Chapter 15

They didn't talk much after that,

Julie retreated in to herself after her story, unused to revealing that much about herself to a veritable stranger, especially all at once. Or at least, that's what Kaoru hoped. All that she did was prepare for their imminent escape.

This left Kaoru with a lot of time alone, which he wasn't sure if he was happy about or not. On one hand, it avoided a lot of awkward moments with Julie (and they were awkward. Nothing was easy between them anymore. Neither of them knew what to say, leading to a lot of heavily charged, awkward silences. Even when the silence was broken, their dialogue was hesitant and uncomfortable. It was a relief to be able to get away from the stifling feeling of words unsaid.) But on the other hand, all of that time alone in silence gave Kaoru a lot of time to think. And think he did.

He thought on his brother, his friends and the Host Club. He thought of his mother and father. But mostly, he thought about Julie. About her relationship with Thomas. About Joshua, her parents and Phillip. About how warped her childhood must have been growing up in the military.

Most frequently, however, he wondered. What was she really capable of? He'd seen her language skills first hand, and her good physical form, though only briefly. He'd seen her pain tolerance and some of her undercover skills. Still, he had a hard time reconciling the beautiful, if unusually talented young women that he'd come to know with the (albeit reluctant) killer that she described herself to be. He had never seen her do anything like that, and he just couldn't imagine her shooting anybody, even if necessary. She was so full of life, treasured living so much, he couldn't picture her robbing another person of that.

He was giving himself a headache. He always did when he thought about these things, so he stopped.

Sighing, Kaoru drifted off into sleep again.

~o0O0o~

A couple of weeks passed and Kaoru slowly recovered from his injuries. Julie had adopted a normal sleeping pattern again, which relieved the Japanese boy greatly. She had also begun to join him on the bed, which, considering the general awkwardness between them, came as quite a surprise. It was nice though, Kaoru supposed, falling asleep next to her, because most of the time she was gone by the time he woke up.

"Another couple of days and I think we should be good to go," Julie announced one evening (they'd just finished eating dinner). Because his mouth was still full of bread, Kaoru merely nodded, cheeks slightly puffed out. She smiled slightly at his face, though she tried to hide it.

"Get some sleep" she said, amusement clear in her tone.

She curled up next to him, head pillowed on her arm an close her eyes. Her breathing slowed and evened out as she relaxed and allowed her body to slip into sleep. It had surprised Kaoru when he first learned that she could force her body in to sleep. Even greater was his shock and worry when he realised that she could also keep herself from sleeping no matter how exhausted she was, and had done so on multiple occasions.

Reclining back against the pillows, Kaoru tried to match his breathing to his companions'.

Breathe in for four. Hold for four. Breathe out for four. In for four… hold for four… out for four…. In…. Hold…. Out….

Soon enough, Kaoru felt the steady rhythm lulling him into sleep. He gave in to its embrace willingly…

~o0O0o~

…And awoke with a start a couple of hours later.

Julie was thrashing next to him, eyebrows furrowed, hands twitching, muttering unintelligibly. Kaoru focused all of his attention on the words, curious to know what she could be dreaming about that could affect her in this way, though he had a sneaking suspicion.

"No… come on… have to… come… please… go… later… please… no…. No! No, Thomas! Thomas! NO!"

She was crying in her sleep now, tears streaming down her face from behind her still-closed eyes, curled up tightly in a ball, sobs wracking her frame.

Kaoru decided that now was a good time to take action.

Gently, he touched her shoulder. When she didn't wake but simply continued to cry and mutter, he shook her gently, then with a little more force as she stubbornly remained asleep. He began to panic when her cries rose in itch and fervor. She almost sounded like she was physically in pain.

With a twinge of pain from his still-sore shoulder, Kaoru sat up and forced her body out flat on her back. Hovering over his roommate's prone frame, he shook her arm with the hand that wasn't propping him up off of the bed, and, when there was still no response, he began speaking to her in a somewhat frantic tone.

"Julie! Julie, wake up! It's only a dream, come on. Wake up! Please… Wake up!"

Kaoru had never felt so helpless before. She wouldn't wake up and she was hurting and there was nothing, absolutely nothing that he could do to save her from her own mind. He felt himself tearing up.

Until, quite suddenly, she jolted awake, nearly cracking their skulls together as she jolted into consciousness.

"Kaoru…? What are you doing?"

Her voice was hoarse from sleep and chocked from tears. Her eyes were blank and hollow.

The tears threatened to overwhelm him.

"I'm sorry…. You were crying and screaming and thrashing about, and I just didn't know what to do…. You wouldn't wake up, no matter what I did. I felt so helpless… I didn't know what to do and you just wouldn't wake up."

Kaoru closed his mouth, realising that he was rambling. Julie closed her eyes, took a deep, shuddering breath and slowly let it back out again.

"I hate this," she said quietly. She probably didn't mean f for him to hear, but he did. And it broke his heart.

Hesitantly he asked, "Do you want to talk about it? Maybe it'll help."

She grinned bitterly. "I doubt it, but sure. Let's give it a shot…"

She lay on her back, eyes focused on the ceiling. Kaoru propped himself up on his elbow beside her.

"I dreamt that I was back in the boarding school, leading Thomas by the hand. It was all happening again, the exact same as it had originally. We had almost made it; Thomas got shot. That's when it changed. I was holding Thomas while he was dying, except instead of just clutching my hand and telling me good-bye, he… blames me. Tells me it's all my fault. Then I was in a black space. Nothingness, emptiness, whatever you want to call it. There was a body lying in a single pool of light in what I assume was the centre of the space. Even though I didn't want to, I walked towards it. At first, it was Thomas, but then it changed…. Then it was Josh, and he was dying, reaching out towards me, but my legs refused to move. It changed again, and it wasn't Josh anymore but you, you Kaoru. And you were dying and there was nothing I could do to stop it!"

She began to cry again, hysterical sobs Kaoru was sure that she wouldn't have let out if she weren't half-asleep in the dark. She clung to his chest and cried, the dampness soaking through his shirt, and he still didn't know what to do or how to help her, so he did the only thing that came into his mind.

He kissed her.

He could feel her tears on his cheeks as he pressed his lips gently against hers. Her arms wound 'round his neck and she began to kiss him back, lips moulded together, bodies pressed flush against one another.

For a few moments, it was bliss. Then his brain caught up to him.

He was kissing Julie. He, Kaoru Hitachiin, was kissing his roommate and secret military operative, Julie Rutherford-Hopkins. Her hands were in his hair, his tongue was in her mouth, and they. Were. Kissing. Oh God. He pulled away from her mouth with a quiet smack.

Julie was lying underneath him (when did that happen?), cloths slightly askew, hair a mess, with the most gorgeous (wait, what?) pink blush on her cheeks.

"Oh God," Kaoru stammered because he knew, just knew she was going to be angry with him, "Julie I'm so sor-"

She pressed he finger against his lips, effectively cutting him off.

"Don't," she whispered, shaking her head, "just… don't." There was something in her eyes that Kaoru couldn't quite place, some deep and powerful emotion that he had never seen before. Before he could identify what it was, she had tugged him down next to her and cuddled up against his side, with her one leg wrapped around his and her head resting against his chest.

"Good night, Kaoru," she said as she closed her eyes once again, snuggling slightly closer to him.

Not knowing what else to do, Kaoru slung his arm around her, hand resting near her lower back and replied, "Good night Julie. Sleep well."

Se drifted off almost immediately, but even with the sound of her steady breathing next to him and her warmth pressed up against his side, Kaoru just couldn't relax. His mind kept replaying their kiss over and over in an endless loop, along with the unknown look in her dark eyes that had come afterwards. What had it meant? Why had he kissed her in the first place?

When he finally did drift off about an hour later, he was still no closer to figuring any of it out.

End!