Ashy-note Missed me, any of you? (: I've found time again, at last. This one's an unusual Natsume-Hotaru fic, but it happens. Hope you enjoy.


"I'm home." Then a smooth kiss. A swift hug. And then up the stairs to change, then back down for dinner.

It had been another day.

"How was the case?" Natsume asked her. She turned the stove on and started chopping bits and pieces of garnishes to be used in cooking the dinner for that night.

Her raven hair swung to the left and right. "Not very much progressive. Summary prognosis isn't exactly the ray of sunshine we all hoped it to be."

"What was the name of the defendant again?"

"Ruka Nogi." There was a tired sigh attached to her pronunciation of the name as she threw the chopped vegetables into the heated pan. The oil hissed in protest then slowly burned to a low hum as she added water for the soup.

His scarlet eyes gazed steadfastly at her form, observing, seeing the tired way she carried herself. "Something happened." She ignored him, then threw a handful of spices into the brew. Then there came another sigh. He stood up behind her and wound his arms around her waist. "Spit it out, Hotaru."

She froze at his touch. The frying pan sizzled for a few moments while he kept at the embrace and she stood still. The seconds were strained. Tension was everywhere. The soup boiled, the bubbles popped, the smoke rose in undecided swirls.

The water spilled over and she finally turned off the fire. "Have you been loyal to me, Natsume?"

His eyebrows knotted and he relinquished his hold on her. "Yes."

"Have you been faithful?"

Confusion sprouted between them. She kept her back to him. He breathed out a bit, but his tone was cold when he answered. "Yes, I have been. What is this about?"

"We never made love."

"There was never a need to."

"You never kissed me for longer than a minute."

"You never let me."

She turned around, and there was a smile in her face. It was a sad smile. "This is not working out, is it Fireboy?"

He stepped back, shrugged, and rolled his scarlet eyes before fixing it to her violet ones. "People always said we were so similar."

"Nothing's changed about that." She leaned back at the counter. The soup was slowly turning cold. She could feel its heat escaping from the closed lid of the bowl. "We still are the same. Eerily, in fact."

He looked at her in silence, wrapped in thoughtfulness. "It's this Ruka Nogi guy, isn't it?" He held up a small smile of his own, as far as his smile could go. He crossed his arms and breathed out.

Hotaru only looked on, but they both knew what it meant. She took one step closer to him and put her hands to his face. "Have you loved me?"

He smirked. "What kind of question is that?"

"Don't ask me," she replied. "We both know who you really loved first."

His eyes softened at her words. He raised a hand and brushed away stray locks of midnight hair from her face, contemplating on what to say next. When he closed his eyes, a flash of hazel flew by.

He settled with, "You never forgot her."

"Neither have you." She held his hand in hers and kissed his palm lightly, then asked, "Do you even feel anything when I kiss you?"

He could not answer her question. All he did was watch her and her actions. When he had had enough, he took her head and neared it to his lips, closing his eyes as he did.

"Do you love him?"

She kissed his neck. "Yes. I do."

"Then why are we here?"

She laughed humorlessly. "I don't really know."

She lingered a few more seconds in their position, then returned to the forgotten soup that had turned cold, turning on the stove again to reheat it. Both knew it would never taste the same again. And in the end, she knew would have to cook new soup to make it taste as good again.

She stood by the doors and thought of blue. He stood by the stairs and watched her. Outside the taxi was waiting to bring him home to the hazel that had always lingered in his mind, and kept him prisoner for four years.

That day was not just another day.

"I'm leaving." Then a smooth kiss. A swift hug. And then out the door, then into the taxi, away.