He still hadn't gone to bed yet.

Monica had been sitting up waiting for her boyfriend to go to bed. They didn't share a room, but the bathroom was right next door to hers and she could hear the water running when the shower was on, and Kai always showered right before bed.

She had gone off to "sleep" herself at midnight, and he had told her he wouldn't be much longer before he slept, himself. It was now almost seven in the morning.

He was still working.

He was always working.

She'd always known he stayed up later than she did, either baking or reading about baking, but she hadn't known the full extent of the problem until a couple weeks before. In the middle of the night, after sleeping many hours beforehand, she woke up needing a drink of water, and found him in the kitchen, kneading away at something. That was at four AM.

He got an average of three to five hours of sleep a night, she guessed.

She hadn't just been sitting up every night just waiting and wondering when her honey was finally going to finish up whatever he thought was more important than his health, oh no, that wasn't her style. She'd confronted him about it every day since. They'd even had a couple of knock-down drag-out fights, real ugly stuff, that.

But did he stop?

No, of course not.

Dammit, couldn't he see how worried about him she was? She'd already almost lost him once...

She heard the oven timer ding from the kitchen, and suddenly it was all just too much for her.

She stomped out of her room and slammed the door behind her, steps pounding, anger building as she made her way down the hall to the kitchen.

He was just pulling his nobody-cares out of the oven when she walked in, and he at least had the sense to look a little guilty before glaring at her.

"I thought you said you went to bed hours ago." He had the gall to say, holding the hot pan full of stupid-garbage in one hand and putting the other on his hip.

"Funny,", she began, right before stretching her arms over the island counter and sweeping them over it, knocking everything on it to the floor, plastic measuring utensils making loud noises and containers of ingredients spilling their contents across the wood floor. "I thought you said you were going to bed, too."

She copied his previous posture-hands on hips. "Ironic, huh?"

His face contorted with rage. "Dammit, Monica, couldn't you see I wasn't done?!" He barked, tossing the pan on the now empty counter as she was sure her eye twitched in anger. She watched as he began grabbing rags to clean up messes and threw dirty utensils in the sink.

While he was occupied, she took the burning pan in her bare hands, walked over to the garbage can and tossed the contents in.

He gaped at her as she stepped over the mess she had made and aggressively shoved the dirty pan in the sink amongst the rest of the dishes, running water on it and watching it steam.

Tossing the rag he was using on the ground, he stood and growled at her, "What the hell is wrong with you?!"

She threw her hands up in frustration and shouted right back, "Well I'm sorry I love you and am concerned for your well being!"

"I never asked you to be!"

"You don't get to ask!"

He snarled at her and she snarled right back.

But suddenly her feet were no longer touching the floor- he had grabbed her by the upper arms, physically lifting her and carrying her a couple feet away before setting her down. She was too shocked to complain, just stared into space for a moment after she was put down and he had gone back to cleaning the floor facing away from her.

She made an exasperated gesture and yelled at his back, "Do you even realize what you're doing to yourself by keeping these impossible hours, and doing hard physical labor every single one of them?! No matter how healthy your body is you're going to die before you hit thirty!"

He stopped scrubbing for a moment before mumbling something she couldn't hear.

"What?!" She screeched at him.

He shook for a moment, hurled the rag back down on the ground, spun up to face her in one quick movement, and roared "I said I don't care!" And she flinched back as if he had struck her. "I don't care what you think, I don't care that you've made me important to you all on your own, and I don't need you hovering over me all the time! Dammit, woman, the only thing that matters is that I-"

"-Beat Azuma, right?" She finished for him, her voice quiet now. He quieted down, too, not making any kind of move to deny her claim. He wouldn't have, she was correct, after all.

Neither of them moved an inch.

"Al... Alright then." She murmured, her face turned down and mostly hidden by her hair. "Now that that's all out in the open like that, I'm going to ask you to choose."

He was speechless for another moment more, before asking, "Choose what?"

"Between me..." She swallowed thickly, "... And him."

He blinked at her, anger replaced with confusion. "What?"

"I can't stand it..." She whispered, a calm rage tearing through her, causing her voice to slowly grow louder, "I can't stand watching you slowly kill yourself day after day like this... If you're going to keep at it, I'm going to have to leave."

"... Leave?" He blinked again.

She gritted her teeth. "I've had too many people in my life die and almost die for stupid reasons. You should know that! If I'm just going to be sitting around all day, waiting for you to die, I'm going to cut my losses before my heart gets broken even further."

He scowled at her and said, "It's not a stupid reason! I-" And she tuned him out.

Of course that would be the only thing he took out of that entire speech.

She didn't wait for him to finish his dumb tirade, but instead bellowed a single harsh word at him, cutting him off completely.

"Choose!"

He stared at her for a while but didn't look like he was going to ever respond.

Then his eyes slid from hers.

Well then.

She bit down on a sob before running to her room.

Once there, she quickly dressed for the day, took an overnight bag and started packing, filling it with a couple of her favorite outfits and pairs of underwear, then stalking to the bathroom and packing her toothbrush. She could buy anything else she needed whenever she got to wherever she was going.

He was already almost done cleaning up when she walked through the kitchen to the entryway to put on her boots. When she was done she stood and found him standing next to her.

"Where are you going? Aren't you going to help me clean up your mess?" He said to her.

She stared at him, dumbfounded.

Had he even been listening to her at all?

She was depressed to find that she doubted it. Not that it mattered anymore.

"I'm leaving. Weren't you listening?"

He chuckled and said, "You weren't serious, right?" He looked up and down at her outfit appreciatively. She loved it when he did that. Not that it mattered anymore. And of course he didn't take me seriously. That's why I'm leaving, she thought.

"Where are you going?" He repeated. "When are you coming back?"

She walked up to the door and opened it.

"I don't know. Probably never."

She shut the door behind her quietly as she walked out of the old, Japanese-style house she'd come to love. She'd probably never love another house as much as she loved this one.

The house. Yeah, right.


This one's gonna be a doozy, folks, I hope you all are ready for it.