12\\RUN AWAY

- It was unexpected but he didn't mind. He knew better than to question her and prod into her affairs, not out of the nonsensical fear that she'd take offense but out of the possibility he might find the urge to visit where she came from and give the offending party a piece of his mind.

- His father didn't mind and shot him meaningful smiles and suggestive eyebrow raises but he pointedly ignored all the signs and tried his best to make her feel welcome.

- "You're overdoing it for Sayuri, Yuuichi!" She laughed, face as round and bright as the moon glowing through the windowpanes in her room. "I'm fine, trust me!"

- "I'm just making sure," he apologized, backing out of the room hastily.

- "Wait! I…I'm sorry for causing you trouble," she smiled gently, a little sadly, and he straightened, eyes widening.

- "What? No, don't worry about it," he grinned nonchalantly. "And I'm sorry if my dad is being overbearing, he takes a little getting used to."

- "It's fine," she shook her head, eyes calm as always, though something passed over her small face and she ducked her head.

- "Hey you alright?" Yuuichi blinked, suddenly troubled by the tightness lining her jaws.

- "Fathers can't help but try their best sometimes," she sighed and his breath hitched when she looked up, clearly distressed. "They've got so many responsibilities and they can't tell-"

- "They can be pricks sometimes," he shrugged but stopped but when noticed her face was crumpling.

- "You shouldn't say that…"

- She was finding it hard to choke the words out now and Yuuichi stood awkwardly by the door, not wanting to leave but wishing he could pull someone else in and take over. He didn't understand tears, not even his own, and when a girl broke down and he didn't understand why, what was rational and controlled inside him faded to the point where he became frenzied and anxious, unable to do anything but sputter out useless instructions.

- "H-hey, it's fine," he strode forward and knelt before her, taking one of her hands. "You don't need to say anything, unless of course you want to. And if you want to just go ahead and tell me, even though I won't be able to help you out- but just go ahead and say it still!"

- "I'm fine," she suddenly laughed and he relaxed his shoulders, hopeful. Then he realized tears were still falling and her voice was still trembling and she was trying her best to lie.

- "You know," she mumbled, brushing away the tears clumsily, "your dad is really sweet. He missed you a lot when you were gone, he told me so."

- "Is that so?" Yuuichi ignored the ache in his chest. "You know, you can stay as long as you want. I'm glad you have to work in town for a bit, we can catch up!"

- "Yeah," she smiled and her voice was easing into her familiar sweet rhythm and he didn't try to hide his relief. "Sor-"

- "Don't apologize," he grinned and stood. "Just sleep now, okay?"

- She nodded and Yuuichi paused for a moment, unsure, before leaning over and giving her a brief, one-armed hug.

- "Thank you," came the muffled giggle and he did his best to hide the flush creeping around his ears as he let go and stepped back.

- "No problem," he waved and made his way out quickly, remembering to close the door quietly.

- For some reason his heart was beating a little louder than normal.