A/N: Trigger warning: BDSM, rape-play, general kinkiness

Misaki splashed some more cold water on her face, then picked up a hand towel. She massaged her temples for a minute, burying her face in the thick nap of the towel, and leaned onto the counter.

What the hell was wrong with her? She couldn't shake the anger that she'd been holding onto all evening. She felt lost, like she was spinning out of control. Here she was, hiding from her own lover in the bathroom. Hei was still in the bedroom, arms still bound behind his back. She'd told him that she was going to get the key to the cuffs, but had ducked into the bathroom when she'd felt the tears brimming in her eyes.

She couldn't let him see her cry.

She'd lost a solid source of intel tonight, because of him. Sure, he'd given her the envelope after she'd lowered herself to beg him for something, anything - but who knew how much else they could have gotten out of the informant, if Hei hadn't killed him. And then Hei had had the temerity to show up in her living room, after she'd expressly told him not to.

Misaki folded the towel on the counter and put her glasses back on, taking in her appearance in the mirror. Her hair was starting to come undone; there were damp patches on the underarms of her shirt, and she could feel the sweat still running down her back. Her eyes were slightly red-rimmed, and the lace on her new bra was itching.

She'd seen the bra in a store window on her lunch break the day before, and bought it on impulse - the red reminded her of the dress she'd worn the night she first met Hei. Trimmed in copious black lace and cut scandalously low with the clasp in the front and push-up pads in the cups, it was far sexier than anything else that she owned, and she'd been too embarrassed to wear it last night. She wasn't even sure if Hei would like her in it. But then he hadn't come by and, missing him, she'd decided to wear it and the matching panties when she dressed for work in the morning.

But it had been bothering her all day. She felt odd, like she was wearing someone else's skin. Not herself.

She still felt like crying, and hated herself for it. Everything had made sense in her head, before. She had no control over the world outside of her apartment, but she'd thought that by putting the Black Reaper in handcuffs, placing him under her power, she could get some of that control back. It hadn't worked. At all.

It'd been hard to tell with his mask hiding his eyes, but she didn't think that he'd enjoyed it tonight.

He wasn't supposed to enjoy it, she told herself. He deserved it - electrocuting Saitou, killing those contractors, pointing a gun at you; showing up when you told him to stay away! But it didn't make her feel any better. Because while she'd enjoyed herself in the beginning - teasing him, touching him in ways in which he'd never encouraged her to before -, something about the whole thing had felt off, and in the end she hadn't found…whatever it was that she'd been looking for.

He was just so passive about everything. About her. Yes, he was passionate and tender and loving when they were alone together; but if he'd wanted to see her tonight, why didn't he argue when she told him to leave? Why didn't he fight? It was infuriating - weren't contractors supposed to be selfish?

Misaki was still a little shocked that Hei had consented to being handcuffed. When he'd walked into the bedroom wearing that mask, her knees had gone a little weak. She knew that he trusted her not to reveal his identity, but this was definitely taking things a step further. Thank goodness it hadn't been too far; she didn't want to lose him.

And yet, seeing him standing there, calmly unresisting, she hadn't been able to shake the feeling that he could have gotten out of those cuffs any time that he wanted to. A delicious shiver ran down her spine at the thought. He'd let her play her game, let her imagine that she had some kind of control over him - when in reality, he held all the power.

That was what she wanted, she realized with a chill. She wanted him to take control over her, to show her that his desire for her was every bit as powerful as hers was for him. She couldn't imagine letting any other man do the things to her that she'd fantasized about - just him. She'd never even had those thoughts before him. And that scared the hell out of her.

But she couldn't ask him to do it - that would defeat the purpose entirely, besides being absolutely mortifying. And if he'd spent tonight giving in to her whims, suffering in silence as she used him for her own ends, he never was going to do it.

Well, so what if he doesn't conform to your crazy fantasies? she chided herself. Are you going to give up everything that you do have together because of something stupid like that? Why would he have stopped by tonight at all, if he didn't care about her?

And then she'd turned around and done this to him. Misaki rubbed at her lower back tiredly. Hei would massage it for her, if she asked. Although, he'd most likely just want to leave, once she took the cuffs off for him. She couldn't ask him to stay. She had no idea if he would forgive her for tonight or not; she prayed that he would. Her stomach felt a little queasy at the prospect of having to go back into the bedroom after what had just happened, and face him.

Damn. He was still in the bedroom. Still handcuffed.

Misaki didn't bother trying to fix her hair. She exited the bathroom, flicking off the lights as she went, and headed out to the main room. It took her a minute to find the handcuff keys in her purse - they were buried beneath a wad of receipts that she hadn't had time to file yet; she needed to get that mess cleaned up. Clutching the keys tightly, she returned to the bedroom.

"Hei," she said, walking in, "I'm sorry. I -"

The bed was empty, except for a pair of open handcuffs resting on the rumpled white sheets. His clothes were gone from the floor.

Her heart sank; she'd pushed him too far, after all. Misaki walked over to the bed and picked up the cuffs. The surface of the metal was still a little wet from his sweat. She wiped her thumb across it sadly.

Well, she'd hang her scarf again tomorrow night. Maybe he'd -

A gloved hand grabbed her wrist and twisted it behind her back, pulling her against a hard body. Before she could even gasp in shock, leather fingers wrapped around her throat. The cuffs and keys fell from her grasp.

Smooth, cool ceramic pressed against her cheek, and a low voice said in her ear, "You didn't think it would be that easy to take me did you, Chief Kirihara?"

The old memory of knives in the dark and a suffocating squeezing swam up from the depths of her mind, and her blood spiked with adrenaline. For a moment, she was afraid. But with the familiar feel of his toned chest against her back, the heady scent of metal and sweat, a hot flood of pure desire quickly washed out the fear.

"No," she exhaled breathlessly, a slight smile tugging at her lips. She reached up with her free hand and gently squeezed the arm at her throat - but she didn't try to pull it away.

In a single, swift move, he spun her around and pushed her roughly backwards onto the bed. Misaki bounced on the mattress, instinctively drawing her knees up. She scooted towards the center, never taking her eyes away from him.

BK-201 stood at the edge of the bed, gazing at her from behind his expressionless mask. He was fully dressed again. The firm contours of his muscles were easily visible beneath his tight shirt; the slightly looser black pants emphasized his lean athleticism. She itched to feel his skillful hands on her body. Even unmoving, he had a feral sort of grace about him. She was acutely aware that she was wearing nothing but a thin shirt and lingerie, and pressed her thighs together reflexively.

Then she saw the handcuffs that were held loosely in one black-gloved hand, and her heart fluttered madly in her chest.

Misaki backed up one inch; then another. She licked her lips nervously. If she could put the bed between them…

The Black Reaper never even twitched a muscle, just watched her with the deadly patience of a hunting panther. She gathered her courage, then lunged to the side in a burst of movement - but he was faster. He sprang onto the bed and caught her wrist in one of the cuffs as if collaring an escaped animal; then he pulled, jerking her back onto the bed. But as she fell back, she twisted her hips underneath her and used her momentum to bring her free arm around in a shot-put-style throw.

She almost caught him by surprise. Almost. Instead of landing her punch on his jaw like she'd planned, she clipped the edge of his ear as he knocked her arm away with his elbow. Thrown off balance, she landed face-first on the mattress. Before she could recover, he'd caught her other hand in his.

Misaki struggled in his grip, panting with effort, but his gloves may as well have been made out of iron for all the good that it did her. He climbed up onto the bed on his knees. Pinning her wrists together above her head, he straddled her and dragged her bodily towards the headboard. He had to let go of one arm to pass the empty cuff around one of the metal bars; she pushed up weakly at his solid chest once, then her arm was back in his grasp. He closed the cuff around her wrist with a snap, securing her to the base of the frame.

Kneeling above her, BK-201 regarded his captive calmly. Misaki was slightly gratified to see that he was breathing heavily, if not as heavily as she was. Then she gasped as he gripped her hips and pulled, stretching her out beneath him. The cuffs tugged at her wrists, though not painfully. She lay on her back, head resting between her extended upper arms. Trapped. Hands cuffed, legs pinned between his, she was completely, utterly in his power.

"What are you going to do with me?" The tremor in her voice was all too real.

When he answered, his voice was as cold as steel. "You're about to find out."

A shiver ran down her spine, and she bit her lip to keep from moaning out loud. Almost affectionately, he brushed a stray lock of hair from her forehead and replaced her glasses, where they had half-fallen off of her nose. Her shirt had been rucked up above her waist when he'd adjusted her position; now, he took the hem and pulled it back down, straightening it out. Her skin seemed to burn where his gloves brushed her, where the light fabric of his pants pressed against the outsides of her bare thighs.

He made a movement to the side that she couldn't quite track; when his hand came back into view, she couldn't prevent a sharp intake of breath.

Even if she hadn't seen it, she would have recognized his dagger as soon as he placed the icy metal to her throat. The edge of the blade pricked at her skin; she lifted her chin up in an attempt to escape its touch, but he followed her movement exactly. She shut her eyes and tried to block out images of slit throats and pools of sticky dark blood on the pavement, the memory of being bound and helpless in the basement of a rundown bar while the Black Reaper stalked towards her with that very knife.

But then Misaki remembered him leaning over her, and cutting the plastic zip tie that had held her. She remembered the look in his eyes earlier that very night as they'd stood facing each other in the container yard, guns aimed at each other's heads. That look had been…acceptance. He'd expected her to do as she'd always promised and shoot him, and he hadn't been going to make a move to defend himself. Because defending himself would mean hurting her. He'd never done anything to hurt her.

And he never would.

With a blissful sigh, she relaxed completely. She was safe with him. Everything that happened tonight would be his decision, and she could trust him. Misaki let go of her worries about EPR, the stresses of her work, her concern for the future of her relationship with Hei. She gave her control over to him, and was awash in a freedom that she'd never known before. She pulled lightly on the handcuffs; her arms were bound low enough on the frame that her circulation wasn't at all hindered. Rather, the unyielding metal around her wrists made her feel secure.

She opened her eyes to find the pale mask of the Black Reaper above her, his full attention fixed on her face. Slowly, he trailed the feather-light tip of the knife down her exposed throat and she shuddered, goosebumps rising on her flesh in its wake. The blade moved across the hollow of her throat, between her collarbones, and down her sternum, until it reached the first closed button of her blouse.

He hesitated for only a moment. Holding the cloth taut by the hem with one hand, he made a quick slash. The severed buttons tumbled to the mattress beside her. He pulled back the left side of her shirt, then the right, as if unwrapping a gift, revealing her new bra.

He paused then, gazing down at her chest, his breathing visibly constrained. The idea that just the sight of her could affect him like that sent a pleasurable thrill straight to that pulsing cluster of nerves pressed between her thighs, and she suppressed a full-body shudder only with great difficulty.

Hei exhaled audibly, and brought the knife back to her chest, drawing the blade's edge gently along the bra's lacy trim. Misaki hardly dared to breathe; it seemed as if the slightest bit of extra pressure would send the sharp steel biting into her skin.

He slipped the thin blade flat under the ribbon linking the two cups together; Misaki didn't care if he cut through it, the price would be so worth this moment. However, he released his grip on the knife, leaving it to lie between her breasts. The blade was cold on her heated skin, the hilt heavy where it rested on her lower belly.

Hei found the clasp of her bra and deftly unhooked it, laying her open. She'd never felt more exposed than she did now, and she'd never loved it so much. He skimmed a hand beneath the curve of one breast, then the other. The black gloves on her fair skin made his hands look bigger, thicker - a stranger's hands, caressing her with unearned intimacy. Misaki watched in fascination as he circled the pink tip of her breast, the touch of his gloves smooth, cool, and unfamiliar. He pinched and rolled one hardened nipple between his fingers, and she moaned behind tight lips at the mix of pain and pleasure that it brought her.

In the back of her mind, she was slightly disappointed. Handcuffs aside, this wasn't much different than their usual lovemaking. Him wearing the mask did not automatically transform Hei into the Black Reaper, unpredictable and dangerous. But she was just glad that he was still there.

Although, the knife had been rather exciting; maybe he would pick it up again. Thoughts of what he might do with the knife, combined with his caresses, were rapidly increasing the need throbbing between her legs, and she shifted her hips beneath him.

At her movement, his hand left her breast. Forcing her legs slightly apart, he slipped a finger under the waistband of her panties and roughly stroked up her slit. Misaki let out a startled "Oh!" but he took no notice. He withdrew his hand, gloved finger shining with her silky fluid. She felt her face flush in embarrassment at how wet she was.

He drew a circle on her breast, spreading the wetness over her areola and finishing with a dab on the nipple itself, which he pinched hard between thumb and forefinger. He gripped her jaw with his other hand, holding her head firmly. "Don't move," he ordered in the rich, dark voice of the Black Reaper, and her eyes widened.

Only his secure hold on her kept her from jumping at the sight of the faint blue glow of synchrotron radiation that suddenly surrounded him. He sent a trickle of current through his fingers and onto her nipple in a tiny blue-white arc, and she flinched in spite of herself. The knife resting on her belly rose up and down with each shortened breath. But his steady gaze and inflexible grip quickly calmed her, and she focused on the bizarre new sensations.

The electricity was surprisingly pleasant: a light tickle skating along the surface of her skin, propagated by the fluid that he'd spread there. She positively quivered with delight. Gradually he increased the amplitude of the current. The heat spread further, deeper; groaning, she arched her back slightly and pressed her breast into his hand, anything to increase the contact between them. He let go of her chin and slid his hand up the side of her face, stroking her cheekbone with his thumb in that way that she loved; the leather glove was cool and calming, a strange contrast to the electric tingling that was dancing across her skin beneath his other hand.

Then a stray tail of current reached the center of her chest and jumped to the blade of the knife that lay between her breasts. The shock from the electrified metal turned her moans of pleasure into a gasp of pain.

Hei cut off his power abruptly, hand hovering just above her still-tingling skin.

"No," she whispered, gazing up into his blank mask. "Don't stop; it was just the knife."

With slow deliberation, he grasped the hilt and angled the blade so that the tip was poised to press between her ribs. "Are you telling me - or asking me?"

"Begging," she admitted unashamedly in a strained voice. "Please, don't stop!"

With an expert twist of his wrist, the Black Reaper flipped the blade into his other hand and slid it into the sheath on his leg. Then he turned his attention to her other breast, and Misaki squirmed in delicious anticipation.

He worked her even more slowly than he had the first time - teasing her, tormenting her with unpredictable shocks and electrifying caresses. They'd been intimate for nearly two months; by now he knew her body even better than she did herself, and he took full advantage of that knowledge. His hand tangled in her hair, supporting her head with his wide palm. Occasionally he would stroke her taut, ticklish triceps, and she reveled in the sensation.

Her eyes drifted shut against the familiar heat that was building up at her core. He'd hardly touched her below the waist, yet already her stomach muscles were clenching, her toes curling, her hands clutching at the bars of the headboard. Soft, sensual moans escaped her throat as a tight, white-hot spiral gripped her pelvis, twisting her closer to the edge, and -

The electricity vanished. Misaki opened her eyes, lungs heaving; Hei was kneeling over her, hands on either side of her shoulders, very carefully not touching her. "What's wrong?" she asked, her voice faint and thready in her ears. Her clit was throbbing painfully, fair to bursting with need.

"Nothing," he said in a calm, emotionless voice that was betrayed by his ragged breathing. Confused, she watched him climb off of the bed and stand. The telltale bulge in his pants made her lick her lips, and she rubbed her thighs together, hoping for some kind of relief.

"Don't." The stern tone, rather than the command itself, shocked her into freezing. "Keep them open."

"What?" Did he not know close she was? He'd never left her hanging like this before.

Of course he knows, she realized with a wicked thrill. Her surmise was confirmed when he leaned over, and, running a finger down her cheek, said, "I'm not finished with you yet."

"Oh god," she moaned, though whether it was frustration or anticipation that was pounding through her veins, turning her muscles into quivering jelly, she didn't know. But she obeyed, and separated her knees.

Hei turned from her and stalked to the window, where he reached behind the blinds, careful not to let his masked face be seen from the street. When he turned back, he was holding her pink scarf in one hand.

"What are you going to do with that?" Her voice was barely above a whisper. But she knew. Oh, she knew.

He wrapped the other end of the scarf around his gloved hand and tugged, pulling it taut with an audible snap.

"I don't want the police showing up because the neighbors heard you screaming." The cold, cruel certainty with which he said the words set every cell in her body on fire. She'd never seen him so confident before; it was sexy as hell.

As he knelt on the bed beside her, the hilt of his knife brushing her bare leg, Misaki's heart skipped a beat. She flexed her hands in the cuffs. This was BK-201, the Black Reaper. A wanted assassin who knew exactly what he was doing when it came to tying people up and gagging them so that their screams were silenced. She could feel the fear welling up, threatening to overtake her. But it wasn't true fear; it was the kind of fear that you feel on an amusement park ride, when the floor drops out from under you and you scream, but you know that you're perfectly safe.

She knew that she was safe, and she couldn't wait to feel the floor drop.

And yet he hesitated. In a soft voice, Hei said, "If you want me to stop, at any time, make a fist with your hand then open and close it three times. Alright?"

Misaki nodded, heart in her throat. "Alright."

"Are you sure you understand?"

"Yes," she pleaded, desperate to feel his touch again. "Just shut up and f-" The silk gag pressed her tongue down as he pulled it snugly around her mouth. Not tight enough to hurt, but there was no way that she'd be able to work it loose. He knotted it expertly behind her head, then gave it a slight tug to be sure that it was secure.

"Do you really think that you're in any position to be giving orders?" he warned her.

She couldn't answer around the gag, so she shook her head.

Still kneeling on the bed beside her, he pushed her legs further apart and gripped the crotch of her panties in his fist. Misaki gasped as the leather gloves brushed against her swollen and sensitive lower lips. "Hips up," he ordered, tugging slightly to emphasize the order.

Misaki lifted her hips slightly off the bed; he hooked a finger in her waistband just above her ass and in a swift movement, pulled the garment down to her thighs. Her quivering muscles gave out and she collapse back onto the mattress. In her heightened state of arousal, she was hyperaware of every sensation. The slightly stiff material of her blouse rubbing her back, the cool, damp sheet beneath her hips, the lace edges of the panties feathering down her legs and around her ankles.

Hei tossed the lingerie to the floor. Then he positioned himself between her legs and leaned over her, braced on his elbows. She hated the handcuffs now, only because they kept her from clutching him.

"Remember the signal?"

Misaki nodded impatiently - then bit down hard on the scarf between her teeth as a sharp, stinging current leapt from his hand and onto her breast. But he didn't stop there. Never letting up the intensity, he trailed his hand unhurriedly, relentlessly down, one rib at a time. By the time he reached her navel, the sensation of hot white pain had passed through to the other side, into a warm, rosy glow of exquisite pleasure. Despite her efforts to keep her eyes on his, her lids kept fluttering shut as he ratcheted up her arousal.

He continued on across her mound, and she realized with a shiver that he wasn't going to stop. His fingers stole closer and closer to the hardened knot of her clit; she wrapped her trembling legs around his back and squeezed tightly. The scorching current reached the tip of her clitoral hood - and stopped.

Misaki practically sobbed in frustration. "Bastard," she groaned through her gag. She was completely at his mercy; if he wanted to deny her her release, then there was absolutely nothing that she could do about it. And yet, frustrated as she was, she'd never felt such heights of pleasure before tonight.

"Still okay?" The strain in his voice, his naked desire for her nearly pushed her over the edge. She jerked her head once, keeping her hands resolutely clasped to the headboard and her face pressed into her arm. As desperate as she was for her release, she wanted to know how far he would push her - and how much she could take.

Then her aching clit was between his fingers and all coherent thought was wiped from her mind. He began slowly, with just the tiniest, gentlest spark - but that spark at the cluster of already-sensitized nerve endings sent a pulsing current directly to the pleasure centers of her brain. He was as ruthless as only the Black Reaper could be. With rapt attention on her face and her body, he kept her hovering on a razor-thin edge between excruciating stimulation and blissful release. The animal cries and whimpers that filled her ears couldn't possibly be coming from her own throat, yet she knew that they were. White-hot pinpricks of light flashed behind her eyelids, and her arms strained uselessly against the cuffs.

He added a circular stroking motion with the tip of his finger, and her back arched almost painfully as the flood of ecstasy finally broke over her. Only Hei's quick reflexes and hand over her mouth kept the neighbors from hearing her shout despite the gag.

She came down slowly, panting, gasping for breath behind his hand. When she opened her eyes, head still spinning from the rush, it was to find a mask-less Hei staring down at her with a look of such need that she thought her heart might stop. He tore the gloves from his hands, never taking his gaze from hers, gripped her hips, and in the first truly selfish move that he'd made all night - ever since she'd known him - he thrust himself inside of her.

He was hot and hard, and as he stroked her from the inside, filling her, long and slow at first, then faster and more desperate, she felt another climax building, wave after wave of rapture. She tightened around him, and felt his moan rather than heard it. He nuzzled his face, warm and sweating, against her neck, and murmured, "How do you do this to me?"

Even bound, gagged, and helpless, she held him in her power. She let out a sob as the realization pushed her over the edge. Hei came directly after her in a shuddering, groaning spasm.

She tried to beg him not to pull out, to stay inside of her and not leave her empty, but she couldn't manage even the simplest of sounds. Dimly she was aware of Hei removing the gag and the handcuffs. Her muscles were weak and leaden; Hei was pulling her up, rubbing her arms, speaking to her - asking if she was alright. His obvious concern for her, on top of the extremes of emotion that she'd felt that night, suddenly overcame her. She clung to him, shaking - and without a single shred of embarrassment, burst into tears.

Hei removed her glasses, then slipped his hand beneath the blouse that was still hanging loosely off her shoulders and rubbed soothingly at the exact spot on her back that had been paining her all day. How had he known that it hurt? She only sobbed harder, trembling in his arms while he wove his fingers into her hair.

"Misaki…" his voice was raw, broken. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to - I thought -"

"No," she whispered, clutching the fabric of his shirt with weak fingers. "No, Hei, I'm fine. I'm just…overwhelmed." Misaki breathed deeply, her emotion beginning to subside. It hurt her heart that he thought he was in any way at fault for her reaction. "But I loved every second."

His arms tightened around her. "Are you sure?"

She smiled through her tears. "Of course. Do you think I wouldn't be honest about that?"

The tension left his back as he exhaled his relief.

"I'm the one who should be apologizing," she told him.

Hei stroked a thumb across her cheekbone, wiping away a tear. "You? Why?"

"For earlier. With the handcuffs." She was ashamed of the memory; she'd done nothing but take. Then when he'd had the chance to turn things around and she'd given him her control - he'd used it to give her more pleasure than she could bear. "I was angry, but…I shouldn't have treated you that way. I'm sorry."

He shrugged awkwardly. "I would have stopped you if it bothered me."

"Would you?" Somehow, she didn't quite believe him.

He didn't respond, and that was answer enough. Misaki looked up into his face. It was so hard for him to admit to his emotions; not that it was much easier for her. But she wanted - needed - to hear the truth. "Did you…" her face heated, and she had to stop and take a breath. "Did you like…the rest?"

He blushed that adorable faint blush, and his eyes were soft and warm when he said, "Yes."


"Why?" Hei looked at her blankly for a moment, then cupped her cheek with calloused fingers. "Because you liked it." He hesitated, then added softly, "Because you hide your vulnerability away from the world, but you show it to me. Not all the time, but sometimes. And when you do - like tonight -"

The words caught in his throat, and Misaki squeezed his arm encouragingly.

"It's been a long time since anyone has trusted me the way that you do," he finished, his voice rough and raw.

That was it, wasn't it. If it was difficult for her to be so vulnerable with another person, how much harder must it be for Hei, whose entire life depended on mistrust and keeping people at arms' length? Yet he could do it for her. And she could do it for him. The words I love you hovered just behind her conscious mind, but she wasn't quite ready to acknowledge them.

"Thank you," she whispered, and kissed him softly. Hei returned the kiss, brushing his tongue languidly along her upper lip. She rolled up the hem of his shirt, needing to feel his bare skin against hers. He broke off the kiss to pull the shirt over his head, then helped her push her own blouse and bra off of her shoulders. Misaki winced when he tugged the sleeves past her wrists.

"Ow." She hadn't realized that they'd been bruised until just now. Then she smiled as Hei took both her wrists gently in his hands and laid a kiss on each one.

"Maybe I need to invest in some padded handcuffs, for next time," she said, studying his face for his reaction.

His eyes darkened from indigo to midnight blue when he said, "I can bring some rope, instead."

She shivered all the way down to her toes. "No mask, though." She needed to be able to see the unconstrained emotion in his eyes, his vulnerability, when they were together.

"No mask." He kissed her again, then reached past her and switched off the light. They lay down together, Hei spooning up against her and her head resting on his arm. As he pulled the sheets over them both, she wondered idly if he could have used his power to turn off the light, or if it would have ruined the lamp. A giggled escaped her throat.

"What's so funny?" Hei asked sleepily, placing a warm hand over her belly.

"Nothing," she said, overlaying her hand on his. "I was just thinking of the star activity report that's going to be on my desk in the morning."

His hand on her stomach tensed, and Misaki inwardly cursed herself for ruining the mood. Why did she have to bring the real world crashing back down on top them?

But then he said, "Maybe…I could find a way to leave."

Her heart skipped a beat. "Do you think it's possible?"

"I don't know. It wouldn't be easy."

Misaki ran her fingers along the thin scar on his forearm. She hadn't yet had the courage to ask him how he'd gotten any of his scars. "I don't want you to get hurt."

"I know. But I don't want to lose you." He turned his hand and entwined his fingers in hers, then pulled her closer.

She closed her eyes, hope blossoming in her chest. "You won't."