Disclaimer: I don't own Himeko or Chikane. I do, however, own the Makoto/Souma spawn. Also, this is sometime postseries.

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Seeking Warmth

"… Himeko-mama?"

The small, timid voice carried just a tinge of fear in it; with a soft mumble Himeko slowly drifted into groggy awareness of the world around her, blinking several times as her eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room; her gaze fell upon Chikane, sleeping peacefully beside her, and her eyes softened slightly. The dark-haired young woman had recently returned from a business trip with her parents to America and was rightly exhausted, sleeping soundly and perfectly content with her surroundings.

"Himeko-mama...?"

The soft cry came again, less tentative this time and more pleading; feeling her heart melt a little, Himeko paused briefly to brush loose strands of hair out of Chikane's face before rising and heading out of the room and down the hall, to where the call was coming from; she leaned against the doorframe slightly and spoke, keeping her voice soft, mindful of Chikane. "Shizuka? What's wrong, honey?"

Wordlessly, the small child sitting in the bed held out her arms; understanding what she sought Himeko crossed the room and gently sat beside the six-year-old, letting the little girl crawl into her arms and nuzzle into her neck. Gently, soothingly, Himeko ran her hands down the girl's back and felt slight tremors. Concern washed through her, and she tried again. "Shizuka?" she repeated the girl's name softly. "What's wrong? Did something scare you?"

For a moment she didn't know if the little girl would speak; her name didn't mean "quiet" for nothing (it had been a joke among their small group, how someone as loud as Makoto and as determined as Souma could produce such a quiet child between them), but Himeko waited and continued to rub her back. After a moment, her voice trembling slightly, Shizuka said, "I had a bad dream."

"Oh?" Himeko ran a hand through Shizuka's hair, the same black as her father's had been. "What about, if you want to tell me?"

Shizuka lifted her eyes, and with a pang Himeko realized, not for the first time, that they were exactly like Makoto's eyes; the child had inherited Souma's black hair and Makoto's blue-green eyes to the dot. Shizuka swallowed slightly and whispered, "I dreamed you and Chikane-mama went away."

"Is that so?"

"Uh huh." Feeling the fear come back, the child burrowed into the warmth of Himeko's arms again. "You went away, like Chikane-mama does sometimes, but this time you didn't come back. You didn't come back like Mama and Papa, and…" Her voice caught here, and she swallowed again. "… And I was all alone."

A sharp ache made itself known in Himeko's chest, and she closed her eyes as she held Shizuka closer. "Oh, honey," she murmured, feeling the pain of her lost friends, dead now for four years. "You know your mama and papa would have come back to you if they could."

"Yeah…"

"And you know Chikane-mama and I will never leave you if we have a choice, right?"

When Shizuka didn't reply immediately, obviously still shaken by her dream, Himeko gently gripped the child's chin and lifted her face so their eyes met. "You know that, right?" she repeated gently, and Shizuka nodded. "Chikane-mama and I love you very much, Shizuka. We wouldn't be away from you at all if we could help it."

"I know… but still…"

Shizuka had only been two at the time of her parents' death, but she still recalled the fear, the shock, the pain—the feeling of abandonment. She snuggled back into Himeko's arms. "Can I… sleep with you and Chikane-mama tonight?" she asked softly, in a quavering voice.

Himeko didn't even hesitate. She knew Chikane wouldn't mind; in fact, she'd probably welcome it. "Of course."

Shizuka's arms slid around her neck as Himeko lifted her up, holding her close, and walked back to their room; the child tucked her head beneath the golden-haired woman's chin and closed her eyes, comforted by the feeling of being so close to her adopted mother. As she stepped through the doorway Chikane stirred, sitting up and rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand, obviously still caught somewhere between the real world and la-la land.

"Himeko? What's wrong?" The sleepiness vanished, and she sat up a little straighter. "Is it Shizuka?"

Himeko smiled slightly and Shizuka opened her eyes, looking at her second mother. "Shizuka had a nightmare."

"I see. About what?"

As Chikane spoke Himeko crossed the room and settled back on the bed, letting Shizuka down; the six-year-old girl immediately scrambled into Chikane's lap, needing the reassurance that the dark-haired woman was there in the same room with her and not about to go anywhere or vanish into thin air. Chikane gently ran her fingers through Shizuka's hair as the child began to settle down.

"We went away and didn't come back." Himeko rested on the other side of the little girl, so she was sandwiched between them. "She woke up and wanted some reassurance that we were still with her." Her eyes met Chikane's over Shizuka's head, conveying the message wordlessly. "She wanted to sleep with us tonight."

She needs to be sure we aren't leaving her alone like her mama and papa did, even if they didn't have a choice.

"I see," Chikane murmured, lowering her eyes to meet Shizuka's shy gaze. She smiled. "Well, I suppose it won't do us any harm, do you, Himeko?"

"Nope, none at all."

Absolutely delighted, Shizuka settled down into the covers, giggling a little and squirming as Chikane tucked the corners around her; the fear of her nightmare was already beginning to dissolve in the presence of her mothers, even if they weren't hers by blood. "'Night," she whispered. She hesitated, then added softly, "Chikane-mama? Himeko-mama?"

"Yes?" Himeko spoke for both of them.

"I love you."

Himeko's eyes softened, and her heart was lost. She lowered her head, gently kissing Shizuka's cheek. "I love you too, honey."

On her other side, Chikane didn't say anything; but she slid an arm around Shizuka's waist and gently drew the small girl closer to her body, and the action spoke louder than any words could.

Together the three fell asleep, lulled by the mingled sounds of their heartbeats and the combined, soothing warmth of their bodies.

And there were no more nightmares.

The End

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Yes, Shizuka is the child of Makoto and Souma; they died somehow, and basically Himeko and Chikane took her in and are raising her as their own. Meh... it's just a one-shot, and I thought it would be cute.

Shizuka, as mentioned, means "quiet"... or at least that's what the Japanses baby names website said.

Read and review, please!