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last cycle

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Iris was at a sleepaway camp for two nights. Over the phone, Hitomi had professed to Falco that she was lonely without her, so he had come over to visit. It started like a normal date night — they made dinner together and then watched a movie — but things had… escalated, since they were alone.

And now, he was in her bed. He lay on his back, staring up at her with soft, adoring eyes, while she straddled his hips. Hitomi’s heart was pounding, and it occurred to her that she had no idea where to go next.

All her previous relationships had ended long before they could become sexual. Being trans and a single mother did not make her particularly desirable, but Falco was different. Different in every possible way. The moment he heard about Iris, he was overcome with joy instead of disgust. Odd as he could be, he was the partner she always dreamed of. (And, well, him also being trans made her much more interested in going the extra mile with him.)

Falco stretched his arm up to caress her cheek, and all of Hitomi’s doubts vanished. In an instant, she was leaning down to press their lips together, while her hands travelled under his shirt and up his well defined chest. When they were on the couch, he had ever so gently removed her sweater, leaving her in only a thin tank top and her leggings. Now, those few items were practically suffocating her, even as Falco’s fingers traced circles on the small of her back.

She pulled away from his mouth in order to trail kisses down his stubbly cheek, and onto his neck. Falco let out a shaky moan as she did, and his fingernails dug tightly into her skin. Hitomi moved her hands down to his belt, fiddling with it blindly until she undid it with an audible click…

...And Falco went completely slack beneath her.

Hitomi sat up, frowning. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing…” Falco muttered, scarcely audible, “‘m fine.”

She climbed off of him, kneeling beside him on the bed. He didn’t move. “You’re clearly not. I know you’re bad at talking about your feelings, but if you’re hurting…”

Falco said nothing for a very long time. His eyes were glazed over, and were it not for the strained sound of his breathing, the room would be deadly silent. She’d never seen him like this before. Still, she didn’t press him further. To put pressure on him, when he was clearly upset, would be cruel.

“I told you… that I grew up in an orphanage,” he eventually began. His voice was rough and ragged, and so slow that it was painful.

Hitomi nodded. “Yes, I remember. And you asked me to not force you to talk about it.” She knew, of course, that those institutions were horrible, and that had been all the more reason to protect Iris from them, but only someone who had grown up in the darkness of one would ever understand their true scope.

For a few minutes, the bedroom was quiet again. Then, Falco rasped, “They do terrible things to throwaway children. Because there’s nobody around to stop them.”

“Falco…” Hitomi breathed weakly, “I’m so sorry…”

He reached his hand out, fumbling until he managed to find hers and interlace their fingers. “I told myself to enjoy it. Sickening as it all was. Then when I was fifteen, I ran away. But even now, it still sometimes feels like… like I never got out.”

Hitomi squeezed his hand, which he returned. She murmured, “You didn’t deserve any of that.”

“Hah, yeah. Gave me a real sense of justice, but I think I could’ve developed that without the trauma,” Falco said. Even though he was holding her hand, he still wasn’t looking her way. Part of him was lost, far far away from the safety of her room.

She slowly lay down beside him, but made no extra effort to touch him. If he needed space, then she would be happy to give it.

Falco eventually turned on his side to look her in the eyes. He brushed a loose strand of hair free from her eyes, and mumbled, “I don’t know what I did to deserve you.”

“You lived. Isn’t that enough?” she replied.

Falco chuckled weakly, but his laughter had no mirth. “Thanks for not leaving me at the shrine. I shouldn’t have kissed you.”

Hitomi admitted, “Maybe not. But I wasn’t going to let you die there.”

He grunted. “You’re a good person, Hitomi. Thank you for everything… and I’m sorry that I messed everything up tonight.”

“Don’t you dare apologize,” Hitomi replied instantly, “You have nothing to be sorry for. We can wait for a better time.”

“And if a better time doesn’t come?”

Hitomi said, “Then it doesn’t. I don’t need to have sex with you to want you around. Okay?”

Falco said nothing, but he cracked a rare smile, one that could’ve made flowers grow. He pressed a light kiss to her forehead, and whispered, “Okay.”