Author's Note: Well, I've decided to do this fic in two chapters for a couple of reasons. The first is that it allows me to keep one chapter under an M rating for anyone who might be put off by that (though I have yet to see any evidence that such fans exist, but just in case). Also, it allows me to at least get this chapter out on time, even if I'll have to keep you waiting for the next one.

Anyways, I've decided to place this fic within the timeline of I'm Yours, jumping forwards to Valentine's Day. You don't have to read that one to understand this, but it wouldn't hurt.

I've decided to make a special dedication of this fic to… you. Yes, you. No, not all those other readers, you. So, will you be my Valentine? -puppy-Natsuki eyes-

Title: Your Valentine

Rating: T (this chapter only, next is M)

Chapter 1: A Place to Call Home

Natsuki paused as she reached Shizuru's front door. She could have simply used her key to get in – in fact, she'd already used her garage key so she could store her bike in there – but she wanted to do this properly. Simply walking in through the door just didn't seem as romantic as letting Shizuru answer it and find her waiting there, a box of chocolates in her hand.

Of course, the flip side was that it made Natsuki feel childish and awkward. Being romantic like this just wasn't her thing, and if anyone ever asked about this, she'd deny, deny, and deny some more. There was only one person Kuga Natsuki would ever do something like this for, or even admit to doing something like this to: Fujino Shizuru. There was just something about the way Shizuru reacted that made embarrassing herself like this alright. She loved the little romantic things in their own rights, but Natsuki figured that it was the fact that she was actually doing them that pushed Shizuru over the edge.

It turned out to be surprisingly easy to make her girlfriend blush when she applied herself and did a little something extra that she wouldn't normally do. Shizuru was always gorgeous when she blushed, and Natsuki was starting to get an idea of why she always enjoyed provoking this reaction in her. Of course, in Natsuki's case, Shizuru claimed that blushing made her cute – a thought which tended to make her blushing even worse – but the important part was that Shizuru enjoyed it.

The important part is that Shizuru enjoys it, Natsuki repeated to herself. This part of her plans was likely to be one of the easiest parts, modesty-wise. She unconsciously shifted the duffel bag which hug from her shoulder, trying not to think of the change of clothing and other supplies inside too much. She'd have plenty of time to worry about that later, and it would hopefully be easier then, after she'd seen Shizuru and they'd spent a little time together. It was always hard to think of the more intimate things she and Shizuru had taken to doing in the last couple of months when she wasn't in the mood, but a little physical contact from Shizuru and all the other soothing aspects of her presence made it not only alright, but something Natsuki desperately wanted.

Deciding she'd hesitated long enough, Natsuki reached out to ring Shizuru's doorbell. Music rang from inside, slightly muffled. Shizuru had changed the bell sound to something more personal not long after moving into this house. It sounded like some kind of enka music to Natsuki, though she couldn't figure out which song in particular. When asked about it, Shizuru had always just told her that it was something personal, and eventually Natsuki had given up. It had been over a month now since she'd bothered with the doorbell, so she hadn't thought about it for a while. Maybe now that she and Shizuru were opening up with each other more, she'd be willing to explain the significance behind the song. Natsuki reminded herself to ask about it later.

Shizuru took longer to reach the door than Natsuki had expected. She'd figured that Shizuru would have heard the garage open and close and would have guessed at her intentions. Perhaps she hadn't, or perhaps she was just pretending she hadn't. Or, most likely, it was just one of her many ways of teasing Natsuki. Well, if she was trying to make her anxious, Natsuki didn't plan to fall into that trap. She'd be smooth, confident, and romantic.

Natsuki held her heart-shaped box of chocolates out and allowed a loving grin to cross her face just as the door swung open. "Happy Valentine's Day!" she said just as Shizuru came into view, then promptly considered herself lucky she'd said it then. The sight of Shizuru left her breathless. She was wearing one of her favorite kimonos, a pale purple number adorned by various flowers, with her hair worn back fashionably. She was the perfect picture of the traditionally elegant Japanese woman.

Natsuki's thoughts started drifting in the direction of feeling bad that she'd put less effort into her outfit than Shizuru, wearing only her casual clothing beneath her jacket, but the look on Shizuru's face pushed those thoughts from her mind. Shizuru couldn't have cared less about what Natsuki was wearing. Her face lit up beautifully when she observed Natsuki. She wore a smile that was reserved specifically for these moments, and it never failed to send a wave of warmth through Natsuki's chest as she realized how special she was to Shizuru.

"Good evening, Natsuki," Shizuru said, bowing politely. She was trying to be formal, but Natsuki sensed something in her voice that sounded a bit off. The devil's advocate in her head suspected that Shizuru was repressing a "So cute!" reaction, but she tried not to pay it much mind lest she spontaneously break out into a blush. "Please come in," Shizuru continued, politely moving to the side and motioning for Natsuki to enter. The undercurrent in her voice seemed to have intensified now, but Natsuki ignored it and made her way inside.

Natsuki dropped the chocolates and her duffel bag off on a nearby table as she made her way to the coat closet. She kicked off her shoes, and then said as she removed her coat, "Er, sorry I didn't dress up any more Shizuru. I would've if I'd known you were going to."

"It's alright, Natsuki," Shizuru said from behind her, and Natsuki could hear the smile in her girlfriend's voice. It had softened a little from the formal tone she'd put on before. "I wouldn't mind even if Natsuki came here wearing nothing at all."

Natsuki's face lit up in a blush before she could push the thought of standing naked at Shizuru's doorstep out of her mind. Damn it! It didn't take her thirty seconds from me getting in the door to make me blush. At least I've got my back turned to her… Natsuki had hoped that she'd develop a resistance to Shizuru's teasing once they started going out, but she'd had no such luck. Maybe on some level she just didn't want to. Teasing was, after all, one of Shizuru's ways of showing her love, and so it did cause a little throbbing in her heart whenever Natsuki was the subject of it.

Natsuki rapidly shook those thoughts from her head and hung up her coat. She was not going to admit to enjoying Shizuru's teasing. Because then it'd stop working so we- No! You shut up! I get enough teasing from Shizuru, I don't need my own subconscious joini- "Ahh!" Natsuki let out a yelp and stumbled forwards as Shizuru practically pounced on her from behind. Her girlfriend's arms wrapped around her securely, though, one across her shoulders and the other below her breasts, and held her up.

"Now what isn't okay," Shizuru said into Natsuki's ear in a teasingly upset tone, "is to try to hide one of my rightfully-earned blushes from me. And this is after you decided to come in through the front door so I couldn't hug you like this as soon you as you entered. Natsuki no ikezu."

As she regained her balance, Natsuki relaxed into the hug and started to giggle at Shizuru's antics. Even in a kimono, she could be as silly as ever. It was really endearing, actually. Shizuru was the perfect mix of elegance and playfulness, and displays like this just emphasized it in Natsuki's mind. A wave of love for Shizuru taking over her, Natsuki leaned her head back and turned it to the side, allowing her lips to meet Shizuru's in a tender kiss.

Shizuru wasn't expecting the kiss, but she certainly didn't complain. She let out a slight yelp of pleasant surprise as Natsuki's lips met hers, but she quickly returned the kiss. Her lips moved slowly and gently against Natsuki's. They'd have plenty of time for passionate kisses later; for now they were both simply content with allowing their kiss to be sweet and gentle.

Natsuki found herself melting into Shizuru's arms as their embrace continued. Her hands drifted up to lie on top of Shizuru's, holding them against her body. It felt like Shizuru's love was washing through her body, filling her with a pleasant warmth. She weakened in her lover's arms, and she tried to let her own love pour out through her kiss so Shizuru could feel the same way. This feeling, this moment was absolute bliss. She'd been an idiot to hold back for so long. Why was she ever afraid of feeling like this?

Remembered excuses drifted up in Natsuki's mind: She'd been afraid of loving because she'd been afraid of being abandoned again. But it had finally occurred to her that Shizuru wasn't going away, whether or not her love was returned. That realization had made it alright for her to examine her own feelings and acknowledge that she felt something more than friendship for Shizuru.

That realization, along with a few fantasies that started haunting her dreams, had led to an embarrassing attempt at a birthday present for Shizuru, followed eventually by a much more satisfactory – for both of them – Christmas. Time would tell how well her planned Valentine's Day present would turn out. At least, now that she was with Shizuru, she felt like she might have enough courage to go through with it.

But that was too far in the future. Natsuki was content just enjoying the moment with Shizuru for now. She gently withdrew from the kiss and gave Shizuru a smile. "I love you, Shizuru," she said.

The reaction on her girlfriend's face was just as sweet as every time Natsuki uttered those words. There was a small amount of disbelief, as if she still couldn't quite believe this was really happening. Also present was a kind-of "I don't deserve this" expression, which Natsuki heartily disagreed with. But most prominent was the simple happiness, which was always enough to express itself through teardrops forming in Shizuru's eyes. Sniffing back the tears, Shizuru said, "I love you too, Natsuki. Happy Valentine's Day."

Natsuki briefly mused that she didn't have such a beautiful reaction typically to Shizuru's professions of love, and a wave of guilt struck her for a moment. She felt something, certainly. Ever since she'd figured out her own feelings, Shizuru's professions had meant a bit more to Natsuki, and she felt a sweet pang in her heart with every one. It was just too bad Shizuru couldn't see that reaction in her.

On the other hand, Shizuru did get plenty of fun making Natsuki blush with her teasing, so maybe it evened out in the end. With that though, a wicked idea struck Natsuki. If she were to start blushing at Shizuru's admissions of love, she might lighten up on the teasing in favor of that. She would never get completely free of blushing around her girlfriend, but perhaps she could at least get out of some of the teasing. The trick was getting herself to blush at the right time.

"Natsuki is so cute when she's lost in thought," Shizuru said, breaking Natsuki out of her reverie and sending a blush quickly to her cheeks.

Natsuki let out a mental sigh. Guess that's it then. When she says "I love you," I'll just have to mentally add on "Natsuki is so cute." I just hope I'll be able to take it.

"So what was Natsuki thinking about?" Shizuru asked when it was clear that Natsuki was remaining silent.

Natsuki twisted in Shizuru's embrace and freed an arm. She playfully tapped a finger to Shizuru's nose and put on a fake scowl. "You. And how much you always torment me."

Shizuru got back at her by leaning forward and standing on her toes slightly so she could land a kiss on Natsuki's nose. "You know you love it, and I know too. I wouldn't do it otherwise."

Damn you. Natsuki was really at a loss in their arguments ever since Shizuru had dragged that little secret out of her during their first night together. She let out a soft growl as she pushed out of the hug, trying to think of something to change the subject. She found one when her eyes landed on the box of chocolates she'd brought for Shizuru. She went over to retrieve them.

"Er, anyways, Shizuru, I got you these for Valentine's Day," Natsuki said as she picked up the box and turned around. She presented the box to Shizuru. "I know how much of a sweet tooth you have, however much you try to hide it from others."

Shizuru's eyes showed a brief flicker of surprise as she took the box from Natsuki. "How did Natsuki find out…?" she asked cautiously.

Natsuki smiled victoriously. It wasn't often she caught Shizuru off-guard, and she planned to relish it. She kept Shizuru waiting for a moment before she explained, "I've spent the night here plenty of times, and made myself breakfast on a couple of occasions when I woke up before you. In searching for mayo – which by the way, you're out of as of last Thursday – I found your secret stash." Putting on her best imitation of Shizuru's accent, Natsuki said, "It seems that tea isn't the only thing Shizuru's addicted to."

A blush alit on Shizuru's face, and she dropped her gaze down from Natsuki. After a minute, she let out a sigh and put on a smile. "Ara, I guess you caught me." Natsuki's victory smile widened. "But there is one thing Natsuki should be warned about. When I eat chocolate, I get a little…"

"Frisky?" Natsuki supplied, taking a step closer to Shizuru. The blush on her girlfriend's face deepened. She tried to make her voice as alluring as possible, though she didn't have much practice with it, and so she wasn't really sure if she was succeeding. "Aroused?" Another step, an even deeper blush on Shizuru. "Wanting to do some very naughty things to your girlfriend?"

Shizuru's blush now rivaled some of the best she'd ever provoked in Natsuki. Seeing if she could actually top Shizuru, Natsuki pressed one step further. She reached a hand up to gently stroke along Shizuru's arm, feeling the soft fabric of the kimono and Shizuru's even softer flesh beneath it. "I was counting on it," Natsuki finished, looking coyly up into Shizuru's eyes.

A weak whimper came from Shizuru, and she seemed to burst a blood vessel in her cheek. Natsuki briefly considered pushing her even further with a sweet "I love you," but she figured Shizuru had had enough. She didn't have the practice to keep up these big blushes, after all. So Natsuki calmly waited until Shizuru's blush had settled down enough for the girl to get out a soft, "Natsuki's going to pay for this."

Natsuki couldn't help herself as she broke out into laughter. Shizuru would always be Shizuru, even right after she'd been defeated. Giving her lover a quick kiss on the nose, much as she'd received earlier, Natsuki said, "Don't worry, I've got that planned out too." Before Shizuru could question her on this, Natsuki continued, poking the box of chocolates with her finger, "Now eat! I bought those for you; I want you to enjoy them."

"Yes, cuddlebunny," Shizuru said, catching Natsuki off-guard with the use of that nickname and prompting a blush in her. Shizuru made her way to the kitchen as she opened up the box, leaving Natsuki to lament letting her guard down. She only wasted a few moments on it, though. It was inevitable with Shizuru, so there was no point in fretting over it. Shaking her head, Natsuki followed Shizuru into the kitchen and sat down across from her at the table. She simply watched Shizuru as she ate, marveling at how the girl still managed to seem perfectly elegant as she did so. The woman was truly inhuman.

That's it then. She isn't human. She's a goddess. My goddess. A smile came unbidden to Natsuki's face as she watched Shizuru. She idly wondered the object of her affection was currently thinking about. She certainly didn't mind just standing there watching her – it was hard to imagine a more beautiful sight then Shizuru in one of her best kimonos – but perhaps Shizuru was getting a bit bored. She wasn't showing it, but it was always hard to tell with her.

"Ara, Natsuki is looking hungry herself," Shizuru said, drawing Natsuki out of her thoughts. She quirked an eyebrow at her girlfriend, causing Natsuki to think that she might have intended a different meaning by "hungry." "Perhaps I could share a few of these lovely treats with her."

"Hmm? No!" Natsuki protested. "I got those for you!"

"Yes, and the best thing I can think of to do with them on Valentine's Day is to share them with Natsuki." Shizuru pushed the box across the table so it was halfway between her and Natsuki. Natsuki noticed that it was already half empty. Time must have really flown by while she was watching Shizuru. "Besides," Shizuru continued, a sparkle forming in her eye. "I wouldn't want to be the only one affected by them."

"Hmm, well alright," Natsuki said, picking a piece out of the box. "But so you know, chocolate really doesn't do it for me like that." Natsuki popped the piece into her mouth and chewed into it. She'd been sure to pick out quality sweets for Shizuru, and she was glad to confirm that they were indeed quite delicious.

"Well I guess I'll just have to do something else to get Natsuki in the mood," Shizuru said. Her mouth managed to maintain a mischievous grin even as she placed a chocolate into it and started chewing. Natsuki reaffirmed her prior observation that Shizuru was inhuman. Shizuru swallowed the chocolate and said, "Fortunately, I do have a couple of things planned. Natsuki might not be easy to get into the mood, but she does have her tricks."

A slight blush made its way to Natsuki's cheeks. The thought that Shizuru was learning how to get her into the mood best might have sent her running for the hills a couple months ago, but it was only mildly embarrassing now. When she was honest with herself, it wasn't getting into the mood that frightened her, it was thinking about going ahead with things when she wasn't ready for it. If Shizuru was to make sure she got Natsuki appropriately aroused first, then that was alright, wasn't it? No need to worry about her modesty causing her to scream and run. The problem was trusting Shizuru to do that. She'd likely push things every once in a while just for the reaction.

"Hmm… I think Natsuki's redder…"

"What?" Natsuki broke out of her thoughts to focus on Shizuru. Her girlfriend had a cherry-filled chocolate held up in front of her, half of it bitten off. She kept glancing between it and Natsuki's face.

"Oh yes, definitely Natsuki. She's much cuter, too." With a small grin, Shizuru tossed the chocolate into her mouth while a very red Natsuki fumed at her from across the table.

"Baka," Natsuki spat back. It wasn't much of a comeback, really. More of an admission of defeat, in her own way. She indignantly leaned back in her chair and grabbed a chocolate. She popped it into her mouth and chewed as angrily as she could, resulting only in an amused giggle from Shizuru. Despite herself, Natsuki ended up admiring the beautiful sound of her girlfriend's laughter.

"So tell me, Natsuki," Shizuru said as her laughter subsided. "How did you figure out what chocolate does to me? I don't think just snooping around my kitchen could clue you in to that."

Natsuki chuckled. "I've got my secrets." Taking a chocolate from the box, she tossed it into her mouth and chewed in as coy a manner as she could manage.

Of course, when it came to manipulative facial expressions, Shizuru was the master. Right now, she put on a pathetic pout and whined, "Natsuki's been keeping secrets from me?"

Natsuki could not help but stare back into Shizuru's eyes. She'd opened them wide, pleading with Natsuki. A bolt of pain hit Natsuki's heart seeing Shizuru like this. She was almost positive it was just an act, but it still hurt. Giving a frustrated sigh, Natsuki gave in. "Fine, fine. You talk in your sleep."

Shizuru's pout vanished in an instant, confirming Natsuki's suspicions that it was an act. It was replaced by a somewhat surprised and nervous look. "What do I say?" she asked.

Natsuki chuckled. It was quite fun being able to twist Shizuru around her finger like this, if only for a moment. Of course, she knew if she held out too long, Shizuru would deploy her pout again. Rather than facing assured defeat, she decided to show mercy on her girlfriend. "Mostly you seem to be talking to me, and I seem to be quite a tease in your dreams, judging by all the 'Ikezus' I hear." Shizuru's cheeks tinged pink, and Natsuki knew that she'd guessed correctly. "I've also picked up a few other things, such as what chocolate does to you." What exactly I heard you say… well, maybe I'll tell you later tonight. Er, after I show you…

"Yup, Natsuki's definitely redder." Natsuki glared at Shizuru, finding that she'd picked out another cherry-filled chocolate and was doing her comparison again. Of course, this only served to make Natsuki's blush worse. "So tell me, Natsuki, are the things I say in my sleep so embarrassing to you that just thinking of them turns you into a cherry? I just might have to record myself in my sleep for some ideas."

Natsuki let out an exasperated sigh. She really had to stop doing that to herself. Shizuru should at least have to work to make her blush. She silently ate down a couple more chocolates, until she and Shizuru had emptied out the box, just about at the same time her blush completely faded. Natsuki made quite sure that Shizuru didn't get her hands on any more cherry-filled chocolates, lest she pull her comparison again.

"Now," Shizuru said, standing up from the table. Natsuki looked up into her girlfriend's eyes and noticed that a fire seemed to be lit in them. "Before I end up pouncing on Natsuki, I think I'd better give her her present. Come," Shizuru walked past Natsuki, out into the hallway, motioning for her to follow. Cautiously, Natsuki got up and followed her. She cast a glance back to the box of chocolates which was still lying on the table, marveling at how anxious she must have made Shizuru for her to give up being circumspect about throwing the box away.

Natsuki met Shizuru out in the hallway. She was standing next to the doorway to her guest room. The door was shut, as usual. Natsuki had taken a peek in many months back when she'd first come over to Shizuru's place, but she'd never given the room much mind since then. She'd noticed that in the past month, the door to it seemed to be closed all the time, but she didn't think too much on it. Judging by Shizuru's presence in front of the door now, Natsuki mused that she must have stashed her gift in that room. If she'd bought it a while back, it could explain why she'd kept the door closed lately.

"I have to say," Shizuru said, "It took me some work to figure out what to get you today. I've actually been thinking about this for quite a while. I do know a lot about what you like, but none of that is really romantic enough for Valentine's Day. You kind of lucked out when you found out about my chocolate addiction. But, I did come up with something which I think will be just perfect for you."

Natsuki furrowed her brow as she tried to guess what Shizuru might have gotten her. In the end though, she was at as complete a loss as Shizuru must have been when she'd first tried to think up a gift idea. She gave an exaggerated shrug. "Alright, I give up. What did you get me?"

Shizuru smiled and let out a lovely chuckle. "Well it occurred to me that whenever we sleep together, Natsuki is quite a cuddlebunny." Natsuki was able to steel herself this time to prevent a blush. Shizuru gave a little pout at her failure but continued, "Well, I got to worrying about how Natsuki fares when I'm not there for her. I just can't imagine her cuddliness disappearing, and I can't bear the thought of her being deprived. So…"

Shizuru snuck in behind the door, making sure Natsuki couldn't see past it as she went into the room. As she waited for Shizuru to reappear, Natsuki wondered about what her girlfriend might have gotten her to cuddle with. Most of the time when she wasn't with Shizuru, she'd wake up to find herself clutching her pillow in her arms. It was far from a perfect solution, though. The pillow just wasn't solid enough, and using it deprived her head of something to lie on.

It occurred to Natsuki that this was something she really should be getting embarrassed and blushing about. Shizuru hadn't just mentioned her being cuddly, but had even gotten her a present with that in mind. It should have had her blushing and groaning at the experience, but she really didn't seem to mind. She must have changed lately, if she was alright with all of this. It was a bit disconcerting to think that she'd changed in this manner, but it also seemed she'd lost the fiercer side to her personality that would have gotten really upset about it. I guess it makes some sort of sense. After the Carnival, we've all gone back to normal lives, and I guess I'm softening. Shizuru's probably to blame for a lot of it, too.

"Alright Natsuki," Shizuru's voice came from behind the door. "Close your eyes and open your arms." Sighing and rolling her eyes, Natsuki obeyed. "Ready?"

"Yeah," Natsuki said. She silently hoped she wouldn't end up getting pounced on again by Shizuru, but that didn't seem too likely.

Natsuki heard the sounds of the door opening and closing, along with Shizuru's footsteps. She sensed a presence in front of her, and Shizuru said, "Now hug." Rolling her eyes behind her closed eyelids, Natsuki wrapped her arms closed. They circled around a large stuffed body. Moving her arms around, Natsuki tried to gauge its shape. It seemed to be some animal, judging by what seemed to be limbs at the top and bottom. It would certainly be good for cuddling. It was just firm enough for her hug to have some presence, but soft enough to be comfortable. Just like Shizuru…

"Can I open my eyes now?" Natsuki asked.

"First you have to guess what it is," Shizuru said.

Natsuki felt up the stuffed animal a bit more, feeling the head a bit more this time. A couple of floppy ears clinched her conclusion. Allowing a smile to cross her face, she said, "It's Duran." She opened her eyes to find herself face to face with a dog's head. To be honest, aside from the blue color, it didn't look a thing like Duran, but that wasn't important. It would be her new Duran, and that was what mattered.

Natsuki was distracted from her new companion by the sound of Shizuru chuckling delightedly. "My thoughts exactly," she said. "I take it Natsuki likes him? Enough to cuddle with him when I'm not around?"

"Hmm…" Natsuki considered this for a minute. It certainly would be better than using her pillow, that wasn't in question. It was just that her pride had finally caught up to her and she was once more concerned about admitting to needing something to cuddle with. When she glanced over at Shizuru though, she decided that some things were more important than her pride. "Well, he's no comparison to you, but I think he'll do."

A blush made its way to Shizuru's cheeks at Natsuki's comment. That wasn't really surprising – it was hard to make Shizuru blush, but Natsuki knew that would do it. What was surprising was that Shizuru seemed to become a bit nervous. It was possible that the nervousness had been there before Natsuki's comment, but she still couldn't think of any reason for it. Shizuru quickly covered it up, though. "I'm glad Natsuki likes him."

Natsuki dropped Duran down a bit in her arms so she could look over at him and at Shizuru a bit better. Something was up, and she wasn't going to let it drop. "What's up, Shizuru? You looked nervous for a moment there."

Shizuru's mask seemed to break when Natsuki pointed this out. She gave a somewhat weak smile as she said, "Well, that wasn't my only gift for Natsuki. I was just thinking about what else I've gotten you."

"And you're nervous about that?" Natsuki said. She had to put up a bit of a mask of her own as she said this. She was desperately trying not to think about her own other gift for Shizuru. That was definitely something to be nervous about. Was Shizuru planning something similar? That would give her grounds to be nervous, but it might be a bit awkward if they both did the same thing.

Shizuru nodded. "I'm afraid I… I'm not sure Natsuki's ready for this," she said. Natsuki remarked that Shizuru must truly have been nervous. For her normal grace to break like that, she'd have to be.

Natsuki gently placed Duran down on the floor and walked over to Shizuru. She reached out to take Shizuru's hand in hers. "Don't worry, Shizuru. To be honest, I've surprised myself with what I'm ready for." She looked up to catch Shizuru's gaze and held it as confidently as she could. She didn't know what Shizuru might have planned, but she did know that she was ready to accept anything of this girl. Ever since she and Shizuru had officially become a couple, things had just started to feel right in her life. Whatever Shizuru wanted to do with her tonight, she was ready for it. She might have to fight through her modesty to do it, but Shizuru was worth it.

Shizuru nodded slightly. She still looked nervous, but she seemed to have decided to go through with this. "Alright," she said. She clutched Natsuki's hand and brought it up to her mouth for a quick kiss. "Just promise me you'll consider it, okay Natsuki?"

"Of course, Shizuru," Natsuki said, silently wondering what Shizuru might have in mind that she could be so nervous about. Particularly if it were intended as a gift, she shouldn't have much reason to refuse, should she? Well, she'd just have to wait and see.

"Okay," Shizuru said. "Close your eyes again."

Natsuki gave her girlfriend a blank expression at this. Wasn't once enough?

"Please?" Shizuru said, giving Natsuki an irresistible pleading expression. Sighing, Natsuki relented. She hadn't really expected to win anyways. "Thank you." As expected, Shizuru's voice immediately perked up. She guided Natsuki towards the door to the guest room and opened it up in front of her. Natsuki cautiously walked inside, still trying to figure out what Shizuru might have planned.

Natsuki heard Shizuru walk around behind her to close the door. Shizuru took a deep breath and nervously said, "Alright Natsuki. You can open your eyes now."

It took Natsuki a few seconds to figure out what she was supposed to be looking at once she opened her eyes. She'd been expecting some obvious present in the middle of the room, or possibly Shizuru having done a quick change into some alluring outfit. There was none of that here, though, just the room. The room…

Natsuki looked more closely at the room itself and compared it to the brief glimpses she'd gotten before Shizuru had closed it off. The walls had gone from white to a soothing blue, and the bed seemed to have been replaced completely; it looked much more inviting now than the aging piece that had previously occupied the room. It also appeared to have the perfect blend of colors for her tastes, mixing shades of blue and black just perfectly.

Natsuki turned around to get a look at the rest of the room. Most notable was what appeared to be an entertainment center set up. It had shelves that could be used for her television, speakers, and more game systems than she currently possessed. It would be quite a step up from her current improvised layout, and it would be able to tactfully hide her tangle of cords in the back.

Finding her thoughts going in this direction, Natsuki realized that her subconscious had already jumped to the meaning of the changes in the room. Shizuru had transformed it into her room. But, no, it didn't feel like just a room… Natsuki strolled over to the desk beside the bed, picking up one of the pictures that were placed on it. It contained a picture of Shizuru she'd never seen before. Shizuru seemed to be wearing her most loving expression in it, which Natsuki had never seen her give anyone else. Shizuru must have taken the picture specifically for this purpose.

Natsuki placed the picture back on the desk and picked up the other picture. This one contained a picture of both her and Shizuru, holding each other while looking lovingly into each other's eyes. She remembered the day that Shizuru had asked her, seemingly at random, to take that picture. She'd figured Shizuru just wanted something for herself, and she'd been more than happy to oblige for that – after a little teasing, of course.

These pictures would certainly be a good sight to wake up to, Natsuki admitted. This whole room would be, for that matter. It possessed some comforting quality that her apartment didn't. Although she'd lived in her apartment for over three years now, it had always just felt like a place to sleep for her. Since she'd lost her mother, she'd never really had any place that felt like a home for her. She'd been lost and on her own. Here, with Shizuru just one room away… she was finally home.

"Natsuki?" Shizuru's voice came from behind her, still full of nervousness. "Is everything… alright?"

Natsuki tried to speak up to respond, but she found that words were failing her. With the feeling of tears starting to drip out of her eyes, she realized she was just too emotional to speak right now. Well, she could work with that too. Placing the picture back down on the desk, she turned around and walked back to Shizuru. She found that Shizuru's fear of her possible rejection had manifested in her eyes. She hadn't seen that sight in her since the Carnival, and she wasn't going to let it last any longer than she had to.

Natsuki let her eyes meet Shizuru's as she approached, and she tried to pour as much of her love into them as she could, but maybe Shizuru misinterpreted it as her way of preparing to let her down gently, as her fear remained. Natsuki quirked up a smile just as she reached Shizuru, but rather than letting this speak for itself, her instincts took over for her. Her arms made their way around Shizuru and her hands found the back of her girlfriend's head, tilting it and pulling it forward as she met her love's lips with her own.

Shizuru was shy and surprised at first, but it didn't take long for her to give in to the kiss. Natsuki was sure to pour as much of her love as possible into it, using it to show her thanks to Shizuru. She could feel her tears starting to pour down her cheeks, but this just spurred her on to putting more passion into the kiss. She absolutely loved this woman and her gift. Her life was finally becoming complete.

Eventually, Shizuru seemed to sense Natsuki's enthusiasm, and, relieved, she wrapped her arms her girlfriend and happily started to match her energy in the kiss. She fiercely moved her lips against Natsuki's, almost as if trying to devour the other girl. Natsuki didn't plan to let her take over quite yet, though, and she was able to hold her own against Shizuru. She knew that despite Shizuru's occasional dominating personality, she truly enjoyed it when Natsuki put up a fight or even turned the tables on her. Both of them were quite capable of having fun either way, and things had yet to get dull.

Unfortunately, none of this meant that either of them could escape the very human need to catch their breaths, so they reluctantly had to part their kiss. Natsuki made up for this by resting her head in the crook of Shizuru's neck, and her girlfriend soon did the same with her. "I take it Natsuki likes her present?" Shizuru asked through her still-frenzied breathing, the fear and nervousness finally having vanished from her voice.

"Yeah," Natsuki said, allowing herself to relax into Shizuru's embrace. "I just hope you don't think giving me my own room will excuse you from having to sleep with me. I know you need the company as much as I do, anyways."

Natsuki couldn't see it, but she knew she'd just brought a blush to Shizuru's cheeks with that comment. "Of course, Natsuki," she said. "We're really going to taint Duran's innocent little mind, you know."

"He can sleep on the floor if need be," Natsuki said. Though she knew that Shizuru was trying to tease her, she was already too far in the mood for her modesty to kick it. Instead, she decided that the time was finally right for her own extra present, before her courage faded from her. She gently pulled back from the hug and said, "Alright Shizuru, my turn now."

"Ara?" Shizuru said.

"You didn't think you were the only one with the idea for some huge extra gift, did you?" Natsuki said. She moved her head in to give the momentarily surprised Shizuru a quick kiss before she pulled out of the hug and headed out into the hallway. She stepped over Duran to retrieve her duffel bag, before doubling back. She passed Shizuru in the doorway to the guest room – no, her room – and headed on to the bathroom.

Natsuki dropped the bag once she entered, and started looking around a bit. Finding Shizuru's bathrobe hanging off a hook near the tub, she removed it and headed to the door. She found Shizuru waiting outside for her, a puzzled expression on her face. Not wanting to spoil the surprise, Natsuki simply said, "Put this on – only this – and wait till I tell you I'm ready." Shizuru barely had time to take the robe from Natsuki before the door was closed on her.

Left alone in the bathroom, Natsuki's nerves finally caught up with her. Shizuru's presence had been giving her the courage she needed, and without her source of strength around, she was at risk of faltering. She didn't plan to let herself screw this up, though. Natsuki forced herself to focus. This is for Shizuru… Shizuru… Shizuru. Barely enough courage returning to her, Natsuki started to undress.