Title: 'Tis the Season

Author: Tsutsuji

Fandom: Kyo Kara Maou!

Multiple (surprise!) pairings: Yuuri/Wolfram implied, Gisela/Adelbert implied, Gunter/Gwendal/Anissina implied, Celi/Fanfan, Conrad/Alford, Yozak/Murata. ^^

Ratings & Warnings: PG13 for suggested/implied yaoi romantic fluff.

Disclaimer: Kyo Kara Maou! characters and settings belong to Tomo Takabayashi and associates. This work of fanfiction is entirely for fun and entirely not for profit.

Written for KKM_Challenge Round 27: winter holiday/festival.

Summary: Yuuri learns about the traditions of Solstice Night in Shin Makoku while Yozak starts some new traditions, and several Solstice wishes come true.

Lay down your sword on Solstice Night

And come inside, the fire's bright!

The night is dark and cold and long,

So raise a glass and share a song!

Blood Pledge Castle glittered like a jewel under a diamond-studded sky. Candles flickered in every window, garlands of greenery strung with silver wires and glass balls hung from every rail. Torches and gleaming orbs of gold, red or green lit the pathways through the gardens, throwing soft shadows on the grass and on winter-blooming flowers. Music drifted out into the courtyard from many rooms, where couples danced in bright-lit ballrooms or out on the terrace under the stars. The air was filled with the scent of evergreens and the smell of roast meat and winter herbs.

Yuuri was glad he'd finally learned to dance well enough so that he didn't embarrass himself at Shin Makoku's first big Solstice Ball in over twenty years, especially since he was the one who had insisted on reviving the event. Even Wolfram seemed grudgingly impressed, if not exactly dazzled by his skill. The smile kept growing on his face when he spotted his friends having as much fun as he was on the dance floor. Nicola looked like she was dancing on a cloud with Hube, and Fanfan had a smile of pure bliss on his face as he whirled Lady Celi across the floor. Anyone who wasn't dancing was having just as much fun, eating, drinking, singing snatches of carols together and telling old jokes.

Yuuri's face started to ache from grinning so much. Who knew that Shin Makoku celebrated a winter holiday so much like the best of Christmas and New Years Day on Earth, complete with feasts and lights and presents and caroling! When he heard that the traditional festivities of Solstice Night had dwindled to little more than a dinner party since the war years, of course he declared that the castle had to pull out all the stops this year and celebrate in the grandest style to bring back all the old traditions. He'd even signed a proclamation allowing the whole country to take a holiday and celebrate Solstice as well. It was one piece of parchment he didn't mind signing, and for once, not a single one of his advisers objected to his elaborate plans.

He was breathless and glad to take a break from the dancing, although he had to assure Wolfram that he wasn't just waiting to be asked to dance with everyone else in the room. He grabbed drinks for both of them and some sweets to nibble on while they watched from the side. Soon he and Wolfram were standing together between Conrad and Gisella, who both seemed perfectly content to watch the others dance as well.

That made Yuuri glance around the room, suspiciously peering at all the maids carrying trays of drinks and food, but none of them were taller than Conrad (in heels) with red hair and twinkling blue eyes. He doubled checked all the ladies in ball gowns, and then, as a last resort, all the men in the crowd as well.

"Shouldn't you be dancing with Yozak?" he asked Conrad, accusing and half-mockingly.

He was surprised to see the pleased smile widen, the eyes sparkle a little more warmly, even though Conrad shook his head.

"Isn't he here?" Yuuri exclaimed. "Don't tell me he's working on a night like this!"

Wolfram scowled at Conrad as well, and then at his older brother who stood across the room. Gwendal was doing his best to maintain a stern and dignified demeanor, in spite of having Gunter on one side and Anissina on the other, both offering him drinks and sweets from silver trays.

"Gwendal should have ordered Yozak to be here!" Wolfram insisted. "There's no excuse for someone like that missing Solstice Night here in Shin Makoku!"

"It's all right," Conrad said mildly. "I asked Gwendal to give him an assignment in a distant place."

"What?!" Yuuri and Wolfram exclaimed at the same time. Yuuri's smile was wiped away by a sharp pang of disappointment. "Conrad, you sent Yozak away at a time like this?"

Conrad turned to him, and Yuuri was startled to see a gentle, far-away look in his eyes, in contrast to his smile.

"Solstice Night is a festival in human lands too, you know," he said, speaking to both of them. "In Shin Makoku, it's the longest night, and sometimes we even have snow, but in Dai Cimaron where Yozak grew up, it's the deepest, coldest night of the year. A night of grand parties and festivals, like this one, for the rich - but the hardest time of the year for those who have little to begin with."

"So, Yozak..." Yuuri said. Yozak's story of his youth, spent trying to scrabble out a hard life with his poor mother in human lands, came back to his mind.

"Mid-winter isn't Yozak's favorite season; it holds painful memories for him, although he'd never admit it. So I asked Gwendal to send him to some place warm and peaceful this year," Conrad continued. "It was the best Solstice gift I could think of."

Now, Yuuri thought, Conrad's eyes seemed warm enough to melt Dai Cimaron ice.

"Conrad," Wolfram murmured. He blinked watery green eyes, before he remembered himself and his dignity, huffed and tossed his head. "I hope it really is peaceful wherever he is, then!" he snapped.

"You know how the old song goes, Wolfram," Conrad said. "Remember?"

He began to sing, softly, and after a few words, Wolfram began to sing along - and so did Gisela, behind them, and then another person standing nearby and then another, as if hearing the song triggered an automatic response in all of them. Under the strains of the waltz still playing on the dance floor, the soft voices of a dozen people at the side of the room made a sweet counterpoint, Yuuri thought, like the stars softly gleaming above all the glittering lights below.

Lay down your sword on Solstice Night,

And come inside, the fire's bright!

The night is dark and cold and long,

So raise a glass and share a song!

Solstice is the time

for all to come together,

Lion and Fox with Lamb abide!

Share the warmth

and shelter from the weather,

Put all thoughts of war aside.

Keep loved ones near and troubles far

And wish upon the Solstice Star!

The Longest Night, the brightest Light

Bring love and peace on Solstice Night!

Solstice is the time

for all to come together,

Eagle and Wolf with Dove abide,

Share the warmth

and shelter from the weather,

Put all sad thoughts aside.

For a moment, it seemed to Yuuri as if the noise of the party faded. There was a hush in that corner of the room after the verse ended. Several of the people who had paused to sing now raised their glasses or tipped their heads in Yuuri's direction, and then all went back to normal.

"Even in Dai Cimaron, they sing the same song, ever since ancient times," Conrad said quietly.

"There are stories," Gisela added, "of soldiers on battlefields from opposite sides, all stopping their fights to share a drink on Solstice Night."

"Ah, really?" Yuuri said wistfully. "We have stories like that about Christmas back on Earth, too. It should be like that all the time!"

Gisela nodded, eyes gleaming. She held her hand to her throat, fingers resting on a necklace Yuuri had never seen her wear before: a delicate white stone flecked with gold, wrapped in gold filigree.

"Is that a Solstice gift?" Conrad asked, also eyeing the necklace curiously.

"It was sent to me. I didn't wait to open it..." To Yuuri's surprise, Gisela blushed crimson as she nodded.

"It looks like the workmanship from the goldsmiths in Caloria," Conrad said. "I'm sure it meant a lot to the one who sent it to you. It's too bad that person couldn't be here as well. Perhaps as the days grow even more peaceful... "

Gisela beamed at him, but then couldn't seem to meet anyone else's eyes.

"You should have waited," Wolfram chided her. " 'Lover's gift at midnight, loved one's gift at dawn!' That's the way it's done on Solstice Night!"

"Eh?" Yuuri said, surprised. "Is that why you and Greta didn't want to exchange gifts this evening? Back home on Earth, we usually opened ours on Christmas Eve."

Wolfram grinned. "That's right. You and Greta open each other's presents tomorrow morning... and you get mine tonight at midnight!"

"Ah... at midnight!" Yuuri said, feeling a flush brighter than Gisela's heat up his own face as he thought of the bit of Solstice lore Wolfram had just said, and realized the implication. "I guess so..."

Wolfram leaned toward him, green eyes sparkling brighter than any shiny decorations...

Yuuri melted inside. He would definitely be giving Wolfram his present at midnight, too. After all, who was he to argue with tradition!

Conrad unfolded a card that Yuuri realized he'd been holding in his hand all along. "I'm not sure when I'll be able to open my gift," he said, with a puzzled frown as he gazed at the message.

"Did Yozak send you a present?" Yuuri guessed. He joined Wolfram and Gisela in trying to peer at the message over Conrad's shoulder, but he didn't seem to think it was anything to hide and let them all read it.

Sorry I can't be with you and His Majesty for the festivities, Taichou, it said. It can't be helped, something important down south near Van da Via Island requires my careful attention! (You wouldn't know anything about that, now, would you?) I hope my gift to you arrives in time. I sent it by special messenger, so make sure you show the messenger how much you appreciate it!

Under the words there was a scribble that Yuuri realized was a sketch of a winking face. On the back of the card, another sketch showed a figure with distinctively spiked hair that was long in the back; the figure reclined under a palm tree, ankles crossed and drink in hand, while the sun set beyond gentle ocean waves.

"I guess Yozak is appreciating your gift, Conrad," Yuuri said. "I wonder where that messenger is, though, and what he's bringing?"

"I can't imagine," Conrad said thoughtfully as he folded the card again and put it away inside his jacket.

"Oh, Yuuri-heika!" Lady Celi squealed as she came up behind them with Fanfan following close behind. He bowed to Yuuri, but he hardly took his eyes of Celi. No wonder, Yuuri thought; the former Maou was more elegant and beautiful than Yuuri had ever seen her, in a sparkling white gown with a high, white, snowflake-lace collar. Glitter sparkled in her hair, on her bare arms and throat and on the snowy mounds of her breasts, and her eyes gleamed brighter than the magical green lamps Lady Anissina had made to light up the garden paths. She looked like a living snowflake - a very sexy snowflake.

Lady Celi took Yuuri's hand, and as dazzled as he was (and barely aware of Conrad grinning and Wolfram fussing in the background), he was caught suddenly by the pure delight in her face.

"I'm so glad you brought Solstice Night back to life for all of us! I tried, but it wasn't time for us to celebrate yet - not until you came here! Thank you, Heika!"

She hugged him, and for once, he hardly noticed the embarrassing pressure of her breasts or her dizzying perfume. Filled with warmth for everyone around him, and for all those celebrating in other lands and even in other worlds, he managed to hug her back. He felt like he could have hugged even the king of Dai Cimaron just then.

"You're the best gift Shin Makoku could have," Lady Celi said to him as she let him go. Yuuri blushed crimson, but before he could protest, she went on. "And it will be my honor to walk along with you for the ceremonial offering at Shinou's Shrine tomorrow morning!"

"The - what?" Yuuri spluttered. He almost fell over in surprise. "I have to do something ceremonial? No one told me!"

Wolfram muttered, Gisela stifled a giggle and Conrad laughed.

"It's nothing very elaborate, Heika," Conrad assured him, while Yuuri bristled at the sudden, inevitable return of his formal tone of voice. "We offer gifts at the Shrine to Ulrike and the Shrine Maidens, and to Shinou for the bounty of the year and the return of the Light after darkness."

"Then we come back to the castle and have a huge breakfast together, and open presents!" Lady Celi finished with a flourish. "And if there's snow, which it looks like there might be, we go out and play!"

She was more like a little kid than any of her sons, even Wolfram, Yuuri thought, and he couldn't help smiling.

"Snow, really?" he said, feeling a nostalgic kind of excitement. He tried to look out the tall windows to see if there were snow clouds, but all he could see was dark sky.

"What about Murata?" Wolfram said. "He should be there tomorrow morning, too. In fact, why isn't he here at the ball?"

He sounded as if Murata's absence was a serious breach of etiquette, if not a personal insult. Yuuri waved his hands to placate him before he could work himself into a full state of royal indignity.

"He had to go away for the holidays, so he couldn't come to Shin Makoku with me this time," he said sadly. "I think it was a family thing, although he didn't really say," he added with a shrug. He supposed that was nice, although it was surprising since he'd never known Murata to do anything with his family, or hardly even mention them. "Come to think of it, I think he said he was going to be some place warm for Christmas, too."

"Ah, that's too bad," Lady Celi pouted, while Wolfram continued to huff and fume only a little more quietly.

Then the music started up again and Lady Celi claimed Yuuri for the next dance, so he didn't have time to wonder why Conrad was suddenly smiling more broadly than ever.

Conrad left the ball still going in full swing to step out into the cool, fresh air on one of the terraces, and watched the lights twinkling in the garden and the stars overhead. As he stood there, the first flakes of white started to swirl down from the wispy edges of clouds blowing in from the north. The ground would be white by morning. He smiled, knowing both his mother and Yuuri would be happy.

He turned when he heard someone else come out onto the terrace, and discovered it was a guard bringing a visitor to him, a traveler just arrived in cloak and hood. He guessed it must be Yozak's messenger, and smiled with renewed curiosity, wondering what gift could require such special delivery.

Then the hood was thrown back to reveal dark brown hair tousled and damp from the ride, clear, sea- blue eyes that gleamed in the soft lights, and a familiar smile of greeting. The one person Conrad had been wishing to see, and the one he least expected here on Solstice Night - tonight of all nights.

"Alford!" Conrad held back a startling urge to run to the young hero and throw welcoming arms around him, but he couldn't stop the smile that burst out on his own face. "I didn't know you were coming to Yuuri's Solstice celebration! He must have been overjoyed to see you!"

He didn't mention how pleased he was for his own sake.

Alford laughed a little and closed the distance between them, almost as quickly as Conrad wanted to but didn't, and his cloak swirled back as he raised his arms, almost as if he would embrace Conrad - but he didn't.

"I'll be glad to see Yuuri again, too," Alford said. "I only caught a glimpse of him through the crowd, dancing. Lord von Belefeld looked as if he would throw flame arrows at anyone who got too close! Anyway, I asked the guard to bring me directly to you, Conrad. They couldn't find you at first and I was afraid I'd arrived too late, and that you'd already left the celebration."

Blue eyes glanced all over Conrad's face, as if drinking in the sight of him. Conrad found himself doing the same, glad to see that Alford looked as fit and well as ever. He was startled by two things - Alford's Holy Sword was not in its scabbard, and in his hands he held a bulky package wrapped in layers of cloth.

"You haven't lost your sword again, I hope?" he asked, frowning but not too alarmed - if the Holy Sword was missing again, he didn't think Alford would be standing here smiling calmly as he was. Sure enough, Alford shook his head.

"I left it in the care of the castle guards," he said. "Lay down your sword on Solstice Night, as the song goes. It would be unlucky, I think, to carry it into a peaceful gathering like this."

Conrad nodded. His own sword was at his side, but only as part of his dress uniform; he had no intention of raising it for any reason tonight.

"Then you haven't come to challenge me again?" he asked lightly.

Alford shook his head again, eyes twinkling.

"No - although I haven't given up!" he said. He held the package out to Conrad, and his smile grew wider. "I was asked to bring this to you, on Solstice Night," he said. "From a distant friend in a warm place!"

Conrad stared at the package in surprise. "From Yozak?" he said as he reached for it.

Alford nodded. "I met him on his way south, while I was on my way - nowhere in particular. He said that I was just the person he needed to deliver a gift for him, to you, Conrad."

As Conrad took the bundle of cloth from him, their hands touched - and hesitated there for no more than a heartbeat, before they drew apart. Conrad felt the touch like a jolt of lightning, but he was surprised to see Alford's cheeks flush a brighter red before he dropped his gaze from Conrad's face.

Uncertain of what he felt and saw, afraid that it might be colored by his own wish, Conrad turned his attention to the package. He unwrapped the cloth from it carefully to find a bottle of the best Calorian whiskey - his father's favorite drink, and hard to find in Shin Makoku even now. Another note was tucked in with the bottle.

Raise a glass for me at dawn, in memory of Dan Hiri, it said in Yozak's handwriting. But don't drink it all at once, or all alone! I'd suggest opening it first at midnight, but that's for you and the messenger to decide!

Conrad didn't need another sketch to imagine the wink and grin that would accompany that suggestion.

He remembered, suddenly, the last time he and Yozak had seen Alford, caught up in the middle of some adventure Yuuri had led them all into; after they'd parted ways, Yozak had watched him with a gleam in his eyes and a knowing grin.

"What?" he'd asked, irritated yet curious about what his all-too-observant friend was thinking.

Yozak shrugged with exaggerated innocence. "Oh, nothing. Just that, one of these days, you might try telling someone how you feel about him. Especially someone who feels the same way you do."

Conrad had only glared at him, but later, on a late summer night when they'd been sharing a drink and watching the stars together, he remembered admitting that if he had a Solstice Wish, it might be to see Alford again...

And now Alford stood there in front of him, watching him with a curious, expectant gaze. Conrad wondered if Yozak had gone so far as to tell him of that Solstice Wish. Could that explain the flush of heat on the younger man's face and the question in his eyes?

Looking down at the bottle in his hands, though, Conrad realized that the present was only an excuse; the messenger himself was Yozak's Solstice gift to him.

They stood under the arch that led inside, to the corridor that could lead either to the ballroom or to Conrad's quarters. The sound of music still drifted out into the yard, and dancing silhouettes flitted past the ballroom windows.

"I'm honored to be entrusted with your friend's gift," Alford said. "And more than that, Conrad, I'm glad to have an excuse to come and see you here - on Solstice Night, of all nights," he added softly.

The young human hero stopped, and his eyes searched Conrad's face, hopeful and hesitant. Conrad saw what Yozak had seen in them, what he didn't think would be there. He decided, finally, that his old friend was right. And if he didn't say anything tonight, he'd never hear the end of it when Yozak returned.

"Yozak also instructed me to show my appreciation to the messenger, and not to drink his gift alone," Conrad said, smiling.

He took another step toward Alford, watching those calm blue eyes widen and cheeks flush darker red, but Alford didn't back away.

"Lover's gift at midnight, loved one's gift at dawn," Conrad said quietly. "I know you have the same tradition in human lands. Will you share a drink with me at midnight, Alford, or shall it wait until the dawn?"

Alford looked him in the eye and fidgeted, both bold and shy at once. His fingers twitched for a moment, one hand curling as if gripping a sword hilt - which he usually was, whenever he was near Conrad. Not on this night, though. Alford dropped his hand to his side and smiled as if he'd made a decision.

"I have a gift of my own to offer you, Weller-kyo," Alford said, with the clear-eyed determination Conrad loved to see in him. "A gift best offered at midnight on Solstice Night, rather than at dawn. If you care to accept it, that is. If not... I'll be content to raise a glass with you at sunrise."

Conrad stepped forward and leaned close. Alford gazed at him with wide eyes, and then the tension in his shoulders melted into relief when Conrad lightly touched their lips together.

"I'm happy to accept your gift on this Solstice Night, Alford," he said.

Like Gisella, Conrad didn't quite wait until midnight to unwrap his gift. He remembered Yozak singing a different version of the old song, so he was pretty certain his old friend wouldn't have minded that he started enjoying his gift a little early. They hadn't opened the bottle yet, after all.

Alford didn't object to the early start, either; in fact the evidence indicated that he was perfectly happy about it, but he did seem a little surprised by Conrad's suddenly revealed enthusiasm.

"Conrad, that's..." he started to say after Conrad was done (although as far as Conrad was concerned, they had really only just begun). Alford paused, apparently to catch his breath. Conrad was close enough to feel his heart still racing, heat still radiating from his skin. "That really was your Solstice wish?" Alford asked in wonder. "What Yozak said..."

Conrad assured him that it was. "At least, that was part of it. There's more... but we can wait until it's properly midnight for the rest."

"Ah... " Alford smiled at him and touched his face, and stared at his own fingertip as it traced the curve of Conrad's lip. Blue eyes gleamed in the light of the single candle left burning in Conrad's room. "I can't say I'd be disappointed even if that was all there was, but I still have a few Solstice wishes of my own," he added.

"I'm glad of that," Conrad answered, quite sincerely.

"I wonder, though," Alford said thoughtfully as they settled next to each other, warm skin against skin under the warm blankets, while snowflakes drifted silently against the window above the bed. "Yozak said he was happy to be staying some place warm this winter, but he wouldn't say what his own Solstice wish was. Do you know?"

Conrad smiled, gazing out the window to where stars could still be seen dimly, twinkling behind the snowy wisps of cloud.

"As a matter of fact I do. I'm sure he's enjoying it tonight, just as much as we are."

Yozak leaned back on his elbows and dug his toes further into the sand, still warm from the heat of the day. Even the night breeze was mild on his skin, which was bare except for a swim suit, and that was still damp from his late-night dip in the soothing waves.

"Ah, this is the way to spend Solstice Night!" he sighed happily. "Another swim before midnight, out here under the stars, and I'll be happy!"

"It's not really Solstice until you've had a sip of this," said a voice behind him, lilting with a hint of laughter. He turned and looked up to see the speaker holding a glass of frothy, golden-white liquid out to him. "Or at least, not really Christmas, back on Earth!" Murata finished with a laugh, dark eyes gleaming behind his glasses.

"What is it?" Yozak asked, taking the glass and sniffing it suspiciously. It smelled rich and sweet, and surprisingly alcoholic.

"It's called Eggnog," Murata answered. "The country folk in Shin Makoku used to drink something like it, but I never heard of it in Dai Cimaron, so maybe you've never had it before."

He sat down in the sand next to Yozak and raised his own glass.


"Aye," Yozak said as he clinked Murata's glass with a grin. He took a long sip; it was rich and creamy and sweet, and cool at first followed by a sweet warmth that melted his limbs.

"Oooh, that's nice!" Yozak said. "Whatever you spiked it with tastes like Island Fire-Whiskey, only better!"

"Best Jamaican rum," Murata said with a grin. "Jamaica is a tropical island like Van da Via, and eggnog is a traditional winter holiday drink back on Earth, so I thought this would be an appropriate drink to celebrate our first Solstice Night together here."

"Well, I'm all for traditions," Yozak said, "Though it's nice to start up new ones now and then, too, like this," he added, tipping his glass toward the ocean. "Jamaica, you say? Sounds like a wonderful place."

"You'd like it. Maybe I can take you there someday. I'd like to show you around Earth one of these days, Yozak."

"Earth, hm?" Yozak said. He hadn't really had much interest in the place, still holding a bit of a grudge against it for all the time Conrad had spent there, until now. The thought of seeing it through Murata's eyes made it much more appealing, somehow. "I'd like that, Geika. Maybe some day."

He took another sip, and sighed happily.

"This 'eggnog' of yours is even better than that fancy bottle I sent up north, as far as I'm concerned - and that's saying something because I used to think Calorian whiskey was the best thing in the world! Though that might have a lot to do with the person who served it," he said with a wink at Murata. "Just like with the whiskey, I guess. I hope my present makes Conrad as warm and cozy as this does, up there in the cold."

"Don't worry," Murata said, smiling a confident smile as he pushed is glasses up on his nose. "I'm sure Weller-kyo and Alford are lifting a glass and sharing the warmth already!"

"Hope so!" Yozak said, and lifted his glass toward the stars in a salute to his old friend.

Murata grinned up at him. There was a tiny bit of the foamy drink still on his upper lip, so naturally Yozak had to lean down and lick it off.... and the kiss that followed was even sweeter and more bone-melting than the drink.

"Mm, talk about sharing the warmth," Murata said happily a moment later. He'd set his glass down on the sand, the better to snuggle up against Yozak's side. His skin, as bare as Yozak's, was warmer than the sand.

Yozak took another sip from his glass and then just sat still for awhile, listening to the slow murmur of the waves and watching the stars twinkle over head, with his chin resting on the softness of Murata's hair. The words of the old song drifted through his mind.

Share the warmth

and shelter from the weather,

Put all sad thoughts aside.

Yozak sang the familiar, ancient words out loud. They sounded odd to his ears with the ocean waves as harmony instead of a cold wind beating on the door, until Murata's whispery voice joined him for the refrain.

Solstice is the time

for all to come together,

Lion and Fox with Lamb abide,

Share the warmth

and shelter from the weather,

Put all troubled thoughts aside.

"We don't need much shelter from the weather here," Murata said thoughtfully, as if this fact was part of some strategy he was planning in his clever head. Yozak thought he could guess what that strategy might be; he knew what his plans were for midnight tonight, and this sandy beach was a perfectly fine place for what he had in mind.

"You know how the last verse really goes, don't you?" he asked with a grin and a gleam in his eye. Murata looked up at him questioningly. Just in case the wise sage didn't know how the country folk sang the song, Yozak sang the last verse the way he'd learned it, making sure that the essential parts were perfectly clear

Keep lover near and worry far

And kiss beneath the Solstice Star!

The longest dark, the brightest Light!

Make love all nighton Solstice Night!

Murata giggled. "I like your version best, Yozak!"

"That's good," Yozak said. He gently nudged Murata's face up toward his for another kiss, not that it needed much coaxing. " 'Cause if I get my Solstice wish this year, that's just what we'll be doing."

"I'm pretty sure," Murata said as he pulled off his glasses and set them aside, "that your wish is going to come true!"

~ The End ~