It all started with the condoms.
He had idea where they had come from, how she had gotten them, or how long they had been sitting on that coffee table. But when Hei finally noticed those two rubber rings wrapped in plastic, he could not tear his gaze away.
"Yin, did you put those there?"
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her hesitate for a moment before shaking her head. Nevertheless, he knew it had to have been her doing. The question was why she had done it, and why she had lied about it.
The confusion brought on by this event, combined with the paranoia that came from staying in one place for so long, finally convinced Hei that it was time to leave and find a new hideout.
He looked around the room until he found the suitcase the two had been using, and began loading their things into it.
Hearing his actions, Yin approached him.
"We're leaving," he said in response to her unstated question.
Nodding, Yin knelt down and helped him as best she could.
As the two packed, Hei found himself scratching his head as he realized just how many things the two had taken with them when they started this. Moreover, it never ceased to amaze him that one could fit so many objects into such a small suitcase.
As his mind wandered, he failed to see what he was placing into the suitcase until the corner of his eye informed him that there was something pink between his fingers. As his gaze turned to meet the object, the image of two linked cloth cups came into view.
Hei dropped the bra as if it held an ancient curse and looked nervously to Yin. She appeared to have not noticed. He breathed a sigh of relief as quietly as he could and tried to return his heartbeat to normal. Had she noticed, he would have had no idea how to go about explaining that one without sounding like a pervert.
"Have you seen my underwear?"
Choosing a motel for the night was always a difficult task that required careful analysis and deliberation. Cost was an important issue, of course, but there were also things such as defensibility, escapability, and visibility to consider. A hideout was only a hideout if it was hidden, after all.
And so, the two walked hand-in-hand through a run-down section of the town they currently occupied, far from the place they had been staying for the past week. It had rained for most of the day and some of the night, so the two had to dodge puddles as they searched for a place to spend the night. Hei had eliminated each option thus far (one because it was too expensive, one because it appeared to have termite problems, and one because the owner looked at Yin in a way that made Hei very uncomfortable). However, it was almost 1 in the morning, and if this continued Hei would end up having to settle for a less-than-optimal solution.
The two came upon a cheap love motel. Hei didn't give it a second look and attempted to continue on. However, Yin had other ideas. She stood fast and held onto his hand, preventing him from moving. He turned to look at her, and found her gazing at the building he had dismissed.
"What about there?"
Hei noticed belatedly that one of Yin's feet was planted in the puddle they had been walking beside. Apparently, it was just deep enough to allow Yin the use of her power.
"That's a love motel, Yin."
"Is something wrong with it?"
Was she actually suggesting…?
Hei dared to take a second look. Upon closer examination, it didn't seem that bad. There were fire escapes that one could climb down but not up. It was in the right area of town to have just enough crime to keep common folk away, but not enough to attract extraneous amounts of police. And no one would bat an eyelash at a young man and a young woman staying at a place like this.
"All right, we'll stay here."
Yin nodded, and Hei led her towards the building.
Hei had expected peeling wallpaper and broken utilities, but was pleasantly surprised to find the room was reasonably well-kept. The sounds of sex did not radiate from the thick burgundy walls, and the stench of intercourse did not waft up from the bright red carpeting. The naked cupids lining the top of the wallpaper were disconcerting, however. How the image of a nude young boy with mutated physiology and a deadly weapon helped couples to get into the mood was beyond him.
Of course, there was only one bed, but that was only natural. In fact, the two had been sharing beds for reasons of cost since they began running. Hei had long since gotten over the feeling of awkwardness it used to bring. However, the knowledge that he now had to do it in a love motel made it feel different somehow; as if it was the first time all over again.
Yin took a step forward and gently pulled on his hand, leading him inside the room. By the time Hei had locked the door, Yin had already found the bathroom and was changing. When she emerged, she was wearing one of the old shirts he had given her a while back. It fit her like a nightshirt.
Hei couldn't help but notice that she had left several of the buttons at the top undone.
Deciding not to mention it, he shuffled past her to change. When he left the bathroom, he found her sitting at the foot of the bed, almost as if she were waiting for him…
No. He must have been imagining it. She couldn't feel things like that. She knew happiness and sadness and fear, and that was all. She wasn't capable of feeling…that. Pretending she could would only end in disaster.
Shaking off the dangerous thoughts, Hei lied down on one side of the bed.
"It's all right, Yin," he told her. "Try to get some sleep."
Without a word, she moved to her side of the bed and lied down. Hei switched off the lights and tried to follow his own advice.
Unfortunately, this proved to be a doomed effort. After what felt like an eternity, Hei still could not find rest.
Temporarily giving up on sleep, Hei decided to check the time. He knew there to be an alarm clock on Yin's bedside table, but it was turned away from him. He carefully leaned over Yin's sleeping form to reach it.
His gaze shifted back down to Yin. His dark-adjusted eyes noted that she was curled up with a pillow clutched tightly to her chest. Perhaps she was having a nightmare? Were Dolls even able to have dreams?
As he pondered the quandary, Hei absentmindedly brushed a hand over her forehead, and she visibly relaxed as he did so. Nevertheless, Hei jerked his hand away at the movement. If she woke up to find him doing this, what would she think?
Leaving Yin to whatever dreams she might have been having, Hei turned over and tried again to find the rest that had eluded him so far.
Morning came, and Hei awoke to find that Yin was no longer lying beside him. It felt disappointing, somehow.
At first, the only sounds in the room were sloshes of water emanating from the bathroom. Presumably, Yin was inside taking a bath. But as Hei listened closer, he could also make out the sounds of heavy breathing; something he had never known Yin to do.
Then came a sharp but muffled cry. Hei was out of bed and at the bathroom door in an instant.
"Yin, what's going on?!" Hei barked as he opened the door. "Are you all-"
Hei never finished that sentence. His panicked mind had imagined doomsday scenarios of assassins or burglars or rapists, but nothing of the sort was occuring. In fact, the only person in the bathroom was Yin herself, doing…Well, things that Hei had never known Dolls to be capable of doing.
"Sorry!" he exclaimed as he covered his eyes and shut the door in one swift motion.
His mind was still reeling when Yin finally completed her bath. He refused to meet her eyes as she stepped out of the bathroom, finding the floor to be much easier to look at. Once she passed him, he immediately entered and shut the door behind him; not just because he too needed a bath, but also because he couldn't face her right then.
Instead, he gazed at his reflection in the mirror and tried to regain his composure. To his surprise, he noticed that he had developed a slight nosebleed. This was not good. Now his mind was going to be invaded even more by thoughts of her in compromising positions.
He shook the cobwebs from his mind and began locking the door. But then a particularly odd thought struck him.
If she was going to be doing…that…then why did she leave the door unlocked?
At that moment, Hei's brain hit the emergency shutdown switch. Within moments he had stripped off his clothing, stepped into the bathtub, and switched on the showerhead. He didn't even bother turning on the hot water as liquid icicles from above pummeled his flesh. No, what he needed now was a cold shower. A very cold shower.
When Hei finally worked up the courage to leave the bathroom and face Yin again, he found her sitting on the bed as she had done the night before. For some reason, she had chosen not to wear the black overshirt she usually wore, instead opting to leave her shoulders and back exposed.
Great. The last thing he needed right now was to see more of her body than usual.
"Come on, Yin. We need to check out."
"I'm…Not good enough, am I?"
"What?" Hei asked, confused.
Yin gave no clues as to the context of her statement. Instead, she simply stood up and offered her his hand.
Momentarily ignoring it, Hei continued. "Yin, what do you mean you aren't good enough?"
Her head turned downward slightly, and she let her hand drop. But she did not answer.
By the end of the day Hei expected that he and Yin would reach the safehouse. It was one of many that he had secretly set up within Japan back when the Syndicate assigned him to Tokyo.
Hei looked out of the window of the bus he and Yin were sitting in, watching the town as it passed by in the afternoon sun. He vaguely wondered if that was fake as well.
There was a soft click as Yin pressed a button on the CD player she had been listening to. The muffled, unintelligible sounds emanating from her headphones vanished. Then, after carefully placing the electronic device into the bag at her feet, she rested her head on Hei's shoulder.
He wanted to ask her again what she had meant earlier, but he doubted he would get an answer. Plus, he couldn't bring himself to disrupt the moment.
"I'm sorry," she uttered after a few minutes.
Her only response was to close her eyes and drift off to sleep.
Finally, the two of them had reached the safehouse. After a quick meal of ramen and whatever vegetables the two had left, Yin went into the bathroom to change.
For some reason, Hei's mind shifted to the CD player Yin had spent so much of the trip listening to. The muffled sounds he had heard from the headphones as she listened were certainly not music. So what were they?
As Hei rummaged through her bag looking for it, part of his mind told him that this was an invasion of privacy. The more curious part countered with a reminder of what he had done by accident that morning, and the assertion that compared to that this would be nothing.
Finally, he put the headphones on and pressed the play button.
"And so, Tsuki whispered into Kuro's ear 'Because I love you' before trailing kisses down his neck, past those collarbones she loved so much, all the way down to his-"
Hei wisely stopped it there. Why on earth was Yin listening to something like this?
The door opened, and Hei hastily put the CD player back from whence it came in the hopes that Yin would not notice. Unfortunately, as he quickly remembered, it was her sense of hearing he had to worry about. She focused her blank gaze on the bag, and then towards Hei.
Well, he might as well try to salvage the situation.
"You know, there's much better…Stuff out there."
"I know," she replied. "But I…Like that one."
"You know what it's about, right?"
She nodded. "Love."
Then…She did understand what it was? Perhaps then…It wasn't wrong for him to have these thoughts and feelings about her…
"But I can't do it," she added.
"Can't do what? …Love?" he forced out. Even saying the word itself was difficult.
She began nodding, then stopped midway, as if unsure whether that was the right way to put it.
"I wanted to give you my love, but I didn't know how."
"So…If I could not give you that," she continued, "I thought I could at least give you my body. But…Even that isn't good enough. All I've been able to give you is a burden."
Her body? Good enough? This was too much at once.
"So, for these last few days, you were trying to…?"
"And when I didn't…Try anything…That's what you meant when you said you weren't good enough?"
Again she nodded.
Hei's mind connected the dots. These hadn't been embarrassing coincidences. They had been setups.
Well, at least he didn't have to feel embarrassed about them any more.
"Yin," he said as he took her into his arms. "You don't have to give me your body."
She stared up at him.
"You gave me something to protect. You gave me a reason to keep going, when everyone else was gone. You gave me…Someone to love."
Her face registered surprise, something he had never seen from her before.
"So…I am good enough?"
"More than good enough. Perfect. And not just your body."
Somehow, they ended up on the bed a few feet away, with Hei practically lying on top of Yin.
"So…What should I do now?" Yin asked.
"Whatever you want, Yin," Hei whispered, his lips inches from hers.
Her fingers gently grasped his chin and pulled him into a kiss.
When they finally separated, a thought occurred to Hei that for the first time he was not ashamed of.
"I don't suppose you still have those condoms, do you?"
"We'd better not let them go to waste, then, right?"
She nodded, looking happier than she had ever been before, and then kissed him again.
Author's Note: Kuro means black and Tsuki means moon. As if it wasn't obvious enough why Yin was listening to a CD like that...