A/N: Sorry! This is the last chapter. Pinky promise. It's just that xBakura's lovex violently beat this thing out of me with her strapon (I'm kidding; more like gently coaxed this from me with her kind words of encouragement), and I thought I could write one more to sort of tie up the loose ends. Because THERE WERE LOOSE ENDS. I think there still are? I don't know. This thing isn't totally necessary if you want to understand the plot, just so you know.

This didn't really turn out how I wanted it to, but...eh. Nothing ever really does.

I was going to call this an epilogue, but since it's more of a chapter on its own and I don't even have a prologue, this is just a chapter. This takes place a year later, as the drivel below will mention. I tried to tone down the angst, but the mood is still pretty srsly srs. But definitely not as depressing. Just srs. Srsly. But some parts are fluffy and cliche. Not just cliche, but like, sickeningly cliche. :( I don't do fluff very well.

Sorry in advance for the errors I probably didn't catch. -buries face in hands shamefully-

Oh, also:

http:/ /www. youtube .com/ watch? v=wZOMloBF2kY

^ Hilarious song about twins in love. XD I'm not surprised it's by Trey Parker.

F i f t e e n

- Allusion -

There's really no possible way I could avoid thinking about it, but I try not to, regardless. I can't stop thinking about this time last year, about how it felt sitting in front of this rarely used fireplace. It had felt like artificial heat, something no one else but me would probably even care about.

But it doesn't feel that way so much anymore. I don't even really know why we're sitting in front of the thing. Hikaru's body heat is warm enough, and I prefer it—something there's no use in denying.

Still, that doesn't keep me from shivering a little when I think, again, about how I'd sacrificed both of our happiness for something so foolish.

As I lean into him more fully, desperately seeking more of what I still feel irrationally deprived of, I try to make my action seem nonchalant. But I think he knows how something so small means so much to me. By now, I'm beyond caring about if my vulnerability shows around him. I almost don't mind if he thinks I'm being annoyingly needy—but I do doubt he would ever think that. I think that's exactly why I really don't care if he knows exactly what I'm thinking or feeling, as he instinctively often does. And that makes me feel more safe than anything, really.

He responds to me, almost immediately. His left arm tightens around my waist, lips simultaneously brushing my temple briefly before whispering,

"Are you okay?"

I can't answer right away. His warm breath, smelling a little fruity from the blueberry-flavored candy cane he finished only a few moments ago (What ever happened to the classic peppermint?) is making me feel slightly faint and giddy at the same time.

"Yeah, m'fine." I breathe, more out of instinct than actually feeling okay. But I really am fine, more or less. I'm just more unsettled right now than I have been in awhile because I'm remembering things I don't want to. It's hard to ignore all the things giving me memories of the chaotic mindset I was in around this time just a year ago. I still feel a great amount of guilt for putting us both through something we never had to go through to get this...this happiness, this contentment of just being together and not worrying about the ramifications of doing this anymore.

"Mm..." he hums, his chest vibrating against my form curled up against his. "I don't think I believe you."

I can tell he's trying to sound flippant, but the concern in his voice is very obvious to me. I can't blame him for being worried, but he doesn't really have a reason to be, honestly. I'm sure this feeling of anxiety and guilt will pass soon, just after this time of the year is over. And I'm not feeling nearly as bad as I know I'm capable of feeling, simply because I'm not isolating myself from Hikaru anymore.

I'm not alone. I never really was.

I can hear Mom curse rather loudly in the kitchen somewhere down the hall and Dad's low tones, probably soothing her—and probably failing. She's making dinner, something I can't remember her ever doing. That's probably why she's frustrated. Her forte is fashion, not cooking, but she's too stubborn to let the maids help her since she has already make her decision about this.

It's near the holidays and both she and Dad will be working on Christmas, so we're kind of celebrating now. Still, that doesn't make the situation any less weird. I think my mother has been trying to be more of an influence in our lives lately, but I can tell we're all feeling a little awkward about her changing her position so suddenly from being our biological mother to...well, our mom. Maybe it has something to do with the incident last year that landed me in the hospital. Maybe it affected her more than she was comfortable enough to let on. I don't really know, since it's hard to read her. But I do appreciate her efforts. She knows we're getting older. Life won't be this way forever. She can't always be out of the house, yet still feel a connection to it because Hikaru and I are here, because we won't be here forever. I'm not sure what the future holds, and she doesn't, either. So maybe she's making the best of the present. I know I am.

I'm shaken out of my thoughts when Hikaru's hand finds mine. My body goes limp against his as he laces his fingers in mine. I don't think I'll ever get used to these intimate gestures, even though I probably should be very accustomed to them by now.

"Kaoru," he mumbles lowly near my ear again. "do you want to go up to your room with me?"

It's funny how he words it, like even if I decide not to go with him, which we both know won't happen, he'd go without me, anyway—something we both know also won't happen.

I nod against his neck where my face is resting, despite feeling hesitant about complying. It isn't that difficult for me to figure out what his motives probably are. The concern in his voice is evident. I inwardly berate myself for being such an open book, but that probably isn't the problem here. Hikaru's just exceptionally good at reading me.

I shiver when he stands up, the blanket we've been wrapped in together falling off in the process. Taking away my main sources of heat like that so suddenly makes goosebumps rise on the surface of my flesh. I look to my twin immediately, instinctively turning to him for more comfort and warmth. When he returns my gaze, I know that he's feeling the same thing.

I'm okay, though. I'll be back in my comfort zone soon enough.

His hand—the one he'd just held mine with—is extended to me, palm upturned invitingly. A small smile forms on my face when I clasp his hand in mine without a second thought.

I cast a fleeting glance at the beautifully decorated Christmas tree near the frost-covered window before following Hikaru willingly.

I think the chaotic patterns of frozen condensation stuck to the glass is actually prettier than the extravagant tree right next to it, though I'm not sure why...

I'll never really understand myself, but that just makes me more glad that Hikaru does.

The suddenness of it—literally right after he shut the door—leaves me floored. His desperation is contagious. I think I've caught it through the urgent kiss he did nothing to prepare me for.

I'm usually pretty good at predicting Hikaru's actions, but I have to admit that I'm genuinely surprised and maybe a little concerned about this. I'm trying to figure out what may have motivated him to do this so suddenly and desperately, but it's kind of difficult focusing, what with the insistent kiss he has pulled me into.

He was scared just a few minutes ago. Frightened for me, probably, because of how unsettled I appeared to be. Is he dreading a repeat of what I'd foolishly put both of us through last year? Is my anxiety an indicator to him that I'm falling into what almost ruined the bond we have?

Oh, god...

He probably thinks I'm going to start distancing myself from him again. He wouldn't be so worried if I hadn't given him a reason to be worried in the first place. But I don't think dwelling on that will reassure Hikaru that the last thing I'd ever do is pull away from him again. It isn't enough that I feel secure for once. Only Hikaru's assurance about our situation keeps me stable, but now he's the one feeling vulnerable.

I think I understand how he has felt around me now. I feel like one simple mistake on my part could destroy things irreversibly. I have to know how to act around him right now, but it's hard because he's never like this. The unease radiating off of him is almost palpable. My chest tightens in worry for him. I'm instantly protective and desperate to calm his nerves, whatever that may take. The problem is, I'm just not quite sure what to do.

He has always seemed so secure. This is really...different. It's unnerving.

His movements are starting to become awkward, lips clumsily moving against mine. Belatedly, I realize what my lack of response must seem like to him. I can't berate myself for that right now, though. There are more important things I should be concerned about.

I respond to him tenderly, warmth settling in my stomach as I melt into his affection. I don't want to seem hesitant—just careful, because that's exactly what I am.

I can feel the stress almost literally melt off of him. His taut muscles go limp and my arms immediately wrap around his midsection to support him.

To my relief, he's starting to feel like himself again—confident and unworried. With my concern draining away, my attention is concentrated on how he's regaining control of himself. I tremble weakly as I lose myself in the sensation of his mouth and tongue gently massaging my lower lip, teeth brushing against the sensitive flesh with care not to nibble too hard, not that I think I'd care at this point.

My legs are literally trembling. I feel weak, like I might collapse at any moment. Luckily, his arms snake around my waist, right where mine are loosely on his, right before I'm sure it would no longer be a possibility for me to remain standing any longer. It's like he knows exactly when my strength runs thin. He's there to keep me standing, even if he's not too strong on his feet, himself.

He slows, lips now moving against mine languidly, but still with just as much purpose. I could prolong this with a simple suggestive touch where my fingers rest at his waist like the pleasant knot of warmth in my lower abdomen is urging me to do, but the burning curiosity and need to know if he's okay dictate my actions, and I pull back, making sure our bodies don't separate in doing so.

I'm glad when he meets my gaze immediately. He isn't hiding anything, which is something I know I'd be prone to do in a moment of even slight weakness. The unbridled relief in his half-lidded eyes puts a small smile to my face, which evokes one from him. I'm so glad his fears are quelled. He isn't one to openly show how afraid he is, so when he does show it, I'm especially worried.

I'm ashamed to think that this is probably how he felt about me last year. How could I have...?

...No, that's not important right now. Dwelling on the part of the past I hate to remember most and bringing it to the present will only dampen the mood of contentment we've just created. This moment is all that matters.

Despite the fact that it's a little difficult to speak around my quick and shallow breaths, I try to manage.

"Hikaru...wh...why?" I pant, hoping he understands what I'm asking with the short and rather pathetically assembled question. Even though I already have a fairly good idea about what caused him to act so desperate to keep me with him, I want to hear him confirm it. Maybe then, I can assure that he has nothing to worry about, honestly, even though his concern is justified by how I've acted in the past.

"I just..." he mumbles, sounding a little lost and about as breathless as I am. "I thought you seemed...out of it. Upset. And...it reminded me of how you were last year, and how nothing I tried seemed to help you. I-I couldn't do anything to make you feel better. And I..." he trials off, leaving me feeling lost and absolutely needing to hear the rest of his words. I don't care if remembering how pained he was not knowing why I had become so introverted feels like too much to handle for me. I should be able to handle it. I know most of it was my fault by trying to run from him, but I still need to know.

I need to hear him tell me...

"Tell me," I plead. "Tell me what you were going to say—what you're thinking of right now. Please."

I know my urgency is showing through my weak voice and posture, and probably even my expression, but I don't care. I don't care, because when he looks at me, his eyes soften, and I know he can't keep his thoughts to himself anymore, and that's because I need to know, even though I probably already do. But I have to hear it from his mouth. And I think he understands that.

"I thought you were falling into that again." he continues in an admirably more calm voice than before. "I thought something had happened that I couldn't save you from, and that I wouldn't be strong enough to protect you from yourself."

"That won't happen." I try to assure him in a hushed, slightly trembling tone. "I promise, it won't. But...if it did, you would be strong enough to protect me from myself."

I punctuate my statement by burying my face in his neck and placing a soft kiss on the smooth skin there. I don't know if it's appropriate to do that right now because he might be too tense to accept any form of affection from me, even if it's chaste. But my doubt is eliminated when he shivers subtly and brings his hand up to gently finger my hair, like he often does.

Exhaling shakily, he mumbles,

"I hope you're right."

"You really don't need to do this." I find myself saying, despite the fact I'm actually happily anticipating it. "Can't we do something else? I don't need to relax."

I'm fine. You need to relax, I think to myself. He still looks a little unsettled. He's more pale and his movements are a little more shaky than usual, I note, as I watch him pour the pinkish liquid in the swiftly filling bathtub.

"Yeah, you do. In fact, now that I think about it, you always need to relax. You should stop being so serious all the time, Kaoru, because life is very...uh, beautiful when you think about it. Or something. Sorry, I'm not good with motivational speeches."

I bite my lip to stifle a giggle as I watch my brother shake his head to himself self-deprecatingly. It's amazing how easily he can create a lighter mood. Sometimes, I'm a little envious of his ability to do that, but I'm usually just proud.

The sound of the flow of water is suddenly ceased as he turns it off, the bath apparently ready. He turns around to face me, setting the bottle of bubble bath liquid (which I really could do without) on the tiled floor, wearing an endearing crooked smile. He's a little flushed and his hair is sticking messily to his forehead, probably from the steam.

"Okay, it's—hey, why are you still dressed?" he asks, now wearing a disapproving frown. "You can't take a bath unless you're naked, obviously. Do you need help or something?"

I blush predictably. I can't keep from getting abashed when he's blunt like this, even though I should be used to it by now. I think he probably has a sadistic side that enjoys seeing me so flustered.

"No," I mutter shortly, a little offended even though I know he's being sarcastic. "I can do it on my own. I just don't understand why it's so important to you that I...'bubble my troubles away', Hikaru."

I use air quotes to try to illustrate how ridiculous I think the rather retarded phrase he used is, but from the look on his face, he either doesn't notice, or just doesn't care. I'm betting it's the latter.

"You don't understand because you're just not on the advanced level of thinking I am, so there's no use explaining it to you."

Just as I'm about to cry out indignantly to wipe that self-satisfied smirk off his face, he continues to speak in that same tone that both irritates and amuses me to no end.

"I don't want to argue with you while the water gets cold. Undress now, please."

My face floods with color again because of his bluntness. I look away from him defiantly, but begin to take off my loose house clothes, an action which basically signs off my dignity to him.

I'm not sure why I'm blushing so furiously as I start undressing, but the fact that I am makes my state of awkward embarrassment even worse. Why am I so timid around him? It isn't like I've got anything he hasn't seen before. No, it isn't that. It's just that...it starts feeling so intimate, like it is now. I'll never get used to feeling that with Hikaru. And even though it sometimes makes me feel uncomfortable, I'm genuinely grateful for the sense of how this always feels new.

I take everything off, mostly in a daze, but still alert enough to feel his stare on my bare flesh. Knowing he's watching me, even though I'd feel a little more comfortable if he didn't, makes me feel both nervous and giddy. Those emotions seem to often go hand-in-hand when it comes to Hikaru.

I finally look at him again, anxiously, just after my boxers pool around my ankles. His eyes are alight with something I can only describe as a mix of childish excitement, adoration, and anticipation. The intensity of his gaze makes my breath hitch, my own eyes widening and probably mirroring the emotions shining within his now. His expression is beckoning. I walk towards him, which isn't far, and grasp his outstretched hand in mine without hesitation.

He guides me to the bathtub like I need help, which I don't, but I accept it, anyway, because I know how much he likes to feel like I need him. I suppose I do—I know I do—but I can do simple things on my own.

I want to object again to this just as I step in the mess of bubbles because I honestly don't know why he's insisting on doing everything when I can just as well prepare a bath for myself, but I stop myself. There's really nothing wrong with going along with this. And I'm not exactly being babied...just cared for.

The first thing I note is that it looks like he was a little overzealous with the bubble bath liquid. The second thing I note, as I submerge myself just a little above my shoulders, his hand still in mine, is how perfect he got the water temperature.

My head lolls back and an embarrassing sound resembling a purr escapes my lips as I relax wholly and completely, seemingly against my own will.

"Told you." Hikaru suddenly whispers, his lips at the shell of my ear. It makes my skin tingle all over and I shiver at the pleasant sensation. I'm too distracted by that to reply to him, either to be mature and agree that yes, he was right about the relaxation thing, or decide that it isn't worth my pride to admit that he's right. It would be the former if I were coherent enough to speak at the moment. I don't care about sacrificing anything, pride or otherwise, if it's for Hikaru.

It takes significant self-restraint on my part to stifle a whine of agitation when his hand leaves mine. A low hum of appreciation is all that leaves my lips, though, when his hand drifts up my side slower than necessary, lingering at my hip before continuing upwards.

"Kaoru," he mumbles, adopting a serious tone. "lean forward."

I really don't want to, not because I'm questioning the sincerity of his motives, because really, he's always sincere when it comes to me. I've never doubted that. But I just feel too sluggish and lazy to do anything right now. I'd imagine this is what being close to death feels like, minus the pain that often comes with its inevitable occurrence, of course.

And then his hands are at my shoulders, one wet and one not, but both are pleasantly warm, pushing gently, guiding my unresisting body forward.

If I wasn't so bewitched by how soothing this feels—everything, from how amazing the water is to the feeling of his hands on my skin, making me unconsciously relax even more—I'd ask what he's doing, more to sate my curiosity than anything else.

He doesn't push me forward much, just enough to easily slide his hands down my back if he wanted to, and that's enough to make me swallow thickly, the heavy haze of sluggishness not really doing much to dilute my anxious excitement.

His palms push gently at my wet skin near my shoulder blades, fingers kneading the flesh below my shoulders. My eyes, half-lidded, snap open and I inhale sharply in surprise. I really shouldn't be so shocked. If I'm not mistaken, the whole purpose of me doing this is to relax, since Hikaru seems to think I need to. And what he's doing is supposed to be relaxing.

I think this is for him, too, though. He enjoys doing things like this with me...to me. I think that's how he rids himself of stress. I'm more than willing to let him do anything if it means he'll feel at ease.

So I relax against him, silently accepting whatever he wishes to do. I can hear him sigh softly in what's probably relief that I'm not resisting, not that I've done that lately. But I've definitely resisted his affections enough in the past to make up for forever.

The heals of his palms knead the muscle I hadn't been aware had been tense until now. The pressure on my flesh is firm, but not too rough, and not too soft. The tips of his fingers brush the nape of my neck lightly, teasingly. His hands are so warm and his fingers are knowing, so sure of where to exude exactly how much pressure.

"Kaoruuu," he trills playfully. "don't fall asleep."

My eyes snap open suddenly. I hadn't even known they were closed.

"H-Huh? Oh...sorry..." I mutter. I can feel a blush forming on my cheeks. I can only hope he doesn't see it because I'm not facing him right now.

My skin prickles when I feel his mouth at my neck, smiling against the skin.

"It's okay." he murmurs. His words hardly register; I'm too distracted by his voice. His tone is low and pleasant. It alone makes me shudder a little, not really surprised at how responsive I am to him. I wonder if I could ever make my voice sound that mellifluous. I'd better not try it. I would probably end up sounding ridiculous. But then, Hikaru might laugh, and I do really like hearing that...

I tremble involuntarily when he places a small kiss on my shoulder. He pauses for just a moment before placing a few more chaste kisses there in slow succession, eventually working his way up my neck. His lips are soft and warm and parted provocatively—a small detail that means the world to my body.

"Hnn..." I hum, head lolling back to allow him more access. He releases a breathy sigh against my flushed skin in return. His lips briefly separate from my neck, leaving me to bewail inwardly.

"Uh, Kaoru? Would it be okay if I...got in with you? It would be more...convenient, you know..." he suggests quietly.

More convenient? Well, yes, I suppose he's right. But as I've been thinking to myself, he's really the one that needs to relax. He seems a little anxious today. Soaking in here will probably be good for him. I know that from experience.

I simply nod in answer, suspicious that my voice will betray exactly how in favor I am of his suggestion. No need to embarrass myself any more than I already have.

A pleased sound escapes his lips before his hands and mouth leave my skin, making me fall back against the hard texture of the bathtub.


Trying to keep myself from whining like a little girl whose doll has been stolen, I resign to gazing at the ceiling blankly while I strain to hear him remove his clothes in what sounds like a hurry. My heart thrums in anticipation.

I think the strong scent of that pinkish bubble bath stuff is making me a little delirious. I knew he used too much. He thinks everything is dispensable because of the environment we grew up in, I guess.

I jolt suddenly when he lays his hand on my shoulder, eyes widening in surprise. Am I more skittish than usual? Can he tell?

I take my hands out of the water and grip the edges of the bathtub as leverage while I bring myself forward. I hope he gets in soon so I can put my arms back in the water, because the air is really, really cold compared to the water I'd be content to spend hours in. Fortunately, he wastes no time, and slips in unhesitatingly.

He doesn't even wait for me to get adjusted. Before I can keep up with what he's doing, his arms wrap around my torso and he coaxes me to lean into him. Even after my back meets his chest, his grip around my chest doesn't loosen at all. He almost seems...possessive, and...really desperate to keep me close. Is he still afraid that I'll pull away from him again? For once, I can't really tell what he's thinking. But I'm not going to squirm out of his grip, just in case—not that I would, even if I were confident in the emotional level-headedness he seems to be lacking at the moment.

He almost immediately begins his work on my back again, which I'm secretly grateful for. This time, feeling his hands roam my willing body seems a lot more intimate with his new position. I'm resting so close to him now, completely molded to his body. His thighs are parted to fit me against him and his breath is hitting the nape of my neck as he exhales softly.

I do my best to control my body's reactions to his touch. I figure I should just stop trying when I feel him kiss the juncture behind my ear.

"A-Ahh," I gasp, shivering. I'm a little ashamed for possessing such little self-restraint that I can't keep the sounds I'm making to myself, but I know he doesn't mind. He's encouraging it with the playful way he's now nibbling on the edge of my ear, making me blush and murmur his name breathlessly.

When his hands slide lower, trailing down my sides with deliberate slowness, I finally give up on stifling whatever reaction my body may have to his touch. It's too much trouble to control myself when he's touching me. He makes it impossible to feel or think of anything else but this.

He rubs the swell of my hips with the pad of his thumbs briefly before daring to touch my bare thighs. He almost makes the soft caressing seem innocent, even though I know it's probably anything but. My breathing starts growing rapid as that familiar knot of warmth forms in my lower abdomen. It almost always comes with his touch. I know he's responding to the sudden heavy atmosphere, too. I can feel his nipples peaked against my back and the acceleration of his heart through his chest.

One of his hands is stroking the inside of my thigh teasingly, making that warmth in my abdomen spread to my groin. I know he's losing his composure, feeling the slight trembling of his fingertips as they continue to tease me mercilessly.

The aching in my groin intensifies when I become aware of his own need starting to press into my lower back. I'm nearly at my wits' end. When he begins peppering lingering kisses that don't feel so chaste anymore wherever he can seem to reach—the back of my neck, my shoulders, and the shell of my ear—I finally give up.

"H-Hikaru," I growl impatiently.

"Hmm?" he hums against my skin.

Does he really want me to tell him what I want?! Is he going to make me do that to get what I need? That isn't right...

"Hikaru," I repeat roughly, irritation starting to make an appearance in my tone. You know what I want, I think, blushing furiously. Please don't make me say it.

"Kaoru," he breathes sensually, rousing a whimper from me. "I think...you need to calm down."

He sounds about as disoriented and desirous as I feel, which only makes my need more demanding. But I force myself to try to relax, even as my heart threatens to beat out of my chest because of how close that skilled hand is to my heightening arousal.

"I am calmmmm! O-Ohh..." I groan in surpirse, my protest quickly dying when he touches the tip of my arousal without warning. I almost sob in relief. I'm not sure what he gained from hearing me being so close to begging. It's probably that sadistic streak in him that gets off on getting me so bothered and desperate. If that's really all he needs for some good-natured amusement, I guess I don't care too much. But then again, I'm thinking this just after getting what I want, not in the middle of inwardly screaming my head off for it. So I'm probably a little biased. But really, there's no use in trying to form any objective views about Hikaru.

His hand slides down down my length slowly, making me nearly convulse against him as waves of pleasure consume my body. His breath becomes harsher in my ear. I can hear him breathe my name almost silently in the tone he only reserves for times like these, so I've grown to attribute it with all the feelings and sensations that come with these encounters. It makes me arch against him as my member pulses, gasping his name heatedly in return.

I start gnawing on my lip in a pathetic attempt to keep in the loud vocalizations, but my resolve instantly breaks when he begins to suck sensually at my neck, his tongue gently caressing the skin.

"Ngh—ah, H-Hikaru..." I gasp. He hums happily in response and completely throws himself into what he's doing, pumping me in earnest. I let out strangled moan as bliss completely overrides my senses. The pulsing and tightening in my lower stomach has me keening in delight.

His other hand, the one not touching me in my most intimate of places, stops tracing small patterns in my thigh and slides up to my chest with deliberate, torturous slowness. My torso heaves under his palm as I breathe raggedly. As his hand inches its way up, I can't help but twitch in anticipation. I'm so hyper aware of his touch. My body seems to always instinctively respond to him, accustomed to how he always reduces me to a stunned, limp heap, only mustering the strength to release a whimper every few heated moments.

I'm still too proud to allow the needy 'more' to leave my lips, though.

I hiss when his fingers find my nipple, eyes fluttering closed for a few overwhelming moments.

I moan a garbled version of his name as he rubs the sensitive nub between his thumb and forefinger, thrusting into his hand as the throbbing heat in my lower stomach tightens even further. He strokes me with more ardor, if that's even possible at this point.

It's amazing to me, how this never dulls. We could do this a thousand more times and it would never feel old or repetitious. There's no limit to how addicted to it I can get. I'll always crave this with the same shameless desperation I do right now. That's why there was never any use running from it. That's how I know I don't have the strength to pull away from him. It's also how I know I don't even want the strength to pull away from him anymore.

I feel tortuously close now. I almost abandon all sense of reality when his finger slides over slit, making my head fall back on his shoulder, moaning gutturally.

"I-I'm...Hika...I'm c-close..." I babble, sounding a little senseless.

"Mm...I can tell," he breathes hotly. His voice, saturated with adoration and raw lust, is what pushes me over the edge.

The heat in my groin seems to explode to every part of my body, the tightness undoing itself, but the pleasure magnifying unimaginably. I arch forward, releasing in his hand and crying out. The throbbing in my body intensifies when his arm tightens around my torso and he starts mumbling things I can't really understand because of how gone I am, being so absorbed in the indescribable sensations being imposed on me. But I can hear him say my name multiple times in a thin whisper while he watches me, feels me, and hears me climax.

"Oh, god, Hikaru..." I mumble as I grow halfway coherent again. The shocks of ecstasy that still make me feel like I may just pass out begin to leave me, making my body slump lifelessly in Hikaru's secure arms.

When I resurface to reality, I grow aware of small kisses being placed on my throat, stretched before him conveniently, as I had thrown my head back on his shoulder a few moments before. I also grow aware of the insistent hardness between his parted thighs, poking at my lower back like I'd noticed before. He seems needier, if that's even possible.

Although reluctant to leave his arms, I pull away from him with just my determination strengthening my body weakened from my indescribable climax. I intend to do something to satiate his current state of arousal, not because I feel indebted because of what he just did for me, but simply because I want to.

His arms tighten around me in objection, leaving me unable to move away from him. Maybe he doesn't understand what I want to do for him? Wouldn't he rather let me go if he knew?

"You haven't...uh," I mumble quietly, hoping it's enough explanation. I'm certainly not as blunt about things like this as he is. I hope he understands what I mean through my pitifully vague words.

Fortunately, he doesn't ask what I mean. He must know what I'm referring to, then.

"I know. It's alright; it'll go away soon, probably. Don't worry about it. You're supposed to be the one relaxing, remember?" he explains hastily.

I'm about to point out that he's the one that needs to be relaxed today because he did seem very upset earlier, but he speaks again before I can.

"So, let's just stay here for a little longer. Not long if you don't want to, but..." he trails off, but that's okay. I know what he's thinking.

'...but I want to.'

And then I know that he likes holding me like this just as much as I like being held like this, so I don't protest any further, even though concern for whether or not he gets what his teenage body desires still weighs heavy on my mind. He wants this more than that. If this brings him comfort and happiness, I certainly won't do anything to take that away from him.

I release a tired, contented sigh as I relax in his arms, feeling his heart flutter where my bare skin meets his chest.

I'd be a liar if I said I didn't take complete joy in these moments, too.

I'm beginning to regret forgoing clothes.

Even in bed, wrapped in my thick coverlet, I still feel freezing. I really should have dried off properly. I should have put on some warm flannel pajamas, because despite how nice the heating is in our spacious home, it's still winter, and it's still very cold.

Why was I so eager to get into bed as quickly as possible after leaving the bath? And Hikaru just followed. Now he's probably cold, too.

I shiver and try to keep myself from cursing out loud. I'm mostly trying to distract myself by focusing on my irritation rather than my worry about if he's annoyed with me for being impatient and jumping right into bed with nothing to protect us from the biting winter cold that seems to infiltrate everything this time of year, even well-insulated houses.

My eyes find his without much difficulty, as we're laying on our sides facing each other with not much space between us. If he's cold, he certainly doesn't show it, especially with how warm his eyes are. I shiver again for an entirely different reason when I return his gaze. The intensity of his stare makes me flush, feeling a little overwhelmed, but I don't look away.

I almost sigh in relief when he wraps his arms around me and draws me close to him. I must be craving his touch again. I really am insatiable...

I settle fully in his arms as he places a warm, lingering kiss to my pliant lips. I'm feeling much warmer by the time he pulls away. He breaks the comfortable silence, an amused gleam shining in his eyes as he speaks.

"Why do you still have those glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to your ceiling?" he asks in an innocently inquisitive tone. I don't know why, but I instantly get defensive.

"You do, too." I quip shortly. "Why do you still have them?"

He blinks, looking a little confused, and then narrows his eyes in thought. I have to admit, I like watching the myriad of emotions play on his face that betrays every feeling and probably most thoughts that flit through his mind.

He suddenly blushes, and my curiosity is immediately piqued. This just got a lot more important to me.

"I guess there's really no reason for me to keep them now," he starts, looking a little cautious, like he's picking his words carefully. "But when you stopped sleeping in my room with me last year, I decided I wanted to keep them. They reminded me of you...well, they still do. I would sometimes wonder if you kept yours for the same reason, and whether or not you did, it still helped me sleep. I don't need them anymore because we're always together now, like we've...mostly always been. I don't need a reminder of you, because I have...you. And...the stars really can't compare. But I guess I haven't taken them down because you haven't."

My eyes widen because of his sudden confession and the emotion saturating his voice. His feelings parallel mine, exactly. I hadn't thought very deeply about my irrational attachment to the childish things stuck to my ceiling, cracking and yellowed with age, and I'm glad I hadn't. I would have been ashamed to harbor such desperation to keep his memory close to me. But it's what we both sought out comfort from.

Instead of letting guilt overcome me as I think about last year again, I revel in the sudden feeling of being even closer to him.

I mostly remember the bitter parts of last year, but Hikaru just unwittingly gave me a memory that embodies the sweet part.


"Do you want to take them down?" he asks quietly, both his voice and eyes guarded. I'm confused and a little concerned that he's hiding whatever he's feeling, which he never does around me. But I force myself to not allow myself to get distracted by that so I can answer the seemingly frivolous question that I know is rooted to his heart.

"No," I answer honestly. Any reservations I have about exposing the most fragile parts of myself disappear when his guarded expression is replaced by one of elation. I return his smile shyly and continue speaking in a hushed voice that makes the atmosphere seem so breakable.

"You were right, when you wondered if I kept them for the same reason."

And it's the only memory of that time that I want to hold onto, I think to myself. I don't want to take that away.

His elation turns to awe, and then relief, but not once in the transition through those emotions does his smile wane.

I relax in his embrace, feeling confident that the biting winter cold couldn't possibly reach us anymore.

Ahh. I warned you it'd be sickeningly cliche. Shit, I'm stopping there. I'm not flaming myself again! I refuse.

I'll whore myself out for reviews if I have to.


Not really...don't get the wrong idea about me or anything...

But anyway, this is the last chapter, fer sure.