He was leaving.
He wasn’t supposed to leave.
Why was he leaving?
The voice grew faint and she was crying, falling to her knees because he was supposed to stay and help her, not leave her alone!
Someone was shaking her.
What was going on?
“Oi! Suzuhara!” the voice said again, sounding almost desperate.
And then her eyes were opening and her dorm room swam into view, a familiar face reminding her whose voice she’d been hearing.
“Miyuki-kun?” she blinked, confused.
“Souda said you were having a nightmare,” Miyuki frowned back at her, crossing his arms.
“Where is Mayura-san?” Izumiko asked, looking around the room, surprisingly devoid of her roommate.
“She came to get me and then went for a walk with Manatsu,” Miyuki explained, one eyebrow rising a little at the last part.
“If you’re all right, I should go back,” he decided, turning to head to the window.
This wouldn’t do at all. The nightmares would come back.
Mayura would understand when she returned.
“Please… don’t leave,” Izumiko said quietly, reaching tentatively for his hand.
“Eh?” Miyuki asked, turning around to frown at her a little.
The darkness hid her blush only a little, and she avoided his eyes as she asked, “Please, would you… at least stay until I fall asleep?”
She peeked back at him then, wondering if he’d oblige.
He blinked at her for a moment, processing the question, and then sighed, stepping closer.
Izumiko blinked, surprised that he was actually willing, and then shrank back into her pillow as Miyuki scrutinized her face carefully.
“You’re still Izumiko, right?” he asked with a small frown.
“O-of course!” she squeaked, flushing harder.
As if the hime-gami would have been so timid!
Miyuki sighed, running a hand over his face in relief as he knelt next to her bed, watching her carefully.
“You want me to hold your hand or something?” he asked gruffly, his eyes shifting from her to the wall and back.
Izumiko was suddenly reminded of that night after he and Wamiya had come to find her in that other plane. Sure, he had been tired then, but something told her he hadn’t been entirely asleep when he’d set his hand on hers.
Was that why he sounded so uninterested this time? Was he embarrassed?
“Suzuhara?” Miyiku asked then, startling her out of her thoughts.
“Eh?! Oh, um…”
She had intended to say something like, “You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” truly.
But the sentence died on her lips the moment Miyuki set his hand over hers with a heavy sigh, like holding her hand was the most irritating thing in the world.
Something in his eyes was different, though.
It wasn’t quite pity that she found there, but more like an understanding that she was afraid again, and that he was there if she needed him.
Izumiko sighed, curling her fingers carefully around Miyuki’s, smiling as she closed her eyes.
Souda returned a little later, after Izumiko had finally fallen back to sleep.
She said nothing, but did raise an eyebrow when she noticed his hand still under Izumiko’s.
He shrugged, half-heartedly defending, “She was afraid.”
“Of course she was,” Mayura replied airily, winking at him.
Miyuki stifled a groan, deciding it was about time to get back to his own room.
The moment he began to pull his hand out from under Izumiko’s, she clutched it tighter, and Mayura giggled at him.
“Shut up,” Miyuki shot back, scowling, and Izumiko tugged his hand closer, effectively trapping it between her pillow and her cheek.
There was a blush creeping up his face, and Mayura was holding her middle and trying not to laugh too loudly at his predicament.
“I-Izumiko!” he hissed, trying to pull his hand back.
Izumiko mumbled something he couldn’t hear, and Mayura wiped a tear from the corner of her eye, apparently finally taking pity on him.
“Here,” she offered, bringing over the hat he had purchased to hide Izumiko’s braids on that fateful field trip.
“Eh?” he asked, blinking.
“We’ll trade the hat for your hand,” Mayura explained easily, grinning at him as she slipped the brim of the hat between his hand and Izumiko’s cheek.
Izumiko moved a little, tugging the hat with her, and Miyuki quickly snatched his hand back, sighing.
Mayura beamed at him again, an eyebrow raised, and he scowled back at her. “What’s so funny, Souda?”
Mayura waved a hand, her gaze on her roommate, and Miyuki looked back at Izumiko, surprised to find a smile on her face as she pulled that stupid hat closer.
“What is she doing?” he hissed, flushing.
Mayura gave him a look that clearly said he should already have an idea, and he looked away.
“I should go.”
“Whatever you say,” Mayura replied airily, waving a hand at him.
“I’m sure Izumiko-chan wouldn’t mind you staying, but—”
“Shut up,” Miyuki hissed. “You know as well as I do that she’d freak out if she was aware of what she was doing.”
Mayura shrugged. “Whatever you say, Shinkou.”
“Miyuki-kun,” Izumiki mumbled suddenly, and he froze, an irritated retort dying on his tongue.
Mayura looked at Izumiko curiously, and then smiled a little, climbing the ladder to her bed and grinning down at him.
“She really does need you, you know. I was kind of surprised you didn’t just show up here out of the blue, the way she was crying for you.”
“Hm?” Miyuki asked, blinking.
“I know how you were able to reach her in that other plane,” Mayura said quietly, her gaze softening a little.
“Does she tell you everything?” Miyuki sighed, frowning.
“Masumi told me you shooed him away. He knew you were there, even if he couldn’t see you. And Manatsu told me about the bird, Wamiya. We put the pieces together.”
Mayura was watching him carefully, and Miyuki sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose.
“I guess we can’t keep any secrets in this group, can we?”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Mayura replied quickly, narrowing her eyes at him.
“Izumiko-chan still seems oblivious to a few things.”
Miyuki groaned, scowling up at her, and she laughed.
“Go back to bed, Sagara. I’ll tell Izumiko-chan that you said good night.”
She winked at him despite his scowl and then flipped to face away from him.
Stupid Souda… Miyuki fumed as he turned to head for the window, but a movement caught his eye and he turned back a little, curious.
Izumiko had moved in her sleep, still clutching that dumb hat, and some of her hair had fallen over her face.
He had seen her with her hair down before, of course. But there was something different about it now, something more innocent and free than he remembered seeing before.
In sleep, Izumiko looked almost… normal.
She certainly looked happier this way, he realized with a start.
Before he knew what he was doing, Miyuki had crossed the room again and brushed gently at Izumiko’s hair, pushing some of it out of her face.
His fingers lingered on her forehead longer than he’d intended, and Izumiko sighed, a smile spreading across her face.
Miyuki retracted his hand immediately, cursing the flush on his face as he actually made it to the window and scrambled down the tree to return to his dorm.
Manatsu gave him a funny look when he trudged back into their room, but Miyuki ignored it in favor of climbing back into his bed and trying not to think of Izumiko’s face when she had said his name.