Breathe is copyright to Faith Hill and... whoever manages her music. No profits for me. For the rest of the "no lawsuit plz" mumbo-jumbo, see chapter one.

In case you hadn't noticed, the rating has been upped from T to M - you know what that means! If you don't, you're probably too young and/or innocent to be reading this in the first place.

Author's Notes:
None, really. That's what I get for aiming my ramblings at my LJ instead. If anyone wants to keep up with them (read: 'has nothing better to do than study the strange and occasionally entertaining mental machinations of a 20-something nerd with a tendency towards foot-in-mouth-disease'), the link is at the low end of my profile.



I can feel you breathe, it's washing over me
and suddenly I'm melting into you
There's nothing left to prove

Baby, all we need is just to be


It was a late evening in early spring. The air was steadily warming as the year progressed, but even for Fuuka it was still cold outside once dusk settled fully, and Shizuru could just barely see the breath in front of her face as she exhaled. The faint mist was emphasized by the yellowish light from the street lamps five stories below, and she tugged the warm robe closer around her body to ward off a tiny shiver.

Really, it didn't make very much sense for her to be standing out here, she considered – at least not to the casual observer. Not that it was making a terrible lot of sense to Shizuru herself, who currently was – once again – as aroused as she could ever remember being thanks to a very long, very pleasant stretch of time spent immersing herself in the taste of Natsuki's lips, the scent of her hair and the feel of her skin. An intoxicating mixture of sensory impressions, to be sure - red eyes cut to the half-open balcony door - and not something that in any way helped to explain why she had retreated to where she was at the moment.

The fair head shook, and Shizuru tried for the Nth time over the past few months to figure out exactly what it was that made her pull back from Natsuki's embrace once they reached a certain point. It certainly wasn't that she herself wasn't interested in pushing further, as her loudly complaining body was currently reminding her of. No, if she had to be honest with herself – which she at least tried to be – it probably had more to do with a subtle, yet very strong fear that she just couldn't shake; the fear of pushing the woman she loved so intensely into something that Natsuki just wasn't quite ready for.

She sighed another small cloud into the air. Natsuki had in many ways been an open book to her trained eyes over the years they'd known each other, at least as friends. And to be fair, she'd remained that way even after the two of them had embarked on a romantic relationship. The trouble was that with the change in the interactions between them, there came a whole host of new little signals and expressions that Shizuru simply hadn't yet learned to interpret. Most, yes. All, no.

She could remember the evening in her own kitchen; the first time Natsuki had kissed her out of the blue after they'd returned to everyday life – when she'd suddenly found herself pushed back against the counter with warm, tender lips on her own. In fact, she remembered it with crystal clarity since it had fast become one of her favorite memories; even if Natsuki had broken off the kiss rather abruptly.

Right after Shizuru had let out a moan – which was exactly when she was now pulling away. Natsuki's breaking contact after a sound that was certainly closely related to eroticism in such a situation practically reeked of her not being ready. But, her mind prodded at her idly, that had been months back, and as far as she could recall, the younger woman hadn't been the one to end their little one-on-ones since the start of the year.

It was all a positively infuriating mix of wanting something so very, very much, and yet being terrified that the price of reaching for it would be more than she was willing to pay.

Warm, familiar arms sliding around her waist interrupted her train of thought, and she couldn't help but smile as Natsuki hugged her from behind, her thumbs hooking in the belt of Shizuru's robe and her lips pressing a gentle kiss between her shoulderblades.

"You're a very strange person," came the soft observation next to her ear, and Shizuru shivered slightly at the goosebumps the warm breath nursed to life on her skin.

"I know," she admitted, and turned so she could curl her arms around Natsuki in turn. The younger woman was, as always, a vision of loveliness, even with the long, black hair in disarray and clad only in the white tanktop and cotton shorts that she preferred to sleep in. "Forgive me?"

"Mm." The green eyes slid shut in contentment as Natsuki nestled against her, kissing the base of her throat lightly. "It's late," she murmured. "Come back inside."

"In a little while." Shizuru stroked the back of her fingers over one smooth cheek, then dipped her head to kiss her. "You go back to bed. I don't want you to catch a chill."

"Stubborn." Moist breath washed over her face at the good-natured grumble, and Shizuru closed her eyes as she felt slender fingers comb through the hair at her temple, then shuddered again at the gentle scrape of even teeth over her lower lip.

"Five more minutes." Natsuki tapped the tip of her nose once, then gave her another light kiss before turning and slipping back through the sliding door. "Don't make me come get you."

"I wont," she promised. The powder-blue fabric was shifting enticingly over a very shapely backside as Natsuki walked, and Shizuru found herself extremely tempted to curse at the fact that she could now start all over again in calming down. "I'll be right in."

One hand raised in acknowledgment from behind the glass door – five fingers extended – and then the younger woman slipped back into the bedroom and out of sight.

Shizuru leaned back against the railing and exhaled slowly. She dearly, dearly wished that she knew how to interpret Natsuki's behavior without any second thoughts. There had definitely been a noticeable increase in assurance in how her companion had acted around her for the past, long while. Kisses and touches – both light ones and those of a more involved kind - were easily given, but was that a sign that Natsuki was wanting to take that final step? Or was it simply an indication of how comfortable she had grown with where their relationship was right now?

She crossed her arms against the chill, but remained where she was. The cold air felt good against her overheated body, and she still needed some time to think. Even if she had the distinct, irritating feeling that she wouldn't be able to truly clear any of this up on her own.

One only needed to stroll through the Fuuka Academy grounds once to pick up on what the general opinion on Kuga Natsuki was. Cold, beautiful, distant, reticent were words Shizuru herself had heard used about the younger woman more times than she could count, although those four and others were often sorted under a single headline: shy. Which in her opinion proved just how little the gossipers knew.

Shy was one thing that Natsuki had never been. Or rather, Shizuru reiterated to herself, Natsuki was shy only when she found herself in a situation outside her realm of experience; which, at least up until about a year ago, had consisted mostly of fistfights, back-alley bars, revenge, and of course the perfect, unmitigated mess that had been the Carnival. She hadn't had the time to spend on developing friendships - let alone romantic relationships – for the better part of her life, and she'd admitted to Shizuru long ago that she was very much looking to her for guidance on this new and unfamiliar road, because she just flat out did not know what to do.

With every new moment they'd shared together, Natsuki's confidence and level of comfort had risen, and Shizuru was convinced that once they did share that final, defining experience, that would only continue – which was one vote in favor of pushing forward. However, there was also the risk that if she pushed too far, too soon, Natsuki would retreat and they would have to retrace an unknown amount of time and steps to get back to the level they were at now. Which was one vote in favor of leaving things at the current status quo.

And this obstinate inability to find a single, clear answer was honestly starting to get on her nerves.

"Shizuru?" The call was muffled. Both, she supposed, by the half-closed balcony door and the slight distance from that door and to the bedroom. "Am I gonna have to drag you back in here?"

"Has it been five minutes already?"

"More like fifteen." There was a faint undercurrent of amusement in Natsuki's voice. "But I'm being lazy, so get in here and save me the trouble of getting up."

Hm. Shizuru tilted her head back and traced an idle, wistful pattern in the stars. Well, at least her heart wasn't pounding in her ears anymore.

She pushed away from the railing with a soundless sigh, and re-entered the warmth of the apartment before sliding the door shut behind her. For now, she decided as she studied the sliver of warm light that traced its way across the floor from the halfway-open bedroom door, she would just have to play it safe.

"Took you long enough," Natsuki muttered around a yawn as she entered the room, and Shizuru swallowed a chuckle at the sight of the younger woman hopelessly – and apparently quite contentedly - tangled up in one of the soft blankets where she was resting on the bed. "Turn off the light and tuck yourself in, will you?"

Wordlessly, she flipped the switch to the off position. She shed the heavy robe she'd donned before venturing outside; settling it on its designated hook by the door and wrapping her arms around herself as the cool, night air met the skin that her own sleepwear – a simple strap-top and a pair of panties – didn't cover. She walked around to the other side of the bed under the weight of Natsuki's gaze, and seated herself on the edge of the sheet. Her hand went to lift the covers, but a soft sigh stopped her.

"No." She turned her head and watched as a single, bare arm sneaked out from beneath the blanket; the hand patting the mattress directly next to Natsuki. "Here."

For some reason, her heart immediately relocated to her throat.

"Ara?" Suddenly uncertain – again – she fell back on the familiarity of teasing. "Is Natsuki making indecent suggestions?"

The green eyes – strangely luminescent in the faint half-light coming from the streetlamps below – narrowed at her, and Shizuru had roughly half a second to quirk an eyebrow before she was grabbed by the waist and unceremoniously hauled across the bed. There was a brush of smooth skin on skin as a single, bare leg brushed along her own from calf to knee to gently and effectively hold her in place, and her vision was filled with deep, clear green.

"Haven't you noticed?" that dusky voice murmured as she felt a warm hand cup her face and a thumb slide over her lips in a soft caress. "Every time you touch me, it takes me longer and longer to make that noise."

Shizuru blinked.

"I figured out pretty fast that it was that sound that made you stop," Natsuki continued softly; green eyes boring into her own. "So I started holding it back as long as I could." A pause, and the thumb gently tugged her lower lip down; the tip slipping through the moisture beneath before gliding back across her mouth in a tantalizing touch that was soon replaced by the silky warmth of Natsuki's own. "I didn't want you to stop," was whispered against the corner of her lips, and something deep inside of her clenched in reaction as she felt, saw and heard the shift of skin and fabric.

From her new position astride Shizuru's hips, Natsuki straightened, trailing her hand slowly along the side of the older woman's throat as she did so. A single finger continued down the exposed skin on Shizuru's chest, dipping enticingly into the valley between her breasts before pulling away entirely to clasp her hand instead.

This, the prone figure beneath her decided fuzzily, was seduction. Slow, teasing, utterly spellbinding and frighteningly effective.

Shizuru watched as a fold of the blanket wrapped around Natsuki shifted, and bit her lip as she felt a thin sheen of sweat coat the back of her neck. There was still far less skin revealed than would be by the clothes underneath, but there was just something about the air Natsuki was exuding - the sheer, primal need she awoke in her right now - that would have made Shizuru crumble at this temptress' feet if she so desired.

Like the sirens of legend, she considered, and watched in rapt fascination as one pale hand curled around the long, dark hair, pulling the silken strands over one shoulder with Natsuki's back arching ever so slightly at the motion. And she would happily crash against the treacherous rocks of any island – drown herself in the emerald sea of those eyes that stole the breath from her lungs – because Natsuki had barely touched her and already every nerve in her body was weeping in worship.

"Do you have any idea," the young woman wondered aloud as she brought the clasped hand to her own face and kissed the palm. "... how you make me feel?"

And Natsuki was definitely enjoying the power she held over her, Shizuru decided as she wordlessly shook her head in reply.

"Hm." Warm lips kissed her index finger, then nipped lightly at the tip and curved into a smirk at the trail of goosebumps that chased up her arm in reaction. "First of all, it drives me absolutely crazy when you hold yourself back." A shift of light and shadow, and Natsuki was hovering over her again, a single breath away; soft hands clasping her shoulders and pressing her back into the mattress with gentle strength. "Even if I know why."

"Do you?" she murmured, and played with the corner of blanket that hung over Natsuki's shoulder.

"Mmhm." One shoulder rolled sinuously, and the loose corner slid to the side and away, revealing nothing more than the smooth expanse of skin that covered Natsuki's shoulder. It definitely did not reveal the creamy white strap of the young woman's tank top, and the sheer implication made a wave of burning, irresistible heat spread through her entire body.

"Shizuru." A finger beneath her chin that brought her eyes back to her companion's face, and a set of earnest, verdant eyes. "Don't worry so much. There's no test involved in this." Natsuki was so close now that she couldn't even see her lips move – could only let that voice wind around her heart and soul like a band of golden warmth while the words transported her back in time.

She could almost smell the rain.

"If you feel like doing something or want to ask something of me, do it." Natsuki's fingers caressed her face, and her gaze was utterly hypnotic. "I will never tell you no, Shizuru. Ever."

"That's one hell of a promise to make," she choked out through her suddenly tight throat.

The slight crinkling at the corners of Natsuki's eyes was the only indication she could see of her smile. "It's one I made a long time ago."

Then she was arching against the hands that remained on her shoulders as those lips covered her own once more. The kiss was languid – unbearably so; Natsuki's mouth and tongue restraining her passion much like her touch restrained her body, and Shizuru felt her senses spin into overdrive. A low, frustrated groan was wrenched from deep in her throat as her hands clenched in the folds of the blanket; tugging, pulling and yanking in what turned out to be a fruitless effort to bring their bodies together. Natsuki wasn't moving, though her lips continued to give, to take, to tease so expertly that Shizuru's head was swimming. She'd fancied herself very familiar with the feeling of desire, and was only now realizing that she had honestly had no idea.

Not until this moment.

The kiss ended as suddenly as it had started, and her head fell back against the pillow from a height she hadn't even realized that she'd raised it to. Those green eyes were still so, so close, and gained a very satisfied glint as Shizuru sucked air into her starving lungs. Every inch of her skin was alive, every last nerve in her body was buzzing, and she could feel her arms trembling from the effort she'd made to pull the younger woman closer.

"And that," Natsuki was now saying with more than a hint of amusement. "Is how I feel when you stop."

If it was, Shizuru decided as she desperately tried to remember how to do something as simple as speaking, then Natsuki was deserving of far more respect than even she had accorded her previously.

"Really?" she finally managed to ask; husky and half-strangled as it was.

"Really." A fingertip traced the line of her jaw. "Recently, all it would've taken was one more touch..." A lingering caress along the shell of her ear that sent chills chasing down the side of her throat. "One more kiss, and..." Pause, and a blush she could make out even in the semi-darkness that surrounded them. "...yeah."

Oh, dear Gods. Shizuru's resolve to be patient had crumbled what seemed like eons ago under tender hands and lips, and now she felt the fine dust that remained of it be blown away by the hot, humid wind that was Natsuki's admission.

"So... since I apparently have to be explicit to get my point across..." A brush of lips against her own, so faint that the touch of them almost tickled, and the hand that Natsuki held was guided up along her thigh and onto her hip and there was nothing but skin beneath the blanket. "Touch me." A breath, and there was a whirlpool of determination with the slightest undercurrent of anxiety in those green, green eyes. "And this time... don't stop."

Irresistibly, she trailed her fingers over the smooth skin she was touching; her other hand shifting to dip curiously beneath the folds of fabric that still covered one of Natsuki's shoulders. "I won't hold back this time," she offered softly – still somewhat concerned, and thusly giving the younger woman another chance of opting out.

A low, alluring chuckle was the reply. "That's okay." A dark eyebrow raised almost challengingly. "Neither will I."

That, Shizuru decided as she curled a hand behind Natsuki's neck and tugged gently, really was all she needed to hear. Their lips brushed again; infinitely tender, and now there was a distinct lack of resistance in Natsuki's kiss. This time, when she pulled on the blanket, the warm form encased in it followed easily. Legs twined with her own, and Shizuru pressed her palm a little firmer against the naked hip under her hand when Natsuki sighed softly into her mouth.

"You planned this, didn't you?" she asked as she rolled them over; now peering down at the younger woman, and a crafty little grin chased itself across Natsuki's face so swiftly that Shizuru would have missed it entirely if she'd blinked.

"I like to plan things," was the non-committal reply; interrupted by a gasp as Shizuru's hand found a small gap in the blanket and traced a slow, torturous line on warm, silky skin. "You know that."

So she did, she acknowledged as she slowly and experimentally pulled at various parts of the soft, gray fabric that Natsuki had wrapped herself in. No wonder it had taken her 15 minutes rather than five to call Shizuru back inside. She'd clearly spent every second of that time ensuring that the material would unwind from her body exactly when Natsuki wanted it to, and not a second sooner. The complexity she'd achieved reminded Shizuru of a wooden puzzle box.

A soft laugh tickled her ears, as she glanced up from what was fast becoming one of the more frustrating puzzles in her life to meet Natsuki's gaze. The younger woman was looking more than just a little amused with the whole situation, but her eyes held a different emotion entirely, and it was that one that truly caught her attention.

Trust. Perfect, complete and absolute trust. In her, in them, and in what was about to happen.

"Here." Natsuki released the hold she had around her shoulders, and a single hand tugged lightly at a specific fold in the blanket. Her voice shook just a little as she spoke, and while there still was a hint of nervousness in her expression, the hands that then cupped Shizuru's face and drew it down were steady and certain in their touch.

Once again, Shizuru determined distractedly, there was something different about the kiss that the younger woman was oh so very effectively drawing her into. There was still no resistance – in fact, she could feel Natsuki arching against her as she brushed the first folds of the now easily-removable blanket away and found the satiny skin beneath. If anything, her lips were now moving with a definite hint of insistence; like a sharp, clear tang of passion that mixed flawlessly with the minty taste of her toothpaste and the faintest hint of coffee from the cup she'd had some hours before.

The final corners fell away at last, and she registered Natsuki shifting, followed by the sensation of the soft fabric settling over both of them instead. There was nothing beneath her now aside from the gentle swell of soft curves, and Shizuru felt her companion suck in a sharp breath as she traced the outline of a breast. She shifted to taste the skin on Natsuki's jaw, and when she moved her attentions from there to the younger woman's throat, there was a swift movement and an abrupt, not-at-all uncomfortable pressure as smooth, bare legs curled around her hips and held on.

Gods! The lower hem of her top had ridden up amidst their shuffling, and she almost collapsed outright as she felt the sheer heat that suddenly pressed against her exposed abdomen. Hands curled in her hair as she sucked feverishly on the nearest patch of exposed skin, and the low, guttural moan that Natsuki released vibrated against her lips and made her blood roar through her veins at a frightening pace.

Beautiful, her mind whispered as she pressed closer and flicked her thumb over a hardened nipple in exchange for a strangled groan. The dark hair was splayed out in lush waves against the white of the pillows and sheets, and Natsuki's skin fairly glowed in the low light. Her fingers were pressing into the small of Shizuru's back; the tendons in her neck standing out in vivid relief as her head was thrown back, and she took care to kiss them as she ran a slow touch down the side of the slender body beneath her own.

She was forced to pull back – just a little – to give herself the room that both of them wanted, and then there was slick, searingly hot flesh beneath her fingers, followed by the sound of Natsuki's breath hitching as she explored gently. There was a tiny nodule there that she recognized, and the dark head snapped to the side when she stroked a single finger over it. The green eyes were hooded – just barely open – but not so much that Shizuru couldn't recognize a glower when it was aimed at her.

"Don't tease," Natsuki ground out, and her voice cracked sharply when the slow swipe repeated itself. "Shizuru..."

Teasing was the furthest thing from her mind at the moment, though she could understand how Natsuki could see her curious study of how the younger woman reacted to what kind of touch as just that. Shizuru leaned down and pressed a soft kiss of apology to Natsuki's lips. She could always indulge herself later, after all.

The slender legs unwound from around her hips as her hand slid lower, and it almost felt as if her lungs contracted when she dipped cautiously into the source of the wetness that was drenching her hand. It was sheer, scorching heat that met her touch; satiny smoothness that burned and clenched around her fingers as she slowly pushed deeper, wanting to let Natsuki become accustomed to the intrusion.

There was the sound of a growl, a hand covering her own, the sudden, determined shift of Natsuki's hips, and her heart stopped as the combination of irresistible force and immovable object caused her fingers to break through a barrier that she had never expected to encounter in the first place.

"Uhn..." Shizuru was so shocked that her entire body twitched, and the movement drew a soft groan of discomfort from the other woman. "...wait."

Wait. She was practically frozen in time at that single word, and her thoughts were whirling helplessly as she started to realize exactly what had just happened.

Surely, some part of her screamed, that would have... with all the physical activity Natsuki had...

But the tension – the mix of pleasure and pain that she could feel in the strong arms now both clinging to her neck and the faint, shaky exhales that brushed over her own skin... those were real. And suddenly, she had to blink back tears as the moment took on a whole new significance.

"Natsuki..." The name was a reverent whisper leaving her lips, and she guided the tightly strung body back onto the mattress; very carefully not moving her right arm even a fraction of an inch as she settled the younger woman against the pillow and kissed the tightly closed eyelids. The emotion was threatening to overwhelm her, she realized as she tenderly pushed the obsidian hair away from the damp forehead, and while a large part of her wanted to express some sort of gratitude for the gift that Natsuki had just granted her, she somehow doubted that now was the right time.

"It's alright," she instead promised quietly; nuzzling a warm cheek and feeling the hold on her own shoulders loosen slightly. "I'm sorry if I hurt you," she murmured against those soft lips as she kissed them, too.

"...idiot," was the familiar reply, and she felt the mouth beneath her own curl into a faint smile as she chuckled in response. The hands that had clenched so tightly in the back of her top released their hold, and instead slid over the skin on her shoulders in a gentle caress as they kissed.

Shizuru was even more cautious now. The one hand that she allowed herself to move cupped Natsuki's face, and she kept the contact between them light – the barest brush of lips on lips – until the touch on her shoulders was pulling her in; until Natsuki's kisses grew firmer and her breathing shallow. It was positively intoxicating, she considered, how it felt to have the younger woman press so impossibly close; to have her skin move sinuously against her own and to hear the soft, approving moan as she finally shifted her fingers.

"Stop being so damn careful," Natsuki was whispering against her mouth; her words rushed and almost feverish. "I won't break."

Trust her, something inside of her intoned as she watched the green eyes cloud over with need, and Shizuru dipped her head and captured those lips fully as she thrust in harder; swallowing the hoarse cry that met her efforts. Blunt, short nails caught in the thin fabric that covered her back as they moved together, drank from each other, and the silken heat around her digits grew even more scorching with every second until Natsuki was wrenching her mouth away and burying her face in her shoulder. Teeth scraped over her skin and then caught, and Shizuru felt her insides clench in sympathy at the raw, shuddering sobs of relief expelled against the side of her neck and the twitching, slow scrape of nails along the length of her back.

She pressed her face into the damp, dark hair and placed a kiss there, and felt the trembling body in her arms hold her tightly in response.



A lone, pale stripe of early-morning sunlight laid claim to a patch of smooth, unblemished skin, and Shizuru sent the twisted blind that had caused it a glance over one shoulder. Not a long one, as it wasn't much of a problem – one that would be easily enough fixed, in fact, once she was actually willing to move from her current position. Judging by the amount of sleep she'd gotten, however, she considered as she turned her attention back to the object of her study, that probably wouldn't be anytime soon.

Less than half a foot to her right, Kuga Natsuki slept like a log; lying on her front with her arms curled beneath the pillow, naked as the day she was born and truly dead to the surrounding world. It was a scene which Shizuru had memorized several times and at several different levels of light during the silent vigil she'd kept throughout the night; unable as she had been to sleep. Not for negative reasons, as had sometimes been the case in the past – in fact, exactly the opposite.

She watched her own fingers draw slow, idle patterns on the small of Natsuki's back, and didn't even try to fight the giddy little smile playing at her lips. A single night could truly make a lifetime's worth of a difference. Yesterday, she'd certainly been happy; if also undecided and not just a little confused. Today, she was practically ecstatic, but in a strange, almost lazy way that made her not want to move a single inch from this spot.

Shizuru turned onto her back and tucked a corner of the blanket covering her – the same one from the night before, in fact – against her cheek with a happy sigh. She'd long kept a sort of mental library, consisting of little snapshots she'd taken of the favorite moments she'd shared with Natsuki. Those moments had soon built up to an overwhelmingly large amount, and, she remembered as she closed her eyes, she'd started sorting them into folders shortly thereafter. Blushes was a folder she enjoyed revisiting often, as well as Scowls and Pouts. By the time they'd actually started dating, she'd created a few new folders that she'd named Romance and Passion respectively. And now, she realized with a pleasant, little shiver, she'd have to add a subfolder to one of them labeled Lovemaking.

Gods. The thought made her eyes pop open. I have a lover. Her gaze cut to the somnolent figure close by. And the most beautiful one possible, too.

The red eyes slid shut again as a gentle, contented smile took over her lips. She wasn't even going to wonder how she had rated that. The both of them had gone through an absolute hell – both figuratively and literally – to get to this point. If this was what the universe was going to give them as a reward for their hardships, then Shizuru was quite happy to just take it and be grateful.

"Hey." The voice jolted her out of her musings, and she focused on the sleepy, halfway-open green eyes that had settled on her face in warm affection.

"Good morning," she replied, running her fingers along her lover's spine and smiling at the hum the action evoked. "Sleep well?"

"Mm." Natsuki freed her arms from beneath the pillow and pressed her hands against the headboard as she stretched. Then she propped her chin on one, curled arm, and quirked an eyebrow. "You didn't sleep a wink, didja?"

"Whatever makes Natsuki think that?" she wondered innocently, and grinned outright as the green eyes rolled.

"Yeah, you definitely never fell asleep," Natsuki scoffed. "You're way too hyper. Plus, even for you, it's too early to be awake at..." she cut her eyes to the bedside clock. "5:22 in the morning."

"Natsuki's awake, too," she pointed out, and didn't bother to suppress a giggle at the dour look that earned her.

"Mmph." A glare, followed by a sigh, and then Natsuki was scooting under the blanket next to her. "Share," she demanded grumpily as an arm slung itself across Shizuru's waist and the dark head found a comfortable spot to rest on her shoulder. "And yeah, I am." A yawn. "Heck if I know why."

She curled an arm around Natsuki's shoulders and enjoyed the feeling of gentle fingertips trailing lazily over the curve of her hip as she closed her own eyes. Perhaps, she considered, the lack of close, physical contact was part of the reason that she hadn't slept? Certainly, now that they were curled up together, she could feel a pleasant weariness settle through her entire body – enough that she had to suppress a yawn of her own.

"Hm." She felt Natsuki lift her head, followed by a dip of the mattress and the touch of cool, smooth fingers against the skin on her left shoulder. "Oh... I'm sorry about this."

"About what?" she wondered, aware that her accent was deepening due to the sudden influx of fatigue.

Silence for a few seconds, and she cracked an eye open to see an expression on Natsuki's face that was an interesting mix of pride and embarrassment. "About this... blotch. Here." The younger woman fished a small mirror from a drawer in the bedside table and held it out.

Curiously, Shizuru took it... and felt her eyes widen at the mottled bruise at the crook of her neck. It was bright purple with splashes of fiery red and royal blue, and about the size of a tennis ball. "Ara." She tilted the mirror to the left, then to the right. "My, Natsuki does a thorough job." A pause. "The teeth marks are a nice touch."

Two fingers pinched her side in reproach, and once she'd forced down the instinctive urge to squeal, she shifted her gaze to see green eyes scowl at her from above bright red cheeks. "Watch it," Natsuki growled. "Or I'll give you one to match on the other side."

"...you do realize that if you're attempting to discourage me, you should probably do so by threatening to do something I didn't enjoy so thoroughly the last time it occurred?"

"Keep it up, Fujino, and you'll be going to school with hickeys everywhere." Pause. "And no additional experience with the stuff that causes them. Got it?"


She watched a smile play at Natsuki's lips at the minor victory, and almost purred as soft lips then touched themselves to the sole hickey she had at the moment.

"Shizuru..." Natsuki's breath was tantalizingly hot against the flesh on the side of her throat, and suddenly the feeling of the warm, bare body pressing against her side was rapidly brushing away the side-effects of her lack of sleep. "It's Sunday." A nip to the bruised spot of skin, and the voice that tickled her ear had deepened as Natsuki presumably also remembered the events of the previous evening. "Do you have anything important to do today?"

"No." She cupped a warm cheek and brought Natsuki's face up so that she could kiss her, before the feeling of familiar hands in new territory made her lose the ability to think entirely.

Nothing could possibly be more important than this.


Caught up in the touch, slow and steady rush
Baby, isn't that the way that love's supposed to be?
I can feel you breathe