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Hearts of Storm

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She followed him again today. Yui had been abusing her premonition evol these days, making accidental brushes against strangers whenever she can.

She would bump into as many passengers on the bus as she could without causing a scene, brushed her hand against the coffee shop staff as he handed her the coffee, even went out of her way to pet every dog in the park that would allow her to do so without biting her hand off.

She was being obsessive, she knew that. But that was the only way.

The only way she could try to catch a glimpse of him. Of her Gavin.

Each and every time she touched someone, there was a chance for her to see a vision. And for every vision she saw, there was a chance for it to involve the military.

And every time the military was involved, there was a chance that Gavin would be there, so she could go and try to catch a glimpse of him.

She didn't care if what she was doing was unethical, if every single vision she saw weighed on her soul, if arriving at every single possible incident meant risking her life. If she could see him, even for one single second, it would be worth it, even if he never saw her.

In fact, it was probably better if he never saw her. Otherwise, he would definitely have suspected her of being a spy again and he would have treated her the way he did last time.

She couldn't forget how cold his eyes were the last time they met, when he shoved her against the wall and placed those handcuffs on her. She could still remember the feeling of those cold metal digging into the delicate flesh on her skin.

She had never seen him look at her with so little trust in his eyes. Not when he was helping her reach the poetry volumes on the tall library bookshelves during high school and definitely not after they reunited when he transferred back to Loveland City as a police officer.

So, yes. It was for the best that he did not see her. At least that way, she could still imagine.

Imagine nothing had changed. Imagine he was only out on one of those missions where he could not contact her. Imagine that he would show up at her window some time tonight, asking her if she wants to go stargazing with him.

But she knew this illusion wouldn't last long. So far, her visions had only been of sightings of military investigations and other successful operations. But she knew that sooner or later she would see something bad, something preventable and she would have to try to intervene.

And then, she would have to stare into those cold distrustful eyes again. She would be forced to face reality.

The reality of Gavin no longer being hers. The reality of Gavin not knowing her as if she never existed in this dimension.

It hurt to remember how he questioned her intentions towards him. It hurt to tell him that he was her senpai and he barely believed her.

So she tried to forget reality, tried to imagine they were still living in their original dimension, where his eyes lit up every time he saw her. Where he touched her with so much gentleness that it made her want to cry. Where he would blush every time she mustered up the courage to tell him how much she loved him.

She knew she was being willfully in denial, but if that could stop the hurt in her chest for just one minute, she would gladly do so.

Yui turned her head up to the sky as she heard the sound of the blade of a helicopter closing in. Her hands pressed against the shop window of the cafe where she had been sitting in for the last three hours, waiting for this very moment.

As the noise grew louder and louder, the military chopper came into view. She held her breath, eyes glued to it as it hovered over the park a block away from the coffee shop.

The door slid open and a tall figure in dark military uniform came into view. His brown hair flying every which direction as the strong wind blew around him.

She watched as he quickly surveyed the ground, preparing to jump out of the helicopter.

Yui opened her mouth to silently mutter, "You look well today. Stay safe, Gavin. I miss you." And for that brief moment, her heart stopped aching.

He was gone from her line of sight the next moment, having jumped out and began to fly towards his destination.

She sat back in her chair, closed her eyes and convinced herself that was enough. Enough to support her through the next few days or weeks without spiraling into the endless abyss in her mind that was constantly threatening to drag her in ever since she came to this dimension.

She could now function until the next time she saw him again. And she was determined to function through this. Too much was at stake otherwise.

Black Swan was still scheming to turn everyone into an evolver, while non-evolvers were banding together to wage war against those with evol abilities.

She could not afford to sit back and wither away while watching the world fall apart. She had come too far to give up now, regardless of how much she wanted to curl up in a ball at the loss of everything and everyone important in her life.

It was the least she could do, when Gavin worked so hard to protect everyone, whether in this dimension or the last.

The buzzing sound of her phone brought her back from her thoughts.

"Hello, Shaw." She answered the phone without even glancing at the caller ID. After all, there was only one person left in this world now who would call her.

"You got the file?" Shaw yelled over the phone, the background noisy as usual.

Yui plugged one ear with a finger and pressed the phone closer to her other while turning up the volume. He must be at Live House with a live concert going on. She could hear loud music playing in the background and people cheering. Before she met Shaw, she always thought these live shows only played at night, but she was wrong. Apparently, they played whenever they wanted to.

"Yes. Where do you need me to go this time?" She asked with a voice loud enough for him to hear, but quiet enough that people from the cafe wouldn't be disturbed.

"Getting efficient, huh?" He said with a voice that was obvious he was smirking on the other side. "The amusement park."

She froze. She was ready to work, to gather intel for Shaw, hoping it would get her mind off of her current situation, even for a tiny little bit. But she didn't expect it to be at the amusement park of all places.

"What? Cat got your tongue?" He asked when she didn't reply.

"Does it…" She hesitated, not wanting to give Shaw the opportunity to learn more of her weakness, but she didn't know if she had it in her to go there. "Does it have to be the amusement park?"

"You think intel goes wherever you want it to go?"

She clutched her fist and sighed. He was right. The file he sent clearly indicated that someone was planning an attack. If SHAW said she could gather information at that location to prevent it, the suspects must have left a trail there and not somewhere else. After all, SHAW had never pointed her to the wrong location yet.

But she'd rather go anywhere but there. Send her to the headquarters of Black Swan for all she cared, just not the amusement park.

"Fine. You got me interested. What don't you like about the amusement park?" He usually didn't seem to care about what she does or does not want, but this intrigued him.

"Nevermind. I'll go. I don't want to talk about it." Her voice flat. She didn't want him to ask any further. She would rather face the pain herself than to expose more of her weakness to him. "Besides, you were going to have me go regardless, no?"

"You're no fun." He tutted at her. He paused for a second before resuming with a voice deeper than usual. "I bet it's because of him. You guys probably went on stupid lovey-dovey dates there and so you don't want to go back when he's not with you."

SHAW’s guess was dangerously close to hitting a bull’s eye.

She and Gavin did go on a date at the amusement park, but he was so stupid and so unromantic that he ended up talking on the phone the whole time they were on the Ferris Wheel. She got so upset with him she didn't even want to talk to him. Of course, they made up in the end, but that now-cute memory, as much as it pained her to remember, wasn't the one she was most afraid of reliving.

It was the wedding shoot. Gavin and her stood in for the 100th couple who backed out of the shoot last minute. Although they weren't truly getting married, the memory of her in the wedding gown standing beside Gavin in his blue striped suit, telling each other they were the only ones they ever wanted to be partners with in a wedding whether real or fake was too much for her to bear. It reminded her too much of what might never be if she wasn’t able to fix the situation of her not existing in anyone’s memories in this dimension.

Having to be back at the location that would force her to relive this memory, she wasn't sure if she could keep herself together let alone complete the mission.

But this was private. A memory she wanted to hold so dear that she did not want to discuss with anyone in fear of losing it just like how she lost everything else. It was an irrational fear, of course.

But with so much going on, she felt the need to allow herself to be irrational on this one thing.

She kept her silence, having already said what she wanted to say on the matter.

"Doesn't matter," he finally said, seemingly irritated by her silence. "You start tomorrow."

The line went dead. He hung up on her.

Loud thunder cracked through the air. She jumped at the sound and wondered why the weather was so strange in this dimension. It was a bright sunny day outside.

Yui shook her head and thought of SHAW again.

She didn't understand him. On the outside, he seemed like any other 20 year old little brat, without a care in the world and yet he was doing all these things to gather information and even had Black Swan and evol agents from the STF going after him. He even had connections to make fake identities that would pass most government checks for her. All signs pointed to him being a big player in these schemes everyone seemed to be weaving.

However, his attitude were also too laissez-faire, too chaotic. He wasn't like anyone she had known.

He was a leader, much like Victor, but unlike Victor who always had a clear destination, he may lead you in a wild goose chase for his own amusement.

He played, much like Kiro, but unlike Kiro who was like sunshine and puppies, he plays with you like a cat would a mouse.

He was mysterious, much like Lucien, but unlike Lucien who would always plan five steps ahead in everything, he seemed only to have an end goal in mind, making things up as they unfold.

And he was nothing like Gavin. In fact, other than his eye color, his jawline and the fact that they were both amazing bass players, he was the total opposite of Gavin. Where Gavin was gentle, SHAW was rough. Where Gavin always strive to do the right thing for the greater good, SHAW seemed to only do things for his own benefit.

But it didn’t matter what kind of person SHAW was or what his goals were. In this partnership, Yui and SHAW took what they needed from each other, that was it. Nothing more and nothing less.

Placing her cell phone in her pocket, she gently touched the ginkgo bracelet on her wrist before she stood up and walked out of the coffee shop. As cold air rushed at her face, she adjusted her winter jacket and pulled the hood over her head.

She had one night to steel herself from the emotional onslaught that was sure to come during the next few days. But she had agreed to take on the mission and she would not allow herself to back down or to fail it. She would give it her all, even if it meant ripping the still-open wound in her heart even wider.

Yui stepped forward with stubborn determination in her stride.

Chapter Text

USB key in her hand, Yui hurried onto the bus. She didn’t know how she managed this past week, staring at the Ferris Wheel and the Merry-Go-’Round filled with so many sweet memories which were now bringing her so much pain.

Those were memories she wanted to cherish for the rest of her life and she wasn’t ready to taint them by associating them with this pain that was threatening to rip her heart into shreds. But life had a strange way of being cruel to her. The more she wanted to avoid it, the more she needed to confront it.

She went to work at the amusement park hoping that she’d be selling admission tickets or being a janitor in some absurd corner of the park, but instead she was given the job of handing out balloons in front of the carousel, the exact same one where she told Gavin she couldn’t imagine being with anyone else but him when they were standing in for the wedding shoot. The only saving grace was that she was in a bear suit, meaning nobody could see her face when she broke down crying at the memories with tears streaming down her face.

Yui was able to befriend her target quickly, but it took her a full week before she was able to get the information she needed. She was at her limit after a full week of staring at the things that reminded her of what would never be anymore. Now she left the park as soon as her shift ended, fleeing as if being chased by an invisible monster.

She took a seat at the very back of the bus, where no one would see her, leaned her head against the window and closed her eyes. She could feel her hands shaking and she had to take several deep breaths to calm herself.

“It’s over.” She muttered to herself. She could return to keeping those fond memories pure. There was no need to force herself to face reality every single day as she worked at the park anymore.

She didn’t realize she had been clutching the USB key in her hand with so much force until her hand stung from it digging into her palm. She loosened her grip a little and remembered that she should let Shaw know she completed her mission. She took her cell phone out from her purse, but as she was about to press the call button, she realized her hands were still shaking.

She didn’t want to call him in this state of mind. She would have felt too exposed. Putting her phone away, she decided to wait until she was home and calmer first. Sighing, she leaned her head against the window again, staring out at the moving scenery with hollow eyes.

Her mind drifted and she wondered what Gavin was doing right now.

Would he be on a mission? Or perhaps this was his day off? It was late now. If he wasn’t on a mission, he would probably have gone to bed now. He liked to sleep early on his days off, unless he was with her. Then he would have stayed up later after their dinner or movie dates to take her home.

A voice pierced through her thoughts and Yui realized it was the bus’s PA system announcing a stop. She looked up at the monitor and belatedly saw that the bus was already two stops past the one she was supposed to get off of.

She quickly jumped out of her seat and got off behind the other passengers before it was too late. Looking around she realized she never gotten off on this stop before, but was not entirely unfamiliar with the area. It was, in fact, not far from her place, so she decided to just walk her way home. It’d help her clear her head at least.

It was late and most shops were already closed, but they had their lights on in the windows, showcasing their products to passerbys. Yui leisurely walked by, stopping in front of a few shops displaying items that caught her eye.

Then, she noticed a liquor store she had never seen before. The word “Open” flashed on the neon sign hanging on the door. As she walked up to the shop window, she noticed a sign that said imported liquor and underneath it an assortment of red and white wines from all over the world. What caught her eyes, however, were the green and white beer cans sitting unassumingly in the corner.

Her heart raced.

Before she knew it, her hand was already pushing open the door to the store. Walking over to the beers, she picked up a six-pack and looked at the label. She wasn’t imagining it, they were the same fruit beers she had with Gavin when they went on that island holiday.

She bought them without thinking.

And that was how she ended up on the rooftop of her apartment an hour later, staring idly at the night sky.

Her phone buzzed for the nth time. She stared at it for a long while before sighing and picking up.

“Why didn’t you pick up?” As expected, it was Shaw. He sounded annoyed, but at the same time there was a hint of something else. She tried to identify it, but her brain wasn’t cooperating and she gave up.

“Didn’t wanna.” Her words came out slurred as she aimlessly stared at the four empty cans lying on the ground.

“You drunk?” His voice deeper now and sounded as if he disapproved.

She frowned. Who was he to disapprove of her? That twenty year old obnoxious little brat, who drinks coke mixed with pepsi.

The noise of a plane flying above caught her attention. Her eyes traced it across the night sky which was clearer than usual tonight.

“Go away.” She pouted and hung up the phone. She wasn’t in the mood to deal with him tonight, not when the moon was shining down so gently on her.

Yui tipped the can against her mouth and realized she had finished her fifth can of fruit beer. She could feel her face burning up as she grabbed the last one and popped it open. She took another swig before she looked up to the sky once more.

The moon was hanging in the sky and beside it was a star shining bright.

She giggled. She wasn’t sure why, but it felt funny to her. Ironically funny.

She reached out a hand towards the star, wanting to touch it. The brightest star to the southeast, he once said. The star that always showed up to stand guard over the moon.

But it was too far. No matter how much she stretched out her arm, it was still out of her reach. Tears began to fill her eyes as her vision blurred and her smile faltered.

“Gavin, the moon is shining bright tonight, but where are you?” Her voice trembled as tears began to roll down her face. “Where’s my Jupiter?”

“What are you doing out on the roof in the middle of the night?” A male voice broke the silence that she was so sure would have been her answer.

Slowly she turned her head towards the voice and saw the silhouette of a tall male walking towards her. He stopped a foot in front of her and she craned her head up to try to see his face, but the combination of alcohol and tears blurred her vision. She couldn’t quite make out his features, but she recognized those amber eyes.

Those were the eyes she had been dreaming about day and night ever since she came here. Those colors of bright amber, she wouldn’t mistake anywhere. They belonged to the person she loved so much.

Wanting to make sure he was real and not a figment of her imagination, Yui reached up a hand to touch the man’s face. When she felt his warmth under her trembling fingertips, tears fell down her cheeks anew.

“Gavin,” she whispered inaudibly under her breath the name that she had repeated a million times in her head.

She felt his long fingers circled her wrist, pulling her hand away from him.

No! She panicked. Quickly, she searched his eyes. Her vision was still unclear, but she could sense that he was looking at her with annoyance and frustration.

“Please don’t look at me like that.” She pleaded, couldn’t bear it.

Terrified of his rejection, she jumped to her feet. Dizziness from all the alcohol she consumed hit her hard at her sudden movement and she stumbled towards him. She fell face first onto his broad chest.

She felt him putting his hands on her upper arms, trying to push her away from him. Yui shook her head violently, quickly wrapping her arms around his waist. After all this time, she could finally feel the warmth of his body again, could finally embrace him again. She wasn’t about to let him push her away.

“Let go.” She heard him say, voice stern.

“No.” She refused, hugging him even tighter. “I don’t wanna let go. I missed you, so so much.”

“I said, let go.” He shoved her away so hard that she was forced to take a step back from him. But Yui could feel his hands still holding onto her upper arms, making sure she didn’t fall over.

His small gesture of care gave her intoxicated mind hope that, perhaps, he didn’t truly want her to let go. Maybe he was upset with her and she just needed to be bolder to show him her true feelings, she convinced herself.

Shrugging off the arms holding her, she stepped towards him again. Cupping his face with both of her hands, she stood on her tiptoes and pressed her lips onto his. She closed her eyes, kissing him again and again, the way she remembered he liked best, desperate for him to want her back.

Her lips quivered when he didn’t react to her. His mouth remained closed, his body almost rigid. She could taste the saltiness of her tears as she realized her Gavin didn’t want her anymore.

Defeated and embarrassed at the rejection, she awkwardly retracted her shaking hands. She averted her eyes to avoid seeing the disgust he must have in his eyes now. Tears streamed down her face, falling silently on the ground.

“S-sorry… I shouldn’t have…” She stammered as the ache in her chest intensified, so much so that it took all her willpower to keep herself standing upright.

But before she could take a step back away from him, she felt his hand tighten around her arm, yanking her back against him. His other hand gripped the back of her neck forcing her head up. She only had time to let out a surprised gasp before his lips came crashing onto hers.

His tongue forced its way into her mouth domineering her senses, not allowing any room for her to retreat. His kiss was like a storm, sweeping her off her feet so that she had no choice but to follow wherever he leads.

The sharp edges of his jacket zipper dug into her palm as she clutched it, trying to hold on. Gavin had never kissed her like that before. Even during their most intimate moments when they hungered for each other, he was always gentle with her, but this kiss was different. This kiss was rough and all-consuming, as if he was ready to engulf her whole.

Yui was confused at the change but wasn’t about to complain. Her love was here with her now, wanting her just as much as she wanted him. The only thing she desired more at this very moment was for them to melt into each other, to become one so that they would never have to part again.

She didn’t know whether it was due to the kiss robbing her of the needed oxygen or it was the fruit beer she previously drank that caused her mind to become increasingly hazy, but she didn’t care either way. She mewled into his mouth as she clumsily tried to kiss him back, determined to show him how much she loved him, wanted him.

She could feel his hand trace down her spine before he snaked his arm around her small waist, pulling her even closer to him. Feeling his hard length pressed against her stomach, revealing his desire for her, she let out a small moan.

Tears fell from her eyes again, this time in joy. She was so happy to know that he still wanted her.

When he finally broke the kiss, they were both breathless. She gazed up at him and saw him looking back at her, seemingly searching for something in her expression. But when he frowned, she grew afraid.

She was frightened at the prospect that he might have regretted kissing her and he was about to leave her again. Frantically, she circled her arms around his neck, pulling him close to her and begged, “Please don’t leave me.”

He froze at her words for a moment. Then as if he made up his mind, he let out a small curse under his breath before he picked her up and hoisted her over his shoulder.

Chapter Text

Air rushed out of her lungs as her back hit the mattress none too gently. She heard the rustling of clothes as the man towering over her shrugged off his jacket and threw it haphazardly on the floor.

Yui stared into his amber eyes as he covered her with his body, leaning his weight onto her. He was muscular and heavy, but she welcomed it. She found that she liked it when he crushed her with his body, even though he would normally brace himself on his forearm to make sure he wasn’t putting his full weight on her.

She wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders, wanting to feel him even closer to her. Dipping his head, he lapped at her sensitive neck with his tongue and nipped at her delicate flesh. She shivered at the sensation as she felt herself already dampening.

Angling her neck, she mimicked his movements. Yui darted out her tongue to lick at the spot just behind his earlobe and heard his breathing became heavier.

He shoved his fingers through her hair, took a fistful and wrench her head back, further exposing her neck to him. His mouth found her pulse and sucked hard as his tongue made slow circles on the spot at the same time.

She couldn’t help but dig her nails into his back as she moaned out loud.

His large hand moved to cover her breast, kneading it roughly over her clothes, and his fingers found her hardened nipple. Pinching it between his fingers, he heard her gasp as she arched her back.

“You’re a sensitive little thing, aren’t you?” She heard him say in a slightly mocking tone.

Mocking? Yui shook her head. She must have heard wrong. Gavin would have never spoken to her mockingly, especially not in bed. Her mind must have been playing tricks on her.

She raised her hands to cup his cheeks and have him face her, wanting to take a better look at him, to reassure herself that this was Gavin, the person she had been dreaming of seeing and holding all these days. And when those eyes of molten gold met hers, she smiled.

Of course, this was her Gavin, who else could he be? Although those eyes lacked the gentleness she was so familiar with and there was a hint of unfamiliar coldness within them, she was sure they belonged to the only man she ever loved.

She heard him tut before he lifted the hem of her shirt and pulled it over her head. His rough hands shoved her bra up to expose her naked breasts. Lowering his head, he took one of her nipples in his mouth and closed his teeth around it.

Yui let out a small yelp at the sudden pain. She had the strangest feeling that he was mad at her. For what, she didn’t know.

He continued the rough treatment, sucking hard at her nipples and kneading her breasts as if he wanted to punish her for something.

“Please, don’t be mad.” She pleaded with him breathlessly, her body reacting to this pleasure-pain he was inflicting on her.

He didn’t answer, but after a small pause, his touch became slightly gentler than before. As he licked the spots he bitten on, she began to mewl for him again. Her womb clenched at his every touch as small currents coursed through her body.

He ran his hand up her thigh, hiking up her skirt in the process, before hooking a finger on the band of her panties. With a little force, he yanked it off of her, leaving her core exposed to him.

“You’re so wet already.” He teased as he slid his fingers over her slick folds before he inserted a digit into her.

Yui could feel her muscles clamped onto his finger as it entered her, slowly thrusting in and out. It had been so long since the last time she was together with Gavin, she could feel a slight discomfort as her muscles stretched around his fingers. But that did not stop her from wanting more.

Raising her arms, she gently pulled him towards her and pressed her soft lips against his. She could feel his lips curved up into a smile as she wrapped her arms around the back of his neck pulling him even closer. Encouraged, she closed her eyes, savoring the feeling of this kiss. When she timidly darted her tongue out to caress his bottom lip, he opened his mouth to allow her access. Responding to his invitation, she boldly deepened the kiss, slowly stroking the tip of his tongue with hers.

His breath quickened and she could hear his irregular breathing between their sensual kisses. Slowly, he inserted another digit into her and she couldn't help but moan into his mouth. Wanting to be even closer to him, Yui pressed her sensitive breasts against his muscular chest as he spread his fingers inside her, stretching her wet core. She could feel the evidence of her arousal slowly rolling down her skin dripping onto the bed sheets.

Normally, this would have made her blush, flustered at her own body's reaction to his touch, but tonight was different. The long period of time away from Gavin had made her bold. It was impossible for her to put into words how much she desired him tonight, to be one with him, to feel that he belonged to her again. Just like how he promised her during their vacation at the islands. And she wanted him to know how much she yearned for him.

Breaking the kiss, she looked deep into his amber eyes that had turned into molten gold just as they always did when Gavin desired for her deeply. Yui placed her hands on his cheeks, holding him gently above her and whispered, "I want you."

He paused, a bit surprised at her assertiveness. "So impatient," he tutted, one side of his mouth kicked up in a lopsided smile as he slid his fingers out of her.

"N-no?" Feeling the sudden emptiness at his withdrawal, Yui whispered nervously. His earlier rejection of her on the rooftop still fresh on her mind.

Her concerns were quickly eased when she heard the soft sounds of metal clinking as he reached his hands to unfasten his belt. Slowly, he straightened his upper body as he pulled the belt out of the belt loops of his jeans before he casually threw it on the floor where his leather jacket lied, all while still kneeling between her naked exposed thighs.

As he reached for the zipper of his jeans, Yui sat up. Pushing the bra that slipped off her arms aside, she gingerly reached up her hands to him. Her ginkgo bracelet dangled from her wrists as her fingers trembled. She slowly undid the buttons on his shirt and pushed it off his shoulders as he watched her with amusement in his eyes.

Yui’s brows knitted when she saw the dark sleeveless shirt he was wearing underneath. Her muddled brain was slightly confused at the sight, but her desire for him clouded her thoughts. At this moment, she was not interested in why he wore a sleeveless shirt underneath. The only thing she could think of right now was to feel him, skin to skin.

Wanting to kiss that sensitive scar on his collarbone like she so often did before, she reached for the hem of his t-shirt and pulled up, revealing his well-defined abs, but before she reached his chest, she felt a strong grip on her wrists. Puzzled, she looked up at his amber eyes.

Abruptly, she was shoved back onto the bed, the air in her lungs rushed out of her in an oomf. She didn’t have a chance to take another breath in before he stripped her of her skirt and was on top of her again. This time, completely naked beneath him, she could feel his hard length pressing directly against her entrance.

Yui gazed upon his face as he towered over her and for a moment, the moonlight seemed to turn his hair silver. She frowned in confusion. Narrowing her eyes, she wanted to take a better look, but all coherent thoughts vanished as he buried himself completely in her slick core with one powerful thrust of his hips.

“Damn, you’re tight,” he grunted.

Her brows furrowed as she dug her nails into his biceps. Biting down on her lip, she stifled a moan of discomfort. It had been too long since the last time Gavin was inside her, her muscles struggling to stretch to accommodate the sudden entrance.

As she closed her eyes and attempted to take several deep breaths, she felt his large hand gently brushed the loose strands of her hair off her face. With both forearms resting on the sides of her head encircling her, he leaned down to press his lips on her forehead.

"I'm ok. It's just because it's been a while since…" She trailed off as she lowered her eyes, cheeks slightly flushed.

"So that's why your pussy is gripping me so hard, huh?" He teased as he slowly pulled himself out from her.

"That's not-" Blushing at his words, she began to deny it but was cut off when he suddenly slammed back inside her thrusting his hips.

She yelped in surprise. As he repeated the action over and over again, she couldn't help but mewl every time he buried himself back inside her.

He chuckled softly at her reaction.

“You like this, don’t you?” Hooking her legs on the crook of his arms, each of his powerful thrusts had his hard length buried even deeper inside her. “Don’t you?”

Yui couldn’t control her voice as her mewling got louder each time he pushed into her with such force that she could feel a tinge of pain along with the intense pleasure.

Gavin had never been so rough before. He had always been a gentle lover, always careful not to cause her discomfort. But tonight, he was different. He seemed like a wild and untamed animal, taking from her whatever he pleased.

She wasn't sure what to make of this new side of him, but having him back in her arms, touching her, wanting her, being inside of her made her so incredibly happy that he can take her life right now for all she cared. She simply wanted to be together with him like this forever.

"Yes, I love it." she replied, smiling breathlessly as a drop of tear rolled down her temple. "I love you, Gavin."

For a brief second, she felt him pause, his hard length still buried deep inside her. She heard his irritated tut again, an unfamiliar sound that he had made several times already tonight. Yui was just about to open her mouth to call his name again before he leaned down, his mouth crashed against hers.

Legs spread wide and knees pushed against her chest, her breath rushed out of her as his hot wet tongue invaded her mouth. She could barely breathe as he began to thrust in and out of her with increasing speed while covering her mouth with his.

If she wasn’t sure if he was mad at her before, she was sure of it now. She wanted to know why, wanted to know what she had done to upset him. But the way he was pinning her to the mattress, his forceful kisses covering her mouth, taking away her every breath and the bruising force he was using to drive himself in and out of her sensitive core left her unable to speak.

The only noise left in the room were her muffled whimpers, his occasional grunts, and the rhythmic slapping sounds made every time he plunged into her.

Truth be told, he scared her a little today. True, Gavin could sulk, but he never took it out on her, especially in bed. So when his thrusts became forceful, for a moment, she was unsure how to respond. But even in her hazy alcohol-intoxicated mind, she trusted Gavin wholeheartedly. She trusted that he would not hurt her.

So when she placed her hands on his shoulders, it was to pull him even closer to her. She couldn’t figure out why he was upset, but she knew she couldn’t push him away. She did the only thing she could think of to do. She wrapped her arms around the back of his neck and held him tight against her, as if she was telling him with her body that she was opening herself to receive him completely, regardless of what he was willing to give.

But after a few more powerful thrusts, everything stopped. With his cock still buried deep inside her, he broke off the kiss and lifted himself slightly off of her.

"Shouldn't you be pushing me away?" He asked, breathing heavily.

Smiling gently at his question, Yui slowly shook her head. "You'll never hurt me," she declared as she gazed at his beautiful amber eyes.

Yes, Gavin is with her now. The memory of the metal of his handcuffs digging into her delicate wrists must have been a thing from a bad dream. He will never purposefully hurt her. Never had, never will.

He let out a small laugh at her answer. "Is that so?"

She could hear a tinge of disdain in his tone, but there was something about the way he said it that made her wonder if that was directed to her or to himself. She wanted to ask, but it seemed like everything she said tonight upset him. She hesitated.

Her internal debate was cut short when he lowered himself onto her again, and she realized they were no longer separated by his t-shirt. He had taken it off while she was distracted.

Finally, she could feel his bare chest against her naked breasts. Not wanting to think of anything else, letting out a small sigh, she closed her eyes and savored the feeling of the contact. And then, slowly, he began to move inside her again. This time a bit more gently.

With each thrust, he buried himself again and again in her welcoming tightness. Soon, pleasure returned to her again. Wrapping her slender legs around his powerful hips, Yui mewled every time he ground his pelvis when he burrowed deep inside her, rubbing against her sensitive clit.

But his gentleness didn't last very long. Soon, his rhythm increased again as the force of him driving himself into her became more and more powerful. This time, however, there was no anger. He was simply losing his control to their passion.

He no longer chuckled at her when she lost control of her voice and moaned out loud, no longer teased her when she involuntarily bucked her hips, silently begging him to give her even more pleasure. Instead, his breath grew more ragged and his occasional groans grew more frequent.

Yui couldn’t help but dug her nails into his muscular back while pleasure kept building inside her, screaming for release as he drove into her faster and faster. Then ecstasy scorched through her like a bolt of lightning. She held on tightly as she came apart beneath him, back arched as her release rippled through her trembling body.

Her core pulsed around him as he continued several more powerful thrusts inside her before he pulled back his hips at the very last second, just as his shaft jerked while lines of his hot stickiness marked her inner thighs.

Still holding onto him a tight embrace, Yui closed her eyes as he kissed her softly on her eyelid, the tip of her nose and finally her lips. He rolled on his back bringing her with him, panting, trying to catch his breath. She closed her eyes, resting her head against his chest, listening to his thundering heartbeat, savoring the moment.

Finally, she was back in the safety of Gavin’s arms, she thought.

Chapter Text

Hugging her knees close to her chest, Yui sat, curled up on her couch. Her phone vibrated repeatedly on the coffee table littered with discarded facial tissues. The angry buzzing sounds a stark contrast to the otherwise silent living room.

She buried her head between her knees, making herself as small as possible as if that could somehow make the phone stop buzzing, make everything around her go away. Or better yet, it could make herself magically disappear.

It had been three days since she stepped outside of her home. Three days since she woke up that morning to this nightmare.

She tried her damndest to forget, but she simply couldn't. It was as if the more she wanted to wipe that truth from her memories, the more her brain was determined to make her remember that horrible morning when she opened her eyes to find the naked man sleeping peacefully beside her with purple bangs lazily draped over his forehead.

Her memories of that morning were still painfully fresh. She could clearly remember waking up slowly to the feeling of a warm body cuddling her, his strong arms wrapped around her small body.

The memories of the prior night’s reunion with Gavin was a bit fuzzy in her mind, so she kept her eyes closed, afraid that it was all but a drunken dream. Afraid that, if she opened her eyes, the feeling of Gavin sleeping soundly beside her would be gone. So, she laid still with her eyes closed, listening to the sounds of his even breathing, basking in a peace she hadn’t felt in months.

Six months and twenty-four days, to be exact.

That was how long she had been struggling to find a way to make Gavin and everyone else remember her. Or more precisely, for everyone to gain the memory of her existing in their lives, since, for some reason, the “Yui” in this dimension was not her and, apparently, Gavin, along with everyone else, never met this “Yui” before.

“Yui”, while still the owner of the Miracle Finder’s production company, led a very different life compared to her own. They did not even look alike, at least not to the people of this dimension; otherwise, Anna would have recognized her when she visited the office. She had not even met Gavin during high school. He had left for military school before “Yui” became a sophomore.

She didn’t know why things were the way they were, but she was determined to fix this reality. By becoming Shaw’s informant, she was hoping to find the way to do so. However, days turned into months and she still didn’t have the slightest clue what she needed to do. Bit by bit, she found herself drowning in hopelessness.

That night was the first night, since her arrival to this dimension, that she was able to sleep through peacefully without startling to nightmares or the sheer overwhelming loneliness of Gavin’s absence.

She would give anything for that moment to last forever, but life seemed determined to torture her.

When she finally opened her eyes, she froze in horror at the realization that the one who she had been intimate with the night before was not her beloved. The person who she kissed over and over again, held closely against her and took into her body last night was not the person she thought he was. As if mocking her, the man’s light purple hair and obvious lack of a prominent scar on his left collar bone grew blatantly clear to her as the bright morning sun illuminated her bedroom.

Yui pulled at her own hair as she relived the horrendous memories. She could still remember vividly how horrified she was and still is. Frozen with shock, she opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. It wasn’t until he began to stir that she regained her senses and fled the room.

Since that dreadful morning, she asked herself over and over again how she could have mistaken Shaw for Gavin that night. It was true that she was under the influence of alcohol, but that shouldn't be an excuse as the two of them were so different.

Although her memories of that night were patchy at best and the details were blurry, she vaguely remembered the times when she thought something was amiss. His rough treatment of her, his mocking tone and his light colored hair she’d had a fleeting glimpse of before he entered her were all clear signs of his true identity. Signs she all but ignored simply due to her desperation to be with Gavin.

Yui shoved her hand through her hair in frustration.

Not wanting to think anymore, she forced herself up from the sofa. She entered the kitchen and pulled a bottle of water out of the fridge. Needing to clear her mind, she forced herself to focus on her own movements as she twisted the cap open.

Yes, if she could keep her mind on what she was doing now, she wouldn’t have to think about what had happened.

She lifted the bottle to her lips and took a sip.

Why didn’t she take a moment to clear her head to think rationally that night?

Her hands began to shake as she leaned her back on the fridge.

If she had done that even for just a short moment, she would have known that the man she held so tenderly in her arms was anyone but her Gavin!

But she didn’t. She took one look at those familiar amber eyes and trusted.

Yui slid down onto the cold hard floor, one hand shoved through her tangled hair again causing a sharp pain in her scalp.  She squeezed the water bottle so hard that it crackled and cold water spewed onto her hand.

She felt none of it. All she could think of was how much she wanted to question Shaw. Why didn’t he stop everything from happening? But even she could vaguely remember that it was she who took the initiative. He had tried to push her away several times while she begged him to stay.

She wanted to lash out at him, to put all the blame on him for taking advantage of her when she had drunkenly taken him for Gavin. But at the end of the day, did she at any point give him reason to think she had mistaken him for Gavin? She couldn’t remember. What if she confronted him only to find out that it was Shaw’s name she called when she begged him to stay?

She didn’t have the strength to find out.

Feeling like an ostrich, she wanted to bury her head in the sand and pretend this never happened as long as she avoided talking about it.

But what would happen once she found a way to fix Gavin’s memories?

Yui slid further onto the freezing tiles of the kitchen floor, slowly curling herself into a fetal position.

She could already picture the hurt and disappointment in his eyes when he found out that she had shared her body with someone else. Perhaps, he would have looked at her with disgust and she would have deserved every ounce of it.

Gavin had always placed so much care in her, in their relationship. He held her heart gently like a small bird in his palms that needed careful nurturing. In return, he gave his heart fully to her, trusting that she would do the same.

Logically, Yui believed she didn’t actively choose to be intimate with Shaw, though she couldn’t help but blame herself for getting drunk and allowing herself to be vulnerable.

But that night on the rooftop, when she called for Gavin’s name over and over in the wind and was met with nothing but silence, utter loneliness engulfed her, suffocating her like a pair of cold hands wrapping tightly around her throat. 

She had been afraid. It had been so long since he had been with her that she feared she would soon forget his warmth, the way his gentle hands touched her and the feeling of being wrapped in the safety of his embrace. So she downed cans after cans of that fruit beer, desperately wanting to relive the evening they spent together on that warm summer night on the Cape Island beach.

She knew she was a lightweight and Gavin had warned her repeatedly not to drink when he was not around. She should have known better. And as a result, she had done the one thing that would hurt him in the worst possible way.

They had promised to belong to each other and each other only. And she had broken that promise.

But what if she kept pretending that none of this had happened? What if she lied by omission about her unfaithful encounter with Shaw?

That would have been the easy way out, no?

Her entire being reacted violently against it.

She couldn’t live her life with him pretending nothing had happened when she knew deep down that she was lying to him every minute and every second of their time together. She couldn’t do that to Gavin.

Once she corrected everyone’s memories, she would have to come clean with him. As much as it would hurt him, as much as it might ruin their relationship, Gavin had the right to know. If he chose to forgive her, it would be his choice, not because she had kept the truth from him.

But if he chose not to forgive her…

Yui could feel the tiny ginkgo leaf digging into her inner wrist as she hugged herself impossibly tighter at the thought of losing Gavin forever.

Gavin had always been her source of strength. It was the tiny hope that she could somehow find a way to fix everything and have Gavin back at her side that kept her from breaking down and surrendering to this reality for the past six months.

But if she stood to lose Gavin anyway, would it be better if he simply never remembered their past together? That way, perhaps, she could pretend that she was simply an underclassman with a good memory, something she claimed to be when she last spoke to him in that alleyway, trying to convince him she didn’t have malicious intent.

Perhaps, she could even try to get to know him again with this new identity. They may not return to the way they were, but at least there would be a chance to keep Gavin in her life, even just as friends.

Deep inside, Yui knew it was despicable to think this way. After all, it was she who refused to stay in the dream world and said that even if reality was cruel, it was, at least, real. And yet, when it came to Gavin, she wasn’t sure if she could make the same choice anymore.

BOOM!

Her room rattled at the sound of the enormous explosion.

Chapter Text

There was no warning. Yui only saw a flash of light in her peripheral vision as the unexpected sound of an explosion erupted so loudly it made her ears rang. She jerked her head up and felt the slight rattling of her walls as she watched small debris clatter on her balcony floor after hitting her windows.

It took her a few moments to understand what happened, but before she knew it, she had already clambered on her feet. She looked out the window and saw pedestrians fleeing in every direction.

Perhaps it was her instincts as a producer that kicked in or perhaps with all she had gone through in the past year that even though she could hear her own heart racing in fear, she knew she had to do something. She hurried back into her room to put on some warm clothes and grabbed a few essentials before running out the door and towards the scene.

She already saw the scene of the explosion from her home, but nothing could have prepared her for the carnage awaiting her. As soon as she exited her building, the painful moans of the injured filled her ears and the metallic smell of blood mixed with charcoal-burnt human flesh filled her nostrils. In the corner of her eye, she saw a limb lying on the ground, its lifeless body lying several feet away from it.

She was frozen in place, her feet rooted to the ground as her body shook in fear. It wasn’t until she heard the faint sound of a child’s cry that she snapped back into action, running towards the sound.

Yui found the little boy sitting on the ground behind a vehicle. He couldn’t have been any older than five. He had tears streaming down his face, but looked unharmed otherwise.

“Are you hurt anywhere?” Yui asked, just to make sure.

The boy shook his head, still sobbing, “I want my mommy!”

“Ok, let’s go find her.” Yui patted the boy on the head to comfort him before asking him about the name and physical appearance of his mother.

Although the child was unable to give her much detail, finding his mother turned out to be an easy task as she was already running down the street, frantically calling his name.

As Yui handed the boy over to his mother, their hands brushed and suddenly, her body tensed. The scene of a second explosion slammed into her vision. Yui saw the people who scattered eastward running right into the second bomb, exploding less than a block away from the current location. Many more were injured and killed, including the mother and the boy who were standing right in front of her right now.

Yui snapped her eyes open, grabbing the mother’s wrist tightly. “Run the other way. Don’t go eastward.”

“What?” The mother was puzzled at the sudden command given by the stranger in front of her.

“Just do it. Now!” Yui yelled, this time looking at the woman dead in her eyes.

Without further questions, the mother picked up her child and obeyed, the urgency in Yui’s tone, too difficult to ignore.

Screaming at the others on the streets to do the same, Yui, too, picked up her feet and ran but only got a few steps in before the second explosion erupted.

BOOM!

Yui barely had the time to flatten herself against the ground. Clouds of debris swept over her as she flinched at the small objects hitting her exposed hands and arms used to shield her head.

She tried to get back on her feet once the dust settled, but felt disoriented. She stumbled on her feet as the loud ring in her ears continued. Shaking her head, she tried to get rid of the pain and regained her bearings.

Finally, she stood up to look around. There were even more bodies on the ground. The second bomb went off when the residents from the nearby buildings came out to either help or to flee the scene.

This was no accident. It was a planned attack!

Who would do something like that? And, more pressingly, were there anymore bombs waiting to go off?

Yui closed her eyes, trying to use her evol to see if there would be another explosion when she felt a hand wrap weakly around her ankle. She let out a little yelp in surprise.

The man on the ground said something to her, but she couldn’t hear him properly. Her hearing still muffled from the deafening explosion.

“Are you ok?” She quickly knelt beside him. It took her a moment to recognize the man. He was Mr. Qin, her upstairs neighbour. But the man who was always expressionless and rude now looked at her with pleading eyes, his face twisted in pain and lying in a pool of his own blood.

It took her shaking hands a moment to find the open wound on him, a deep gash on his abdomen, which must have been caused by a large piece of flying debri.

“Mr. Qin, hang on! The ambulance will be here soon.” She comforted him. But even as she put pressure on his wound, she knew she was unable to stop the blood from gushing out of his body. Slowly, his life slipped away from under her hands.

Tears rolled down her face as his hand fell lifelessly on the ground. Like a deflated balloon, she sat on the ground, staring at her hands, now covered in crimson.

She was told she was the Queen. She was told she was the one who can change the future, but people were dying right in front of her and she couldn’t do a thing. What was the point of having precognition when she couldn’t prevent these disasters? What was the point of having the Queen gene when she could only watch others die in front of her?

“Stop spacing out!” She vaguely heard someone yelling at her. The voice sounded far away, but her arm was grabbed and she was yanked to her feet in an instant.

She slowly turned her head towards the man and found herself staring into a familiar face, one that belonged to the person she least wanted to see.

Shaw!

She jerked her arm back in reaction and took a few steps away from him. How dare he appear before her again. As if glares can kill, with all her might, she glared at him - at the person who caused her so much pain the last few days. She didn’t understand why he had to appear before her again. Did he want to hurt her more or…

The dots suddenly connected.

She had been holed up in her apartment for the last several days and had ignored his calls, not only because she didn’t want to talk to the person who caused her so much pain, but also because she didn’t think it was important.

But now that she thought about it, the information in the USB key she got from working in the amusement park included a date, a time and list of chemicals amongst some other information. She had a very short time frame to steal the information, so she hadn’t had a chance to go through all the details. But if she remembered correctly, the date was… today.

Could it be that his calls were for her to go retrieve more information so that they could prevent today’s bombing? If she didn’t ignore his calls, could she have prevented this?

She looked towards Shaw again, horrified.

Before she was able to ask the question, Shaw already took a step towards her and snaked one hand around her waist to lift her up.

“What are you doing?” She pushed at him.

“Stop wiggling.” He tsked as he jumped on his skateboard and started skating away with her in his arms at top speed, somehow able to dodge the bodies on the ground. “It’s not my fault if I drop you.”

“Let me down! Don’t…”

BOOM!

The arms around her tightened as Shaw threw the both of them on the ground and the world spinned around her. Once again, debris swept over her, but this time she felt none of the pain she did earlier. She opened her eyes gingerly to find Shaw braced over her, covering her with his body, his hand on the back of her head holding her safely against his chest.

Shaw had always been the type to tell her to just run, teasing her for not running fast enough just before grabbing her hand and dragging her along with him. This was the very first time he actually shielded her.

Partly paralyzed with how to react and slightly confused from the blast, Yui simply stared at the man who just protected her. She watched as he slowly propped himself up. Placing a hand over his ear, he frowned as he shook the dust off his head.

She wanted to say something to him, but didn’t know what. She wanted to have nothing to do with him, but he was the one who protected her today when she needed it the most.

She saw his lips moving, seemingly asking her something after he helped her up, but she couldn’t hear a thing. The hearing she slowly regained a few moments ago gone again. He said something to her again, but this time, although she still couldn’t hear him, she was fairly sure it was something that would have annoyed her.

“Stay here!” Shaw yelled even though he knew from the absent look that she probably couldn’t hear him, so he gestured to the ground to emphasize his command.

He waited until she nodded at him before running off to retrieve his skateboard that, surprisingly, hadn’t blown far in the blast.

As Shaw moved from her line of sight, Yui noticed a familiar figure appear just a block away from where she stood. Standing tall in his dark colored uniform, the figure's short brown hair blew in the wind as he gave out order after order to his team to secure the area.

“Gavin.” She whispered, craving for his comfort, for the warmth of his embrace. She yearned for him to take away her fears and to help her to be brave again.

She took a step towards him, but quickly held herself back.

How could she still try to seek the comfort of Gavin after what she had done? And even if she was shameless enough to do so, this Gavin was not hers. If she went up to him now, he would only look at her with his cold gaze, much like their last encounter at the alleyway. He would probably think she was stalking him again.

She couldn’t bear that treatment from him. Especially not now.

Yui dragged her gaze away from him and noticed more and more soldiers in the now-familiar NW uniform began to appear at the scene.

A team of soldiers attempted to direct bystanders and those who were uninjured away from the scene, but it was obvious from their expressions that even they did not know if they were directing them towards safety or towards the danger of another explosion.

Another team went to check for survivors, but one after another, they checked the pulse of the victims lying lifelessly on the ground. One after another, they grimly shook their heads.

The iron-rich scent of blood and the charcoal scent of burnt flesh permeated the air.

She stood there unable to take her eyes off the scene. Her feet rooted into the ground and her body shook like a leaf in the wind.

Once again, Yui was overwhelmed by her own powerlessness. She was the Queen, and yet all she could do was stand there helplessly watching people die in front of her.

A large hand covered her eyes. The back of her head fell gently against a muscular chest as Shaw’s still somewhat unfamiliar warmth surrounded her.

Vaguely, she heard him saying in a gentle voice, “Let’s get you out of here.”

Chapter Text

Yui leaned forward to wipe the steam off the mirror. Her reflection stared back at her, this time cleared of the blood and dirt that covered her before she stepped into the shower.

She couldn’t remember exactly how she got here. She was in a state of shock when Shaw led her away from the scene and by the time she realized, she was already at one of his workshops. Now, only her sore arms told the story of how tightly she must have held onto him during what was no doubt a high-speed skateboard trip.

“Get cleaned up. Don’t get my workshop dirty and stinky.” He said contemptuously, throwing her a towel along with some fresh clothes, before practically dumping her inside the bathroom.

She was going to protest until she saw herself in the bathroom mirror. Her hair was grey, covered in dust and her dress, hands, and legs stained dark red from the dried blood. She looked like she stepped out of a horror movie, except the horror was real.

Now that she scrubbed herself clean in the shower, she felt a bit calmer than before. Though still sporting hollowed cheeks and dark circles from the lack of food and sleep in the previous few days, she looked a bit more like herself.

She stared at the clothes sitting on top of the vanity. A black t-shirt and a pair of shorts. She didn’t realize earlier, but neither of the items was for women and, judging by their size, they probably belonged to Shaw. She didn’t want to put them on. Wearing a man’s clothes denotes some kind of intimacy between them. She didn’t want that intimacy.

Picking up her dress, she contemplated putting it back on, but the bloodstains and the ripped holes reminded her too much of the earlier carnage.

Sighing, she discarded the dress into the garbage and reluctantly put on Shaw’s t-shirt and shorts.

When she stepped out of the bathroom, Shaw looked up from his phone and immediately burst out in laughter.

Yui stared daggers at him. Of course, she knew how ridiculous she looked in his clothes. His fitted t-shirt engulfed her, its neckline so wide one side almost fell off her shoulder and its helm reaching her mid-thighs. The shorts, luckily, had a string to tie around its waist to prevent it from falling off her hips, but it wore so long on her that they covered her knees.

A red object flew towards her. Yui barely had time to reflexively hold out her hands to catch it before it hit her face.

A can of Coca Cola.

“Drink.” He jerked his chin towards it before he took a sip from his own glass while standing in the kitchen.

Yui had a feeling he was drinking his favorite Coca Cola mixed with Pepsi again. She tried it before but didn't see the appeal. It tasted just like Coke.

Shaw’s workshop was more like a studio apartment than anything, fully equipped with a kitchen, a bathroom, a bed, a sofa, and a TV. The only thing that made it a workshop was the large table in one corner with a computer and some machinery that she didn’t recognize.

She didn’t ask him what they were for; didn’t think she would want to know.

Walking over to the living area, she sat on the sofa against the graffitied wall. She was thankful that Shaw protected her, saving her from the horrendous scene of the explosion, but she was still uncomfortable with being so close to him. She wanted to put some distance between them.

Pulling out her phone, she checked the news. The incident dominated the headlines of multiple media outlets, but other than reporting the preliminary number of injuries and deaths still under investigation, no insights were revealed.

“There was a total of seven bombs,” Shaw said casually as he dug through a cupboard.

“Seven?” She exclaimed. Did more people get hurt or killed? Did Gavin get hurt?

“The NW took care of the rest. No further injuries.” He told her as if reading her mind.

Yui sighed in relief. She didn’t know how Shaw got his information, but having worked with him for over half a year, she knew she could trust the integrity of it. Still, she worried about Gavin.

Gavin was built to protect. Even if he was physically unharmed, he would surely blame himself for not being able to prevent so many innocents from injury and death. In the past, she was able to stay by his side to share his burden, but now, he was alone, by himself.

She was so deep in thought when Shaw suddenly plopped down on the other side of the sofa that she almost jumped.

“They timed it for maximum casualties. Hard to say if they had a specific person in mind as their target though.” Compared to the seriousness of the issue discussed, his tone was casual, almost relaxed. But the dangerous glint in his eyes made her wonder if, deep inside, he was just as upset about the bombing as she was.

“Who would have done something like that?” She continued the conversation while attempting to move away from him discreetly, trying to put some distance between them.

He frowned at her action as he quickly reached out to grab her, his long fingers encircled her delicate wrist. “What are you backing up for?”

“Let go! What are you trying to do?” Yui yelled, turning her wrist the way Gavin taught her when they did the self-defense shoot.

Knowing exactly what she was trying to do, Shaw easily diffused her movements. Her wrists remained firmly in his grasp.

“Trying to patch you up.” He chuckled amusingly. “What did you think I was going to do?”

“Huh?” It was only then that she noticed the first aid kit he laid out on the coffee table and the tweezer he was holding with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball at the end. She felt awkward for overreacting, but considering what had happened between them only a few days ago, she was hardly to blame. “I… I can do it myself.”

“Stop struggling.” He held on tighter without hurting her, that amused smile still plastered on his face. “It’s not like you can break away anyway.”

Yui was still not quite comfortable with his proximity but knew he spoke the truth. If the self-defense moves Gavin taught her didn’t work on Shaw, she had no chance of getting away from him. Giving up, she sighed and let him treat the cuts on her hand and forearm.

It stung a bit when he applied the alcohol to her wound, but she could feel that he was taking care not to hurt her unnecessarily.

She didn’t understand him. Shaw could be selfish. Often, he did whatever he wanted without the consideration of others, but at times like these, he was surprisingly gentle. She wondered if there was a side of him that she didn’t know or didn’t care to get to know before because she was so absorbed in her own grief of losing Gavin.

“Was it because of me not picking up the phone?” She asked softly after a long moment of staring at the lavender-colored hair on the top of his head.

“What was?”

“The information I got from working in the amusement park. It didn’t specify the location, no?” Her fingers unconsciously curled to hold on to his, stopping him from applying antiseptic cream on her wounds. “You were calling me to try to get me back in there to get that information, no?”

Yui could feel his hands froze for a moment before he lifted his head to stare straight into her eyes. Those amber eyes seemed to be able to look right through her. She felt naked with all her vulnerabilities exposed under his gaze, but she refused to look away. The questions had been eating away at her since she was at the scene of the explosion. She needed to know.

Instead of a straight answer, she got a flick on her forehead.

“Ouch! What did you do that for?” Rubbing her forehead, she complained.

“For being dumb,” Shaw took her wrist again, pulling her hand back down before wrapping gauze around her injured hands. “Haven’t I told you I have other informants?”

“But I was the one who got the original information. It would have been easier if I got back in than to send someone else to start all over again.”

“Guess you really didn’t notice him.”

“Him? You mean you sent more than just me there?”

“You think I’d send you in by yourself?” He arched his broken eyebrow and gave her a look that screamed “duh”.

Yui frowned. She wasn’t sure if he meant that he wouldn’t send her in by herself because it was an important mission and he didn’t want to risk her messing it up or whether he thought it was dangerous and wanted her to have back up.

She decided it was probably a bit of both.

“Then why were you calling me?”

“To get you back in, of course.” He said matter-of-factly.

This conversation was going nowhere and was giving her a headache. There was no point in asking him about whether she played a part in the inability to prevent the bombing. He wasn’t about to give her a straight answer. Besides, what kind of an answer was she fishing for anyway?

Did she want him to tell her that there was no chance of changing today’s outcome even if she had picked up the phone and went back to the amusement park in an attempt to collect more information?

Or did she simply want him to confirm that by not answering her phone, she lost any chance of preventing all the injuries and deaths today?

What good would either answer do?

The truth was that ever since she came to this dimension, she was so overwhelmed by the grief of losing Gavin that the only thing she could think about was how to make him regain the memory of her again. That had been her one and only goal - her sole focus - and because of that she lived in her own bubble. She was detached and uncaring of what was happening in the world.

She hadn’t been the compassionate person who fought for justice alongside Gavin. The old her would have investigated as soon as she saw the list of chemicals in the data she stole, but she had been so wrapped up in her own turmoil that she didn’t even give it a second thought of what they might be used for.

Annoyed and disappointed at herself for letting despair overwhelm her to the point of losing sight of what was important, Yui raised her hand wanting to shove it through her hair in frustration, when, belatedly, she realized they were bound together. Shaw had wrapped the bandage around her wrists while she was being distracted by her self-loathing.

“Untie me!” She demanded.

“Nope.” He chuckled as he reached under her knees and yanked her calves up to rest on his thighs.

“This is not funny!”

“The more you struggle, the longer this is going to take. So, be a good girl and let me finish.” He said as he began to roll up her shorts to reveal her scratched up knees. “And, yes. It is funny.”

As she contemplated whether she should kick that annoying smirk off his face, she suddenly realized that he might have done this for a purpose beyond his own amusement.

Of course, he was amused by it, but was it truly a coincidence that he did it while she was in the middle of self-loathing? Could it be that he did it to snap her out of it?

She snuck a peek at him. Although he still held that stupid smirk on his face, he was concentrating on treating her scraped knee. There was no telling whether she was right in her guess.

Either way, she was thankful for the distraction.

There was no point in beating herself up for what she didn’t do. Instead, she needed to get her act together moving forward.

There were clearly bigger issues at play in this dimension than her own. While she wouldn’t give up on her pursuit of righting the memories of those around her, she shouldn’t remain a bystander anymore.

She would work to help and protect innocents as much as she could from now on, just like she did with Gavin in the past. She couldn’t let herself be overwhelmed by her own despair to the point where she lost sight of what was important anymore.

“I won’t ignore your calls anymore,” she told him resolutely.

Shaw didn’t look at her, but his thin lips curved into an approving smile.

True to his word, it didn’t take long for Shaw to finish treating the wounds on her legs. She moved her legs off of him and held out her wrists so that he could untie her. To her surprise, he complied without making a fuss.

It wasn’t until he stood up to go put the first aid kit back that Yui noticed it. There was a huge gash on the back of his leather jacket at his right shoulder blade.

“Wait!” She instinctively grabbed his sleeve to halt him from leaving. “Are you injured?”

“Huh?” He turned his head to see where she was looking and shrugged. “It’s probably just a scratch.”

“Take off your jacket. Let me see.” She wouldn’t believe him unless she saw for herself. She had been with Gavin long enough to know that men had a tendency to try to downplay these things.

“Oh, so impatient to see me naked?” He teased, putting on an overly exaggerated flirtatious expression.

“Not funny,” Yui said in a stern manner. This might have been an acceptable joke before, but considering their current relationship, she was in no mood for it.

Perhaps he too realized his joke was inappropriate, Shaw obeyed without any further teasing. A large area with dark red bloodstain was revealed once he took off his jacket.

“I knew it.” Gasping at the sight, she gently pulled him to sit back on the sofa.

As he peeled his bloodstained tops off, the long angry gash appeared in front of her. The cut extended from the mid-shoulder blade up and ran the length of her hand. She couldn’t see how deep it was since it was mostly covered in dried blood now, but he must have torn it open just now as small drops of blood began to trickle down his back.

“You need stitches for this.” She frowned.

Shaw fished his phone out of his pocket, reached back and took a photo of his injury. He took a brief moment to look at the picture and declared, “It’s just a scratch.”

Yui looked at him disapprovingly. She wanted to drag him to the doctor to get it properly treated, but the way he dismissed it reminded her too much of Gavin. There was no convincing Gavin to go to the doctors when he thought the injury was minor, she had a feeling that Shaw would be the same.

Sighing for the nth time today, she gave up on the thought of arguing with him and instead told him to stay put.

She was well aware of his eyes focusing on her as she got up to head to the bathroom. He was probably unsure what she planned to do until she came back out with a wet towel and sat behind him.

Gently, she pressed the towel against his wound.

“What are you doing?”

“Returning the favor.” With careful hands, she wiped the dried blood off him. “I’ll patch you up.”

Twisting around, he looked at her with his eyebrows raised. It was almost as if she said something he had never heard before and it amused him. It was strange. She expected him to question her first aid ability instead.

“Turn around. Stop looking at me.” She ordered as she grabbed the first aid kit from his hands.

She had seen him fight other evolvers before. Unlike Gavin, who always held back and refrained from unnecessarily injuring his opponents, Shaw’s victories were always overwhelming. So, she was surprised to see his first aid kit so well-stocked.

She couldn’t help but wonder if he had to bandage his own wounds more often than she previously thought.

The gash on his shoulder looked even more gruesome once she cleaned off the dried blood and dirt covering it. The skin had split open, revealing dark pink flesh. While the bleeding had mostly stopped, some blood was still trickling out from the parts with a deeper cut.

Carefully, Yui applied antiseptic onto the open wound, her face scrunched up. “Let me know if it hurts.”

Shaw reached back and pinched her cheek.

“Hey! What was that for?” Protesting, she pushed away his hand and rubbed her slightly reddened cheek with the back of her hand.

“You were making a stupid face.” He chuckled; eyes full of amusement. “Hey, I’m the injured one here. Why are you the one making the face?”

“But it looks so painful!”

“This? It’s nothing.” He shrugged his shoulders. The movement stretched the skin around his wound, restarting a trickle of blood from it again.

“Stop moving!” She glared at him for a moment before putting more antiseptic on him and leaning in to gently blow on it to help it dry faster.

As she wasn’t responding further, he turned back around. He was about to reach for his phone to see if there were any more updates from his informants, when he heard her say, “Thank you for saving me.”

Her voice was soft, so soft that he almost didn’t hear her.

“Good that you realized.” His teasing started immediately again. “You were wiggling so hard I almost dropped you.”

She almost retorted, asking him who’s fault did he think it was? If it wasn’t because of what happened a few days ago, she probably wouldn’t have responded the same way.

She thought better of it, didn’t want to broach the subject. She would much rather put her head in the sand and pretend that night never happened and if she didn't talk about it, hopefully, Shaw wouldn’t either.

Although it still looked incredibly painful, his back now looked a lot less like a scene from a horror movie since she closed it with the wound mending kit.

Picking up the roll of gauze, she wrapped it around his shoulder several times before reaching around his broad chest, but soon realized she was sitting too far and her arms were too short to go all the way around him.

Reluctantly, she leaned in closer, then closer. By the time she was finally able to reach around and pass the gauze to her other hand, she was almost leaning directly on his back she could feel the heat emanating from his bare skin on her face.

“You turned into a tomato,” Shaw laughed when he saw her flushed face as she reached for the tape to secure the gauze in place.

As she taped the loose end of the wrap in place Yui glared at him, for the umpteenth time today, silently telling him to shut the hell up.

Completely ignoring her dirty look, he leaned close to her and whispered, “What were you thinking that got your face so red?”

Giving him yet another glare, she slowly tore off another short piece of tape. Looking him straight in the eyes, Yui smiled, then with an audible smack, slapped the tape over his infuriating smirk.

For a moment, Shaw paused in surprise, then, to Yui’s annoyance, his eyes lit up and he chuckled even louder.

Chapter Text

Steam rose from the three dishes placed beside a beautiful cake, carefully laid out in front of the two placemats. The pleasant aroma filled the room.

“Happy Birthday, Gavin.” Yui whispered as she looked across the dining table towards the empty seat.

Yui managed to pull herself back together after the bombing incident several months ago. Although she felt unsure if she’d ever be the same without Gavin, at the very least, she was no longer allowing herself to drown in her sorrows anymore.

Today, however, she allowed herself to regress.

Spring came and went, but the beautiful Summer never arrived. Loveland City was still covered in snow even though it was late July, reminding her of the harsh reality.

But today, staying in this room, she wanted to escape. Even if only temporarily.

Here, she could imagine that Gavin was still with her and that nothing had changed.

She woke up early today to bake his birthday cake and spent the afternoon carefully decorating it. Gavin’s eating habits had improved since they became an item, but he still relied heavily upon take-out food. So she rolled up her sleeves and cooked up some of his favorite dishes, making sure that they were not only tasty but also nutritious. Once preparations were done, she set the table for both of them, making sure she put extra rice in his bowl.

She wasn’t delusional. She wasn’t expecting Gavin to miraculously show up, but she had promised to celebrate his every birthday. Regardless of what she had done, regardless of whether there would be a chance for them to celebrate this day together again in the future, she didn’t want to break this promise.

Staring at the dishes in a daze, she remembered the first time she cooked for Gavin at his place. Yui could clearly remember the day when she showed up at his apartment, ready to prepare a home-cooked meal for him only to find that he had absolutely nothing in his pantry. As time went on, little by little, the counter and the cupboards of his kitchen filled up with condiments and herbs that she would bring every time she went over to his place to cook.

Then once in a while, she would find brand new items that she didn’t buy for him but were necessary ingredients for her cooking. When she asked Gavin, he would scratch his head and tell her that he saw it in a store and thought she might want to use it the next time she cooked.

Yui knew she wasn’t the best cook, but Gavin never complained. He always enjoyed the food as if it was the best thing he had ever eaten. Her heart always warmed just by watching him devour her cooking.

Her chest tightened and she could feel a lump in her throat as she looked at the empty seat across from her. She bit down on her lower lip as she released a long, deliberate breath.

Today was Gavin’s birthday, there should be no tears. Leaning her head on the back of the chair, she stared at the ceiling, her hand idly caressing her ginkgo bracelet.

She didn’t know how long she stayed in that position, but by the time the ache in her heartfelt more manageable and she picked up her chopsticks to put a piece of the food in her mouth, it had already cooled.

She swallowed the bite of food without tasting anything. Sighing, she slowly put down her chopsticks. She didn’t feel like eating, didn’t feel hungry at all despite not having a proper meal since she woke up this morning.

Giving up on the food, she got up to put things away, but only got the cake back in the fridge when she heard the lock on the door turn. Yui turned around just in time to see Shaw walking in.

“I smell food,” he yawned as he propped his bass guitar against the wall.

Yui had been staying at his workshop since they announced that the bombs had done some structural damage to the apartment buildings in the area, including her own. Construction companies had been working hard to repair the damage, but all residents were required to vacate the building until further notice.

Since then, she had gotten used to him dropping by unannounced. After all, the place was only a quick walk from Live House and Shaw seemed to have no sense of privacy. At least when it came to her privacy.

“You cooked this?” Before she could stop him, Shaw already planted his butt on the chair across from her and shoved a piece of chicken in his mouth. Immediately, he frowned. “Damn! How much chilli did you put in this thing?”

“Then don’t eat it. It’s not for you anyway.” She reached her hand to grab his wrist in an attempt to stop him, but with a quick twist of his wrist, he dodged her and smacked her fingers with his chopsticks.

“Don’t be so stingy,” he tsked as he picked some more meat to put in the bowl of rice that he decided to claim as his. “I’m starving.”

It was undoubtedly annoying that Shaw showed up out of the blue and started eating the food she prepared for Gavin, but as she sat and watched him eat, she thought that perhaps it was for the best. At least, this way, the food wouldn’t have to go to waste, and she wouldn’t have to eat the leftovers for the next several days.

“Don’t be picky. Eat the vegetables too.” She couldn’t resist putting some broccoli in his bowl when she realized that he was only picking out the meat in the dishes.

He tutted again but didn’t argue.

She watched as he demolished the food and when he held out his empty bowl and asked for more rice, for a moment, she thought she had Gavin back in front of her again, smiling at her with those amber eyes.

“Hey, you got more rice?” Seeing that she was simply staring at him in a daze, Shaw waved his bowl in front of her and repeated.

She snapped back to reality.

What was she thinking? She shook her head before quickly taking his bowl and walking over to the rice cooker.

She must have gone crazy to see Gavin in him again.

“Grab me a can of coke too.”

“Did you break your arm or something? Go grab it yourself.” She snapped back. Sometimes, Yui wondered how everyone else could stand this brat.

“Awww, come on. You’re right by the fridge.”

She rolled her eyes but obliged. “You just like bossing me around.”

“Well, there’s that too,” he replied shamelessly.

By the time Yui returned, she found her bowl overflowing with food. Her eyebrows shot up as she stared at the disproportionately high vegetable-to-meat ratio.

“Don’t be picky. Eat the vegetables too.” He threw her words back at her with a crooked smile.

“Brat,” she muttered under her breath, but couldn’t stop a smile from forming on her face. She was about to tell him she wasn’t hungry when her stomach growled. Embarrassed, she shoved a piece of food in her mouth without thinking and immediately regretted it.

Her face turned red as she forcefully swallowed the food down her throat. Sticking out her tongue, she fanned it with her hand. Reaching over the table, she grabbed Shaw's coke and downed it in a few large gulps.

“You’re hilarious!” Shaw burst out laughing. “Hey, don’t glare at me, I didn’t do anything.”

“Gah, I couldn’t feel my tongue anymore.” Grabbing a tissue, she wiped off the sweat on her forehead.

“Why’d you make it so spicy if you can’t take the heat?” He put another piece of meat in his mouth as if it wasn’t spicy at all.

“It was because…” she stopped short. She wanted to say it was because Gavin liked spicy food and she was cooking to his taste, but she thought better of it. Shaw was likely to make fun of her if she told him the truth. So instead she said, “It’s none of your business.”

“Next time do hot pot instead. And, remember to put less chili pepper. I can’t taste anything except for the spice.” He criticized but didn’t stop polishing off the food.

“Hot pot,” she rolled her eyes. “All you think about is hot pot.”

“Well, I wouldn’t mind fried chicken or barbecue either,” he shrugged.

“I’m not cooking for you,” she stuck out her tongue at him.

As much as what he said was infuriating, she couldn’t help but smile again watching him eat. Ever since she came to this dimension, she hadn’t had the opportunity to cook for anyone. It had been so long that she almost forgot how good it felt to have someone enjoy her home-cooked food.

Bringing the emptied dishes to the sink after he was finished, Yui was surprised to see him follow her to the kitchen.

“What are you doing?” She asked when he pulled out a knife from the drawer.

He reached into the fridge and pulled out the birthday cake she baked for Gavin instead of answering her.

“How did you…”

“I told you,” he leaned towards her with a smirk. “I’m not as dumb as you.”

“Have you been spying on me?” Yui frowned.

It was his turn to roll his eyes. “You think I’ve got nothing better to do?”

“But…” Yui opened her mouth to argue.

“You think too much,” he shoved a fork full of cake in her mouth.

She glared at him as she tried to swallow and saw him stabbing the same fork into his slice of cake again. This time putting a good-sized bite into his own mouth.

“Ew, it’s sweet,” he frowned as he complained.

“Of course, it’s sweet, it’s a cake.” Sometimes Yui wondered if conversing with him would make her roll her eyes so much that they would permanently get stuck to the back of her head. “What else do you expect? A hot pot flavored one?”

“Or a pizza-flavored one,” he smirked.

“The only person who would want a pizza-flavored cake is you.” It was obvious that he was jerking her chain, but she just couldn’t seem to stop herself from responding to his trolling.

“Yah yah, it wasn’t for me… blah blah blah…” he mocked.

Yui’s face fell at his words. How could she have forgotten? She had made this elaborate dinner for Gavin and it was Gavin’s birthday cake being devoured right now.

With all the bickering with Shaw, for a brief moment, she had forgotten the misery of not having Gavin by her side.

She was grateful for the distraction, yet deep inside her, she couldn’t help but feel a tinge of guilt.

“I’m stuffed,” he said out of the blue as he stood up to stretch.

“Of course, you ate two people’s worth of food and half a cake.” She half expected him to explode the way that he finished everything.

“Go put a coat on.”

“Why? Are we going somewhere?” Yui asked, confused at the sudden change in the direction of their conversation.

“You really haven’t learned a thing, have you? Stop asking questions. Let’s go!”

Chapter Text

“What did you bring me here for?” Standing in front of a wall filled with graffiti, Yui cocked her head to the side.

“Hey,” Shaw hollered from a few meters away. “Catch!”

She turned around and shot her hands up just in time to prevent the projectile from hitting her face. It made a loud clunking sound as it hit the ground and rolled off to a side.

“Stop throwing things at my face!”

“You’re a terrible catcher,” he said with a look of disdain.

Why does she have a feeling he did it on purpose just so he can see something hit her square in the face?

She sighed as she bent down to pick up whatever he threw at her, realizing it was a spray can.

Fishing out a couple more spray paint bottles of various colors from his backpack, Shaw pointed at the wall behind him. “Go for it.”

Yui pointed at herself in confusion.

“You were interested, no? I was going to have you be my lookout again,” he paused, giving her a lopsided smile. “But since I don’t want to end up in the police station, I’ll make an exception today and be your lookout instead.”

Yui paused as she thought she heard something sounded almost gentle beneath his little playful taunt, but she couldn’t be sure. She hesitated for a brief moment before she waved the feeling away.

Whatever his intentions were, he made the offer, why not take him up on it? She had done it once already when she lost her bet and had to go on that one-day date with him anyway. And, if she was honest with herself, it was quite fun.

Well, except for when they had to run from the city management officers, of course.

Decided, she shook the spray can in her hand as she walked towards the wall and saw Shaw had already chosen a spot on the ground to sit with a good vantage point.

She took another look at him before raising the can in her hand and pressing down on the nozzle. He had gotten her out of trouble enough times that she figured she could trust him to keep her out of the police station this time too.

With a hiss of the can, a cloud of pink appeared on the wall just like last time, except, now she had a better idea of what she was doing.

“There!” She announced after several minutes of spraying.

She stepped back to look at her work and nodded in approval. Definitely a huge improvement from last time, her lines were no longer crooked.

“What the heck? Sea monsters again? And a whole family of them?” She heard Shaw laughing hysterically from his seat. “How uncreative can you be?”

“I told you they are rabbits!” She snapped back, pouting, before bending down to grab another spray can that was closest to her. “And who said I’m done yet?”

Truth be told, she was done. But there was no way she would sit back and let Shaw taunt her like that. So, she kept drawing. Minutes passed by, more and more little colorful creatures filled the wall like a rainbow. She admired and grinned at her handy work every time she went to pick up a new color spray.

Soon, she was holding the last can in her hand. Stealing a look at Shaw, she saw him looking off into the distance, blowing bubblegum bubbles and popping them loudly. She wondered if he was bored just sitting there acting as her lookout. She was bored last time, until she saw the breath-taking artwork that he drew.

For a brief moment, she debated on whether to just call it a day so he didn’t have to endure the boredom any longer, but she shrugged and decided otherwise. This was the last color anyway. It would only take a few more minutes for her to finish up.

Holding up the can, she pressed on the nozzle once again and stood frozen as she stared at the small cloud of gold-yellow in front of her.

The color of ginkgo leaves.

Whatever animal she was planning to draw had been forgotten. Her finger pressed on the nozzle again and with a few turns of her wrist, a ginkgo leaf appeared on the wall. She stared at it in silence.

“So, you drew the sea monster family’s demented cousins too,” Shaw’s sarcastic voice rose behind her suddenly. “Great!”

Jolted back to reality at his comment, Yui realized what she had done. As if possessed, she had painted ginkgo leaves after ginkgo leaves until they filled up a large space beside the first bunnies she drew.

What was she thinking? She had done it again. She had let her misery take over her again. Yui shoved her hand in her hair in frustration, wishing she had better control of her own emotions.

Picking up a can of spray paint, Shaw stood between her and the wall blocking her view, forcing her to take a few steps back. She heard the hissing of the spray can before she could react.

With a few swift motions, his hand sped across the wall as vibrant silver-grey paint followed in confident strokes.

“Hey! What are you doing?” Reaching her hand towards his raised arm, she tried to interfere with him from drawing over her work.

Quickly, he stepped aside to dodge her while he shot out a hand to grab her wrist. In one swift moment, he had her entire body pinned against his side with her back towards him, his arm wrapped around her torso.

She slapped her free hand at him and tried to break loose, but all he did was laugh, squishing her towards him more. The hissing sound rose again as Shaw continued his work despite her wiggling and her shoe almost kicking him in the shin a couple of times.

Finally, the hissing of the spray can stopped as he made his final stroke and released her from his grip. Unable to curb her curiosity, although still annoyed by his complete disregard of her protest, she turned her gaze towards the wall.

Yui couldn’t help but stare at Shaw’s creation in awe. In that small amount of time, he painted a huge imposing shark that seemed ready to jump out of the wall at any moment. The life-like image dwarfed her drawings both in size and art style.

It took her a moment to realize his shark had its jaw wide open and had “swallowed” the majority of her ginkgo leaves along with a few animals in its path.

“What was that for?” She pointed at the shark, raising her voice. “You said you were just going to act as my lookout.”

“Hey, who said I was just going to sit there?” He laughed as he dodged her half-hearted attempt to hit him on his arm.

“That was mean!” She complained, though she couldn’t stifle a small laugh of her own as she ran after him. “And it makes no sense! Why would a shark jump out of the water to eat bunnies and puppies?”

“What bunnies and puppies? You drew sea monsters!”

She chased after him trying to land a hit on the little brat while he skipped around taunting her and dodging her half-hearted attacks like two little kids playing on a playground.

With a pop, she cracked open a can of warm milk tea they bought in a twenty-four-hour convenience store on the way back. Trying to clench her thirst from chasing Shaw halfway back to the workshop, she took a big gulp.

Sitting on the bench, neither suggested to head inside to the workshop just a few steps away, even though it was freezing cold outside. She tilted her head back and watched small, white clouds of fog forming every time she exhaled.

It had been a long time since she laughed so much. In fact, this might have been the first time she laughed without care for more than half a year. She could still feel her sore cheek muscles.

Letting out a small self-deprecating laugh, she shook her head. It was only now that she realized how pathetic she had become since she came to this dimension.

“It’s Gavin’s birthday today,” she said quietly.

“I know,” he said nonchalantly.

She turned to look at him in surprise, but before she opened her mouth to ask how, she remembered that this was Shaw she was talking to. He had multiple informants working for him. It was easy enough for him to find out about things like these.

“That’s why you came to check on me?”

Rather than answering, he merely gave her a shrug.

He didn’t give her a real answer, but if she thought about it, it was obviously the reason he dropped by tonight. He never asked her why she had cooked for two, never made a comment about her sitting around and staring at an empty chair until the food was cold and even knew that there was a birthday cake sitting inside the fridge without her mentioning it.

She’d be stupid to think it was all a coincidence.

Before, she was so absorbed in her own grief that she never spent the time to understand Shaw. But ever since the bombing incident, she was determined to pick herself back up, and in the process of finding herself again, she came to slowly learn more about him.

Beyond being an annoying brat half of the time, this man sitting beside her could be surprisingly sensitive and caring. Thinking back on it, Yui realized there were countless occasions when he took care of her in his own little way, like pulling pranks on her when she was lost in her dark thoughts or taking her out on silly missions, like stealing his professor’s papers when he clearly didn’t need her help. He was trying to keep her mind occupied.

He probably took her out tonight because he saw the guilt on her face when they were eating that birthday cake and wanted to take her mind off of it. After all, he took her graffitiing, one of his favorite activities when he wanted to vent. He even sat quietly most of the time when she took her time drawing.

It wasn’t until she started obsessively drawing ginkgo leaves that he intervened.

Turning towards him, she took a long look at him, something she had never done before. Sitting beside her, he was leaning forward, bracing his arms on his knees. His antique dragonfly eyes bead necklace gently swayed and his broken brow slightly furrowed every time he took a sip of his coke.

Yui thought to herself that perhaps, beneath that bratty exterior, he was truly a good person, someone she could trust.

“Thank you,” Yui began again after a good few minutes of comfortable silence.

“What for?” He took a sideward glance at her before taking another sip of his coke.

“For taking my mind off of things,” she replied, acknowledging what he did for her not only tonight but the many times before that she didn’t realize until now.

“Sure,” he shrugged. “How do you plan to thank me?”

Yui rolled her eyes at his terrible habit of asking for compensation for everything but didn’t reject the idea, as long as it was something she could afford. “Fine. What do you want?”

There was a slight pause before Yui saw a glint in his eyes and the corner of his mouth hiked up and immediately, she knew the wheels were turning in his head. He was up to no good. Her eyebrows knitted and she moved backward instinctively.

“The birthday present you owe me,” he said. “Well, a belated birthday present. With interest.”

“Huh?” Yui was about to ask why she would owe him a present when she didn’t even know when his birthday was but realized that would have been a lie. Two months ago, she found his student ID inside the pocket of a jacket he lent her after a mission. She remembered thinking to herself that she wasn’t one bit surprised that he was a Gemini when she read his birth date on the ID.

“Elaborate dinner for Gavin’s birthday but not a word for me on mine? Favoritism much?” He asked jokingly, but Yui could see he held a blank expression staring off to a distance as if he was trying to hide his emotions.

“Sorry,” with a guilty smile, she apologized. She didn’t do it on purpose, but it was true that she didn’t take the date to heart, so when she got busy with the missions last month, it escaped her completely. Not that she would have cooked him an elaborate dinner, but at least she should have wished him a happy birthday. “Happy belated birthday?”

“Too insincere,” he tsked, crushing the empty can in his hand as he threw it in the trash can. “Rejected.”

Of course, he was going to make things difficult for her, but with what he did for her today, she did owe him. Letting out a sigh, she placed the now-cold can of milk tea on the bench beside her before sitting up and turning towards him.

“I’m sorry for forgetting your birthday,” firmly gazing at his amber eyes. She pressed her hands together in front of her face and apologized again. “I wish you a happy very-belated birthday.”

“Barely acceptable,” he smirked. “Still owe me that birthday present though.”

“Fine,” Yui rolled her eyes again wondering if it was her imagination or if Shaw was sounding a little like Victor. Hopefully, his idea of a birthday present wasn’t some kind of a financial report. “As long as it’s not something expensive.”

“No money required.”

As she was about to open her mouth to ask for clarification, she felt his hand on her nape and his face grew closer in her vision. Before she could react, his warm lips were already on hers.

She froze, eyes wide in surprise at the sudden turn of events. It took her brain several seconds to process what was happening and by the time she held up her hands to shove him away from her, he had already ended the kiss.

“What on earth?!” She jumped on her feet and immediately tried to wipe her lips with the back of her hands.

“Nuh-uh, no wiping,” Shaw shot his hand out to grab her wrists stopping her hands inches away from her face. “Wipe and I’ll kiss you again.”

He held on to her wrist for a short moment to make sure she understood him before slowly releasing it.

Free to move her arms again, Yui was about to ignore his threat just before she caught a glint in his eyes as he raised an eyebrow at her, as if daring her to defy him. For a moment, she debated internally. On one hand, she wanted to do exactly what he threatened her not to, even if it was out of simple defiance. On the other hand, she knew he would totally make good on his threat and the smirk on his face revealed to her that he was looking forward to her doing just that.

There was no winning against him.

Her face flushed red with frustration, but she had no choice but to give in. Slowly, she lowered her hands, but if Shaw thought she was going to let him do whatever he pleased without consequences, he was very, very wrong.

Without warning, Yui kicked out her foot with all her might. As her boot connected with his chin, she heard a satisfactory yelp from him. As much as she wanted to see his surprised and painful expression right now, Yui didn’t dare to stay for another second.

Turning around, she ran straight for the workshop. With speed she didn’t even know she had, she fished out the keys from her pocket, unlocked the door, slipped inside, slammed the door close behind her and set the deadbolt in one swift movement.

Heart still racing, she turned around and leaned her back against the door and heard, somewhat unsurprisingly, his laughter. It was so loud that she wouldn’t be surprised if the neighbors were woken up by it.

“Jerk,” she muttered, annoyed that he found her reaction amusing yet again.

Yui waited a few moments after his laughter faded before letting out a sigh of relief knowing that he wasn’t going to barge into the workshop to exact revenge upon her tonight.

Slowly, she raised her hand to her mouth again, intending to wipe off the taste of him, but as her fingertips touched her lips, she was reminded of his warmth and the unexpected tenderness of his kiss.

It wasn’t forceful or consuming. He simply caressed his soft lips against hers gently. Their closeness allowed her to smell the lingering scent of his shampoo and to taste a hint of the sweetness from the Coke he finished drinking a moment ago.

She had tried her damnedest to forget, to pretend it never happened, but the hazy memories of how his lips felt against her own lips and her bare skin that fateful night several months ago came creeping back to her. She should feel anger or even violation from the reminder, but instead, she only felt a slight annoyance. Eyebrows knitted, she bit down on her lips as she belatedly realized that she didn’t hate his kiss as much as she should.

As she contemplated the meaning of this, the large clock on the wall caught her eye and she realized it was past midnight.

Gavin’s birthday had passed.

Chapter Text

Yui hugged her knees against her chest, but nothing seemed to be able to chase away the chill she felt in her body. The chill sat heavy in her chest, like a block of ice that would never thaw. Even the hot tea she had moments ago couldn’t touch it. Neither did wrapping herself in blankets or turning up the heater.

Sitting on the bench seat at the workshop, she rested her head against the window, gazing outside in silence. The street light flickered as large snowflakes fell from the sky, landing upon the empty alleyway, covering it in pure white.

Staring at the bare branches of the ginkgo trees lining the main streets not too far away, hung low with the weight of the snow, Yui wondered if Spring would ever come again. She wondered if the flowers from these trees would ever bloom again, if the vivid green leaves would ever grow into lush foliage again and if the leaves would ever turn into the vibrant yellows that danced so gracefully in the wind.

Like she often did since she came to this dimension, she unconsciously stroked the small ginkgo leaf on the bracelet. She would have never imagined that this tiny gift from Gavin would one day become the only evidence of their love for each other.

Parting her lips, she blew a breath on the cold glass forming a small cloud of fog. Raising her hand, she wrote Gavin’s name on her window. She stared at it in a daze until it slowly faded.

She sighed. Who was she kidding?

Even if she marked it as his special “door” like they did for each other that time that they made Pearly’s new whistle, it wouldn’t bring her Gavin home.

No, her Gavin didn’t exist in this dimension. The dull throb on her sprained ankle served as a reminder of what happened today. She shivered.

After all that had happened since she came to this dimension, some shameless part of her still yearned to meet him again. Even though she knew she didn’t have the right to, she yearned to have his gaze on her, to have him talk to her, to feel his warmth beside her. She knew he wasn’t her Gavin, but even if he didn’t remember her, she thought his simple presence would still be of some comfort.

But ever since the night she was drunk on the roof, she had stopped her obsessive tracking of him. She was too ashamed of herself to do so, too afraid to face Gavin after what she had done.

So when Gavin rescued her today, even though she should have known that he would be one of the first responders to arrive on the scene, she was surprised to see him. And for a minute, their moment together was everything she wanted.

He held her in his embrace as he saved her from the dangers of when she was shoved into oncoming traffic while running from the explosion at the bridge and the attack from the unknown enemy. He protected her just like he always did.

She clung closely to him, afraid that he would disappear, greedy for the momentary warmth, enveloped by his familiar, clean scent.

But the familiar comfort lasted only briefly before she realized how wrong she was. How presumptuous she was.

It was true that he protected her from harm, but it was simply out of a sense of duty. This Gavin held none of the tenderness she had grown so familiar with since their first reunion as adults.

The memories of the cold distant look and detached emotionless tones he gave her today sent chills down her spine. She hugged her knees even tighter against her chest, but her body didn’t seem to want to retain any warmth.

Yui stared at her own reflection in the window. It was a pathetic sight, her eyes hollow, her lips pale and quivering.

She knew it was for the better that they did not meet. She knew that this Gavin, who did not know her, would treat her as nothing but a stranger. And yet, she dared to dream that an encounter with him would give her comfort.

For the brief moment that it did, however, it was heaven. When she fell into his hard embrace, she was overwhelmed by happiness. It was as if she finally woke up in Gavin’s arms and the last ten months were nothing but a terrible nightmare. It was as if things went back to the way they were. The way they should have been.

But her momentary happiness served only as a gateway for her to fall deeper in the never-ending depths of hell when he mercilessly dodged her unconsciously reaching hands.

Her Gavin had never refused her touch; he always welcomed her with open arms.

The rejection felt like an invisible hand, shoved into her chest, ripping out her beating, bleeding heart from her rib cage. She felt as if her blood wouldn’t stop dripping out from her hollowed chest, taking all the warmth from her body with it drop by drop.

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she leaned her head against the window again.

No, the person who saved her today was not her Gavin.

The murderous look he gave her, with storms in his eyes, did not belong to her Gavin, nor did the painful, hateful, bitter expression he shot her when she accidentally used her evol on him. 

Her Gavin simply did not exist in this dimension. Their meeting today was just a cruel reminder for her that she had no one to lean on in this world.

She was all alone.

Yui trembled even harder at the thought as her chest tightened and her heart throbbed in a never-ending pain.

She thought she had a handle on the loneliness and emptiness that had been growing inside her ever since she came to this dimension. She thought she had it under control, imagining that nothing had changed, and that Gavin was simply out on a mission and that he would come back to her soon.

But seeing Gavin again today had been a cruel awakening. His mocking tones and murderous looks dragged her back to reality and since then, her loneliness and emptiness had grown exponentially, threatening to swallow her whole.

She felt like a person who was drowning in the middle of an ocean with nobody around to hear her screams.

And she was so tired from the screaming and the struggling she had to do just to stay afloat, only to be engulfed by waves and dragged underwater over and over again.

Was she ready to give up? Yui asked herself.

No, she was too stubborn to do that. Even just to keep her promises to herself and Gavin, she would fight until her last breath for what was right and for justice. She was still determined to stop tragedies like the attack in her neighborhood several months ago and the explosion at the bridge today from happening again.

But how could she go on when even the simple action of breathing felt so exhausting?

She desperately needed a shelter, a refuge where she could rest and take a breath before continuing this difficult journey. But no matter how hard she reached out, all that was waiting for her was the cold nothingness.

Shivering uncontrollably, she clutched the blanket even tighter around herself. She closed her eyes as more tears streamed down her cheeks.

“Why didn’t you turn the lights on?”

Yui jumped at the sudden voice in the room as the light came on. Turning her head away from the person who appeared without warning, she quickly wiped her tears away with the back of her hand.

Ever since Gavin’s birthday, Shaw had been dropping by the workshop even more often than before. She had almost expected his sudden presence.

“What the hell? It’s like a sauna in here,” he complained, as he kicked off his boots, strolling over to the thermostat and turning it down to a more acceptable level.

Normally, she would have objected to him doing whatever he wanted without asking her first, but today, she didn’t have the energy.

“I bought fried chicken,” he said as he placed a few plastic bags of takeouts on the coffee table and plopped down on the sofa. “You want some?”

“No,” she quietly cleared her throat.

“What? Too tired from running away from your kidnappers today?” His tone mocked. “Told you not to head southeast.”

She didn’t reply. She didn’t have the strength to deal with him.

“It’s from the store you like.” Opening the bags, he laid out the boxes of food, one after another. He paused for a second before adding, “I was passing by.”

One would think that after an experience of running from her kidnappers only to arrive at the scene of an explosion, then pushed into oncoming traffic and attacked by unknowns that she would be starving by now, especially when she hadn’t had anything since breakfast. But she wasn’t.

She didn’t feel hunger. In fact, she couldn’t feel anything at all other than the freezing cold.

“I’m not hungry,” she refused again as she continued to gaze outside the window. The heavy snow continued to fall, the streets now entirely covered in a thick blanket of white.

The rustling of plastic bags stopped abruptly followed by a small click of the tongue and the sound of soft footsteps.

A paper cup was suddenly shoved into her hands. She whipped her head around to face the man who was now standing right beside her.

“Hot milk tea,” he jerked his chin towards the drink in her hands. “More milk, less sugar.”

He knew her usual order by heart?

Bemused, Yui stared at him as the warmth from the hot tea slowly spread to her fingers and palm.

“What? You don’t know what to do with milk tea now?” Shaw gave out a small huff after a long moment of silence between them. “Drink it.”

Of course, she knew she was supposed to drink the tea he placed in her hands, but for some reason, she couldn’t look away from this person standing in front of her. Unconsciously, she clutched the paper cup in her hands.

How could it be that he always showed up when she was at her worst?

She felt her eyes sting and before she knew it, her vision blurred and tears rolled down her cheeks anew.

Shaw froze in surprise.

Yui had never cried in front of him, in front of “Shaw”, the man she had been trying so hard to hide her vulnerabilities from. The only times he had seen her tears were when she thought she was alone or that time when she had mistaken him for Gavin.

She had always put up a strong front of him no matter how much she was hurting inside. He knew she saw Gavin after the kidnapping today, but he was still stunned that it had rendered her so defenseless even in front of him.

Embarrassed, she began to turn away in an attempt to hide her tears, when she felt Shaw’s knuckles on her cheek. His warm and unexpectedly gentle fingers softly caressed her, wiping away her spilling tears. His familiar mockeries she’d grown to expect never came. Instead, warmth lingered on the skin he touched, slowly spreading within her.

She wanted to ask him how. How was it possible that his simple touch could make her stop shivering when nothing else did? But she was too afraid to speak, too afraid that if she even moved a fraction, this momentary warmth would be gone and she would descend back to the cold empty place that was tearing her apart from the inside.

He moved his hand to her chin, tilting her head up with a curled finger. Gazing at the molten gold of his eyes, Yui saw him bend towards her.

Slowly, he closed the distance between them, until she could feel his body heat and his hot breath upon her lips.

He paused for a moment, and when she didn’t pull away, he tilted his head, leaning in again, he captured her lips.

Chapter Text

When their lips met, it was the softest of caresses, delicate like the wings of a butterfly, a mingling of breaths. Pulling back slightly, Shaw’s amber eyes scanned and took in her expression before leaning back in for more.

Her heart fluttered as he invaded her senses. His fresh scent enveloped her. She felt the warmth of his lips radiating through her body, like the rising sun on an early summer morning.

Bit by small bit, the block of ice that sat in her chest began to crack and thaw.

She stopped crying a moment ago, but when he ended their kiss, a single tear rolled down her cheek once again. A tear of relief. Somehow that huge, gaping hollow in her chest had shrunk a little. The simple act of breathing no longer debilitated her.

Unease flashed across Shaw’s eyes. He froze as he noticed her tear. As if with great restraint, he straightened himself and stepped back from her. The hand that touched her a moment ago balled into a tight fist, held at his side.

The sudden loss of his warmth caused her to quickly raise her head, only to see him turning his back to her. Panicked, her hand shot out to clutch the hem of his t-shirt with her slender fingers.

He turned his head back to look at her, giving her a stern look as if telling her to let go.

Yui’s hand shook at his rejection, but she refused to let go. Looking up at him, she gazed into his eyes of molten gold as if silently begging him to stay with her, to not take that precious warmth away from her.

Shaw’s brows furrowed as they stared at each other, neither looking away.

“Do you know what this means?” He said, breaking the long silence between them as he turned to face her again.

Casting her eyes downwards, she didn’t answer his question. Neither did she release her hand. She held on even tighter.

He spread his fingers under her chin and clasped her jaw, forcing her to face him again. His eyes bore into hers as he repeated with a low voice, “Do you know what this means?”

For the last nine months, she had known him, she had seen his many faces. She had seen him laugh and joke. She had seen him surprised, annoyed, and angry, but she had never seen him so serious. It was as if he had placed so much significance into his question that his subsequent actions would depend entirely on her answer.

She was a woman who asked a man to stay and comfort her. Did she know what that meant? Yes.

But was she ready to face the consequences? She didn’t know. In spite of it, she could feel the gentle warmth emanating from his large hand that was firmly holding her jaw right now. If there was one thing she was sure of at this very moment, it was that she didn’t want to let it go.

Didn’t want to let him go.

Holding his gaze firmly, Yui nodded.

Narrowing his eyes at her answer, Shaw bent towards until his face was mere inches away from hers.

“Who am I?” His deep voice resounded, cold and controlled.

“Shaw.”

Before she could say another word, his lips crashed into hers. The pressure of his grip increased. As soon as her jaw slackened, his tongue pushed past her teeth and caressed hers with wicked strokes. This was nothing like the delicate soft kiss they shared just minutes ago. Instead, it was a pure demand, an invasion of her senses.

Heart pounding in her chest, she felt as if her once-frozen blood began to pump through her veins again, chasing away the chill in her bones little by little.

Yes, this was the warmth she was searching for. Shaw was the buoy in the middle of the sea that she had found and grasped onto with the last of her strength. And now, she must hold onto him with every fiber of her being if she wanted to survive.

As she slanted her head to allow him better access, she vaguely registered that the milk tea was being taken out of her hand before her back was pressed against the window.

She should have felt the cold bite of the glass when the blanket slipped off her shoulders. But as she wrapped her arms around his neck to pull him even closer to her, all she could feel was his mouth on hers and the burning heat of his skin.

When he finally broke the kiss and rested his forehead on hers, they were both gasping for breath. Slowly, the corner of his mouth turned up into a cocky smirk.

“So this is what it takes to stop you crying, huh?” He chuckled softly as his fingers slipped under her sweater.

She let out a small gasp as he brushed her bare skin just above the waistband. Back and forth, his finger lingered before lightly tracing up her waist.

Leaning his forearm on the window, he pressed his lips onto her delicate ear. Yui could feel his every single hot breath and the movements of his soft lips when he said, “But I can’t guarantee not to make you cry again for a different reason tonight.”

Shivering, she inhaled sharply at the harsh sting of his bite on her earlobe. His deep chuckles vibrated in her ear as he took it into his mouth, licking and biting the most sensitive parts, repeating the sensual assaults every time her quivering intensified.

Still trapping her between his body and the window, he pushed her sweater up to reveal her soft breasts covered only by the thin fabric of her pink bra. Tracing his finger from the center up on the neckline, he watched as her chest fell up and down from her every breath. Then, with a hook of his finger, he pulled the cup of her bra down to reveal her pink nipple.

Cupping her breast in his large hand, he bent his head and flicked her nipple with his tongue before taking it in his mouth. Her body jerked as Shaw sucked hard at it, squeezing and kneading her breast at the same time. She let out small whimpers, but she quickly covered her mouth with a hand to muffle the sound.

“Still so sensitive,” he teased.

She squirmed every time he pulled on her nipple with his teeth, but the hand she had on his shoulder remained, never attempting to push him away.

As Yui felt herself dampening from the way he was playing with her body, a wave of guilt washed over her, but the feeling of his feverish skin on hers quickly pushed all other thoughts away.

All she wanted was to feel more of his touch, more of his warmth on her. All she wanted to feel was that she was no longer alone.

When he finally pulled back to straighten to his full height, he loomed over her and took in the visuals. Her face flushed red as her mouth parted slightly with quickened breaths. Her clothes disheveled with one breast naked in front of him and her now-hardened nipple glistened with his saliva.

Seemingly satisfied with his handy work, the amber in Shaw’s eyes darkened as a smirk flashed across his face. He shrugged off his jacket and threw it aside before he went back to unbutton his shirt, all the while holding her gaze.

It was as if he was making a show of it, daring her to look away as every undone button revealed more of his muscular chest and defined abs.

The blush on her cheeks grew impossibly darker. Her heart pounded in her chest and blood rushed through her veins. The way he looked at her made her feel like a prey trapped under the claws of a predator. And the predator was about to devour her whole. Raising her arms in front of her chest, she tried to hide her nakedness from him.

“Why are you hiding your tits now when you just let me suck on them a minute ago?” He tutted as he threw his shirt on the ground, annoyed that he was denied the view.

Reaching down with his hands, he lifted her hips slightly off from the bench, then in one swift move yanked her skirt down, baring her creamy thighs. Yui yelped, but before she could squeeze her thighs together, he already wedged his knee between hers forcing them open.

Hovering over her, he squeezed her neglected breast, kneading it with a rough hand while shoving his other hand inside her matching pink panties.

A small mewl escaped from her mouth as the tip of his finger stroked over her damp folds. She grabbed onto his wrist in an attempt to push his hand away but ended up digging her fingers in his skin as his rough fingertips brushed over her clit.

Narrowing his eyes, he yanked at the remaining fabric of her bra so that both of her breasts became fully exposed. Leaning down again, he took her nipple into his mouth, sucking and biting on it as he had done with the other one earlier. But this time, he seemed to be rougher with her.

The strange feeling that he was mad at her rose in her mind, but before she could give it any more thought, the tip of his finger slipped past her folds into her. She clenched her thighs around his hand as he continued to push his digit deeper inside.

“Tsk, you’re not as wet as last time.”

His thumb rubbed the hard nub of her clit. Involuntarily, Yui’s hips jerked, causing his finger to slide even further into her core. Her toes curled at the sensation and it became harder for her to contain her voice with each of the strokes he made.

Locking eyes with her, he watched her expressions intensely while he inserted a second finger in her, then a third, all the while still sucking and teasing her nipple.

Embarrassed at his intense gaze, she quickly covered his eyes with her hand. “S-stop looking at me.”

“Didn’t take you for a kinky one,” he chuckled.

“W-what?”

“It does add to the thrill when you can’t see,” he said as he pulled her hand from his eyes and took the tip of her index finger into his mouth. Sucking on it, he twirled his tongue around the sensitive pad of her finger. “But I’d prefer to have you blindfolded instead.”

“Who said anything about blindfolding?” She pushed his face away from her. “You perv!”

“Perv, huh?” Raising his broken brow, his fingers inside her curled without warning as his thumb flicked her sensitive clit.

She let out a pleasured cry as she writhed against his hand and her core grew more slippery at every thrust of his fingers, every stroke at her most sensitive spot. She could feel tension building inside her and bit by bit her cohesive thoughts were lost to pleasure.

“Who’s the perv now?” He smirked when he finally withdrew his fingers from her and it was slick with her juices.

Just as he parted his lips and was about to lick his fingers clean, Yui turned her head away squeezing her eyes shut. It was too embarrassing to see.

He laughed softly again, seemingly entertained by her reaction.

Perhaps it was due to the loss of vision that her hearing enhanced, she could hear every little sound of him undoing his belt buckle, his zipper, his jeans falling onto the floor, and him kicking them aside.

By the time she gingerly opened her eyes again, he was fully naked in front of her, his hard length proclaiming his desire for her.

Her lips quivered.

She watched as he hooked his fingers on the sides of her wet panties, pulling it down to reveal the curls between her legs, glistening with the evidence of her own desires. Her heart pounded in her chest as he yanked her sweater above her head and slipped off her bra, leaving her completely naked in front of him.

She could feel the cold bite of the window on her bareback. She shivered.

Was she really going to do this?

His hot length pressed against her core, and the warmth from him chased away the fleeting thoughts of doubts from her mind. Shaw ran his length along her slick folds, teasing her, rubbing against her sensitive flesh, the muscles on his abs contracting at every move.

Yui whimpered softly every time he brushed over her clit and her juice quickly covered the underside of his shaft. With a satisfactory smile, he pushed the head of his erection against her opening.

“Wait!”

“What?” He spat out, clearly unhappy to be stopped mid-motion.

“Can we…” she said with a voice so low that he barely heard her. “Can we use a condom?”

He stared at her for a moment before he clicked his tongue in annoyance. She thought he was going to refuse, but instead, he turned to pick up his wallet and fished out a small packet. Biting a corner with his teeth, he ripped it open. With skillful hands, he quickly rolled the condom on his erection.

Gripping his rigid length in his hand, he pressed the tip of his cock against her entrance again. This time, he didn’t waste any more time teasing her. With one hand pressing on her knee, he spread her wide beneath him. In one powerful thrust, he pushed inside her.

Her brows knitted, letting out a small gasp as he filled and stretched the heated core in her body. Without giving her any time to adjust, he pulled out almost entirely, then plunged back deep into her, pressing her harder into the window with his every thrust.

“Ah, you’re as tight as I remembered,” he said between soft grunts.

Wrapping her arms around him, she pulled him towards her, greedy for the skin contact, for how hot he was making her. Her nails dug into his back every time he slammed back into her, feminine moans escaping her opened lips uncontrollably.

She heard him laugh softly again before he pressed his lips onto her ear and said, “You know, if someone walks past this alley right now, they’ll get a show of me fucking you.”

It took a minute for his words to register through the haze of her passion. She stiffened at the reminder that the window of this workshop was on the ground floor facing a narrow alley. In a panic, she struggled against him, trying to push him away. But no matter how she pushed at his chest, he wouldn’t budge an inch.

“Shaw,” she begged. “Please… C-can we move… to the bed?”

“No,” he rejected her, thrusting even deeper and faster into her. His hand reached up to squeeze her breast. “You’re excited at the thought of being watched, aren’t you? Such a naughty girl.”

She shook her head.

“No? Then why would a good girl’s pussy get so tight at the thought of being watched? Or is your pussy practically strangling my cock a sign of you being turned off, huh?”

She wanted to argue, but when she opened her mouth all that came out was breathless cries, one louder than another. Yui didn’t know if it was the fear of being seen but every single thrust made her body tremble harder in ecstasy.

Chuckling, he placed his hand on the back of her head and pressed it against his chest. With a surprisingly gentle voice, he said, “Now nobody will see it’s you.”

Her mind was no longer coherent as tension built inside of her, barely remembering what she was objecting to a moment ago. Following her last rational thought, she buried her head in his chest before her mind went completely blank.

Guiding her legs to wrap around his narrow hips, he pumped inside her faster and faster, until her body suddenly stiffened. Rapture crashed into her like a wave, coursing through her body. Her vision blurred as she cried out her release. Her core spasmed around his cock as he buried himself deep inside her.

It took a while before her frantic heartbeat slowed and she realized he had held her close to him through her orgasm. Rubbing her hand over the hard muscles on his back where she dug her nails deep into a moment ago, she eased away from him to see another aggravating smirk plastered on his face as he pulled out from her.

“Told you I’d make you cry,” he said, leaning in to kiss the tears on her cheek. She hadn’t realize she had cried at all.

Frustrated at his endless teasing, her hand landed on his chest with an audible smack. But she knew it wouldn’t have fazed him. She gasped as he lifted her up as if she weighed nothing by cupping a large hand on her ass. Reflexively, she latched onto him as if a koala to a tree.

Carrying her over to the bed, he dropped her on the soft mattress before flipping her over on her stomach. He took in the sight of her fair skin against the black linens on his bed before wedging one knee between her thighs, spreading them apart as his weight dipped the mattress.

Before she was able to prop herself up, Shaw was already on top of her, pinning her down with his whole body, the tip of his still-hard length pushing apart her slick folds once again.

“Shaw, I…”

“Selfish girl,” he cut her off, thrusting himself back into her core. “Trying to kick me to the curb right after you came all by yourself?”

“That’s not…”

“Good,” he bent her knee to spread her wider before slamming back into her again. “‘Cuz I’m not finished with you yet.”

Not giving her any time to adjust, he pumped into her again and again. The new position allowed him to get even deeper inside her. The sound of his pelvis slapping onto her cheeks rang in her ears.

Shaw was like a storm. There was no fighting him. Her only option was to hold on and follow wherever he decided to take her.

Her hands clawed at the bedsheet. She turned her head against the pillow to muffle her voice. She couldn’t control it. Her moans were getting so loud that it was embarrassing to hear them herself.

He pressed his lips to the back of her neck, kissing and licking her down the curve of her shoulder. Whenever her mewling got louder, he lingered at that spot and sucked, until small marks began to form on her skin.

Yui could hear his breathing became heavier and his groans getting louder as his thrusts quickened. He laced his fingers with hers and in return, she squeezed them tight. Her body began to quiver uncontrollably, her back arched, and her hips helplessly rocked back against him as she reached her orgasm once again.

Letting out a growl, his muscles tensed in an instant. Shaw gave into the sensation of her pulsing around his shaft and let her milk him as he came. His body shuddered at the release.

Looking at the girl lying boneless beneath him, he smiled as he turned her face away from the pillow. Wiping the tears off her cheek, he leaned in to gently kiss her soft lips.

They stayed like that for a long moment, with him crushing her with his body weight. All those muscles on his body made him heavier than he looked, but she didn’t complain. He felt like a large heavy blanket, covering her and keeping her warm.

It wasn’t until both of their breathing returned to normal that he finally pulled himself completely out of her and rolled onto his back. His long arm snaked around her waist and pulled her against him. Her head rested on his chest, her arm across his torso.

Yui squeezed her eyes shut and forced herself to empty her mind of all other raising thoughts, to just focus on his steady heartbeat and the warmth of his body.