"You again?"

He regarded her with guarded suspicion from the couch as he rolled from his side onto his back. Her smile wavered, the dull pain quickly resurfacing as an ache in her chest. To save face, she regained her composure hastily under his scrutiny.

Usually, she could make some type of remark to his apathetic jests. But today was different. Today… it was like a fist had curled itself firmly around her throat. Her tongue was heavy and dry and, no matter how much she willed herself to, her jaw didn't seem to want to function correctly.

In retrospect, why had she come at all? Did she honestly believe he'd welcome her here, pull her up a seat and talk with her about something other than the souls that he could help? It was the very thing that had brought them together. And she was all but convinced that it was the only thing that kept them together as well.

"What's happened this time?"

Why does something have to happen for me to visit you?

The question rested on the tip of her tongue. Her eyes registered his frown, informing her that he was displeased that she'd woken him up. Again. His expression spoke volumes of the discontent he felt. And the unformed questioned died on her lips, taking her confident resolve with it.

"Oh, I… it's just…"

She sighed, releasing a shuddered breath. Her heart was throwing itself madly against her ribcage in despair.

He doesn't want me here.

Her throat constricted even more. Her eyes stung, suddenly too dry. She couldn't maintain eye contact with him anymore, and allowed her gaze to drop to the table separating them.

He couldn't possibly love me.

"It's just what?"

There was a certain sharpness, an irritability, in his tone. His patience with her silence was wearing thin, she realized, and her hands began the task of searching blindly behind her for an escape.

"Never mind," She whispered, fearful her voice might betray her. "It's nothing."

"Don't start acting like Gotou; showing up here, being a nuisance, and still having nothing intelligible to say."

He's teasing.

It was just a tease. She knew that. She'd parried his snarky advances deftly before. So why did his thoughtless jab hurt so much today?

She fumbled with the doorknob for only a moment. Her exit was swift and wordless, conducted before her eyes gave way to the emotion she felt. If she cried inexplicably in front of him, what would he have done? Tried to comfort her? Doubtful. He wasn't a man who walked around wearing his heart on his sleeve, and he expected no less of others. As if one heartbreak of unrequited love could possibly compare to the painful fate he'd been dealt.

She wanted more than anything to share in his pain. To take if even a small fraction of the weight off of his burdened shoulders, and place it onto her own. She could bear it. She wanted to bear it.

When had she begun to question the relationship she shared with him? When had she realized that whatever it was they had, she wasn't content with it?

Her feet stumbled, tripping over an invisible obstacle. She gasped for breath, winded by her run as she steadied herself on her feet. Doubling over, she panted, her hands grasping her knees.

Yakumo…

Her eyes squinted shut, but a single tear betrayed her, slipping out of the corner of her left eye.

When had she fallen in love with a man who could never return her feelings? And why had she allowed her feelings to control her, allowing them to steer her away into such despair?

Fate was cruel, indeed.

She wished he would have called after her, chased her down and listened to her pained sobs.

But she knew better. She was smarter than that. Smart enough to know that he wouldn't come. He would never come after her. If anyone did the chasing, it would have to be her.

But did she have the courage for that? What if he rejected her? She could live with that rejection in time, yes, but could she bring herself to try again with him? Or would it crush her spirits entirely?

All of her questions could be summed up into one;

Was he worth it to her?

Her eyes fluttered opened, staring at her sneakers.

He was uncharming, spiteful, pessimistic and brooding. He was rude, sarcastic, and the most selfish man she'd ever met.

And yet, despite all of that…

She straightened her posture, wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her jacket. Turning, she jogged back from whence she came.

Of course. Even if it takes me the rest of my life… I'll spend it convincing him that he isn't alone in this.

That they were two pieces of a whole. They were made for each other.

Haruka took a deep breath, clasping the knob firmly with one hand.

She wouldn't run anymore. Not from him, not from her feelings. She loved him, and she couldn't sleep another night knowing that he didn't know that.

She turned the knob… and opened the door.