Why hello there, people of Earth! I know I should be writing another chapter for Prince of Paupers but I had this huge surge of inspiration for this manga and I just couldn't get it out of my head. It's just a one-shot, so I won't flake on this one. Well, here ya go!

Warning: This fic is as fluffy as can be…like a chinchilla…

Oh, btdubbs, this is set after they leave the others in Volume 7.

Dedicated to my pal Denise, fluff-lover to the EXTREME!!!!!!!!!

Disclaimer: I do not own From Far Away …but I really wish I did…

Heart Beat

Noriko was awakened by Izark's heavy breathing.

Since they had left the group, the pair had traveled west, the opposite from Gaya's group. They had mostly camped out in nearby forests or fields, sometimes in an abandoned barn if the weather dictated so. Tonight, though, winter's frosty fingers had reached them and they were forced to stay in a local inn for fear of frostbite.

Noriko sat up and watched with sad eyes as the love of her life tossed and turned in the throes of his nightmare. She silently got out of bed and padded over to his side, sitting on the side of his bed.

"Izark," she called gently, touching his shoulder.

What happened next happened very fast. In an instant, his eyes snapped open, he sat up, and his hands found their way around her thin pale neck, pulling her close to his face so that she could see his slit pupils and hear the growl rumbling deep in his chest.

What happened next happened very slowly. Unwavering, she softly laid her small hands over his and looked deep into his eyes.

"Izark," she said softly, fighting to not sound frightened. "Let me go. It's me; I'm not going to hurt you."

His heavy breathing now sounded feral. His hands tightened the tiniest bit around her throat and brought her even closer to him. She made a small sound of pain but continued to stare into his eyes. Gradually, his eyes widened and the glaring yellow returned to endless black. His hands loosened very slowly and Noriko took a deep breath of relief. He was back.

Izark stared at the girl in horror and his face folded into self-loathing. He dropped his head into his hands, hiding from her concerned gaze.

She called his name quietly. He shrank even farther into himself. She put her hand on his shoulder. He shied away from it, ashamed and disgusted with himself. Her breath caught painfully in her throat.

"Izark…"

His head whipped around to face her. His eyes were blazing.

"How can you even look at me?!" he snarled, his voice catching. "I could have killed you…"

"But you didn't."

"BUT I COULD HAVE!" he roared.

She recoiled slightly. Izark's face held such hatred of himself.

"There. Now you're scared of me," he muttered. "Just as you should be."

Her heart nearly broke. She reached out to him again, this time he allowed the touch on his shoulder, rubbing gently at the tense muscles beneath his shirt.

"I'm not scared of you, Izark…I'm scared of what you might do to yourself. You're a good kind man, and I don't want to lose you," she murmured softly.

Izark shrugged her hand off.

"How can you call me 'a good kind man'? I'm a monster! I'm not even human," he spat angrily, his voice submerging into despair.

Now it was Noriko's turn to be angry. She shifted to sit in front of him on the bed. She grabbed both of his hands and placed one on his chest just over his heart.

"Do you feel that?" she asked.

D-dump. D-dump. D-dump. D-dump.

He nodded slowly.

She lifted his other hand and pressed it to her own chest over her heart. His eyes went wide for a moment. Then he felt it.

D-dump. D-dump. D-dump. D-dump.

Just like him.

"Does your heartbeat feel any different from mine?" she asked, softer this time.

He shook his head, mesmerized and calmed by the feeling of her heartbeat under his palm.

Noriko smiled gently. "You see? You are just as human as I am, Izark."

She took his hands in hers and looked into his eyes, begging him to understand. He looked at her and immediately got lost in those big brown eyes of hers. She would never cease to amaze him with her kindness and selflessness and love. He smiled faintly at her. Noriko's face brightened and her eyes glittered with the power of her smile. She laid her head against their hands resting in her lap.

"Thank you," she murmured.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. His hands found her waist and returned the embrace. They didn't release each other for a long time. When they did, she touched his cheek with her fingertips.

"Good night, Izark. Sleep well," she whispered.

She got up to return to her bed, but Izark grabbed her wrist and pulled her back.

"Izark?"

"…Can I listen to your heart again?" he asked quietly. He almost sounded like a shy little boy asking for something.

The organ in question thumped erratically in her chest. She blushed and nodded. He seemed to relax as she sat against the wall, his pillow at her back. She opened her arms to him, smiling gently, her eyes full of love.

Izark allowed the arms to envelope him, his ear pressed against her heart, the thudding a magical sound, full of life and kindness and warmth. He could feel her warm breath on the top of his head, her hand smoothing his long dark hair and the beat of her heart against his cheek. His arms wrapped around her tiny waist. He could feel her ribcage expand and contract inside his arms.

"Noriko…" he whispered.

"Yes?" she whispered back.

"Thank you…for loving me…" he murmured.

She pressed a kiss to his head.

"Thank you for loving me back," she replied, laying her cheek against his hair.

Izark twisted his head up to look into her eyes. She was gazing down at him with such acceptance. He reached up and stroked the side of her face. She leaned down and pressed her lips to his, softly, slowly, perfectly. (A/N: God, I could write romance novels! You guys had better be enjoying this.)

His hand wove through her hair and her arms rested on his shoulders. They broke apart leisurely and she leaned her forehead against his.

"I love you, my hero…" she whispered.

"And I you, my princess."

His head returned to its former place and his eyes closed.

The next morning found them in the same place. Izark's face was serene; his ear was against her heart, lulled by the uniform thudding that filled his consciousness. Noriko's arms were around his shoulders, holding him protectively like she would lose him if she let go, her cheek resting on the top of his head, a faint smile gracing her lips.

All was quiet, save for one sound.

D-dump. D-dump. D-dump. D-dump.

So, that's all folks! Fluffiness to the EXTREME! Read and review! And I'll try to update Prince of Paupers soon. See ya!