Sunrise, Part 2

(Some mature content in this chapter, but nothing particularly explicit.)

It had become dark outside at some indiscernible time, and the quiet of night had descended somewhere in the space of time in which Miho was talking on the phone. The lights to the studio had not been switched on yet, and the mellow glow of street lights filtered in to dimly light the room. She sighed, gazing out at the city that was quickly becoming quiet.

"Misaki is pretty amazing," Natsuki said softly, fidgeting against Miho slightly. They had sat together through the conversation, and now that it had ended she was feeling rather restless. Miho smiled.

"She's come a long way." Miho replied, adjusting her arms around Natsuki. "She's really grown up. I don't think I'm even ready to acknowledge her college days are over."

"We can still play seniors," Natsuki leaned her head back into Miho's shoulder. "It doesn't really matter whether she is in school or not, right?"

"Seniors? I got the impression we were Misaki's happy gay family." Miho said half-jokingly. "She is over here practically every week. I guess that makes you my wife."

"Is there a problem with that?"

"Not really."

Silence filled the room for several moments, and Natsuki closed her eyes as she nestled into Miho. It was a pleasant experience, made even better by the fact that it was the long awaited weekend.

"You think Hatoko will want to meet us?" Miho asked, knowing full well it was a ridiculous question.

"I kind of feel like she is part of the family already. We've never met her in person, but... Somehow I imagine the four of us will have lots of good times." Natsuki turned her face into Miho's neck and kissed it. "You're looking forward to meeting her, aren't you?"

Miho brought a hand up to Natuski's head and played with her hair as she considered her answer. "I have been for a long time. I kind of feel like it's hard to fully understand Misaki and her dedication if you don't know about her second half."

"That's a good way to put it." Natsuki mentioned easily, placing her free arm around Miho's waist.

Miho leaned her head into Natsuki's affectionately, letting her hand come to a rest in the midst of Natsuki's slightly ruffled hair.

"What do you think they are doing now?" Miho asked simply.

"That's not really a decent question to ask, Miho." Natsuki scolded playfully.

"It was an honest question," Miho countered in the same playful manner. Natsuki shifted against her again, but this time her face was in front of Miho's, and her lips were slightly parted. Her eyes glittered in the dim light.

"Do you actually want an honest answer?"

"Not really."

- - -

The evening's dinner was a pleasant experience. It had been some time since Misaki had been able to prepare a meal for Hatoko, and she was clearly relishing in the opportunity this particular night, just as much as Hatoko was savoring every morsel. Savoring every moment.

Yet hidden beneath the idle chatter was a certain intensity. Hatoko was brimming with the youthful energy that Misaki had grown accustomed to, and Misaki was curiously pacified when it came to the details of the dinner that night, and rather she was now quite entranced by the wonderful girl she had grown to love over the years. And when either girl spoke, there was a certain sense of understanding. Of both recognizing a certain something else that seemed to flood the small apartment.

And that something else was there. Hidden behind the pretense of a nice dinner was a deliberate longing; the feeling of waiting years for a realization and now being in the last few tender, yet exciting moments of that long wait. A wait that was now culminating memories that would last forever.

"I'm glad you are enjoying yourself, Hatoko," Misaki mentioned, smiling as she gazed across the table, her eyes following the movements of Hatoko's soft lips. It had been only several months ago when, during one cool autumn afternoon when both girls had managed to smuggle an hour away in the privacy of her old favorite cafe, she had taken an interest in the captivating positions of Hatoko's lips.

"How could I not? You always were an excellent cook," replied Hatoko easily as her mind wandered around the delicate landscape of Misaki's upper body. "Though, everything tastes a hundred times better tonight."

"Can you guess why?" Misaki said softly, her tone slipping into an area that signaled the trivialities of dinner would be over soon, whether her guest wanted them to be or not.

"A secret ingredient?" Hatoko started, her eyes fixated on Misaki, observing intently. She had settled down from half an hour before, however she now found herself restraining from smothering the older girl who sat cross-legged only a few feet from her. It was in vain, however.

Misaki moved quickly, one arm closing around Hatoko's head as she pounced the girl without warning, sending them to the floor with Misaki on top. A mischievous smile spread across her face as she gazed down at the surprised, curious Hatoko underneath her stare who soon began to breath anxiously.

"Ah, I seem to have gotten the secret ingredient all over you." Misaki leaned down to kiss the slightly bewildered girl teasingly, her lips meeting the corner of her prey's lips and lingering for only a second.

"I don't really mind..." Hatoko began softly, squirming gently as her mind raced with possibilities.

"Maybe you need a bath now that I've gotten you all dirty," Misaki replied, her tone still vaguely authoritative but definitely borderline tormenting. Her hair framed her face, hanging down from mostly one side and gently brushing against Hatoko's warm cheeks.

Hatoko smiled, grasping for control of her feelings as she noticed she was being carried away by them yet again. By a Misaki that was certainly intent on teasing her. Teasing her with a resolute vehemence that would not allow for anything more then just that, and nothing more.

"Me dirty? Your motives aren't exactly angelic," Hatoko countered, her hands roaming to the hem of Misaki's shirt, finding their way underneath to the soft skin of her sides.

"Angel? I was always the Deus. But I guess, if we are both dirty..." Misaki adjusted her tone to something a little more her style, "Let's get a bath."

- - -

The last time Misaki had seen Hatoko bare was on the night of her eighteenth birthday. They had bathed together at that time as well, and it had become a part of the sacred memory of that wonderful day.

The sacredness of that moment was reflected in Misaki's tenacious hold of the story from Miho for nearly two years after it had happened, and it had only been pried from her when she was recollecting her birthday after a tumultuous evening. Miho had driven over that night and picked her up from her Mother's house, and they had made their way back to Miho and Natsuki's apartment.

Natsuki was unfortunately away on a business trip, and Misaki clearly remembered that Miho was rather lonely as well. In the privacy of the living room, in the presence of camaraderie, Misaki found it easy to share the full story of her birthday. There wasn't anything about it particularly embarrassing... But it was sacred. It was most definitely sacred, and it was easy to understand why: Misaki had held on to that memory as if losing it would kill her. It was fair to say that losing it probably would have.

Misaki smiled, letting her clothing drop to the floor easily, letting the earlier excitement laze about in the warm air of the bathroom. It was hard to be embarrassed when in the past special moments such as this were few and far between, and in this case the last moment was years ago. For the same merit, she thought it might be nice to stop teasing Hatoko for awhile. She moved to fill the small bucket under the faucet.

"It's a little more old fashioned then my Mother's house, isn't it?" Misaki asked. Somehow, even though there was no shower head, cleaning up was marvelously better because she was in her own home, a place that she paid rent for every month under her own power.

"It is, but I think I like it more. I will allow you the pleasure of dumping water on me." Hatoko laughed, sitting down on the small stool near the faucet. "While your at it, I wouldn't mind a cleaning either."

"You read my mind," Misaki replied, smiling at Hatoko's enthusiasm for a closeness. She had laid on the tormenting a little thick perhaps, but at the same time she distinctly remembered always being this physical with Hatoko, though minus a few intimate details. She dumped a portion of the water on Hatoko and lathered the mesh sponge with her favorite pleasant smelling soap. "It's been too long, I missed this part of our sleepovers."

"We only did it a few times," Hatoko reminded, smiling as the sponge moved in circles on her back, resisting the urge to let Misaki know what was actually running through her mind.

"I guess you're right, it was only when we were home alone. That was practically never." Misaki adjusted Hatoko's hair to her right. "I wonder what would have happened if my Mother came home."

"She probably wouldn't have cared."

"You're probably right. I guess it's not a big deal, I thought it was though. Arms up."

"That was you being embarrassed," Hatoko explained. She adjusted on the chair as she raised her arms for Misaki. "You were never embarrassed in public, but whenever anyone was around at home you were always over-cautious. Well, you became that way. It wasn't always like that."

"Maybe a little," Misaki admitted, "I guess bathing together is not unlike the people that go to the public bath houses, right?"

"They generally aren't idols, both girls, washing each other, and in a relationship though, right?" Hatoko asked honestly, her tone now barely reflecting her rampaging feelings from only minutes earlier, her ears ready to listen keenly, anxiously, to Misaki's reply.

"Hmm..." Misaki's scrubbing paused momentarily as she took in Hatoko's words, blushing slightly. It was the first time that she had mentioned they were in a relationship. It was a special moment and she locked it away in her heart. "That's true... Say, were we in a relationship on my birthday? Does that count?" Misaki brought Hatoko's arms back down to their side.

"At some point it happened unofficially, not really sure when though."

"I didn't really start thinking of it that way until I met the Yukihanajyo..." Misaki pondered, reaching for the shampoo. "Ah, close your eyes for me," Misaki poured warm water into Hatoko's hair, following shortly thereafter with a dollop of shampoo. "The Yukihanajyo girls are great, though. I'm glad Shiori joined eventually, too."

Hatoko's eyes remained closed, half because she didn't want shampoo in her eyes, and half because she wanted to revel in the attention and care she was receiving. Misaki massaged the soap into her scalp in much the way that way she remembered from years ago. She sighed peacefully.

"I'd like to meet her one day."

"It's soon now." Misaki smiled thoughtfully, and noticing Hatoko's eyes closed, she poured water though Hatoko's hair as she rinsed out the soap.

"Soon? Kind of like everything else we've been waiting for?" Hatoko wiped the water from her face and turned to face Misaki, a faint blush spread across her cheeks. Her wet hair clung to her face, and Misaki couldn't help but smile again. She couldn't help but feel a warm tingling run though her body, too. She was beautiful, quite beautiful, but maybe more so because of her direct and natural honesty.

"Kind of like that."

"And, do you plan on washing my legs and front side too?" Hatoko asked teasingly, breaking the peaceful calm that had lasted ten short minutes.

"What if I do?" Misaki replied in the same tone, though Hatoko was clearly back in the game, trying to rile her up. This wasn't the first time that they had played this game, though having already been worked up from earlier, Misaki was particularly susceptible, and Hatoko was particularly keen to take advantage of her.

"I've got candy."

"Hatoko!" Misaki exclaimed in surprise. Hatoko laughed, handing the soapy sponge to Misaki. "I'm not sure if you were aiming for something ironic or purposefully crass, but still..."

"Still? Oh, so you want candy then?" Hatoko asked again, and Misaki fidgeted.

"What if I do?"

"Soapy boobies and your halfway there."

"Hatoko!" Misaki blushed, though it wasn't particuarly because she minded washing Hatoko's breasts. Even with all her exposure to Miho and Chitose, it was clear that she couldn't resist Hatoko's words. They seemed to go right to her heart and shout 'Blush Misaki, blush!', or make her heart race or melt, or a combination thereof. It was also clear that Hatoko had done well when it came to developing perverse ideas and witty remarks. That and Hatoko must have had an amazing penchant for revenge for all Misaki's teasing that night.

Misaki sighed, trying to control the hungering nature that she was suddenly being powerfully reminded of. She brought the sponge to Hatoko's chest. It was hard to tell whether or not she was teasing Hatoko more, or if Hatoko was the one teasing her, and she was caught in a vicious cycle of essentially teasing herself. Hatoko let out a whimper, and regardless of whether it was on purpose or not, Misaki felt a familiar energy race though her again.

The sponge rubbed across Hatoko's chest with additional pressure, and Misaki soon found that Hatoko's vocalizations would increase and become louder depending on her enthusiasm.

"Having fun?" Misaki whispered, and Hatoko answered with another whimper. It was amazing how such a small amount of physical attention could quiet Hatoko's playful bantering. "You know I'm just going to tease you like before."

"That's mean," Hatoko stammered back softly. "It will be my turn too, you know."

"You have a point," Misaki replied simply. Considering that she had washed up soon before Hatoko had arrived, she wouldn't need another cleaning, but at the same time it might have been too cruel of her to deny Hatoko the privilege of teasing her.

"I suppose I don't mind, anyways," Misaki mused to herself. "Not that I can really stop her."

- - -

"So what do you do at Angelic Layer now? You haven't really talk about it yet." Hatoko asked, closing her eyes and resting her head on the tiled wall. The bath water was warm and pleasant.

"Well, I am still kind of figuring that out. Icchan-san told me recently, 'I may not have a specific position for you right now, but finding people that love Angelic Layer as much as you do is basically impossible.'" Misaki looked across the suds in the bath tub at Hatoko. "And that was how it went."

"He's got that right. You couldn't love Angelic Layer anymore then you already do. You get to play with an angel all day, right?"

Misaki laughed, "Well... You could say that. But Angelic Layer and playing with dolls isn't my only focus any more."

"Oh?" Hatoko wondered aloud, smiling cryptically. "You have another focus?"

"You could say that," Misaki replied teasingly, resting her hand on Hatoko's lower leg and taking hold lightly. "I bet you could never guess."

"Something you love?" Hatoko replied easily.

"Someone I love," Misaki corrected.

"More then Angelic Layer?"

"More then all my years of Angelic Layer." The words slipped from Misaki's mouth easily, but even so her memories of those years flooded back in and she relished happily in them, her eyes closing peacefully. The years were good because her friends were there. They were heaven because Hatoko was there. A short span of time passed before anything else was said and it seemed to Misaki that Hatoko was thinking about same things that she was.

A quiet and subtle splash of water could be heard, and the squeaky rubbing of a foot against the tub echoed softly in the small bathroom. Hatoko was rather fast at repositioning, and before Misaki had fully processed the moment Hatoko was sitting between her legs and leaning back on to her chest. Misaki smiled, opening her eyes and wrapping her arms around the impossibly lovely girl. More tender moments passed, and with each passing a familiar feeling grew within the chests of either girl.

"If you didn't work at Angelic Layer, would you still be happy?" Hatoko asked, breaking the warm quiet that pervaded the steamy, small bathroom. She twirled her finger in the bath water, keenly aware of Misaki's breasts against her bare back, awaiting Misaki's answer. It didn't come very fast, and Hatoko playfully fidgeted lightly against Misaki as the game of the night continued.

The older girl managed to hide her whimper, but her head still dropped lazily next to Hatoko's and came to a rest, their heads touching and their hair mingling freely. Hatoko's breath was easy to hear now, and before Misaki could bring herself to reply to Hatoko's question, she was savoring the delicate sound of several exhales.

"If everything Angelic Layer was taken from me, it wouldn't change anything. Everyday I would still have an Angel, play with her, be with her. Even if there was an ocean between us, I would be with her." Misaki paused in her reverie, a gentle smile on her face: a soft expression that had weathered the years but was still full of life. "I will always have an Angel, and we will always shine on the Layer."

Hatoko was quiet for several moments as the sweetness of Misaki's words filled her in an upwelling of emotions that was rather hard to control. Misaki seemed to register the change in Hatoko, and squeezed her arms around her darling for a moment in reassurance.

"Getting sleepy?" Misaki asked at last.

"Not particularly," Hatoko replied. "Maybe we should get out before we turn into prunes."

"I like that idea. What's after that?" The question wasn't exactly pure, but Misaki was keen to understand and answer to what Hatoko really wanted to hear in the first place.

"Let's cuddle up in bed," Hatoko replied, the words conveyed in a tone that suggested an ulterior motive that was mutually desirable after a long evening of back and forth teasing.

"That sounds good. I hope you don't mind if I keep you up for awhile."

"Not at all."

- - -

A soft ray of Sun shone through the window, warming the room in a pale light. The weekend bustle had yet to begin on the streets, yet the city wildlife had clearly come to and there was a slight racket as various birds called noisily to each other not far from the bedroom of Misaki's apartment.

Stirring as the new day rolled into motion, Hatoko found herself mostly awake in the still somewhat early hours of the pleasant weekend morning. Noticing she had migrated a few inches away from Misaki during the night, she drowsily drifted back over to Misaki's backside and snuggled up against it, placing one arm over Misaki and bringing her close. Part of her wanted Misaki to wake up.

The next realization was that they were still both strip bare, and memories of the night before flooded back into Hatoko's thoughts. With the torrent came the additional realization that Hatoko could relish in the wonderful feeling of Misaki's skin for yet another time in the peace of the morning calm. She sighed heavily, remembering the rather intense intimacy from not long ago. She felt a familiar energy race through her senses like a wildfire spreading through dry brush.

"Oh, not now," Hatoko whispered to herself, now fully awake thanks in part to her tenacious appetite.

"Mmm, Hatoko..." Misaki mumbled, now too stirring from her sleep. Hatoko gave her a squeeze.

"That's me," Hatoko responded playfully in a quiet voice. "I thought I might snuggle up seeing you looking so pretty like."

"I like it," Misaki replied sleepily. She turned over to face Hatoko, blinking her eyes a few times as she awoke. "I missed waking up to you for a long time."

"I'm not sure how you did it," Hatoko said simply, smiling gently.

"Every morning I thought of you," Misaki explained slowly. She yawned, then readjusted herself in Hatoko's embrace. "I missed it, really."

Misaki's eyes wandered to meet Hatoko's, and before they knew it they were gazing at each other with a relatively raptly for just waking waking up.

"I hope you don't get in to much trouble, Hatoko." Misaki sighed, shifting her arm nervously. "I wouldn't want your parents to do something drastic."

"Your cute, Misaki," Hatoko replied sweetly. "Don't worry about that anymore, okay?"

"I can't help myself sometimes," Misaki said softly, her eyes still locked with Hatoko's. She blinked them closed and snuggled her head closer to Hatoko's. "I don't want to go through that again. I don't want you to go through that again."

Hatoko smiled, her free hand beginning to run idly through Misaki's hair. The smell of the shampoo from the evening before was still fragrant, and Hatoko embraced the familiar scent.

"You know, the worst they can do is kick me out."

"That would be horrible of them," Misaki took the opportunity to cuddle closer.

"In that case I hope you wouldn't mind if I was here instead." Hatoko kissed Misaki's cheek. She brushed hair out of Misaki's face delicately.

"Oh, maybe that doesn't sound so bad. I could see you every day."

"I could hold you every morning just like this," Hatoko added, kissing Misaki's cheek again.

"I would like that a lot." Misaki smiled, though Hatoko couldn't see it.

"I would, too." The younger girl had a knack for knowing when Misaki was smiling. Hatoko turned her head to peer down at the partially dozing Misaki in her arms to see the wonderful smile she knew was there. Misaki was beautiful as ever, even when she was lazing about on a weekend morning.

For a short space of time there were no words. None were particularly needed. Rather, the intrinsic understanding of how one another felt for the other was prevalent and it was such that perhaps words were too simple a form of communication. The understanding, something of the heart, of the closeness of their bodies to one another, of the emotional attachment, of memories from the previous evening and the previous years, perhaps lacked a strong word that could convey the comprehension they both felt on a level that was perhaps higher then mind and body altogether.

"Hey, Misaki... Let's play Angelic Layer today," Hatoko suggested, breaking the quiet.

"Okay. So, are you the angel or the Deus?" Misaki tilted her head back from its resting place and gazed towards Hatoko, an interesting expression spreading across her face. An expression that was perhaps lacking the complete innocence it bore only moments before.

"Normally, we are both Deuses and then we can both play with our angels." Hatoko replied smartly, taken aback by the sudden innuendo which had not slipping past her. "Someone is feisty today."

"I can at least enjoy your reaction." Misaki laughed, "I think it would be fun to go play Angelic Layer. Hopefully no one is looking when I do naughty things to your angel."

"I can't help but feel that your friends have worn off on you," Hatoko commented. It certainly wasn't far from the truth.

"Grand Return to the Layer. Lesbian Goddess Hikaru returns from the darkness to take advantage of cute angels." Misaki shot her arm up in the air in challenge.

"Are you going to take their candy?"

Misaki rolled easily on top of Hatoko, and gazed down into her eyes. Hatoko stared back up into the clearly awake and shining orbs of Misaki's that were brimming with youthful energy much like Hatoko remember from the night before.

"Yes. After I take yours. Again."

The sweet kiss that followed was of course only the start of another wonderful day.

Author's Notes: I appreciate everyone following the story. It is now complete, though I may add snippets to it in the future. There are a couple open story lines that I can follow with this plot, however I left them open for now. This story will likely be revised in the next year or so, and this last chapter will probably be revised within the next few weeks. I would have liked to dedicate more time to this story, but at the same time I worry about over perfecting things, or dragging things out so long I can't complete them because I get burned out (kind of like right now). As it is this particular story was only supposed to be ten chapters and should have been finished awhile ago. Regardless, please drop a review and stay tuned for my next planned story which will be following the Simoun universe. Expect a release this Spring or Summer.

Oh, and we may see the Yukihanajyo cast fleshed out more at some point. Stay tuned!