The sound of rain hummed in the walls of the underground room. It was almost numbing, and if Shion thought about it abstractly, it could probably be compared to a pulse. It was a sound he had heard nonstop for the past two days. The gradual shift of autumn into winter meant storms that soaked through everything. Torrents of raindrops fell to the earth in downpours that left big piles of mud and sludge all over the West Block. There was flooding too; Shion had heard water moving above his head and tonight Mouse came back from work with his pants damp at the knees.

Mouse shifted in his sleep, his back warm against Shion's. The only sound other than the rain was Mouse's even breathing. In the darkness, with the storm vibrating overhead and only Mouse's sleeping form for company, Shion thought. Thought about No. 6, about his mother, about Safu. But he mostly thought about Mouse. Because he found his life orbiting around him. It wasn't exactly a surprise, all things considered. Shion honestly welcomed it- it was comforting. It felt like spinning compass of his life that had started moving after their first encounter had a magnet to point towards (fate? that seemed too romantic a notion). Everything had a balance with each of them on one side of the scale. They lived together in Mouse's nest of books. He saved Mouse and Mouse had saved him. They were stumbling their way through this science lab maze of truth and secrets together. It was a balance.

It was probably strange. Dogkeeper had said as much. Shion couldn't find it in him to care. Because Mouse was there, guiding him, scolding him, mocking him, teasing him, and it was. It was what he had and Shion was content. Because it meant he was alive and that there was something he was moving towards.

Mouse's foot collided with Shion's calf. He turned his head a bit, trying in vain to see through the darkness. When Mouse didn't move again, his breathing still deep and slow, Shion relaxed against the pillow again. Was this the consequence or reward for such apathy?

"Stop hogging the blanket," Mouse's low voice mumbled, the sound reverberating against Shion's back, "And your feet are cold."

"Sorry," he responded softly, shifting a bit to give Mouse more of the blanket. His bedmate took it happily, shifting to wrap himself in it more tightly. Shion moved as well, going to grip his pillow but his hand brushed against a mouse instead. He couldn't see which one it was in the black room, but he pet it gently anyway and it chirped once before curling up on the pillow beside Shion's head.

"Put some socks on," Mouse spoke again, his voice clearer than before. Shion felt him shift away slightly, "S'like ice."

Shion sat up, slipping out from beneath the covers and crawling slowly to the foot of the bed. He leaned over the side, fumbling in the dark for the chest that held their spare clothes. He rested his hand against something hard and strained further out, searching for the latch on the lid. Whatever was beneath his hand moved under his added weight and toppled, sending him crashing onto the floor. There was the distinct smell and crinkle of paper in the darkness. Books, of course.

"Doofus," Mouse clicked his tongue, and the oil lamp beside the bed flickered on, washing the room in a soft glow. Shion looked up, barely able to make out his face in the dim light. "What was the point of that?"

"Sorry," Shion mumbled, finding the chest easier now and pulling out a pair of socks. He climbed back onto the bed, putting them on before dimming the light and returning under the covers. Mouse exhaled loudly through his nose and flopped back onto the mattress. "I didn't want to disturb you."

He could almost imagine the look on Mouse's face. He was surely rolling his eyes. "Good job on that."

"Sorry," he said again, lying down as well. He felt Mouse shake his head.


Shion turned onto his side. He couldn't see it, but he could feel Mouse's face close to his. Their knees bumped together, and Mouse's breath brushed against his cheeks faintly. Shion simply stared ahead of him, not really seeing anything, but unable to close his eyes. After awhile, Mouse made a noise.


"Huh?" Shion's eyebrows rose.

"Why are you staring? It's creeping me out."

"I'm not really..."

"Yes you are. You're just...looking at me."

"But I can't see you. It's too dark."

"Well I can see you. Stop it."

"Sorry," Shion apologized, and closed his eyes.

It went quiet again, the walls humming with the rain and their breathing filling the still room.

"Mouse," Shion ventured.

"What?" He hadn't fallen back asleep like Shion had thought.

"I was thinking."

"You tend to do that a lot."

Shion wrinkled his nose, but ignored the jibe. "I was thinking, I'm probably pretty strange." He waited for a reply, for Mouse's sarcasm. After a long moment, none came. He opened his eyes again, straining to see even a bit of Mouse's expression. "You've said that to me before, and so has Safu. And it's probably true. Because I'm content." His hand reached up instinctively, the pads of his fingers brushing along the mark on his neck. It was a habit now, when his thoughts got muddled and the words didn't seem to come out right.

"Then don't worry about it," Mouse's voice finally came from the blackness. His hand surrounded Shion's, cupping it in his grip and pulling it away from his throat. He rest their hands on the pillow between them, "If you're fine with it, then don't think about it."

Shion blinked. Mouse had taken the gesture to mean something deeper. Shion decided not to clarify. The hand that held his was warm and he wanted to enjoy it.


He thought for a moment that he could feel Mouse smile before he spoke up softly.

"So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends."

Shion stared into the darkness again.

"Recognize it?" Mouse asked.

"'A Midsummer's Night Dream'."

"Right," there was an airy chuckle to Mouse's voice. "Good job."

"You like Shakespeare, don't you?" Shion relaxed against the pillow. He felt Mouse shrug.

"They're classics."

"Ah," Shion hummed. "That one was good. It wasn't a tragedy."

"What's wrong with tragedies?" Mouse commented, "Not everything is going to end happily."

"I know that," Shion shook his head, "But...they can be depressing, you know? I'd rather read a comedy."

"I thought as much," Mouse said flippantly, "You're too sensitive to appreciate that sort of thing."

Shion knit his brows together, and shot a look in the direction Mouse's voice was coming from. He heard a snort then a laugh.

"Go to sleep," Mouse told him, softer, and Shion felt him get more comfortable on the mattress. He turned his palm a bit, lacing their fingers together, squeezing Mouse's hand in his. After a moment, Mouse squeezed back.