I woke up the next day in confusion and despair. It had been such a nice dream, so incredibly perfect and sweet and just what I needed…but now I was awake again and still trapped. But as I blinked my bleary eyes into focus, I found that there was light in the room, the sunlight I had been so starved for lately. I wasn't on a cold, filthy stone floor, but in a soft bed. No cruel Reaper guards…but my darling Sebastian!

"Did you sleep well?" he asked, coming to my side to brush my hair from my face. "You've been unconscious for so long that I was beginning to worry."

"Oh, Sebby!" I cried, throwing my arms around him and clinging tightly as the realization of where I was set it. I nuzzled against his neck and tried not to cry any more, content that he would wrap his arms around me as well. "Mm, I feel so much better. Still sore, but I'm so happy."

"And hungry, I presume?" I pulled away and nodded fervently, causing him to shake his head. But that heavenly smile was still in place, showing that he was being patient. "Stay here, and I'll bring you something to eat." Then he left, leaving me to stretch and roll around happily in his bed. Upon touching my hair, I was delighted to find that it was no longer horribly matted with tangles. It seemed to be a little wavy and frizzy, but I could work it back to its former glory. Pulling my nightshirt off, I started to inspect my body as well. I still had bruises. And it seemed that Will's attacks had gone untreated for so long that they had left scars on my previously perfect skin.

The one on my side was jagged and very defined, terrifying me all over again. I couldn't see my back, but knew there must have been lines there, too. I was too afraid to see what my face looked like; I hadn't seen myself in a mirror in so long. By that time, I was sure I was nothing to look at. The very thought of my ruined beauty brought tears to my eyes even as I tried to stop them; I had worked my whole life to make myself beautiful and had always prided myself on that. And in just a couple of months, William had ruined me. What if Sebby didn't want me anymore? What if he thought I was damaged and useless now? Oh, I couldn't even bear to think about it! When he returned to find me panicked and in tears, he immediately came to my side. He took my face in his hands and turned me up toward him.

"What's the matter?" he asked, obviously concerned for me.

"I…I have scars," I managed. "I was perfect before, and now…do you think I'm ugly, Sebastian?" He let out a sigh when he heard this and kissed my lips.

"Calm down," he said gently. "You're overreacting. Have you seen yourself? The scar on your face is faint. Turn around." I did as he said, hoping he was being honest and not just trying to make me feel better. One of his gloved hands ran slowly down my back, obviously tracing a long wound, and he continued, "There are some here, but again, faint; your hair easily covers them." He then touched my side and hesitated for a moment…before leaning down to softly kiss the scar there.

"No. You aren't ugly," he assured me, brushing my tears away. He smiled, and his eyes roved up and down my body. "You are, however, nearly naked. I took the liberty of visiting Madam Red's manor this morning to retrieve some clothing for you." Before he left, he presented the food he had brought for me, and I was able to control myself much better as I ate this time. He went to his closet and brought back a complete outfit. After I'd finished eating, I started to dress; for once, I really appreciated the fact that my lover was, of all things, a butler.

"The master doesn't know you've returned," he said as he watched me dress. "He likely won't be pleased."

"Why do you say that? I mean, I know he's not crazy about me, but…" I trailed off when I saw the troubled look on Sebastian's face. "What's the matter?"

"Nothing," he replied, shaking his head. "It's a conversation for another time. The important thing now is that you're here, and you're safe. However, I do advise you to avoid him for the moment, meaning you shouldn't wander about the manor. You can stay in my bedroom if you like…or you could to visit your friend in the city."

"Hmph, my friend," I grumbled. "That bastard left me all alone, even when he could've helped me!"

"So he said, but he insisted that it would be better for me to bring you back." When I thought about it like that, he sort of had a point. But I still wasn't going to forgive him that easily.

"Hm. Well, I suppose I don't have anything better to do," I answered. I had finished dressing, but something was still missing. "Er, darling, did you bring my glasses? I've been without them for so long, and it's been a bit distressing."

"No, I didn't see them," he told me, frowning slightly.

"Oh. It's all right; I'll go and get them," I said, crawling carefully up to sit my sore body in his lap. "Mm, I don't want to go. I've been away from you long enough that I don't want to leave your side for a second."

"Don't worry; you'll have me all to yourself tonight," he promised. The very thought was absolute heaven.

"Nothing would make me happier." I kissed his lips sweetly, but all too soon he had to set me back on the bed.

"I should be finished with my duties by nine forty-five," he told me as he adjusted his own outfit to perfection. Catching my longing gaze, he smiled and touched my cheek gently. "Please keep yourself safe until then." I smiled happily as he left the room, reveling in the fact that he was concerned for my safety. What a prince! As soon as he was out the door, though, I was on my feet and looking for a mirror. When I stepped into the bathroom, I found what I was looking for.

But for a moment, I didn't recognize myself. Steeling myself against my fear, I stepped forward for a closer look. There was a line starting just above my right eyebrow, going down and across. It ended a few centimeters from the edge of my mouth. All the way across my beautiful face, splitting me in two. And since it was a scar from a Death Scythe, I would probably never be whole again. And no glasses to hide it! Just a mane of untamed, messy red hair. I took a hairbrush to it, but to no avail; even tangle-free, it still refused to be straight and smooth. Probably a result of leaving it in tangles for so long. Realizing there was nothing I could do, I let out a sigh and combed my bangs down in front of my face. As much as I hated to hide myself, I felt naked without my glasses. But with the scar covered up, I looked almost back to normal. Almost.

First things first. I needed to go get my glasses. Trying to be optimistic (by remembering that I was no longer in jail), I snuck out of the manor, making sure to avoid being seen. As I walked toward Madam Red's, I couldn't help but smile at the warmth of the sun. Battle scars aside, I had returned to the world of the living from a place of hopeless darkness, and I felt alive like I hadn't in a long time. I was so pleased with the world around me that I seemed to reach my old mistress's home in moments. However, when I went to my bedroom to look, my glasses were nowhere to be found. Starting to panic a bit, I went through jewelry boxes and searched under the bed, looking everywhere, but it was no use. They simply weren't there. Suddenly, a horribly plausible thought came to mind: what if Will had taken them? If that were the case, I would surely never see them again. How awful!

With my mood brought down once more, I left and started out toward London. I was doing as Sebby had suggested, going to visit my "friend" the Undertaker. Like it or not, he was going to answer for abandoning me like that—not that I really had any method of threatening him anymore. Oh, what kind of Reaper has no Scythe? They had practically taken away my teeth! Humans certainly had nothing to fear from me. Sure, I could kill them by other methods, but it wouldn't be the same.

Needless to say, I was thoroughly depressed by the time I reached the morgue. Inside, I found my so-called friend poring over some book of anatomy.

"Milady, how nice to see that sir butler kept his word," he said without looking up.

"What word is that?" I asked, hanging back by the door in cool irritation.

"Why, his vow to rescue you, of course. He was quite upset when he heard what had happened. He swore on the spot to bring you back," he informed me. At those words, my stomach filled with butterflies. Oh, Sebby! "Are you still irritated with me?"

"A little," I answered, trying to mask my delight. "Even if you did tell him, you left me there all alone for so long! You could have at least said something."

"Forgive me. I wasn't sure of how he would react to the news. I didn't want to give you false hope." At that point, he looked up at me and grinned. "However, it seems you've done an admirable job of winning him over." Hearing that, I couldn't help but smile back.

"You really think so?" I giggled, rushing over to his little desk. "Well, last night…he did say we were lovers."

"Yes, it seems he's thoroughly ensnared in your crimson noose. Well done, milady." Considering we had so much to talk about, and the fact that he had told Sebby where to find me, I couldn't stay mad. I had missed having someone to talk to too much. I started to tell him about our encounter with Will, but at some point in my theatrical retelling, I must have tossed my head the wrong way; he interrupted me by reaching up to push my bangs aside. I just knew he was looking at my awful scar, and I deflated a little.

"Such a shame," he said, reaching up to trace the full length of it. "And completely uncovered, too…"

"It's not my fault; I can't find my glasses anywhere," I told him in despair. "I don't know what I'm going to do." He didn't answer right away, sitting back in his chair.

"I could tell you the details of your current situation, if you like." He had gotten so serious all of a sudden, which kind of worried me; I never saw him this way.

"What do you know about it?" I asked, taking a seat on his desk. For the first time, I could see the side of him that was undeniably a Reaper.

"Naturally, after running away as you did, you're a fugitive from the Court. You saw them destroy your Scythe; they've more than likely done the same with your glasses." Upon hearing that, I let out a squeak of despair. "It's doubtful that you'll be getting either item back."

"Oh," I breathed. My hands reached up to over my face, so easily able to hide my eyes. What was I, without those crucial things? They may not seem important, but to a Reaper, they're everything. "Well, what does that mean for me?"

"As I'm sure you know, you can no longer harvest human souls; the Court certainly won't give you assignments. Of course, there's been no change as to what you truly are. You're still an immortal, still a god of death. But you can't be called a Reaper by occupation."

"I see," I muttered quietly. What else could I say? What could I do about it? If I tried to go back and protest, they would just lock me up again; Reapers were the type to hold a grudge for centuries. I could never go back home. The realization of that hit me then, and it was just too much to handle. I lay down on my back, stretching across my friend's desk with one hand over my forehead.

"That's it. I'll just have to die," I muttered dramatically. "So much has changed and I can never be the same again; this me can die and I'll start over." The Undertaker grinned once more and stood up, allowing his businesslike attitude to disappear. As he leaned over me, his hair fell down off of his face, and for once, I could see his eyes. And he wasn't wearing glasses, either!

"If death is what you want, milady, allow me the honor of performing your funeral rites," he suggested, keeping my gaze. So strange to see those eyes when they were always hidden. They were the same color as mine, but different: older, deeper. I nodded at his suggestion.

"Who better to help me move from one life to the next? A legend like you has plenty of experience doing so, I'm sure. And besides, you were the same as me before. You were a Reaper, too, and you choose to move on to something else here in the human world. So why not me?" I reached up to thoughtfully to touch the most prominent scar on his face. Were we so different?

Lying back again, I crossed my arms over my chest. "Go ahead, then." He giggled softly and lay one hand on my head.

"Today marks the end of a lifetime. This lady has lost so much that she can never regain, but she will find new solace in the future. May this lady, once a Soul Reaper, relinquish her grasp on the world she cannot return to. May she escape the bonds placed on her by some distant immortal Court and be reborn into a life in which she serves no one. Ehehe~," he laughed, pausing in his eulogy briefly. "Our prayers are for her freedom, as we all find liberty in death. Amen!" What a lovely service; I couldn't have asked for better.

"Thank you," I muttered as I sat up. "But…I don't really feel reborn."

"I'm afraid I can't do that part for you," he admitted as he sat back down. "You'll have to create your knew life yourself."

"Hm. You're right. But I don't know where to start," I confessed with a frown.

"Think for a moment," my friend advised. Running his fingertips across his lower lip, he offered, "What hasn't changed? What constant can you go back to?"

"Sebastian," I said without hesitation. The Undertaker grinned.

"And there you are. You have your starting point. Ehe~…"

"Hm. I guess so," I replied. He was right; if there was one thing I wanted to hold onto above all else, it was my beloved Sebby. Hopping up from my perch on the desk, I took a step back. "Thanks again, but I think I think I should be near him right now."

"Very well; until next time, milady." I started to leave, but he halted me at the door. "Ahem. If I may, I suggest you wear your hair away from your eyes. It's difficult to start a new life when seeing through a curtain."

"You would know," I teased. As I left, though, I nervously pushed my bangs back. If I was starting over, I would have to accept myself the way I was and just try to move forward…no matter how hard it was. After spending a while in a morgue, the world outside seemed so bright and cheerful. It seemed that every time I stepped outside, the brightness shocked me again. I would just have to get used to not being in prison. Another side effect of my captivity was that I was starting to feel a little anxious about being outside and alone. The feeling of being constantly in danger of being dragged back just wouldn't fade. So, still a little apprehensive, I started back toward Phantomhive manor.

To be perfectly honest, I was terrified to find out what my future would hold. I was struggling to embrace it, to not be afraid, but what could I be, if not a Reaper? That was all I knew. What would I do with myself? Probably just get in Sebastian's way. More than usual, that is. I just hoped he would put up with me while I tried to figure out my new lot in life.

When I reached the mansion, I figured it would be better to go in from the back, so I circled around. But before I could get inside, something caught my attention.

"Meow?" I stopped in my tracks and looked down to see a black cat weaving her way through my legs. Could it be? I bent down to look at her, and she gazed back at me with familiar orange eyes. "It is you! But how did you get here?" She started to rub against my knee, purring. Well, it didn't matter to me; a familiar face to keep me company while Sebby worked was certainly a welcome sight. So I gathered her up in my arms and carried her inside, hurrying quickly to Sebby's room. Once there, I lay down in his bed, and she settled down next to me. How strange that Sebby's girlfriend was my Miss Kitty. Maybe she only came to help me because she knew he missed me. In which case she did it for him and not me, but it made no difference; if she had warmed up to me enough to be friends, I could share him. A little.

"You know, I think you and I are alike in some ways," I told her. "We're both beautiful ladies. We both love Sebastian. We both like to be waited on. And we both crave attention." I scratched her head, and she purred her agreement, apparently just glad to be loved on.

"What a lovely sight." We both immediately perked up at the sound of Sebastian's voice in the doorway. "It's nice to see the two of you getting along."

"I think we've come to an understanding," I told him, crawling forward on the bed and reaching out for him.

"I can't stay long; I was only checking to see if you had come back." Still, he stepped forward and kissed me slowly and sweetly.

"Mh. When will you come back for the night? I've missed you so much, darling; I can't stand being away from you." I wrapped my arms tightly around his neck and continued, "I need you." He let out a sigh in my ear, and I shivered.

"I know it's difficult. Believe me, I'm starting to get impatient myself." He ran his fingers through my hair and I melted a little. Knowing that he wanted me back made me feel immensely better. Then Miss Kitty sauntered over, and Sebastian's attention turned to her. I watched in jealous irritation as he pulled her up into his lap and pet all the way down her sleek body, smiling slightly.

"Hmph. You know, Sebby, while I was away, this kitty visited me in the Reaper realm," I informed him.

"Oh? How impressive. I take it the two of you got to know each other a bit in that time," he answered, not looking up from her.

"That's right. She kept me company for a long time. It's kind of funny; I always thought she wanted you for herself," I giggled, and he glanced up at me.

"Don't be ridiculous. She is beautiful…" Reaching up to me, he ran his fingertips up my chin. "But only one creature can be called my pet. I'm sure she realizes that." He then stood, picking her up. "With that said, I'm afraid she can't be inside. You'll have to wait for me alone." Letting out a frustrated sigh, I lay back in his bed.

"Fine. I'll be right here if you need me," I whined dramatically as he left. I hated it when I was alone. Things moved so slowly when I was alone. But there was nothing to be done about it. So I doffed my coat and rolled around in his bed for a bit, quickly getting bored and falling asleep. Recall that I had been deprived of sleep for two months. I think I deserved a nap or two.

I woke when the door opened, and I hastily scrambled up in fear, only to see Sebastian stepping into the darkened room. Embarrassing. But that sight was so comforting that I could relax and watch him pull his jacket off and hang it up.

"Hello, darling," I called sweetly, and he smirked in my direction. Oh, those eyes, those lips.

"While you were gone," he said as he prepared for bed, slipping out of his vest, "did you find your glasses?" Ugh.

"Mph. Not exactly. But I think I know where they are," I mumbled sadly. He must have sensed my sadness, because he didn't press the issue.

"We can talk about it when you like." He took a seat on the bed next to me and smoothed my sleep-mussed hair. "Though it is a bit strange to see you this way. The only time you take them off is when we're in bed. But I feel as though I'm seeing more of you."

"Oh. So, you don't mind that they're gone?" I asked, nervously brushing my bangs aside.

"Of course not. Their absence just lets me see you better, and I've no objections to that."

"That's such a relief." I moved closer and made a smoochy-face at him. "Now kiss me."

"Gladly." In an instant, he was in bed with me, pushing me onto my back and kissing my breath away. It was so funny to think that, not too long ago, he was completely averted to the idea of kissing me at all. But I could only think of that for a moment; he was already starting to undress me, holding my attention fully.

"Mm, Sebastian…it's been so long, love," I breathed as his mouth played down my neck. I had missed him so much; this attention was utter bliss. Then he leaned on me a bit and— "Ow!"

"What's wrong?" He quickly pulled away.

"I…I'm sorry. My body's still a little sore," I admitted sadly. To my horror, he backed away from me and sat up.

"I'll let you rest, then. You aren't ready yet," he decided.

"N-no! Sebby, please, I want to," I whimpered, sitting up and grasping at his shirt. "I've been without you for so long; I can't stand it anymore!"

"I can't ask you to," he argued, shaking his head. "Your body is still recovering, and I don't want to hurt you…in an unpleasant way." O~h!

"But Sebby, I want to," I insisted. I wanted him so badly, and if we couldn't just because of my stupid body, I would feel awful! "I can handle it, I promise! You'll just have to be gentle. Can you do that for me, love?" I lay down on my back, displaying just how fragile I was and batting my eyes at him. He debated for a moment but quickly gave in and smiled at me.

"Contrary to what you might believe, I can be gentle when necessary." He kissed me again, so soft and slow that it eased all my apprehension at once. My shirt was already unbuttoned, so he helped me out of it, running gloved hands slowly down my bruised torso.

"Oh my…" I breathed, arching and shivering at those feather-light touches.

"Are you all right?" he asked teasingly. Straddling my hips, he let me watch in fevered anticipation as he unbuttoned his shirt and dropped it to the ground. One glove came off, and he offered me his other hand. He was letting me help him undress in that singularly sexy way he did, watching as I pulled his other glove off with my teeth. Then his mouth was at my chest, teasing me sweetly. My fingers found their way into his hair, holding him close. His every move was so slow and deliberate. I could feel it all so well, and I felt so close to him. It was wonderful.

"Sebastian," I said softly as his fingers carefully traced my hips. "Mm, I've missed you so much. Your kisses and your hands on my skin…I want to make up every minute of lost time."

"It's nice to know my affection means so much to you, my pet." He unfastened my pants, and his lips went to my ear. "All the time you were gone, I found myself losing sleep. My bed was…missing something." His fingertips crept into the edge of my underwear, and my breathing faltered. It was all I could do to hold still as he pulled them slowly downward, leaving me completely bare now. He gazed at me in silence with a smirk on his lips, admiring me in my delicate state.

"Wh-what is it?" I asked, blushing and squirming from being inspected so.

"Would you rather I not look at you?" His answer was another question, but all his concentration seemed to be focused on my skin as he stroked his hand down my thigh.

"Well…I know I don't look as good as before," I mumbled. "I wish I—" My words cut off as he lay one finger over my lips.

"Stop saying those things. You're perfect." His lips met mine, and I had never felt more beautiful in my life. Hearing him say that brought tears to my eyes, but suddenly I felt better about my whole situation. If he wanted me, I must be just right. If he could look at me and say that I was perfect, I was. I didn't need my glasses. I could do without my Scythe. Bruises and scars and emotional damage all…if I was what he wanted, I didn't want to change a thing.

"Oh, darling," I breathed, running my fingers through his hair. "Please…don't stop." With his charming smile still in place, he reached up to slide his fingers into my mouth. While I was distracted by that, he started to kiss my neck softly, all the way from my shoulder to my ear. He pressed down on my tongue, and I let out the softest whimper. Control me however you want, love.

"Hmm, or maybe 'perfect' isn't enough." Oh, that voice; it made me shiver all over. His hand pulled back so I could breathe properly, already excited and feverish from his sweet words. He paused for a moment to retrieve our little bottle from a drawer in his nightstand, leaving me to shiver in anticipation. So conscious of my comfort, he made sure his fingers were nice and slick and started off slow, only slipping one inside and letting me moan and squirm to adjust to his presence.

"Oh my," I breathed. "It…really has been a long time."

"It has. I've missed this," he answered, making my heart sigh. His hand moved, and my hips met it, more eager than I'd been in a while. Struggling to see through my quickly-clouding eyes, I reached up to slide my hand between his legs and touch him, too. Of course, he was still wearing his pants, so I couldn't use my full skills, but he did sigh softly. "Mh, you shouldn't… You'll wear out my patience."

"I think you'll be fine." He was starting to get hard already from my touch and from being inside me. Once he was sure I could take it, he pressed another digit inside, and I let out a delight moan, quickly unfastening his pants. When my hand touched his bare skin, he let slip another brief sound of pleasure; he really had missed me!

"O~h, Sebby," I panted, writhing and angling my hips for him, a little distracted as my hand stroked him. By that point, with me obviously so needy, his patience must have been wearing thin. As he slid a third finger inside, I was forced to grab hold of the sheets beneath me. I bit my lip to keep from hissing in pain as I struggled to accept so much after so long. Even if it was all wet and the friction was easy, he was still moving quickly—not that I would've stopped him.

"You're doing well," he told me quietly, running his free hand slowly up my leg and back down.

"Th-thank you, love," I breathed, moving to help him. Maybe I wasn't as ready as I could've been, but I wanted him so badly that I couldn't care less. "I don't want to wait anymore."

"You're sure?" Even as he asked, it was obvious that he wanted it, as he took his hand away and slipped easily out of his clothing.

"Mm-hm." I could hardly stand waiting, watching him rub wet fingers up and down the length of him. It was like I wanted him more every moment I couldn't have him. As he knelt over me, I wrapped my arms around his neck. "I'll be fine. Take me, darling…" He smiled and kissed my lips once more, pushing inside slowly and carefully. As much as I tried to stay quiet, I found myself moaning into his mouth. Despite how much he must've wanted it, he went slowly for my sake, taking his time rocking slowly deeper and deeper, one hand moving between my legs to make it easier for me. Could I have possibly asked for better treatment? Once we were fully connected, whole and one, I broke away and tried to catch my breath, clinging to him tightly. I almost couldn't handle—

"Ah…" My eyes opened wide at that sound. Glancing upward, I found my love gazing down at me in a way I had never seen before. Eyes half-lidded, lips parted and breathing heavily, cheeks softly flushed… Oh, he was gorgeous. When he spoke, his words were quiet and so intimate, "Mm, you're incredible." Very slowly, he moved out, and then back, giving me time to adjust.

"Oh…darling," I breathed softly, doing my best to keep calm. But no matter if it was hard, being with him was completely worth it. My arms clung tightly around his neck as I tried to regulate my breathing. He must have felt me trembling, because he leaned down closer so his chest met mine. He didn't put any weight on me, just stayed close and kept me warm. So sweet.

"Relax," he said. "You've nothing to fear, my pet. Trust me." Oh, the butterflies he put in my stomach… A soft sigh escaped my lips, and I tried not to be so tense, allowing him to move more easily. It took a few moments of him going very slowly, but I eventually started to get used to the feeling again. And all that friction and heat felt better than ever, pulling a delighted moan from my mouth. Sebby realized that I was all right now, so he started to speed up.

"Oh…oh my," I gasped, gripping his shoulders tightly and trying so hard to keep quiet. He seemed pleased to see me so flustered, and that smirk on his lips drove me crazy.

"Mh, it's been too long," he told me, still close enough that I could feel his breath on my neck. "I was starting to get…nh, restless. Things were much too quiet…without your voice always in my ear."

"Oh, Sebastian," I murmured, flushed from excitement. Honestly, hearing those brief pants and moans as he spoke was almost too much! "Mm, my voice is yours…any time you want it."

"It absolutely is." To illustrate this, he started to move faster, a little harder, forcing me to whimper so I wouldn't moan out loud. It was so hot, so good that I could hardly breathe. And it was getting immensely harder for me to keep myself quiet. When he reached that so-deep, perfect spot, I had to clamp one hand over my mouth in an attempt to muffle myself. Upon seeing that, he frowned. "Is something wrong?"

"I…d-don't want to—mh!—get you in trouble," I managed.

"Don't worry about that," he replied with another kiss. And with his lips against mine, I was just sharing my moans, completely captured and caught up in him. And he was moving and…oh, God, I was getting so hot! My love, he was so perfect, so gentle, so…incredible! No one but him could make me feel so wanted, so precious. No one but my beautiful, beloved demon could be worth everything I had given up for him…but he was, and I would've done it again in a heartbeat. As long as I could have his attention, his kiss, I didn't need anything else.

When he finally broke away from me to breathe, we were both panting heavily.

"Ooh…Sebastian…mm, close, darling! A~h, so good…!"

"Mh, you sound beautiful, my pet," he breathed in my ear. "Come for me and let me hear more…"

"Yes, yes—ah—Sebastian!" I cried out just the way he wanted as he pushed me over the edge. I couldn't begin to keep myself quiet, moaning out my pleasure for him as he reached his breaking point, too. Then his arms were tight around me and he fell to lie on his back, holding me as close as possible as we were both wracked with ecstasy. "Oh, oh, Sebastian, I…oh, God, I love you." I kissed him firmly, wanting to stay there in the safety of his arms forever.

Then I was crying again, and I nuzzled into his chest to hide my tears. He let out a sigh as his breathing slowed, stroking my kinky hair gently.

"What's wrong? Did I hurt you?"

"N-no," I sobbed, shaking my head. "No, no. I just love you. I love you so much." He didn't answer…but I didn't expect him to. We had been in that relationship long enough by then for me to realize that he wouldn't love me, maybe he couldn't. But he didn't have to. I would just love him enough to make up for it. As long as he would stay with me and keep treating me so sweetly, I could compromise. So I snuggled close to him, slowly stroking my fingertips down his chest.

"Thank you…for being so kind," I mumbled. When I turned my eyes up toward his, he looked distant and unhappy, which immediately had me worried. There I was so content, and he looked upset. "What's the matter?"

"Nothing," he answered, shaking his head. "You should get some rest."

"Mh. I guess so," I agreed with a sleepy smile, sitting up for one last soft kiss, one he returned firmly. Whatever was bothering him, I was sure he would tell me about it later. But for now, I was exhausted. "Good night."

"…good night." As I was falling asleep, I noticed vaguely that his grip on me tightened, and he breathed a stressed sigh.