A/N: Complementary to the collection with QP and friends already posted, this is the one dealing with the Suguri/Soraverse, and in particular, the Sugihime pairing. The first few of these will be short; I had a thing for doing pieces of exactly 500 words at the time.

Two figures wander under the shade of evergreen trees, streaks of silver and gold cast in silhouette by the slowly rising sun. The forest is awakening gradually as the light of the dawn brushes across its face; around them there is the shuffle of the beasts and the birds falling into the rhythm of the day.

"I feel like I've seen this place before," Suguri says, scratching her head. The world smells of morning dew; there are grass stains on her skirt.

"I shouldn't be surprised," Hime yawns. "But perhaps not from the ground, and most definitely not with me."

Her golden hair is a mess. For all her beauty, Hime is a graceless sleeper; she tosses and turns, excited by dreams of the day to come. This world, which Suguri has lived in for ten thousand years, is fresh and new to her, an ever expanding horizon. In a very small and quiet way, Suguri is jealous of that, but being able to see a brand new world being discovered isn't bad either. More by instinct than purpose, she runs her hands through Hime's hair, letting it tumble gently through her fingers until it falls into something approaching its natural arrangement.

"Thank you," Hime says, a wry smile playing across her lips. "I'm sure the squirrels will appreciate your brief foray into the world of hairdressing."

"…The squirrels only have to look at you for an hour. I'll be looking at you all day."

Hime bites back a teasing remark. Although the nominal purpose of the trip is for her to get to know her new home, a large part of it has been getting to know her friend. It isn't easy. There's ten thousand years of history to contemplate, hundreds of formative experiences, opinions, and knowledge. What she has learned thus far is that Suguri, even before she is a strong person, is a warm person – warmer, sometimes, than she can contain. Every so often she misspeaks, or reaches out just a touch too tenderly, and it betrays that warmth when her appearance doesn't.

"Are you done?" Hime asks, tilting her head back in Suguri's hands to look her friend in the face.

Suguri frowns, but her hands keep moving, always gentle, always calm. "Just a little more. The forest won't run away, you know."

"Oh? You know, I thought it might. I don't have much experience with forests, you know. I suppose we should catch up to it after a while, though."

Suguri's brow creases; it takes a moment of decision before she decides to play along. "Mm. We're both very fast."

"Apart from when we're doing hair."

"Yes, yes," Suguri says, and abruptly gives Hime's hair a quick ruffle to undo all her hard work. "Are you happy now?"

"Oh, my. Whatever will the squirrels think?"

"Let's go and ask them," Suguri replies, standing up.

"Won't they run?"

"Of course," Suguri says, reaching out a hand to help Hime up. "But, after all, we're very fast."

A/N: That was the first Sugihime piece I ever did, and, as it turned out, it wasn't the last. Hopefully I'll end up doing many more.