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She opened eyes heavy with sleep, blinking away blurry vision to focus on the source of the noise that had roused her. "Haru," she mumbled sleepily, watching him carefully closing the door behind him as he stepped into the bedroom.

He turned his head toward her at the sound of her voice. "Sorry, did I wake you?"

"No." Her eyes were on him as he slipped out of his jacket and shoes. "…Does Kazuma know you're here?" As glad as she was to see Haru, she had to wonder at the levity the older man would allow a teenage couple under his care.

"Probably. Kunimitsu let me in. He's probably told Shihan by now."

"Do you think he'll allow that?"

"I don't think he'll question it." He folded his jacket over the back of a nearby chair, looking up at her with worried eyes. "Are you sure you weren't sleeping?"

"I was just dozing."

He fixed her with a stern, inspecting gaze, taking in the pale pallor to her skin, her bleary eyes. "You look like you could use the sleep."

She glared at him. "I don't need you to mother me, Hatsuharu."

"I never said I was. But I'm serious, Rin, you should really get some sleep. It's pretty late."

"If it's so late, why are you here?"



He hesitated, actually appearing sheepish for the first time she had seen since they were children, when he would feel guilty for eating the last cookie out of her lunch, or for winning at a race because he had a head start. Haru would always be Haru. "…I wanted to see you, that's all. Is there something wrong with that?"

"No," she told him simply, favoring him with a soft smile, "There's nothing wrong with that."

He cleared his throat, looking away for a moment. "Now that you've interrogated me, will you get some sleep?"

"Only if you stay with me."

His head swung around to face her once more, his eyes seeming to darken. He nodded silently, and without another word, he started toward her. As he came, he carefully removed the jewelry around his wrists, unlooped his belt, and unfastened the buttons to his shirt. He set the wristbands and bracelets aside, shedding the garment as he climbed into the bed, slipping into the sheets beside her.

She sighed softly, with quiet contentment as his arms slipped around her, pulling her tightly against his body, and she embraced him in return, nestling her head against his bare chest. She listened to the familiar beating of his heart; let the heat of deliciously warm skin soak into her. This was safe, this was familiar, this was Haru and home.



"Are you having nightmares again?"



"Are you trying to parent me again? What's next, are you going to sit with me at the dinner table and tell me to drink my milk and eat my vegetables?"

With an impatient sigh, he looped her fingers through her hair, roughly tilted back her head, and proceeded to kiss her more thoroughly than she had been kissed in a long time.

When they finally parted, her breath shallow and her head dizzy, she could only stare up at him in a daze, watching him frown. "Look…I'm not trying to parent you, sweetheart. I'm trying to love you."

She cupped her hands over his, delicately brushing her lips against the closest skin, his wrist. "I know, Haru." She smiled weakly. "I'm sorry for being difficult."

"Speaking of being difficult…"

"Hai, hai, sleep. I know."

She settled back against him, sighing as she absently traced her fingers along his chest. "I haven't been sleeping well, but…I've never had problems with you with me. I guess you chase all the monsters away."

Arms tightened around her, the light pressure of a gentle kiss fleeting against her forehead. "Are you still haunted by monsters, love? Even after all this time?"

"We all are, Haru," she whispered, closing her eyes against the ghosts of old memories beginning to stir at their conversation. "We can't change that."

"Maybe we can. Maybe we can hope to."

"Gods, Haru…we can't rely on that girl. Not like that."

He looked up at her, with a chastising look in his eyes. "That girl has a name."

"I know that! But you're avoiding my point."

"I know, I know." He sighed, burying his face in the crook of her neck, the weight of his body settling comfortably against her as he shifted closer. "Sometime though…sometimes I want to be that selfish."

She soothingly ran her hand through his hair, letting her fingers slip through and tangle in the soft white locks, contrasting to the fine black hair above his nape. "We're all selfish, Haru. That's what makes us Sohma."

He glanced up at her, the stormy gray of his eyes dark and unreadable. "Is that all it means to be Sohma? To be selfish?"

Her smile was small, cynical. "No, it means to be dark. Twisted. Lost. Cursed."


"We were the lucky ones, Haru."

"Lucky? You call all of this luck?" His tone was unintentionally harsh, and he mumbled a quiet apology as she winced.

"I never said it was good luck. I just meant…it's what we have. We aren't alone. We have each other. That's what's lucky."

His eyes darkened once more, his hands on her arms tightening, their grip painful. She was struck by the uneasy feeling she had unintentionally awakened something inside him.

"I'll fight for you. You know that, don't you? I'll fight him to hell and back if I have to. I won't let you go. Not again."

She grimaced, but said nothing as she kissed him, her fingers digging into her shoulders, gripping hard enough to feel the jagged bone beneath solid muscle. The kiss was deep, more desperate than passionate, and she clung to him in its aftermath.

She never wanted to think about it, her desperate need…their mutual need…to feel him close by, to know that he was hers, that every part of him belonged to her. It was terrifying, disconcerting, to feel a longing that strong for him, the need to have him, all of him. Always knowing there had to be something more. All of it, their tears, their embraces, their kisses, their passion, their sorrow, their lovemaking, it was still never enough.

To hear the same vigorous need echoed so desperately and roughly in his voice was frightening on its own.

She wanted to tell him no, to deny him, to tell him such a thing was never possible, that they were not their own people, that such a love and such a need had to be wrong in so many ways.

She could not.

Instead, she did not deny the tears that gathered in her eyes, could not bring herself to look at him as she kissed him once more, gently this time, a soft press of her mouth against his, an apology, a plea, she wasn't sure which. "Never?" she whispered.

"Never," he affirmed, his voice rough with the finality of the vow.

And the quiet of the night around them was thick and palpable with all the unspoken thoughts, emotions, longings they could never bring themselves to say.