Author's Note: I *did* write this with Clair de Line, the piano piece, in mind when I wrote it.


Osaka got up, blinked, and stretched. She needed to go to the bathroom. 12 am on a work night. Tomo, who'd been staying the night, was nowhere to be found.

As she got out, she noticed Tomo sitting on the balcony.

"Hey, you doin' okay out here?" she asked. "It's mighty chilly out."

"I'll be fine."

"Now, I know when I'm bein' blown off, Tomo."

"I just have a lot of feelings I need to process."

"Legit 'n valid. If you want to talk about it just let me know." She started to head back inside when Tomo said something very out of the blue.

"Ayumu, am I defective?"

Osaka blinked slowly. "Tomo..." She was trying to wrap her extremely clouded brain around two things, that Tomo had just called her by her actual name, and the extremely personal question that she was asking. "Why...why are you askin' me?"

"Not important right now."

"I...Tomo..." Her face became shadowed with concern. "I don't think you're broke, Tomo, I think you're a right good person."

"That wasn't the question. I don't care if I'm good, I care if I'm incapable of ever fitting in this world."

"Well, just because a person doesn't fit in, doesn't mean they're broke, Tomo."

"I feel like it."

Osaka sat down next to her. "Is this 'cuz of your dad?"

Tomo's face darkened. "Yeah. He texted me today. Incoherent as usual."

"Jesus fuckin' Christ, he needs to leave you alone!" Osaka said, extremely indignantly.

"Mood, though."

"Can you block his number yet?"

"Nope, unfortunately. Not until I can land a...stable job." It was clear she wanted to say real job, but she knew that'd open a can of worms with Osaka.

"Ughhhh," Osaka groaned. "Well, you know his opinion matters about as much as a whale's on the Canadian presidential election."

"Canada doesn't have a president."

"I know, that's the point. His opinion don't just not matter, it matters in the negatives. You ain't defective, Tomo. You have many fine qualities." The way she said the last word, like koala-teas, made Tomo crack a small smile.

"Heh. It doesn't feel like it."

"You're a lot smarter than folks credit you for, an' you have a big heart."

"Really? You mean that?"

"Cross my heart."

The two girls let out small laughs.

"First time you've laughed all day."

"Yeah, well, it's been stressful."

"Everything fine with you and Yomi? And you and Kagura?"

"Yeah, yeah, I just...I needed to come here."

"Why's that?"

Tomo looked off into the distance, the lights of the city reflecting back into her gorgeous eyes. Osaka found herself somewhat mesmerized. "I'm here because..." she trailed off, as if she was trying to build up the courage to say something big.

"Hey, Ayumu?"

"Yeah, Tomo?"

"I...I really like talking to you."

"Yeah? Well we're gonna be able to do a lot more of that now, as long as my work and school schedule allows it."

"I'm really happy about that."

"I'm glad."

"I..." Tomo took a deep breath. "I really like you."

*Where's she goin' with this?* Osaka wondered. "Aw, shucks, Tomo, I really like you to-"

Tomo wasn't really sure what took over her body just then. She was certain it was actually her, it was just...so impulsive. It didn't feel like her looking Osaka in her big, beautiful brown eyes, running her hand through her hair and down her cheek, and leaning in to kiss her. Osaka made a small noise of surprise, but not one of resistance. At first it felt like Tomo's lips pressed against Osaka's; slowly, she met her affection as they kissed deeply before breaking off.

"I shouldn't have done that." Tomo sounded ashamed.

"Tomo..."

"I really, really shouldn't have done that." She hid her face in embarrassment.

"Tomo, I'm okay."

"I shouldn't have done that," she repeated, and she went inside, leaving a somewhat bewildered Osaka on the balcony. She felt the wind blow through her hair. She was taken by surprise by her sudden gesture, sure, but she found herself liking it. She didn't know what Tomo meant by "I shouldn't have done that". Whatever the case, she was feeling tired again.

She found Tomo on the bed, buried under a blanket, curled up.

"Hey," Osaka said gently. No response.

She slipped her hand underneath the blanket to discover that Tomo was completely naked. She went to put her arm around Tomo's waist for cuddling purposes, when she felt something really strange on her back, like a series of ridges. She produced her phone and turned on the flashlight. Across the top of Tomo's back were seven deep red marks, parallel to each other. They didn't look like stretch marks, these were much too uniform.

"Who did this to you?" Osaka asked, a quiet rage rising in her voice.

Tomo remained silent.

"Tomo, who did this to you?"

Muffled from behind a pillow came, "Dad. Night I left home." She grabbed Tomo and gently rolled her on her back. Tomo was bleary-eyed and had a somewhat vacant expression on her face, like she'd been dissociating.

It was also the first time Osaka had ever seen Tomo naked for more than five seconds. She had forgotten how unbelievably cute she was. Now is not the time for that, Ayumu, she told herself. She steeled her resolve, looked Tomo dead in the eyes, and said, "He's a monster. Whatever he told you, he's wrong. Always. You're a wonderful, talented, gorgeous young woman." And then she embraced her, holding her close, promising to always be there for her.

For Tomo, she felt...safe. Overwhelmingly safe, in Osaka's arms.