Yoshida Chizuru could not have been more oblivious, more unsuspecting; more thick-headed than she was towards the affections of her best friend, Sanada Ryu.

Ryu could not have loved her more.

A thousand times in his mind he saved her life; made her smile. Every night when he slept she was beside him, in his mind; every morning when he woke - oh, how he hated waking - she was not. He needed Chizuru like he needed water; needed to breathe. It was instinct, to be with her. Nothing in a thousand years could ever convince him otherwise.

So that's why, when she came to his house to play games, even if he was tired, he didn't ask her to leave. If she beat on him or insulted him, he cherished it like endearments, for he knew that he could cause her as much pain with his superior strength. Nothing would ever sway him.

Then, there was the time when he told her. She didn't love him back. He didn't expect her to, no; but he hoped she would. He knew that it would never happen.

That's why he had to cherish moments like this:

He lay on his bed, propped up on one elbow, with Chizuru seated on the edge of the matress. they faced the screen; she was playing, but Ryu had gotten bored after a while. It was close to midnight, and his father was taking a solitary vacation to mourn his wife on their anniversary. His brother was off somewhere far away with his woman...the one who had crushed Chizu's heart, leaving the two of them alone in the eerily quiet house.

It was not unusual for Chizu not to go home. The Yoshida residence could be a bit haphazard, at times, much like his best friend. She had fallen asleep on his floor many times; even stolen his bed. They were getting a bit old for it, but it still happened once every few months. She'd wake up and beg him to make her ramen or something, before taking off like the fast-paced young woman that she was.

Ryu was facing the screen, but his eyes were fixed on her back; on her shoulders. She was strong, for a girl, but Ryu was stronger, and he saw the femininity in her appearance like none of the other boys did. Ryu was the only one who could tame this beast of a girl, he knew.

Long moments passed. Finally, Chizu Xed out of her game, turning off the monitor with a few deft and practiced manipulations of the controls. However, instead of rising, stretching, and heading for the door with a casual wave, as was their customary parting, she sighed sleepily and dropped sideways onto Ryu's bed, her head on the pillow. Her eyes were shut in near sleep. She turned onto her side and struggled to open them.

"Too bright, Ryu..." she murmured.

He reached over and turned off the lamp. He was silent, and he stayed very still.

"I'm just going to stay...for a little while, is all..."

That's what she always said before she fell asleep on his floor, or on his bed...

"Yes, Chizuru. Just a little while."

"20 minutes, because you always beat me..." She leaned so that her bare shoulder brushed against him; it was cold.

Ryu shifted into a more comfortable position, and took the liberty of pulling the covers over both of them. He wrapped his arm around her. Was this considered taking advantage?

"Ryu, you dirty bastard..." she murmured, giving his hand a small squeeze. She burrowed deeper into the covers; closer to his warmth, until her mind had entirely given itself over to sleep.

In the blue-black darkness of night, Ryu also closed his eyes.

"Chizuru, you beguiling temptress..."

The soft fingers of Dawn peered into the room through the cutains, intruding upon the slumber of the couple that was not a couple. He awoke, a warmth in his arms, and thought himself dreaming. As her eyes fluttered open, he pretended to be sleeping still. The shock that took her initially was permeated by the heat of his body which had become her own. Embracing in slumber, they lay now face to face and closely entangled.

"I can't say I regret it," she voiced so softly, that only he would hear.

"I Love you, Chizuru," he answered, in a voice that trailed after the wind.