I still can't believe my request actually got this series its own category. I'm still in shock but I'm thrilled! Everyone please write to support this series!
Here's the sequel to Winter's Warmth! Please, to the few fellow fans of this series, enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Yozakura Quartet.
Bright sunlight reflected off the shimmering white snow, the rays being amplified before bouncing back into the air.
The white light filtered in through the windows of the office and woke Akina, his eyes flickering slowly open to be greeted by the stunning Winter morning.
His limbs were a bit chilled and numbed from the blizzard the previous night, and he was about to lift his arms and stretch when he realized the girl still sleeping beside him. He blushed as he remembered how he had kissed her the night before, but soon smiled as he recalled how she had kissed back.
Akina stayed put for a few more moments, for though it was early, Hime still had some time before she had to go on patrol, so he wanted to let her sleep.
He turned his head as he heard a door close in one of the spare rooms of the office and Kotoha appeared. She grinned and opened her mouth to greet him, but Akina flashed his eyes at where Hime sat on the couch, her knees pulled in to her body and her breathing deep and slow. Kotoha nodded, and mouthed a 'good morning' before she materialized a zipper with her powers and slid it closed across her mouth. Akina chuckled a bit as the youkai walked over to her desk to get a head start on her work for the day.
Several moments later, Ao emerged from her room and yawned before smiling. "Morning, Kotoha!" she chirped. The elder youkai pressed a finger against her mouth and nodded toward the sleeping princess and Ao gasped and covered her mouth. "Good morning, Akina-san." She whispered more softly. Then she walked around the couch and sat on the other side of the sleeping youkai. "Morning, Hime." She murmured, reaching forward to pull up the blanket that had slipped off of her shoulders. Then, she stood up and went to her desk to begin making the town's morning announcements.
Akina stayed put a while longer until Kotoha finally turned to him.
"You know, you can't let her sleep all day." She informed him. "She'll get mad if she realizes you let her sleep in long enough to be late for her first patrol."
"I know." He sighed. "But she's always so attentive and outgoing. She's a workaholic and I bet she's never slept in a day in her life and she deserves to."
"I know how you feel." She sympathized. "But this is her job. It's her life, and she loves it. So just let her do it, because even if it doesn't make us happy, it makes her happy." Kotoha gave a small smile and Akina sighed again, knowing full-well that she was right. He turned to the sleeping girl and gently shook her shoulders.
"Oy, Hime. Wake up." He murmured. He found it amusing how her eyebrows were slanted in an annoyed way even while she slept.
She stirred and blinked open her eyes, taking a moment to remember just where she was and who she was with. Then she quickly sat up straight and fumbled to unruffled her clothes and scarf, wiping her mouth on her sleeve in case she had been drooling.
"A-A-A-Ah…" she stammered, looking around at the amused faces of her fellow co-workers and blushing when her eyes rested on Akina. "W…What time is it?" she asked quickly.
"Calm down, Sleeping Beauty." Kotoha smirked. "You've still got time before your patrol."
"S-Shut up!" Hime snapped. "Don't make fun of me. It was Akina's fault anyway for having me sleep like that. Even though it was really warm…" she lowered her voice at the last part so that only the boy could hear and shot a bashful look at him.
"Aw, but you looked so cute when you were sleeping!" Ao chimed in from where she sat. "I don't think I've ever seen you so relaxed before." She smiled.
"I-I-I…" Hime stuttered, glancing from person to person. "I'm going out early!" She announced suddenly, whipping around, grabbing her lacrosse stick, slipping into her boots and sliding out the door as though her life depended on it.
There was a moment of silence between the remaining three before Kotoha spoke up again.
"Aww. She's embarrassed." She cooed. "How cute. What exactly happened between you two last night, huh?" she leaned forward at her desk and her eyes bore into Akina.
"N-Noting happened." He defended.
"You stammered." Ao put in mischievously.
"You did." Kotoha added.
"I-I-I…" Akina looked from one youkai to the other before standing, and rushing toward the bathroom. Ao and Kotoha shared amused glances before giggling together, and then returning to their work. Akina splashed warm water on his face before changing his shirt and emerging into the office again, trying to act as though nothing had just happened. "I'm gonna go out and get some breakfast. Does anyone want anything?" he asked.
"No, not really." Kotoha replied.
"Oh yeah I forgot…" Akina muttered, remembering that she could materialize anything she wished for. "Is Kyousuke still away on that business trip?" he asked.
"Yeah, until tomorrow now because of this snow. Thank goodness." Kotoha teased.
"Seriously." Akina sighed. "Well at least he's out of our hair for a little while now."
"I'm surprised Hime hasn't been scarfing down ramen while he's away." Ao added. "In fact, I actually think she's eating less." Her tone changed from joking to troubled. "You don't think she's sick, do you?" Her little ice-blue ears flattened against her head with worry and she clasped her hands together.
"I'm sure she's fine." Kotoha reassured.
But Akina took heed of Ao's suspicions, remembering what Hime had been through yesterday and the night before. But he shook it off to the back of his mind and put on his jacket before calling out goodbye again and slipping out into the cold morning.
The snow had ceased falling now, and piles of it were pushed up against the corners of alleyways and the sides of streets. Akina walked along the sidewalk toward the ramen shop he always bought from. There were only a few other people outside at the moment, even less than normal since it was so early and so bitterly cold. He got several instant ramen packs and thanked the owner before heading back the way he had come.
When he got back to the office he found that Kotoha and Ao had already eaten, as usual, for free, while he would rather just spend the money for some reason; perhaps because he was human.
He sat at his own desk and began filing through some papers before a knock came at the door and Rin entered.
"Good morning!" she grinned. "I have some mail for everyone!" she announced and placed a small pile on each desk.
"Yosh!" Kotoha clenched her fist. "I was just about to finish these and needed something else to keep me occupied!"
"Here, take mine too!" Ao whined sarcastically.
The others laughed when the door slid open again and Hime stumbled through, leaving the door open behind her. She was hunched over as she leaned her lacrosse stick against the wall and groggily kicked the snow off of her boots.
"Oy, Hime, are you okay?" Akina asked at the four of them gave her curious looks.
"Ah…" she looked up, than blushed as her stomach grumbled and everyone understood. "I realized halfway through the patrol that I didn't eat breakfast…" she shuffled her feet with embarrassment.
"Well get in here, cause I just went out and bought your favorite." Akina went over to the microwave near Ao's desk and put in one of the packs of ramen.
"Really?" She cried, delighted as she slammed the door closed behind her with enthusiasm. Yet somehow, some of the snow from the roof managed to fall inside and landed directly on her head. The others burst out into laughter.
"How did you manage to do that?" Ao giggled.
"Only you, Hime…" Kotoha smirked and shook her head from side to side.
"Shut up, all of you!" Hime pouted, straightening up and letting the snow fall from atop her head. "Oh whatever. Just let me have some ramen before I faint."
Then she sneezed.
"Eh? Are you okay, Hime?" Rin asked.
"Hah? Me? Oh yeah I'm fine. Don't worry about it." Hime smiled genuinely down at the young youkai whom she had helped out so long ago. "Now get going with your other deliveries okay?"
"A-Alright." Rin nodded once and passed Hime, shooting one last worried look over her shoulder before disappearing out the door.
"You sure you're okay?" Ao asked. Hime gave her a smile and walked over to her. "If you're not feeling well, you should tell us…" her ears flattened again and her eyebrows twitched with concern.
"Calm down." Hime patted her head and ruffled her hair. "I'm fine. You worry too much." Then she rested her hand on the younger girl's shoulder. "And I'm grateful for that." Then she raised her tone. "Oy! Is my breakfast ready yet?" she called out.
"Yes, your highness. Here you go." Akina handed her the plastic cup full of hot ramen and Hime suddenly transformed into a little kid again and her eyes lit up as she began slurping it up like a starved animal.
"Ah, Kyousuke can stay wherever he is as long as I get to do this every day…" she sighed blissfully. But then she sneezed again and hot broth spilled onto her lap. "Ow!" she hissed, shaking her skirt off.
"Are you okay?" Akina asked. "Don't tell me you really are sick?"
"I'm not." She insisted. "It's just dusty in here." Kotoha shared a knowing glance with the boy as Hime finished off her ramen. "I'm gonna go change." She announced, slipping away to reappear a few moments later dressed in a black, long-sleeve shirt and a matching knee-length skirt.
"Wow! Where'd you find that?" Kotoha asked.
"It's an old outfit." She answered simply with a shrug.
And it's also the warmest thing I've seen you wear all season. Akina thought suspiciously and walked over to confront her about it.
"Hime…" he began but she gave him a stern look that silently told him to keep quiet.
"Well there's not much for me to do with all this snow." She said. "And I saw a lot of people struggling with clearing the streets and driveways so I'm gonna go out to help." She told them all as they watched her heading for the door.
They all tried to think up excuses to have her stay but before any of them could speak, Hime began coughing and swayed on her feet to lean heavily against the wall.
"Hime?" Akina ran over to her and helped her keep her balance. "Are you okay?"
"Y-Yeah. Sorry. I'm off-" But she broke off coughing again, harder than last time and she hunched over. Kotoha and Ao rushed over to her as well with concerned expressions on their faces.
"I knew it." Akina growled. "Hime I knew this would happen. Why'd I let you go out yesterday in that blizzard…?" he trailed off, cursing himself in his mind. He could tell she was about to protest again, but was cut off once more as another cough came up.
"Hime, you should go lie down." Kotoha told her, her tone serious. "You've been overworking yourself more and more, recently because of this troublesome weather."
"Kotoha and I are done with our work for today," Ao added in. "So why don't we go on patrol for you?"
"No." Hime brushed Akina's hands away from her shoulders. "I'm the mayor and that's my job. I couldn't ask you guys to do that."
"But you didn't ask us, Hime." Ao countered, her ears perking up in triumph. "We're offering."
The mayor opened her mouth to respond, but only another cough came out.
"Alright it's decided." Akina declared. "You're staying here, Hime and you're gonna have to beat down all of us if you insist on going out."
"What? I can't hear you!" Akina feigned deafness and Hime's eyebrow twitched in annoyance.
"Hime." Ao approached her and looked up at her with those big, irresistible, blue eyes. "Please, don't go. Get some rest." Now her tone was pleading, and Hime had no resistance for that face whatsoever and at last, let out a long sigh.
"Fine. You win." Her three friends smiled with relief and Ao hugged her tightly. "But if there's anything wrong, anything, you have to come back here and get me no matter what, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah." Kotoha waved her hand dismissively and slid on her jacket, handing Ao her own. "Blanket." She murmured as a thick wool cover materialized. "Akina take this for her." She handed it to him and the boy nodded.
"Hey! I mean it!" Hime called after them as the other two disappeared out the door.
"Come on now." Akina tugged on her scarf and she choked. "Come lie down."
"Gak! Okay, okay! You're strangling me!" she sputtered.
"Oops. My bad." He said as though it was nothing, letting go of her scarf and left her gasping. He grabbed her hand and led her over to the couch. "Now lie down." He ordered.
"But…I'm not tired." She protested. "I'll feel useless to everyone if I don't do something significant while I'm still able to. It's not like I'm deathly ill or anything."
"Maybe not, but the best thing you can do for everyone right now is get completely better." He told her, placing a hand on her shoulder and pushing her down.
"I guess I have no choice." She exhaled heavily with a slight cough and then sneezed.
She slid off her boots and brought her legs up to the couch. Akina laid a pillow down and she rested her head down and stretched her body out on the couch, lying on her back. Akina then spread Kotoha's blanket and draped it across her body, tucking it under her shoulders.
"Are you hungry or anything?" He asked.
"Not really. I just ate."
"Yeah you must be sick."
"What? But it's true!"
"Yeah but you'd never refuse my ramen unless something was wrong."
"…Or unless I wasn't hungry."
"Alright, alright." He gave in.
A moment passed.
"Here." Akina threw her a tissue and placed the box on the floor next to her.
"Thanks…" she mumbled, blowing her nose and crumpling up the tissue. She aimed at the waste bin near Ao's desk as though she were playing basketball.
"Wow. Ten points." Akina complimented.
The two of them chuckled together. Then, Akina glanced at the clock on the microwave. It was almost noon now, when Hime would go on her second patrol of the day and he could tell by the look on her face that she was troubled about Ao and Kotoha taking her place instead.
"Hey, stop thinking about them and get some sleep. They'll be fine." He sat down on the edge of the couch next to her and she turned her head away, flustered. "You really don't need anything else?" He wondered.
"No. I'm feeling better already and I'm sure I'll only feel better after some rest." She answered truthfully.
"Good." He smiled.
Akina noticed that her scarf was ruffled and wrinkled, and he reached forward and straightened it out, folding the extra layers and then pulled the blanket up to her shoulders. Hime stayed as still as a frightened deer, holding her breath in until his hands pulled away from her.
But then he leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead and she felt her heart skip twice.
"Now get some sleep." He told her.
Hime nodded up at him once, her face flushed pink and he smiled, standing to his feet.
Without thinking or even conscious of doing so, Hime grasped his sleeve. Akina stopped and turned back to look at her. "What is it?"
"A-Ah…um…well…" she delayed trying to think of the right words to say to make it less awkward. "W-Well…I don't know." She gave up on trying. "I guess I'm still feeling a bit sick." She laughed.
But Akina looked down at her before sitting down and leaning back over her again.
Hime froze as he kissed her on the lips this time, the warm feeling of when he had done it the night before flooding back to her skin. She quickly realized that she wanted to return it, and kissed him back with all she could manage, which was what he had been hoping for.
Their lips remained interlocked for a fairly long time before he sensed her tense from lack of air and pulled away, leaving her panting.
"There." He smirked. "Now you'll get better faster cause I took half your cold."
Hime blinked up at him, the blush on her face reddening.
"Then…" she fidgeted, clutching the blanket tightly to her throbbing chest. "Then let me take half of yours." She mumbled.
Akina blinked once then grinned, leaning back down and they kissed again.
"Now get some sleep." He told her. "You'll be all better when you wake up now."
"Okay." She gave him a tiny smile.
He sat there beside her as she fell asleep, stroking her long, black tresses and occasionally kissing the tips of her hair.
The two of them now had a newer view of the season of Winter.
It was no longer a bitter and cold season, but it was actually rather warm and kind.
Kinder than any other season, as it let them experience that warmth.
And the two of them would always be grateful of Winter's Kindness.
A/N: Yay! Fin! (Oh and sorry for totally emitting Kyousuke from these stories. I knida just...didn't want to deal with him sorry XD) I'll hopefully write more for this couple in the future and when the new anime season comes out :3 And like I said, everyone help out and write some fics too! And I know there were grammar mistakes somewhere so tell me where if you find them thanks!