Umi sat still, Hikaru wasn't the only one who'd be having a restless night.

She clung to the cool sheets and sighed. She didn't like this one bit. She wanted to protect the land of Cephiro this time, to do the right thing. Why did such an ominous feeling hang over her? She eyed the sheets, hopeing that in some futile way they'd hold the answer to everything. Of course they didn't, they were just sheets. She pulled her legs up to her chest and gently rocked herself. She closed her eyes and began relaxing.

It was amazing how her room seemed ; her chambers here in the castle felt different somehow. Then again, she'd never really taken the time to give it much attention in the first place. The light trickle of rain against the widow, the low hum of a dim light, the cool watery scent her room had, the utter softness of her bed. She Smiled. She loved Cephiro, with all her heart, just as Hikaru and Fuu did. She was here to protect it , just as Princess Emeraude had intended....Princess...Emeraude. Her heart tore in two,'The princess.' Umi Slowly drifted from her calm state and into a slumping sadness. She never intended to kill the princess, but they had no choice.

Why did she feel so guilty?

Because she was.

Because she'd taken a life.

The life that held this world together.

The world she loved.

Even though the people of Cephiro didn't blame her, Umi did.

A heavy shuffle in the corner of the room ripped her from her thoughts. She jumped and quickly took a fighting stance atop her bed. She could hardly see. She squinted and looked around , eyeing every corner. She wasn't quite sure where the noise had come from.

"Umi ?"

She recognized that voice. She calmed slightly and stared at the figure standing at her chambers entrance. She then relaxed and held her palm to her temple.

" Ascot? "

The figure moved from under the shadows and into the stale light. It was Ascot, his boyish features unmistakable. Umi laughed a bit, nervously. 'Amazing,' she thought, 'The dead of night and still in his summoners outfit.' An elaborate garb worn by most of the countries beast tamers. It still shocked her how much he'd grown, and yet , to her , he was still that little child she had met so long ago.

"Umi," he stuttered out, "are you alright?" He blushed and scratched his head. "I was worried...,"pausing briefly to mess with his gloves and then stammered on, "worried, so I came to check on you."

Umi smiled at the boy and flopped down on the her bed in a most ungraceful manner. "That's so sweet of you Ascot!"

He watched her closely. How he loved her! How he wanted to make up for every cruel thing he'd put her through during the past. She was so forgiving, so beautiful.This girl, and this girl alone had made him so nervous,so filled with raw emotion, and now he stood before her, in dead silence. She shuffled her feet and then looked up at him. Silence. The awkward moment seemed to last an eternity before Ascot blushed and turned back heading for her bedroom doors.

"Ascot !" Umi called , jumping to her feet so rapidly that she tilted against the bed for support.

"Ascot wait!"

He stopped and turned back. "I thought I'd let you sleep." He blushed and looked down.

Her eyes softened and she looked down as well, eyeing her palms. "Please, Ascot, I'd like it if you'd stay." He looked up at the sound of underlining sadness in her voice and inched forward."What's wrong Umi?"

His voice seemed different to her, and as much as she wanted to face him, she couldnt.She remained still, quiet, holding back choking tears. His care for overwhelmed his insecurities and he made his way to her bed side. He sat beside her and kept just as still. Once again silence, but this time it was slowly shattered by Umi's sniffles.

Ascot shifted and laid a gloved hand against her back. She quickly jumped at the opening and buried herself in his arms, clinging to the loose garments he wore. Ascot startled and blushed.

"Oh Ascot! I'm sorry!" she whimpered, "I'm so sorry for what I've done!"


"I've Destroyed your world!"

His voice caught and he wrapped his arms around Umi, pulling her close. "No, Umi, you saved it."He ran a soft thumb against her tear stricken cheek and tilted his head a bit. "Dont cry Umi."

His words, his touch, all new to her. She felt safe and yet...

She held onto him tightly, wrapping her arms around his torso and clenching her eyes shut. He maneuvered his fingers into her hair and soothingly played with it. Itwas so soft. Just as he'd imagined it would be. No, better than his imagination, so much better. This was real. He was really touching her; really comforting her. He was really with her.

With a gentle tug he pulled her pulled her up and cupped her face with his left hand. He pulled her up slowly, and finding no protests, leaned the rest of the way down into her. Umi's heart caught as their lips brushed. At first softly and gently, like water against silk. She marveled at the feela and texture of his lips and slowly lifted trembling hands to his jawline. She feathered a finger against his cheek , hopeing to pull in all the contours of his face. It was amazing, like nothing she'd ever felt before. With each shift of his lips tiny warm shocks filled her tummy and buzzed down her spine.

Desire shot through him. It was so hard to control himself. He wanted her terribly. To take her then and there at that very moment. His kisses deepened and became hungry. All his inhibitions lost to his new found passion. He snaked an arm around around her hips and pulled her lithe body up against his own.

She trailed heat down his neck and against his collar bone with each touch. Despite what others may have assumed of her , she'd never done this before. She'd never felt like this. But above all things, she never imagined herself in this position; withering within the arms of a man. He pressed his hands tightly and yet comfortably upon the small of her back. His lips no longer the gentle feathers they once were, but instead love starved creatures, feasting upon her every whim.

Her body sank into the soft sheets and he followed her eagerly. There they began a passionate ritual. A gentle touch here, another there. A kiss, a smile.They would be one. She'd finally find comfort that night.