
“If you want to put it that way.” Saitou extracted from a pocket an already bloodstained glove and rubbed his ear with it.
Sano watched critically. “It’s not coming off. Looks like it’s dried.”
“So who’d you kill?” Sano asked next.
“You’ll have heard it by tomorrow.”
“Being all pleased with yourself about it ain’t gonna make me less curious, you know…”
“You’d better try to think about something else, then.”
Sano was still unable to get his brain around the concept of Saitou so nice. Well, nice for Saitou. “Sure,” he complained, “but I was asking because I was trying not to think about what you were making me think about before.”
Saitou raised a skeptical brow at him.
“See, I hate to mess up the first good mood I’ve ever seen you in, but it’s just too good of an opportunity, and you’re kinda asking for it not answering my questions…” And without further warning, Sano put a hand on Saitou’s shoulder, leaned in, and kissed him soundly. Then he took off running once again.
Saitou was left in the middle of the street as motionless as Sano had been earlier, watching the young man rapidly disappearing and the entertained expressions of a few other pedestrians that had witnessed the exchange.
“Ahou,” he murmured after a moment when he took to walking again.
What a nice day this was turning out to be.