The conclusion to my long-winded story... Lolz~ Seemed like it was extra long! I've never written a fanfic this long before. Anyways, enjoy!

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Chapter Twenty-Six – The Escape

Awaking before dawn, Hei smiled into the dark as he felt Misaki snuggle closer towards him. A slight sigh escaped her lips, her bandaged hand resting lightly against his chest. Using his free hand, he used it to hold her gently by the wrist; his other arm was occupied as she was resting on it, using it as a pillow. He closed his eyes, thinking back to the first night they had returned.

They had returned to find Yin waiting for them nervously. It wasn't something obvious, but he could tell by the way she sat, knelt in front of the water with her fingers trailing patterns on its surface. A ghost of a smile appeared before she pushed at her cheeks to form a full grin. Approaching while he still carried Misaki, Yin had glanced around, her eyes assessing the situation. Satisfied that no one was going to die, she nodded and headed to her own room.

The apartment was sparsely furnished, resembling his place in Tokyo. Part of the attraction had been that it reminded him of home – his first one in Japan. The building was slightly run down, but the rent was cheap and the landlord didn't pay attention to them as long as they paid on time.

Gently placing Misaki on the floor, he left the room to get towels and clean dry clothes for her. She was soaking wet, thanks to April and he didn't want to take the chance that she would get sick. He quickly towel dried his hair, the only part of him wet, when Misaki insisted that he take care of himself first. His jacket repelled the water, effectively keeping him dry.

Misaki tried to do it herself when he dropped a towel in her lap, but he quickly pulled her hand away. They were going to treat that, but he had to get her dry first. Wrapping one towel around her shoulders, he took the other one and knelt behind her. Carefully, he released her hair from its prison and used the towel to dry her hair. He smiled as he rubbed her long brown locks between the towel ends.

Next, he pulled out the first aid kit before examining her hand. The palm of her hand was raw and red, an angry welt where her skin had been ripped away by the hot doorknob of the emergency exit. Gently, he placed a kiss to her inner wrist, amazed that she could do so much for him. She didn't speak, only smiling when he glanced up at her.

"It's going to hurt," he told her softly.

She bit her lip to avoid crying out in pain as he dabbed at the wound with disinfectant wipes. He didn't want her to get an infection and they were going to have to be extra careful. When it was clean, he went to wash his hands thoroughly before applying burn cream. She winced as it stung her flesh, but she didn't voice any complaints. Lastly, he wrapped bandages around her hand to protect it, as well as to ensure that the cream didn't smear everywhere.

When he was finished, he told her to change out of the wet clothes. He only had a large t-shirt as he was positive her slim figure would never hold up any of the pants that he owned. Going to his room, he shook out his jacket and put it away. There wasn't much to do, but he wanted to give her time to change. He gave her a few minutes, returning to find that she was struggling with it because of her hand.

She gave him a sheepish grin as she was still trying to release the first of the row. Sighing softly, Hei knelt in front of her, pulling her hands away. He kept his gaze locked on a spot to the left of her head to avoid glancing down. The wet fabric of her blouse was sheer as it clung to her curves, outlining everything underneath. It was already bad enough that they were this close to each other. When he finished and tried to pull away, he found his wrist trapped by her hand and he turned to look into her eyes.

"Hei," she had whispered. "I'm cold."

As if to prove it to him, she pulled his hand up and placed it over her heart, her eyes never leaving his. His fingers had twitched, but he was trying to hold back when she took matters into her own hands. Closing her eyes, she had pressed her lips to his. He leaned in for better contact, his free hand bracing himself against the floor. Her tongue teased his lips as it flickered out to trace along his bottom lip. His beautiful Misaki...

He freed his hand to cradle her by the back of her head, his fingers tangling in her damp hair. Using his other hand, his skin brushed along hers as he helped her out of the wet shirt. Her hands were exploring on their own as she stroked them down his chest and down his back, until she finally found the hem of his shirt. Her fingers teased their way underneath and Hei broke contact briefly to take it off. Then in one swift motion, he locked lips with her again and swept her off her feet as he carried her into his room.

He shifted on the bed, his body reacting to the memory. The way she had whispered out his name over and over; the feel of her silky smooth skin against his; the slight scratch of the bandage as her hands had touched him; the way she had looked with her hair fanned out underneath her; the way she smelled; and the way she trembled when he held her close. Swallowing, he quickly pushed aside those thoughts.

***

Burying her nose against his chest, Misaki sighed softly, awaking herself from her sweet dreams. Blinking a few times, she shifted her head slightly to glance at the beloved man she was sleeping with. He didn't move and Misaki smiled to herself. The last few days had been bliss to be close to him. That didn't mean that she didn't remember the people she had left behind, but Hei was always close by to hold and comfort her; even Yin would gently place her hand on her shoulder when Misaki was feeling down. It meant a lot coming from a doll.

Snuggling close to his warmth again, Misaki placed a light kiss to his skin exposed above the collar of his shirt. Her thoughts shifted to her latest partners and she wondered what happened after her disappearance. She was reminded of a cute boy doll who she adored; who had stood guard by her side and slept with her at night to keep away the scary people. With a giggle, she thought that Yin and July would be cute together, not that it would happen.

"Hm? What's so amusing?"

Misaki shifted as she heard his voice. Since they were both awake now, she sat up to allow him to do the same. Hei pulled her close while waiting for her reply. She fidgeted, playing with the blanket while pulling it up around them. When he wrapped his arms around her waist, Misaki leaned back against him, smiling.

"Well, what was so funny?" he asked softly, his breath teasing her ears.

She turned to glance at him and he leaned in to give her a good morning kiss. Even so, she took her time in responding.

"I just thought that July and Yin would be cute together, if it were possible," she finally answered shyly.

Hei chuckled as she had love on the brain and he didn't blame her. He had been in euphoria since her return. There was something very special in the fact that he could hold her close, protect her, kiss her good morning when they woke up and kiss her good night before they slept. Sighing contentedly, he held her tight as he dropped a kiss to her hair. It was their favourite way to spend the morning; in each other's arms.

"I have something I need to talk to you about," Hei finally said seriously.

"What is it?"

"I need to talk to Yin as well. We'll discuss this over breakfast."

***

Misaki and Yin sat together at the small table while Hei was preparing breakfast. Before this, Yin had double checked her wounds and changed the bandages. Hei avoided doing so unless it was absolutely necessary and she had the feeling that it was because of his guilty conscience. Even so, it was the choice she had made; she would do it all over again if it meant that they would be together.

She found that her new doll partner talked more than her previous one. Yin always shared what she found and Misaki realized that the girl was very bright, despite what she knew about traditional dolls. Yin thought for herself, often telling Hei that he was wrong, if she thought so. She was so human; the only part not was the lack of changes in facial expression.

July was like that as well and Misaki wondered if the difference was due to the difference in their Contractor partner. April was a Contractor, through and through, though Misaki realized that she had changed; Hei was a mix of human and Contractor, a steady influence of humanness over Yin.

"What are you thinking about?"

"Hm? It's nothing," Misaki replied, smiling at the girl.

"If you're not comfortable, let me know."

"Is something wrong?" Hei asked, joining them with food.

"Not at all. I was just distracted by silly thoughts. So what did you want to talk about?"

"I know Yin is always checking," Hei answered. "But I really feel that we've overstayed our welcome here."

"Someone is after us already?"

"Not yet," replied Yin. "Probably soon."

"I wanted to wait for you to heal and you're healing nicely. Do you think you're ready for it?"

"Ready when you are."

"It's just my hand," Misaki stated, smiling at Yin's response. "If we're getting ready to leave, there are a few things I think I need to do."

"Like what?"

"I need clothes," she said, as she had been borrowing Hei's so far. "Also, I think I need an appearance change also."

"Like what?" Hei asked cautiously.

"A haircut at least and if that's not enough, to color my hair."

"No."

"Why not?" Misaki inquired.

"I like your hair the way it is," Hei replied stubbornly.

"Still... It makes sense."

"She's right, you know," Yin added.

"Oh fine."

Hei gave in reluctantly as he had liked the way Misaki's hair felt in between his fingers when he played with it. But it was a selfish thought and they had to think about their safety before all else. Since they had decided that they would leave, he set out after finishing his meal. He would clean up upon his return and he left Misaki's new appearance up to Yin since he didn't agree, not really, to this idea.

***

Sitting in front of the mirror, Misaki twisted her head left and right as she continued to gaze at her reflection; her fingers twirling the ring around her finger. Her hair was originally so long; it had been a long time since she had it short. The bulk of her hair lay on her lap like a coiled snake. Though it was no longer attached to her head, they could at least keep it as a memento of the Misaki who had been lost. This was a new chapter of her life, one filled by Hei and Yin.

She almost felt bald; she was so accustomed to the weight of it against her back. They didn't change the color, but they had cropped it short into a stylish bob just past her chin with a thin fringe of bangs in front. She glanced up as she saw Hei in the reflection and smiled. His jaw dropped open and she wondered if it was a good thing or a bad thing.

"What happened?" he exclaimed, finally making his way towards her.

"We cut it, like we said we would."

He dropped to his knees behind her, his fingers lifting up her hair – or what was left of it. Misaki watched, amused as he continued to shake his head in disbelief. Finally, she turned and held up what there was of the ponytail, his eyes flickering towards it. When he snatched it out of her hands, cradling it against his cheek, Misaki couldn't help laughing.

"It's only hair. It'll grow back eventually."

"But not soon enough," he murmured, pulling her close to him. "I liked the way it fanned out around you when I made love to you."

Misaki blushed as it was the first time he ever talked this way, but she wasn't embarrassed by what had happened between them. Instead, she wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him tight. He did things she never expected of him from time to time, but that was what made it so special. She had all the time in the world to learn more and more about him.

"So where are we going to go?" Misaki asked softly.

"Up north to their neighbour. We'll go to Canada."

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A/N: And that's a wrap!

Canada... hehe~ Though they're on the wrong side (from where I am), it's still quite clever - I thought. And yay for them being together! FINALLY!!

I hope you liked the story!! :)