Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.
It takes someone extraordinary to bridge that gap; Haruka knows that he himself would never have initiated the effort to do so.
Ichinomiya Kantarou has many faults: avarice, mendacity, frivolity and a tendency to ignore a problem until it becomes literally too great to handle, but he is nothing if not persistent in seeking out what matters most to him, though retaining him is a slightly more difficult undertaking. But Kantarou is the sort of person who would hang on to a youkai tenaciously even after his clothes and limbs have been cut and torn, or worse, right until it has been sealed safely away.
Then, to Haruka's continuing mystification, he will release it once he has extracted a promise that it will never try to harm humans again.
Kantarou had been attacked by a lesser youkai before Haruka met him, before his powers had been fully-fledged - it had left a scar on his chest in the region of his heart; though Haruka knows that the injury has gone far deeper than the jagged cicatrice on the skin, he does not want to reopen old wounds, and is content to prevent further damage.
Tonight, the moon shines brightly in a cloudless cool night, perfect for a soak in the inn's onsen before they resume their travels the next morning. Kantarou is pensively mellow under the influence of just enough sake, and is leaning against him with his eyes half-closed, murmuring some nonsense about flowers and spring and morning-glories that Haruka strains his ears to catch and does not interrupt.
His fingers trace the scar--deliberate, thoughtful, as if making sure it is closed--before settling into a fitful rest on the steam-slick stone beside him.
Kantarou's breathing is deep and even, his heartbeat relatively rapid compared to Haruka's own slow steady pulse; Haruka sits for a long time with Kantarou propped against him, listening to the harmonious counterpoint and knowing that the rhythms will eventually diverge.