A/N: Just a tiny Shunsui/Nanao drabble. Hints of romance. One of those plot bunnies that sticks until you write it out.



She held her breath as he rolled over on the couch across the room, deathly afraid that even the smallest sound might wake him.

She couldn't fathom why—he was sleeping the sleep of the very drunk. He had taken in more alcohol in one night than she had ever even considered in her entire lifetime.

But she calmed as he mumbled; talking in his sleep was good. It was normal. She could catch the snippets of songs, of poetry, of lost conversation in his nighttime mutterings. It had once amused her, that this bear of a man would curl up on any surface and sleep, talking to himself throughout, as if the silence was too much to bear.

Now it chilled her soul.

She pulled her knees tight to her chest.

There was a lifetime lived in his sleep. His—and hers.

His went easily. He dreamt, she knew, of his time in the Academy, of those he had known, of the many women he had loved. For a haunted man, he never suffered terror in the night. Only his most pleasant memories came to him in his slumber. Only the sunshine in his life brought the fleeting smiles to his lips as his eyes fluttered, his subconscious lost in the past.

She was not so lucky.

The nights like this—nights she spent watching over him, hoping he hadn't finally managed to drink himself to death—her mind supplied an entire lifetime lived with him. Phantom memories of times that never were passed unseen in front of her, a blissful existence by his side and in his bed.

But it always ended the same.

It always ended alone.

It collapsed, like a house of cards, like wood going up in flames.

She did not have the luxury of drinking until only the pleasant remained in reality—she could see the fire climbing the walls of their metaphorical relationship. Every time he took a step closer, every time she felt her heart falter and sputter in its need, the flames grew.

Every time she finally wanted to give in, she was reminded of the life lived unseen, the eventuality of having to live the rest of her life alone for a few fleeting moments of bliss in his arms.

She kept them on the edge, teetering on collapse.

It was better than the life she lived in the night, which always ended in heartbreak.