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smile, shibuya loves you

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He can always tell when the Ginza line passes Shibuya’s limits. Something about the air changes. It never used to -  or maybe he just never noticed. Wouldn’t be the first thing he’d started noticing, since

Since.

It’s hard to place exactly what’s different. Feels like something outside of him, rather than remnants left behind within himself. He could compare it to the way his head sometimes feels like someone’s pressing on it just before rain, but that wouldn’t be quite right.

Something like a warmth wrapping around him, without any discernible temperature change.

Something like taking off headphones and letting ambient people-city-noise wash over him, perhaps.

Something like coming home?

Or maybe it’s just supposed to feel like that, another bit of his mind ever-so-slightly rewritten. The twinge of suspicion doesn’t make him feel less like this one particular section of Tokyo is a place where he’s safe, though. Denying that it feels nice seems more than a bit ridiculous.

Maybe it’s trauma. Maybe he only feels safe in the place all the shit happened because it’s messed him up irrecoverably.

That one makes him laugh into his hand. He knows full well how much less tangled and messy and fogged up with loneliness his thoughts have been, since. He knows it helped, even if he also knows he’s allowed to be angry.

Maybe that’s it - something pushing his anger off his shoulders as he goes through that invisible barrier that defines Shibuya’s shape, even when there’s no way to visibly tell he’s there..

But it’s more than that, too. There’s something about how people reflect that feeling, too. It’s not that they notice him more, the moment he crosses into Shibuya, it’s more like - like - no, he can’t figure it out. Accepting the need for people in your life is different from being able to ask strangers on the street why he feels like their attitude towards him has changed. Not that they notice him more, but they’re more thoughtful towards him, he supposes. Like they see a good person instead of a punk kid.

He doesn’t hate it, but he doesn’t get it.

He finds five thousand yen in a single note, on the floor. It blows into his feet out of nowhere, nudges his shoe like it was waiting for him to look down. No one anywhere nearby looks like they’ve lost anything.

Guilty, he slips it into a homeless kid’s cup two minutes later.

A zelkova leaf brushes his cheek, and he catches it. It’s green with early summer.

A dog jumps its front paws onto his knee. Its owner apologises, but he can’t not pet it. It’s small, with big blue eyes and bright blond fur, and it licks his hand.

A whole wedding party laughs past him. The brides’ dresses are different, slightly clashing whites, but he can see the love in their eyes as they climb into the ribbon-clad car. Recognising that makes him blush.

It’s not something he’s thought about much, for himself.

Well, maybe once, a while ago, but that ended before it began. It’s okay.

But there’s something in the air he’s never noticed, and he’s sure it’s not just because he’s looking, now. Like everything here is pushing towards being right for him specifically. More and more, lately. It’s not self-centred, and it doesn’t feel like coincidence.

Inevitably, his feet lead him to the mural. He’s got time before he meets the others, and it’s been a little while, so of course that’s where he winds up.

It’s changed. He knows every detail inside out, so even little changes are something Neku can spot immediately, but this -

He’s laughing before he knows it, shoulders shaking, grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.

“Are you fucking kidding?”

The purple curve fits seamlessly into the rest of the piece, like it belonged there all along, and maybe no-one else would notice the addition, but of course Neku does. More importantly, he recognises the shape. Of course he does. He pushes hair out of his eyes, rubs the back of his neck. Honestly, it’s embarrassing, but he can’t help but feel elated. That’s him, right there, as part of CAT’s work, and even knowing CAT now doesn’t make that feel less important.

The white feathers around the headphones - his headphones, painted by his fucking idol - are new, too, but he’s less sure what they mean.

His phone vibrates in his pocket. He’s going to be late if he doesn’t turn around now, but he wants to look a little longer.

A breeze slips through his fingers, presses feather-light against his palm.