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He felt the silken texture of raven-black hair as he brushed the stray tresses away from her face.

The sensual pleasure of warm, smooth skin against his as she arched into him.

As his lips found hers, drowning him in the heady passion that swamped the whole of his being.

Desire raged through him, coursing through his very veins with the blood rushing to his head, keeping in time with his wild pulse. Love and lust warred inside; a battle neither could win as black and white faded into a sweet gray, instigated by the passion that enveloped his mind and body.

The heat radiating from their bodies made the chill of the night air seem warm again. Her hands were at his hips, guiding him in a rhythm seemingly familiar and yet so foreign. This was real; this was in reach…he had been so long without her…

Nails slid across his back, biting down into flesh as he moved, the sleek muscles beneath her fingers rippling with a power all his own, her low cries echoing through his head as his pace quickened. Hands clinging to his shoulders, submitting now to the pleasure that coursed through them both. He felt her shiver, felt her tremble, felt her writhe beneath him.

His hands roamed her body, each brush of skin and touch of hand driving him closer and closer to the edge. The feelings welled up inside, raging out of control. Pain was a distant memory, a whisper on the very edge of consciousness, and pleasure won out in the end. Only pleasure remained.

Broken words, half-formed thoughts spilled from his lips, unintelligible as his heart pounded in his ears, as his body shuddered and convulsed. He whispered to her, of how beautiful she was, how special she was to him, how much he had missed her, how much he loved her.

As he dipped his head to kiss her again, the taste of salt of her lips, the warm moisture on her face, startled him out of his passion-induced daze. Tears spilled from her eyes, shining in the faint moonlight streaming through the windows, the only illumination revealing the twin silhouettes among the tangled sheets. Her hands at his back pushed him forward to hold his closer, her face hidden against his neck as the tears kept falling, wet and warm against his skin, her body wracking with sobs as she found a different release, a lifting of the pain and struggle of the past year.

"Why? Why do you say things like that? Why can't I make you understand?"

"Why do you love me?"

"Because you're so strong, so beautiful, so kind, so true. I love you, Rin."

The power he held over her was startling, amazing, frightening. With a single touch, she could be reduced to a trembling mess in his arms. With the sound of his voice, she knew she was lost in her struggles to distance herself from him. His touch, his words, his love, all of it was different from any other's. She would never have another.

There was a time when she would have resented someone having such a hold on her, weakening her to the point where her want for him became a need. But part of her was glad for her surrender, her tired submission. It would never be dominance on his part, but a strength that would be there for her to lean on, to support her, encourage her, a strength for her to share.

She heard the rustle of the sheets, the graceful movement of his body, dimly aware of his gentle hands lifting her and nestling her against him, safe and warm as his arms moved to encircle her. She pressed her cheek against his chest; the telltale sign of her own tears moist on his skin. But she felt no shame as she dropped a kiss to the flushed skin, closing her eyes to surrender to sleep.

The feel of him inside her, against her, beside her. That was real. That was home.

"Haru, I love you, too."