The world is quiet. Cold. A gentle wind stirs the sand, the leaves, and barely rustles fabric and hair. Dark, sharp eyes behind the thick lenses of goggles survey the surrounding area, sleep discarded by light restlessness.

Chigusa looked out at the world, a landscape before him that had just that morning been nothing more than bare desert. In its place grew a variety of lush greenery, trees and bright flowers and fruits. All because of the amazing individual that was currently leaning gently against his side, breathing in and out so softly his breath could easily be confused with the sigh of the breeze. Soft, feathery hair similar to but richer than the color of sand fell over barely flickering closed eyes. Long golden lashes brushed soft skin, and there were pale eyelids that Chigusa knew hid the most beautiful, open and kind shade of gentle violet…eyes that made something old and unknown stir in his heart whenever he saw them flash with emotion, especially whenever their lively gaze was directed at him. Those eyes were at the moment closed, set in a gently tan, well-featured face that was currently completely relaxed in the hold of sleep. A long, slender neck was below the sleeping face, attached a thin, fragile frame that pressed slightly, in some places, to Chigusa's side. Shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, knee to calf. Both leaning back against the soft, gently moving side of the stone-wolf Kuro.

Leaning over, Chigusa looked more intently at Rakan's face. The soft looking skin covering a delicate bone structure, the barely there toning of muscle, the light pink of Rakan's slightly open lips…Chigusa took it in. The beauty of this boy was intoxicating. But more than his beauty, his power, and the immense, afore-unreachable hope it stirred. And more than his power, Rakan himself. His light, his heart, his unbelievable kindness. All intoxicating.

Chigusa felt himself frown as he saw Rakan shake a little, realizing it was from the cold. In his sleep, the boy unconsciously curled more tightly into himself, but he still shivered as the wind slowly picked up and the temperature fell alongside.

Though Narushige had constantly warned him against such actions, Chigusa could not simply let Rakan sleep through the cold all night, and so he reached out and gently put his arms around the slender form. Carefully, he pulled and shifted Rakan until the boy was sitting on his legs, his head leaning heavily against Chigusa's chest and tilted slightly to the side. Holding Rakan close, he wrapped his arms around the boy and let his head hang down until his face was next to Rakan's throat. He rested his cheek on the crook of Rakan's neck, feeling the boy's cold flesh against his face. Chigusa breathed deeply, exhaling warm air across Rakan's skin. The boy sighed in his sleep, relaxing against him. He mumbled something as well, but it was too soft for Chigusa to hear.

Chigusa rested against Kuro's side, basking in the feel of having Rakan in his arms. Not only did he like the feeling of simply having the boy's presence there, but also it made Chigusa feel very comfortable to know that Rakan was safe, and that he could protect the boy from anything that might threaten him. Chigusa found that he didn't want to let go.

Absently, Chigusa lowered his head further as he subtly tightened his hold on the slender figure in his arms. He would be content to never let go of Rakan, he felt. Chigusa imagined he would be perfectly satisfied if he could simply keep Rakan in his arms always, close and safe. He paused for a moment, hearing a quiet, low noise from deep in Rakan's body. He rested the side of his head against Rakan's black-clad chest, wanting to hear the steady beats. And there…a low, constant sound, deep and rhythmic and a blissful reassurance that Rakan was alive and there with him, not merely a wishful apparition Chigusa had dreamed…

The steady, strong beating of Rakan's heart was probably the most soothing, most pleasurable sound Chigusa had ever experienced, even more than Rakan's soft voice. Chigusa let out a long, full breath that seemed to take a great weight along with it. A weight that Chigusa hadn't realized had been lingering in his own chest, deep and troubled. He took and released another heavy breath. And all the time Rakan's strong heartbeat, the strength belied by his slight frame and delicate beauty, sounded without pause through the skin of his chest and the black fabric of his clothes. The cloth was soft, but less than Rakan's skin, and was saturated with the gentle, sweet flower scent that was uniquely Rakan.

Chigusa decided with no hesitance that this moment was the most peaceful he could recall ever experiencing. He also decided that this was very important, and resolved to make such situations happen more often, despite how Narushige might protest.

At that moment Rakan shifted a bit in his sleep, and Chigusa waited briefly before Rakan resettled himself in Chigusa's arms, mumbling a bit. Chigusa was a little amused to feel the words rumble in Rakan's chest, still unintelligible but pleasant anyway. Shifting his hold around Rakan's middle, he removed one arm and brought it up to pet Rakan's soft hair. The light-colored threads barely shifted beneath his hand, before he let his fingers mix with the strands and slip through them lovingly. Making a low, happy humming noise in his throat he played with Rakan's feathery hair as he listened intently to the beating of the boy's heart.

Getting a sudden idea, he momentary paused stroking Rakan's hair and listening the low heartbeats to pull his goggles away from his eyes and let them rest at the base of his neck. Bringing up his arm and resting his head against Rakan's chest again, he turned his eyes toward the heart he was listening so intently to. Chigusa could see it, in Rakan's chest, working without pause, and Chigusa thought it was beautiful because it was keeping Rakan alive. That heart was sustaining the life of the most important person in this world, in Chigusa's life. The slow beats he was listening to were truly a marvel. It was a wonderful constant, and firmly grounding.

Throughout the time Chigusa had known Rakan, he had been protecting the boy with all he had. All the strength, all the skill, all the willpower he possessed, from the first time they had met. So far, he had succeeded in keeping Rakan safe, and he certainly intended for that to continue. He could not allow even a single scratch to mar the beautiful being in his arms.

Another long breath, though it seemed that most of the weight that there had been before was already gone, none left to leave him on the air of his breath. Chigusa shifted Rakan in his arms slightly, trying to make the boy more comfortable. Then, with a content smile—an expression that felt amazingly natural for what it was and for who he was—he closed his eyes, not bothering to replace his goggles to their normal position in front of his eyes.

Chigusa looked at the beating heart through closed eyes and listened to its comforting rhythm, a peaceful melody playing itself at Rakan's core. He watched, and he listened, until the comforting sound slowly lulled him to join Rakan in the quiet of sleep.

And the world was warm…

~/~/~/~/~/~/~/~

Silver Diamond truly has an insufficient number of stories for how awe-inspiring it is. You know, the old meaning of "awesome". So, I felt that I should contribute.

Some people may notice that this is somewhat similar to the story This Time Together by Fated-Shadows, which was totally unintentional. I had read that story before I wrote this one, but I only realized that they were similar after I had written the bulk of this story. I assure you all I had no intention of copying Fated-Shadows, so if you insist on badgering me about it I'll snap at you unreservedly. I've been thinking of a scenario like this for a rather long time, so this is my idea too.

By the way, I just really need to brag about this, but I possess volumes 5-17 of Silver Diamond in Japanese. I have the first four in English. Since I am learning Japanese, I can read hiragana and katakana, and since almost all kanji in manga has furigana, I can read all of that, too. Plus I have a fairly good Japanese vocabulary, and I know a moderate amount of kanji. Reading Silver Diamond in Japanese is also helpful for helping me learn Japanese.

Here are some of the character names I've learned to write in kanji:

重華成重

重華重雪

重華三重

千銀千艸

沢羅貫

灯野灯二

灯野一灯

In a list, those names are Shigeka Narushige, Shigeka Shigeyuki, Shigeka Sae, Sengin Chigusa (I couldn't get the kanji for 'rou', it has one less stroke on the top), Sawa Rakan, Touno Touji, Touno Kazuhi, and Miya.

Oh, and for my regular readers, I imagine you're all thinking this:

WHAT

WHAT

TANEYA

WHAT ARE YOU THINKING, POSTING A NEW STORY IN A DIFFERENT FANDOM WHEN YOU ALREADY HAVE LOYAL READERS IN TWO (THREE?) OTHER FANDOMS AND MULTI-CHAPTERED STORIES

Well, kids, it's quite simple. I am a jerk who starts things with a few vague ideas, gets bored, then wanders off to something else. Well, I generally have more than a few vague ideas, and I do come back to stuff when badgered, but yes. I have a tendency to lose interest in things quickly.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed the story, and possibly my inane ramblings, now go do something useful for yourself and eat dessert. I don't care what time it is, chocolate and other sweetness!

Now I want chocolate, darn.

P.S. Has anyone besides me noticed that fan fiction dot net hates web addresses and horizontal lines? Annoying ponces. AND WHO SAYS I CAN'T USE BRITISH-ISMS