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Kitsune was drunk.

She lay sprawled on the couch, marveling silently at the undulating pulses of inebriation that swam through her collapsed vision. Droves of drained liquor bottles waxed away across the floor, random in their formation and fluid contents. There was something liberating to Kitsune about being lost in drunkenness; shadows and light swam inside her head like gremlins and faeries, intangible little dreams that were supposed to be reality. The sense of touch and place was watery and distorted, and ultimately highly amusing.

She giggled.

All the lights were off. 'Don't say up too late,' someone had told her. Hours ago. Motoko, probably. They just really didn't understand: there was nothing like unwinding after a long day of doing nothing like relaxing, drinking, and passing out. Wavering lights from outside of the house flickering like silhouettes crawled across the walls, drawing her laggard attention away from her twirling thoughts. A gust of wind pushing at the porch light.

I'd turn the thing off if it wasn't such a bitch to stand up, Kitsune rationalized, lying prone and unmoving. Eh, it's Keitaro's job anyways. Or something. I think. Yay, drunk thoughts are always fun and pointless. I can dance for myself. I am the puppet master!

She blinked.

Okay, I think I should go to bed. That last thing was a bit weird, even for me.

As Kitsune began the long, arduous task of sitting up and throwing her feet over the side of the couch, her dreary eyes swam the length of the room. Christmas had come and gone in the blink of an eye. The differentiation between her shuddering, malformed memories that distinguished it from any other day was the clothing, mostly. When one had a penchant for her coasting, tipsy lifestyle, beginnings and endings sort of bled together. Mornings were always the most welcome time for reminiscing: the cracking awareness of her perpetual hangover made thoughts acute and definitive, as opposed to the weaving mess they became later on.

Kitsune rubbed her eyes. Christmas was nice. More than just an excuse to party, there was a generally congenial atmosphere that clung to people that Kitsune was so very fond of. It reminded her of herself. The relaxed breathing of her wistful views on life, in the stead of the hyperventilation of the neurotic working society. It was the one time of year that she could really attach herself to other people fully on a visceral, human level: because that was the way she always was. She was always laid back. She was always willing to let things slide. She always loved being around her friends.

She stood. Her foot collided with a messy stack of racing stubs.

She grinned.

Well, it was a nice thought, I guess. The dummy had no freaking clue what he was doing, but all in all it wasn't so bad. Better than a kick in the teeth, I imagine. She bent down, picking one of the stubs up. Reading over its contents, she frowned. Well, okay, a REALLY hard kick. A light kick is debatable. How could he have picked ONLY losers? There's like three-dozen tickets here, and they ALL SUCK!

'Winning' was never Keitaro's strongpoint.

Kitsune stood, grinning. Heh.

As she began to wade her way through the sea of bottles towards the stairs, her thoughts wandered to the male landlord. Obvious physical and psychological social deficiencies aside, he wasn't really such a bad guy. In fact, Kitsune rather liked him. And at times, there were those little flashes of something inside of her, a place that was scarred beneath her superficial extroverted tendencies. Momentary realizations of exactly how much she really did care for him.

She yawned, being careful to walk in semi-reticence as to not awaken the others. Her musings on Keitaro caused her eyes to meander the length of the hall at the top of the stairs, and she blinked when she noticed the flood of soft, saffron light that streamed mutedly through his door.

The klutz is still awake? What's he up to this time?

Walking calmly up to his door, she could easily make his silhouette out through the rice paper. As she suspected, he was slouched over his desk, slaving away at his study materials. For a change. If nothing else, he was predictable. A coy grin spread across her face as she pondered disturbing him in the middle of his academic affairs: with the liberating reality that everyone else aside from the two of them were asleep, the list of possible mischief was endless.

It was too enticing to pass up.

Ahh, what the hell, she rationalized with a smirk. The ol' boy could use a little loosening up medicine. 'Sides, it's much more exciting with two people being wasted than one. At least I think so. Eh, I'll just assume I'm right. Sound logic to me!

With a tempered flourish, Kitsune knocked on Keitaro's door. She stood there, patiently, as she observed his silhouette scuffle frantically as if suddenly broken from a pseudo-trance, before clambering off the ground and towards the door. The door slid open with a shaky, wooden sigh. Despite his obvious lethargy, Keitaro found himself blinking at the visage of inebriation before him.

Kitsune placed her hands on her hips, grinning. "Knock, knock. Howdy, neighbor."

Keitaro scratched his head awkwardly. "Uh... Kitsune? Can I help you?"

This is going to be too easy. Kitsune examined him with visual relish. "Maaaaaaybe. What'cha up to, hmm?"

Keitaro chuckled softly. "Heh. What do you think? Studying." A brief yawn caused him to check his watch. His eyes widened. "Yikes! It's like three in the morning! Shouldn't you be in bed?"

"Look who's talkin', Tokyo-U. Ya pulling yet another one of those famous 'I can handle it but really can't' All-Nighters?"

Keitaro looked back at his desk sheepishly. "It didn't start off that way, but sorta looks like it now."

A long moment elapsed as Kitsune took a long while to appraise him with a mischievous glee, silently reveling in the way his stance shifted awkwardly under her peculiar scrutiny. A plethora of thoughts and ideas tumbled across her disaster-fueled scheme engine, ways she could exploit him for her benefit. Ultimately, she decided on something simplistic yet wholly plausible.

She leaned forward and whispered secretly. "Well, in that case... why don'cha come with me?"

Keitaro, however, was wise to her game. He rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I can see where THIS is going."

"Oh, don't be a spoilsport," Kitsune huffed. "I'm sorta a little off the old rocker, here, and I could use some company. For a little while, or something. Come on, be a pal."

Looking torn between his desire to sleep, think, study and not be rude all at once, Keitaro relented with a sigh. "How long?"

Kitsune crossed her arms, her face tightening with faux-distress. "Well, now. You don't have to act like spending time with little old me is a bad thing, do you? I'm hip and exciting and all those other descriptive adjectives that aren't exactly coming to me at the moment." She winked. "So, come on, big guy."

Fidgeting with his pant-pockets, Keitaro mumbled. "Where are we going?"

With a wide smile, Kitsune leaned in close. "Hmm Hmm... let's go take a bath."

Keitaro withdrew, eyes widened. "Uh..."

"It's an exciting prospect, huh?" Kitsune shuffled up beside Keitaro, taking his arm, suddenly lost in the elaborate fantasy. "Just you, me, the stars, the water... Mmm. Think of the possibilities, Keitaro."

"Eh heh, I am, and that's why I'm gonna have to decline."

With overstatement, Kitsune stepped back from Keitaro, shaking her head. "SIGH. Fine, fine. Be a wet blanket. Of course, if you came with me, you can have my wet blanket, free of charge."

Recoiling towards his room, Keitaro wasn't certain if he should be mortified or laugh. "You're terrible!"

She beamed proudly. "It comes with the territory for us one-track-mind types. So whaddaya say? You in, or not? Could be fun."

"Um... I don't really..."

Agitation finally swiveled along Kitsune's faded sense of rationality, and the moment got the better of her. "Oh, screw it." Without waiting for him to protest, she grabbed his arm and yanked him out of his room and into the hallway. "I'm not letting you stutter your way out of this one. Let's go."

Those around them were still fast asleep, and Keitaro knew instinctively that were he to awaken them with his shouts, they would not be pleased. This gave him very little leeway in terms of protesting Kitsune's assertions, and he suddenly felt helpless and utterly hopeful that whatever it was that she had cooked up for them wasn't too traumatizing.

As he allowed himself to be dragged towards the onsen, he found his eyes lingering over her eager form. The soft, dim light that spilled onto her scarlet vest seemed to glow as she moved; something deep within her seemed alive stronger and more fervent than any he could recall. Her skin was warm and her tug was incessant, and he found his weak, exhausted mind wandering. She was beautiful. More than that, she was freedom. A chaotic enthusiasm marshaled into human shape. Mischievous, conniving, thieving. But not unpleasant in the least.

"Um, look, Kitsune," Keitaro found himself mumbling, desperately trying to keep his voice lowered. "I'm flattered and everything, and you're a great person, but--"

"Stuff it, K," Kitsune countered, pulling him through the changing room. "Just relax and take it easy for one freaking night."

There had been many times when Keitaro had found himself in the women's bath, and he couldn't recall a single instance when it had been a pleasant experience. Routine reflex of course disallowed him any form of ease as they neared the steaming bath: waves of glistening heat shrouding towards the sky, everything growing hotter for not entirely physical reasoning. He felt Kitsune detach from him and disappear behind the dividing wall.

Keitaro allowed himself to soothe his own nerves for a moment, trying desperately to make the best of a potentially very bad situation. He found himself fidgeting with the hem of his shirt, peering hastily between a stack of towels and the exit. It wasn't that he had no desire to bathe with Kitsune; rather it was the delusional thoughts that navigated his confusion throughout his world that held him back. The last thing he needed, he knew, was yet another romantic entanglement, shallow or not. Naru and Mutsumi was more than enough.

His thoughts were interrupted as Kitsune walked back into the room, wearing nothing but a lavender towel wrapped around her frame. Standing casually within the frail, silver light of the moon that spilled through the open door; her continuously narrowed eyes seemed detached, her skin shining softly. Her short hair glinted sharply with thousands of droplet reflections, being dampened moments earlier. With no one around but the two of them, her guard was more than lowered: it had fallen completely, trustfully dropped like needless, perforated armor.

Just like that.

Her wrist snapped forward, a towel flying towards him. "Here. Let's go."

Without waiting for him, she walked through the door and into the onsen. Keitaro blinked a few times, somewhat surprised that she hadn't taken an extended effort to tease or entice him. His muscles burned suddenly, spinning fragments of dull agony tingling through his wiry veins, and the soreness of a day's studying struck him in the span of a single instant. With a sigh, he undressed and wrapped the towel around his waist.

He took a deep breath, and entered the bath.

It was beautiful.

Kitsune stood beside him, quietly, seemingly subsided under the same trance. Lamplight pyres raced across the foaming water, catching within the swirling air, ebbing upwards like rising ethereal leaves towards the unending velvet sky. The winter air was crisp and clear; atmospheric clarity shone down on them with dark brilliance. Without another word, Kitsune sauntered into the heated water, sighing euphorically amongst the eddying pulsations.

She leaned back against a rock, closing her eyes. "Wheeeew! Yeah, this is what I'm talking about."

Keitaro found himself smiling, and followed her into water, sitting across from her. He settled slowly, his muscles aching tremendously. "Heh... man, I feel like I'm going to fall asleep." Exhaustion ran around his head in lumbering haloes. He yawned. "That's not good."

Kitsune stretched languidly; muscles stretched taut, arms folding behind her head in an almost erotic sigh. "Hey, just take it easy and enjoy it. Nice night, quiet all around, no fists to send you flying... enjoy the ride, I say."

Yawning again, Keitaro nodded. "Yes, ma'am."

After a long moment of pleasant silence between them as they settled, Kitsune found herself realizing exactly what was missing. She took a quick surveillance of the nearby surroundings before her almond eyes settled on exactly what she knew she'd find. Saké. She waded over to the wooden box nestled alongside the yawning bath where warm alcohol for such an occasion was stored, opening the chest with eager anticipation. A delightful smile whisked across her face as she found a nearly full bottle resting alongside the chest, along with half a dozen saucers. Gracefully, she removed the bottle and saucers before closing the chest.

She turned to Keitaro, lifting the bottle. "You want? It's not totally warm, but it's still good."

He shrugged. "If you're having, okay."

"I could go in and heat it up real quick, if you want."

"Nah, s'okay. It's fine as it is."

Cradling the bottle and saucers in her arms like children, she waded back beside Keitaro before settling in beside him. Placing the saucers on the firmament between the waters, she poured the rice-wine professionally; her smile shimmered back at her in the rippling crystal liquid, gazing with fluid eyes up into the infinite world above them. A world warmer than the water ever could be. She put the bottle down, handing Keitaro his saucer.

He accepted it gratefully. "Thanks."

Resting against the rock beside him, Kitsune sighed, sipping at her saké. "No problem." Her eyes flooded to the steamy sky. "Hey, you know... I bet if you asked real nice-like, you could do this with Naru tomorrow."

He smirked ironically. "Actually, I bet if I asked real nice-like I'd need facial reconstruction."

"Hmm, I'm not so sure about that..." Kitsune pondered. "I bet if you thundered some liquor through her system a few dozen times she'd be more than willing to be your cuddle-buddy."

"You know, not everyone can hold this stuff like you can," Keitaro said, shaking his head. "I'm willing to bet that any normal person would have alcohol poisoning by this point."

Kitsune laughed. "Your immortality must be rubbing off on me! Ahh, I feel so fortunate!" She raised her saucer high, like an exalted object of the gods. "LET US DRINK!"

"Geez, Shh!" Keitaro frantically waved his hand at her. "Keep it down! If Naru or any of the others find us in here at this time of the night--"

She giggled. "Yeah, yeah."

Keitaro sipped at his saké with a sigh. "Hey, I only came here out of the goodness of my heart because you seemed so desperate. Well, that and you dragged me. So, um, please don't make it any worse than it is."

"Hmm." Kitsune turned slowly, facing him. "Is it really so bad?"

He blinked. "Er, 'bad' as in 'am I having any typical perverted thoughts' or something?"

"No, never mind." Kistune smiled, tilting her head. "Forget I said anything." She drained the remaining contents of the saucer quickly, and as she began to pour another serving for herself, she spoke quietly. "So, like, what are you studying?"

With a heave, Keitaro hoisted himself up on the rock they leaned against. He rubbed his eyes, hoping the cool air against his wet body would foist shards of awareness into him. "Well, right now I'm going over calculus. Again."

Kitsune looked at him. "'The basics', still?"

"No, I'm finally getting beyond that," he chuckled. His mirth disappeared quickly. "But, urgh, math just sucks. I'm so inept at it. Well, um, moreso than other stuff."

"Hey, me too, buddy. I don't think I'll ever be able to understand how it is that the lot of you are able to sit there for so long and concentrate on that mulch. Rots the brain, I tell you."

Keitaro glanced at her, amused. "Uh... Math rots the brain?"

"Math is poison!" she agreed, lowering herself back into the water. An inebriated grin caught her lips. "It's completely useless in everyday life, and I'm damn glad I never once paid attention when I was in school." She shook her head. "Numbers. Pfft."

For a moment, Keitaro simply watched her sit quietly in the water with a certain degree of curiosity. The cool sting of the winter air finally registered, and he quickly drained the remaining contents of his saucer before sinking back into water next to her.

"So, um, what did you do in school, then?" he asked curiously. "Did you do well, or just sort of coast?"

Kitsune blinked, facing him. "What, like you can't tell by now?"

He blushed. "Well, heh, I thought I'd at least ask..."

Her fingers began to trace invisible circles through the water. "My specialty was never work. Ever. In anything. I just don't have the effort to exert for it. I guess I just picked up enough to get by. I was always interested in the more important things, like friends and other people and gossip and stuff."

Keitaro coughed. "And meddling."

"Hey, now, that hurts, loverboy," she countered, waving her finger in front of him. "I meddle because I love! I am the instrument with which relationships found their cornerstones!" She stopped, somewhat embarrassed, and chuckled. "Okay, maybe I tend to sway a little lower and be a bit more devious and assertive than most people, but dammit, I get the job done!"

Keitaro looked at her seriously. "You really think you do?"

"Always." She paused. "Sometimes." She paused again. "Well, okay, it hasn't successfully worked yet, but damn, is it ever fun."

He rolled his eyes. "Yeah... Fun..."

With a drawn out sigh, Kitsune found herself shifting against the rock and moving closer to Keitaro. He didn't edge away, but he became aware of their proximity quickly and astutely: his eyes dilated, his muscles coiling frantically into stonewalls of tissue threads. She grinned coyly for a moment before propping her elbow against the stone, resting her check in her palm, gazing intently into his eyes. Seductive incarnate.

In spite of that, her voice was congenial and comforting, rather than erotic or enticing. "You know, Keitaro... I'm really on your side."

He softened, confused. "What do you mean?"

She poked him playfully in the chest. "You're talking about you and Naru, right? Well, I am." She leaned closer to him, resting their shoulders together. "On your side, I mean. I've been behind you guys since I met you. Sure, I guess I wasn't too fond of you right off the bat, but there was something about you that just weasled your way into my heart pretty damn fast. So be happy, 'cuz you're on the Mitsune Konno team for life."

Keitaro chuckled. "Um... 'weasled'?"

Her hand slapped the back of his head lightly. "Figure of speech."

"Uh, okay."

She patted his shoulder. "And, hey, you picked a helluva winner in Naru, kiddo. Sure, she's surly and short-tempered, but think of the benefits!" She began to count them off on her fingers. "She's HOT... Uh... probably has other redeeming characteristics..."

Keitaro laughed. "Hey, that's harsh. Aren't you supposed to be one of her best friends?"

Drowning herself in the saké, she laughed alongside him. "I'm kidding. I know Naru like the back of my hand. I'm even willing to bet I know her more than she knows herself. Probably."

Falling back against the rock, Keitaro's eyes lingered amidst the stars. "That sounds nice and everything, but I don't think it really helps me out in the grand scheme of things."

"Sure it does!" she argued. "You've got an inside player tampering with the evidence to get you ultimate results! And at a discount price, too."

Keitaro's heart sunk. "Oh, God. How much is this going to cost me?"

"Um, how about let's say... six months rent, if I successfully get you two hooked up?"

"Yeah! That's going to happen!" he agreed sarcastically. He shook his head, looking at her from the corner of his eye. "Wow, you don't even TRY to be reasonable, huh?"

"Sure I do! But you know how I feel about 'trying'. But the offer is on the table."

His appreciation was apparent on his face, but his sense of valor evaporated like the mist ensconcing them. "Thanks, but it's a bit more complicated than that, now. There's this whole Mutsumi thing, and my own feelings, and all this exam stuff I have that means I can't really worry about it. But I do. Anyways." He growled, frustrated, pulling at his hair. "Ahh, dammit, now you got me thinking about it all over again."

Moving around so she was in front of him, staring at him, she poked him again. "So, then, cut to the chase. How do you feel? About Naru, or Mutsumi, or whatever. Spill. I need info."

He sighed, sheepish and somewhat ashamed of himself. "...I don't even really know. Everything's just happening too fast lately."

She gawked at him. "You don't KNOW? Tch... You three, I tell you. Kindergarten antics." She shrugged. "Well, I tried."

Kitsune waded back over to the saké bottle as Keitaro found himself running over the same logistics of internal reasoning he had been enslaved to for the last few days. Bound by his own imploding voice to find resolve, reasoning, and recognition. To feel something pure and complete other than the insomnia of his dream world where infected thoughts collided. He had never been so happy in all of his life, and yet, he had never been so confused, either.

Staring solemnly at the water, Keitaro spoke suddenly. "...Are you happy here?"

Kitsune blinked, slowing the pouring bottle. "...Hmm?"

"You know... here, in Hinata House. Living here with everyone."

Kitsune gawked at him. "...Are you joking? Hell yeah! It's a blast. This is my home. I can't think of living any other way."

His shy eyes met hers. "Have you... ever thought of living differently? Like, working towards some sort of goal?"

"Well..." she pondered for a moment. "Nope, not really. Goals don't really do anything for me. They're just obstructions."

"In a way... I guess I'm kind of envious."

Kitsune was surprised. "Oh? Really? Of me?"

"Yeah! Well... maybe just a little." He found himself gazing back at the rooms in the house he could not see; the residents within, trying to latch onto his memory of them to calm the organic frenzy his thoughts inspired. "I think to myself, sometimes... this is the life I'm living. I was born, I grew up slowly, and I came to this spot in time. And it's been pretty simple, really. There's just been the Promise, and School. It isn't easy, but it's simple... you know? I haven't really gone on some other path, or done some other work or goal."

She poked his shoulder again. "See? You're a one-track mind, too."

"But you're happy with yourself and where you are."

"And you're... not, I assume?"

"I... well, I didn't say that. Just confused." Keitaro's altruism was trapped on a levitating ground: trying to find what was best for others made it difficult to find what he wanted for himself. "I get up, I study, and then there's Naru and Mutsumi and this whole place. There's this test I have to do well on, even though I've gone and blown it three times already."

Kitsune frowned. "Ooh, thinking of running away? I can tell you, a lot of people -- including myself -- wouldn't be too pleased if you pulled that stunt again."

"No, I didn't say that, either."

And then Kitsune was angry.

A sudden impulse of immense frustration rang through her inner-core; savage reincarnation trapped in a life span. She was disappointed in him. He might not have been the smartest person in the world, but his effort and will to succeed was legendary. She envied him. Everything that she wasn't, that was him. And he didn't even realize it. He didn't need a wormhole of knowledge haloing around the labyrinth of his skull, because of everything else he had. His unity. His friends. Why couldn't he see that?

She spoke slowly. "Then... what are you saying, exactly?"

Keitaro shook his head. "Pssh... I don't know. Dammit, I'm stupid. Forget it... I have no idea what I'm babbling about." He scrubbed at his eyes harshly. "Too much studying."

And then the anger was gone.

She was surprised at herself. Or, rather, she acknowledged a deeper part of herself. She often forgot exactly how thoroughly Keitaro had poured himself into her world, her heart, her life. Her primal attachment to him was far beyond something that could be merely expressed as physical desire or immediate affection: it was friendship. It was family. Maybe he didn't know exactly how much he meant to everyone, or how much he was capable of.

But she did.

After a moment of thought, Kitsune took Keitaro's hand. "Keitaro..."

His eyebrows raised, water trickling down his pale skin in ephemeral rivulets. "Um... What?"

She smiled, playfully. "Just have fun, okay?"

"Er, yes?" He shook his head. "It's not like I'm not trying. And I do have fun. Honest."

"Hee hee... I know you do. But don't try to stress out over everything."

Keitaro laughed at himself. "I know... but I can't help it. It's just the way I am."

She scratched the back of his head affectionately, flashing him a half-smile. "Everything can't be perfect. Nothing is perfect."


Their eyes lingered upon each other, and for a moment, there was total understanding. "Even though, sometimes, it can get pretty close."

"Yeah," he agreed. Softly, completely.

"Don't worry about Naru and Mutsumi... they'll be around." Her hands laced behind her head as she eased into his side, his warmth flushing into her with a human wind of touch. "Whatever you feel is up to you. You can feel what you want, and no one can take that away from you. This is my freedom and my happiness, and I don't apologize to anyone for it. Why should you be any different?"

"Well, you say that, but..."

Her hair tickled his shoulder; sandy tendrils combing across his smooth skin like a fragile carpet. "Keitaro, you're my friend. So just relax and let life live itself. Whatever happens to ya, or whatever goes down in the grand scheme of things -- whether it be Tokyo U or the whole Promise-Girl situation -- I'll be around. 'Kay?"

And then he was warm. He smiled. "Thanks. That... means a lot. Really."

Kitsune smiled softly, easily, before gazing towards the twilight ceiling enshrouding them. Her eyes widened as they caught sight of myriads of glistening snow lingering down towards them like fluttering star-petals, catching themselves in a sudden wisp of steam above the bath.

"Heeeeeeey," she murmured, "it's snowing."

Silence stretched across the open air as the world became hot and cold simultaneously; miniature whirling auroras amongst their skin and the rocks and water, fireflies given frigid shape and movement. A sudden sense of peaceful awe reinvented her drunken demeanor, softening her soul, gently easing her down in a smoothing of features. A wide, genuine smile swept across her face, and she felt warm and new, like a little girl. Alive, breathing, pouring into the world.

Keitaro's voice seemed almost distant. "Yeah... kinda nice, actually."

A giggle escaped her lips. "It's pretty."

Pale, livid moonlight ensconced the two of them. For a moment, together as friends, the fragilities and anxieties of everyday life were gone. Something foreign but entirely welcome blossomed like waves of silky flowers inside their chests, folding and unfolding, shifting the colors lining the iridescent walls of their perceptions. A stream of incorporeal hands reaching inside of them. Not tugging, but instead touching gently at their thoughts.

Just for a moment.

Keitaro turned slowly, his skin glistening silver. "...I should get back to studying. Is that okay?"

"Yeah, go ahead, buddy," her wistful gaze unyielding. "Don't stop on my account."

Slowly, almost regrettably, he nodded. "Alright." Wrapping the towel tightly around him he stood, walking carefully over the rocks. He stopped for a moment to face her again. "Have a good night, Kitsune."

For a long moment, Kitsune said nothing. Then, "Hey, K?"

Keitaro blinked. "Yeah?"

"...Thanks," she said. She smiled, again. "For coming with me."

He mirrored her. "My pleasure. See ya."

And then he was gone, and she was alone.

But she had long since felt so welcomed.

Her smooth legs crossed, her towel lilting down across her back before pooling around her waist. Her hands fell back against the warm stone and she tilted her head back, peering so fully and completely into the drapery of midnight watching her with millions of falling eyes. She lived for moments like these. Her eyes clouded with stopped time and she felt herself blush, content. Alive.

And... And, oh... I hope I remember this. Thank you, Keitaro. Thanks for buying me those shitty loser tickets. Ahh...

Kitsune closed her eyes.

Memory stored the value of herself inside a place that no one could get to. Her own human worth was held in memory, and sometimes she couldn't hold onto that due to the unending distortion and loss of time that came with drunkenness. It was the life she chose to live, and she didn't regret it for even a moment. Regardless, a softer, more mature shard of herself found itself wishing that this wouldn't be some blur that would pass by. Not a fading dream, a quiet murmur of existence.

Snow touched her skin, but she was anything but cold. Nostalgia made her glow.

Kitsune loved her friends, and they were something to remember.

She spoke softly. "Something wonderful."