Title: Midnight to the Moon is Sleep to the Beloved
Characters/Pairings: Yoh/Haruna, because for it to be otherwise is blasphemy, damn it.
Rating: T. Sexy thoughts and other sexy things, but given that these two are that kind of wholesome...
Notes: I don't know where this came from. Don't ask me-I should be studying lipid metabolism at this point. (Ew.) Also, many, many kudos to those who know where the title is from; the particular poem doesn't quite match these two in tone, but it's one of my absolute favorites. (Can't you just imagine Yoh staying up late at night, holding Haruna and watching her sleep through the night? He so would.) And, yes, I am a sap, no need to remind me.
Haruna visits him for the first time a few months into his first semester. She's brought along comfortingly familiar sights—like her endless collections of white muscle T-shirts and shoujo manga—and some things he really would have rather she left behind, because for all intents and purposes it seems that his mother's been giving Haruna more baby pictures of him.
But still, he feels a sense of serenity and wholeness fill him like a balloon as she flits around him, opening this cupboard and that, exclaiming over the size of his bedroom and bemoaning the lack of a kotatsu in the living room. Yoh listens with half an ear, more intent upon rememorizing the shape of her face and the sparks in her eyes and the warmth of her smile.
He inhales her scent: clean and fresh, flowers and laundry and pure exultation, and hopes she leaves some with him when she goes.
It is not evident the first few hours they spend together, but the desire he feels for her is cutting. It is different from before: then, it was a constant but ignorable buzz floating at the back of his mind; now, it is entirely different—it is an angry, raging, red thing, and try as he might, he cannot box it away neatly in his mind to examine later.
He has spent nearly a half a year away from her, a year of phone calls and e-mails and text messages, each of which are nothing compared to her warmth and her voice and the rhythm of her steps falling in with his.
She is sitting so close to him in the tiny café, her knee brushing his and fully absorbed in examining the menu. He wants her closer to him, closer then she has ever ventured. He wants to pepper her face and neck and shoulders with kisses, light as butterflies. He wants to curl his hand snugly around her waist and breathe her in. He wants, more and more.
He does not allow himself to take, because he is her goddamn boyfriend. He's here to protect and comfort and weather her storms of enthusiasm, not scare her half to death. He limits himself to a kiss hello and holding hands.
It was one thing knowing Haruna was bouncing about in the halls of his old high school with the ever-dependable Mami-san and his sister for company. Every male there knew him (or, he thinks, with what he hopes is not groundless conceit, at least of him), knew of his relationship with Haruna and would have very well known to leave her alone.
It is quite another to think of her bounding around on a new campus full of hormonal gorillas who would know nothing of him and know nothing of discretion, especially around other people's girlfriends. He knows all too well the charm of her smile and the warm openness of her heart. Haruna lives like she loves—with abandon. He remembers very well the spell the wide curve of her lips had wrought over him, that they cast over him still. He will not be the only man caught in that net.
So he worries. He does not worry that she will be unfaithful. (Haruna, unfaithful? The very thought is laughable.) No, he worries because Haruna is the sort to drag an entire train of admirers behind her and not notice a thing until one of them does something stupid and leaves her reeling and distraught and careening toward a mental melt-down.
Of course, she would think in circles. Of course, she would drive herself to distraction. Of course, she would cry, big, anguished tears, because she would feel sorry for the idiot who confessed to her.
And he hates that. It makes him want to punch every male who looks at her wrong, to tuck her under his covers and keep her happy forever.
She is sprawled underneath his kotatsu on her stomach, reading. He's sitting on the opposite side of the low table, writing a report while trying not to ogle the curve of her spine. The storm rages on outside, lashing at his windows and door with punishing force. It was why he had barred her from leaving his apartment that evening; the trains are no longer running and he could not, in all good conscience, allow her to wade across town looking for hotel lodgings. No, he will not let her out of his sight, not this evening.
And that's when the lights go out.
There is some fumbling—he gropes for a flashlight, she attempts to sit up—and suddenly, he is sprawled over her, his face in the vicinity of her shoulder and her hand clenched on his bicep, legs entangled and arms akimbo.
"Yoh!" she exclaims, "are you all right? Are you hurt?"
Fine, he normally would have replied, but are you all right? I fell on you.
But his tongue is tied in a million knots, because he's turned his head and his lips are so close to her neck he feels the heat of her skin make his own flush. How simple would it be to lean forward a mere millimeter—
"Yoh," Haruna says, her voice different—quieter—"what—"
Lightning and thunder rip the air asunder, enough to jolt him out of his hormone-induced fantasy. Her face is illuminated for a stark second: her eyes are wide, her mouth opened in a tiny, surprised o. Shit. He makes to scramble up, but her arms wrap themselves around him. Her cheek is flush against his neck this time. Heat infuses her skin. He almost smiles through his bewilderment: she must be blushing crimson.
"I-I know this is un-un-unseemly," she says, voice shaking, "b-but I w-would like for you to s-stay like this." Her arms tighten.
"Haruna," he says, voice hoarse and tinny, "I don't think this is a good idea."
She shifts suddenly so that their faces are centimeters apart, so she can glare into his eyes. He can just make out the angling of her brows and the stubborn set of her mouth. "I think it's a good idea! I-I may not be wearing sexy underwear right now b-but the last time we t-tried Assa-chan and the others c-came and—" she stops, draws breath—"I want you to l-love me, Yoh."
"Haruna," he says again, hardly able to believe he is hearing the words coming out of her mouth. "Do you know what you're saying?" Hadn't she been nervous then, during that trip to the pool resort? Shaking and jumping and reddening by merely looking at him? Hadn't he had to talk her down from that, needed to smooth out her jitters?
A shudder runs through her. "You know, Yoh?" she whispers just loud enough to hear over the pattering of the rain. "When we went to the pool and we d-decided to d-d-do it?" She takes a deep breath. "All the things you did felt good. More than good. But there was a small part of me that didn't really want it. That part kept saying no."
How should he feel about this? His technique is good, she says (and through the buzzing in his ears, he hears a voice that sounds suspiciously like Asaoka saying, "Oh, technique, Yoh? You've got technique? I'd hardly had any idea that you were such an adept man!" complete with the bland smile and the wriggling eyebrows) but the thought that he'd forced himself on her—any part of her—makes him feel a bit ill.
She doesn't give him time to ruminate on her words as she, in typical Haruna fashion, plows on. "That's different now! That part is gone. All of me wants you."
He leans his forehead down to rest on hers and looks directly into her eyes. The darkness is not so new now; he can see them through the gloom and they are bright and determined. "Does all of you say yes?"
"Oh, Yoh, yes. It says yes."
Something inside of him—his restraint, his self-control, his will—snaps almost audibly.
And he leans down and his lips claim hers and both of them are lost to words.
The air is pregnant with rain, but he is not ready to let her go yet. He leads her to a park, hand in hand, her shoulder against his. He will have to put her on a train come morning. She will have to return home many miles and hours away, and his heart is heavy with the knowledge. He hates the train, with its indifferent and efficient glide, for its imperviousness to messy, tender human emotion, how for neatly and impenetrably those doors slide shut.
He wants to keep her with him, but the train, with its inexorable, passionless drive will take her away.
He seats himself on a low bench as an errant breeze whips her hair around her face. She smiles at him, steps between his spread knees, melds their gazes together.
"Short," she says, threading her hands through his hair, massaging his scalp. "I like it, Yoh."
"Yeah?" He wraps his arms around her hips, pulling her towards him. He tucks his chin against her stomach. They are blissfully alone in the park, the children having long been called home because of the coming storm. The wind and scattering leaves are their music.
"I can see more of your face now!" Her cheeks are daintily red, though her hands have not stopped toying with his hair. "I like it, Yoh, I really do."
"Yours is longer," he says. The ends of it reach past her shoulders, pooling in the hollow of her collarbone. He wants to touch it, smooth it out, but he does not. He does not know if he will be able to let her leave tomorrow if her lets himself touch and touch and touch. If her had been with her, he could have marked the growth of her hair; now he can only feast on the sight of her once the train leads her to him.
She is staring at him, wide-eyed and red-faced. "You know," she says, "I missed you, Yoh. I missed you so much I felt it in my bones." Suddenly, dismay fills her face. "I don't mean to make you feel bad about moving here! I'm doing fine! No, this is a good thing! You're enjoying yourself and learning new th-things and—"
He cuts her off with a hand against her lips. She wants him to pretend he can't see the dips of loneliness in the corners of her mouth when she thinks he isn't looking. What monster does she take him for?
"You," he says, "need to stop lying to me."
Her wide, wide eyes blink at him, one, twice, before they fill with tears. She's crying again, into his shirt in his arms, noisily and messily. For all that she promised him she wouldn't cry, eons ago, when he agreed to coach Haruna, she spends a disproportionate amount of time sobbing. He remembers her frank, mulish face, the stubborn crinkle of her brows, the clenched force of her hands.
It's all right though. Haruna cries not to manipulate and browbeat and tie him to her, but because she feels things intensely, without filters, without bias, without fear. So he lets her cling, and clings in return. Her warmth is a bastion against the wind, and for a moment, he allows himself to simply exist, to simply feel and smell and love her.