Alas, here I am yet again starting a new category :D This manga and anime really stuck with me right off the bat for some reason, and when I had only seen 1 episode and read 10 chapters, I started writing this XD Therefore you must forgive me if future events transpire that may contradict what you read in this story :3 As usual, what was intended to be a 7-8 page story ended up going to 18 pages so...yeah XD goes to show how much I love this series :3
I suppose I should put a spoiler warning on this. You might not want to read it unless you have read the first 10 chapters and seen at least the first episode, because it will give things away, if not majorly confuse you. Enjoy!
This story is dedicated to my friend, Edgar :3
Disclaimer: I do not own Inu X Boku SS / Youko X Boku SS :'(
Hold Me Tightly
Dark shadows engulfed the spacious apartment room of Ayakashi Kan, encompassing every milometer in cold blackness.
The small figure of a girl lay curled up on a bed that was all too large for her petite body, the sheets ruffled as though a tornado had passed through the room. She twisted and jerked about in her unpleasant sleep, periodically letting a small whimper escape from her lips.
At last, her piercing pink irises flew open as she gasped loudly, a cold sweat covering her delicate, pale skin.
Although her tortured insomnia was anything but new to her interrupted sleep schedule, every nightmare was just as horrible as the last without any crevice of calm for her to crawl into.
After regaining what little of her composure she could muster, the girl rolled over onto her side to reach for the lamp at her bedside table. She breathed a sigh of relief as the shadows dispersed, and she found the air come easier.
Glancing at her clock, her eyes, fuzzy with tiredness, read the numbers 4:38AM and she let slip a moan.
She always heard people at school talk about how much they loved to sleep, longed for it even, but she could not see the slightest hint of satisfaction in it. Instead of regenerating her body, sleeping with these constant nightmares wore her out physically and mentally more than anything else. She had tried countless methods, taken unlimited medicines to try and sooth the relentless demons that haunted her once peaceful slumber, but only fruitless results hailed from such methods.
Over her many sleepless months, she had quickly discovered that the method which was most effective during these times was to leave her lamp ablaze and to try to mediate rather than sleep.
So, as she had done many, many times before, she closed her eyes and tried to stay conscious, thinking about anything aside from the past that attempted to draw her back into it and lock her away within its troubles. She thought of the new building she currently resided in, of the rooftop garden with the beautiful sakura blossoms, of the new friends she had made on her first days of living there, and of her meddlesome bodyguard that never knew when to leave her alone.
As Ririchiyo's eyelids twitched when his face appeared in her mind, she did not notice the sad smile that formed on her lips before the image was forced from her mind by some selfish man who cared not for the sopping wet little girl beside him, but only for his own rewards from her parents.
In the end, Ririchiyo failed to fall back into the realm of slumber, as she often did after being awoken once from her nightmares.
After flipping about for nearly an hour, she deemed herself too awake to fall back asleep again that morning; or perhaps, she was too afraid.
Therefore, at 5:45, she groggily pushed herself up from her mattress and forced her chilled legs out from the sheets and onto the floor, her black, one-piece nightgown barely sufficient for keeping her exposed knees and arms warm throughout the cold nights. However, she had found that sleeping while cold was better for her, for it helped her awaken easier whenever she needed to.
Not unused to getting herself up so early for similar reasons, Ririchiyo stumbled over to her personal bathroom where she took a shower, freshened up, and proceeded to dry her previously disheveled hair. She slipped into one of her trademark outfits, black thigh-high socks, black shorts and a black, gray, and white dress shirt embroidered with frills around the collar and sleeves.
She glanced at the clock again to find it only 6:15 and sighed, drying her long, onyx hair off with a towel before tossing it aside limping back over to her bed. She tucked the covers back into place until it was neat, and then stared down at the mattress.
Hesitantly, as though her nightmares would leap up at her from the cushions, she sat back down on the bed. Placing her pillow against the headboard, she leaned her back against it and closed her eyes, hoping her wet hair and clothing would prevent her from falling asleep; she merely wanted a short nap.
When she reopened her eyes, however, only a few moments had passed and she felt no better. Sighing once more, she got to her feet again and decided to head down to the lounge to get something light to drink to clear her head.
Slipping flats onto her feet, she unlocked her door and stepped into the hallway, knowing even her ever-loyal companion, Soushi, would not be present yet, as he knew her normal waking time was later.
Ririchiyo passed the other three rooms on her floor before she stood atop the staircase. But before she managed to take a step down, the stairs suddenly seemed to come to life, twisting and withering away before her very eyes.
Stumbling, her hand desperately reached out to grab the railing before her weight betrayed her and she fell forward. She felt the solid floor disappear from beneath her feet and saw only the flurry of her own black hair as her eyelids suddenly flickered shut.
Everything froze for a moment in time and her mind went blank, the impending scream in her throat dying away like a bud chopped off before blossoming.
Then, she heard a deep voice calling her name, smelt a familiar scent, and felt a strong arm securely wrap around her waist.
"Ririchiyo-sama!" his voice carried on a slight echo around the marble walls of the stairway and quickly brought her back into the waking world. Her eyes fluttered open again as she gasped, realizing how precariously she was teetering atop the stairs until he pulled her backward. "Ririchiyo-sama!" he repeated, firmly holding her close to his body. She unconsciously gripped his arm with both of her trembling hands, still unnerved as she tried to slow her racing heartbeat.
"M...Miketsukami-kun..." she choked out feebly. She tried to find her balance again, but there was a relentless throbbing in her head that caused her vision to blur.
"Ririchiyo-sama, what's wrong? Should I call an ambulance? Are you injured?" he fretted reasonably.
"No need for that." She fought to make her voice sound level. "I'm fine. Just a bit...tired."
"It's okay." She repeated. Slowly, she pushed herself away from him and regained her balance. She did not turn around to look at his face, for she knew it would be painfully troubled, those mismatched eyes sparking with worry. "Why are you here, Miketsukami-kun?"
"I sensed you were awake. There is the simplest instinct shared between servant and master." He responded quietly.
"I see. Thank you. But I'm okay now, really." To prove her point, she turned to face him and gave him a small smile that just barely reached her gorgeous pink eyes. Letting his arms fall back to his sides, Soushi melted slightly at her smile and reflected it with one of his own.
"I am not worthy of such words." He bowed slightly, folding one hand over his chest. "But are you certain you do no require medical aid?"
"I am, thank you. I would just like some tea for now." She insisted, making her voice sound as earnest as possible. Although he easily detected the forced hint in her voice, Soushi merely nodded in agreement.
"Please then." He said, offering her his arm. She glanced at him briefly, but did not refuse his assistance.
Clutching onto his arm, she followed him slowly down the stairs, one at a time, feeling the faintest of blushes creep across her cheeks as she felt his firm grasp on her hand. At last, they reached the bottom and he led her to a table, pulling out her chair for her. "I'll only be a moment." He informed her. "But please, do not hesitate to call for me if you feel even the slightest bit unwell." He implored.
She gave a tiny nod to send him off; the second his back was turned, she dropped her smile and let her head fall forward, her long hair forming a screen around either side of her face. The throbbing in her head continued to trouble her and she squeezed her eyes shut against the pain. As she heard Soushi's footsteps approaching once more, she sucked in a sharp breath before straightening up.
"I've prepared some lavender tea." Her assistant announced, presenting her with a steaming cup. The girl reached forward with both hands and folded them around the cup, letting the heat seep into her chilled skin and awaken her nerves and blood. Carefully, she brought the cup to her lips and let the liquid slid down her throat, livening her body from the inside out. Once she had finished, she glanced up at her half-youkai companion.
"It really does have a calming affect." She informed him.
"I'm relieved to hear that." He dipped his head. "Would you like another?"
"Yes. Please." She passed the empty cup off to him.
Just then, movement caught her eye and she looked up to see Karuta descending the stairs, dressed in her usual SS uniform, her pale pink hair tied into neat, fluffy pigtails. Their eyes met, and Karuta gave the tiniest of smiles.
"Good morning." She greeted politely.
"Good morning." Ririchiyo replied respectfully.
As Roromiya walked over to fetch herself some tea, Soushi returned, observing his mistress as she picked up her second cup that morning.
He had been with her for only a fairly short amount of time, but even the many years up until the day of their meeting, he had felt as close to her as he did now. Even though all he ever did was write letters to her, he felt as close to her through those pieces of paper as he did standing beside her right now; the only difference was how now, he could hear her, see her, protect her.
As her servant, even from his own room, he could constantly sense her, no matter where she was in the building. His inhuman senses allowed him to catch her sweet scent on every draft of air, hear every soft breath that escaped her lips, and feel every beat of her troubled heart.
And now, he could tell that she was in pain, more so than she was every night when she was attacked by her persistent insomnia that he could do nothing about. He was about to mention her current condition when she suddenly got to her feet. "I'll be going to the restroom." She told him, beginning to walk away.
"Roromiya-san." Soushi motioned the other girl over to him and she left her teacup at her table. "Please escort Ririchiyo-sama. I fear she is unwell."
"Understood." She replied, following beside his mistress.
"I told you, I'm fine, Miketsukami-kun." Ririchiyo called back over her shoulder before continuing on. She honestly had believed her own words until she entered the restroom, her headaches seeming to return due to her increase in movement. She slumped against the wall, hardly noticing when Karuta rushed to her side and placed her hands on her shoulders to support her.
"Chiyo-chan, what is the matter?"
This was the first time the half-youkai had seen such subtle concern in the SS member's eyes and heard that small hint of worry in her voice.
"I don't know. My head just suddenly started hurting. I didn't get much sleep last night either..." she trailed off, trying to catch her breath.
"Chiyo-chan, let me call for assistance." The other girl insisted.
"Let me just...wash my face first."
Reluctantly, Karuta led her friend over to the sinks, unhappy to see her in pain but not wanting to act against her wishes. As Ririchiyo splashed cold water onto her face, she felt the pounding in her head begin to die away, but it did not cease completely.
Eventually, she decided it was as mild as it would get at the moment, and she let Karuta help her back out into the lounge where her faithful assistant was awaiting her return. His eyes were still troubled when he saw the worry on his fellow SS member's face, but the look of reassurance in his mistress's eyes was hard to ignore.
The thing that concerned him the most was the way she kept repeating, "I'm fine. I'm fine..."
Ririchiyo attempted to smother her headaches with her own willpower for the entirety of the day, mentally telling herself over and over again that she did not feel any pain.
It took her some time to prepare and get ready to head out for some food shopping with her Secret Service agent.
She hovered over the sink in her own room's bathroom with her palm pressing against her pounding temple, trying to control herself and stay calm and collected.
Soushi stood in the hallway outside her door, fidgeting and shifting his weight from one foot to the other repeatedly. Half of him was anxious from being away from her, the usual discomfort he felt whenever he was separated from his mistress, but the other half of him was pained in sensing she was unwell. Their master-servant connection was something that had formed between them many summers ago, before he knew anything about her more than her handwriting in those letters.
Presently, he heard a small ruckus and the apparent sound of small items falling onto the floor and knew she had stumbled. "Ririchiyo-sama! Are you alright?" He called out, one step away from breaking down the door and rushing in to attend to her.
"Y-Yes!" She responded, her voice sounding forced. "I'll be out in a moment. I just dropped something. I'm fine."
There she goes again with the "I'm fine" nonsense. He thought, punching his fist against the wall in frustration.
A moment later, he heard the door unlock and he straightened up as Ririchiyo stepped out, a small purse slug over her shoulder.
"I'm ready." She announced.
Soushi winced; normally, she would have sighed, acting uninterested when in reality she was eager to go out. But now, she gave a tiny smile, and he knew that she was hiding her true feelings behind that fake expression.
"Right. Let's be off then." Soushi said, despite himself. He offered her his elbow, a gesture he felt inclined to give due to his nature, a gesture she always brushed off and took no advantage of. But today, she hesitantly reached up and grasped his sleeve, which was a big enough indication of her state of poor health to nearly have Soushi turn her around and send her back to her room.
But before he could act, she continued to stride forward, tugging him along after her. He did his very best to keep the usual look on his face, but his own grin was fake and his eyes flickered with constant worry.
He followed her to the staircase, which was where he then took control and lead her slowly down each step.
He patiently kept pace with her step, which was slower than normal, outside on the sidewalks until the food store was in sight.
Ririchiyo suddenly stopped walking then, and alarm shot through Soushi as he felt her weight shift drastically. "Mi..." She attempted to say his name to no avail before she slumped sideways onto him.
"Ririchiyo-sama!" He shouted in despair, catching her small body in his arms and holding her against him. "Ririchiyo-sama!" But no matter how much he called her name, she did not respond.
He lifted her up bridal style and saw that her face was flushed, her cheeks tinted cherry-red as she panted for breath.
Feeling tears burning in his eyes, Soushi hugged her tightly to his chest and took a deep breath to keep the tears from overflowing, inhaling her sweet scent in the process. When he lifted his head, he raced off back toward the Ayakashi Kan as quickly as his demonic blood would allow him, but also with the human restraint that would ensure he did not further endanger the condition of his mistress.
Once more, for the second time within the hour, Soushi was fated to wait in the lonely hallway outside of the Shirakiin's daughter's room.
Upon his return, he had immediately sought out the assistance of Karuta and Nobara, who had been the only two in the lounge at the time. Flustered and concerned, the two female Secret Service agents had told Soushi to bring Ririchiyo to her room before proceeding to kick him out and tend to the girl themselves. One of his biggest frustrations was not being able to do things that other females could help his mistress with, so he tried to content himself as much as possible by telling himself he needed to guard this door with his very life.
After several more moments of antagonizing waiting, a small click was finally heard as the door unlocked and Karuta's small, babylike face appeared.
"You can come in now." She said in her airy voice. She stepped back as Soushi entered the room instantly and rushed over to the bed.
"Shh!" Nobara hissed. "Can't you see she's asleep? Just look at her adorable, flushed little face..." Her voice went from serious to obsessive within seconds as she fantasized about cuddling the sick girl.
Ririchiyo now lay covered with sheets in her black nightgown, her long, onyx hair pooling out around her head and spilling over her pillow like a black stream of silk. The thought that Nobara had been the one to change her clothes troubled him in a harmless way as the blonde woman continued to rant about her new favorite girl besides Karuta.
"Ririchiyo-sama..." he had lost count of how many times he had said her name within the past hour, and now he collapsed onto his knees so that he was face-level with the miniature sleeping beauty. He heard a faint pitter patter and saw a bundle of light pink from the corner of his eye and turned his head to see Karuta squat down beside him.
"She's caught a slight fever due to anemia. It is also possible that she has been suffering from insomnia as well." She informed him; he noticed her voice was stoic, but her eyes trembled with concern for her dear friend.
"Anemia?" He repeated in dismay. "I've seen her light on at early hours of the morning far too many times. It's time I did something about this insomnia." He decided.
"Like what?" The girl wondered. "She has taken medicine. None of them work."
"I'll figure something out." He vowed, biting his lip. "I'm ashamed I've done so little about it up until this point. Now, it's gotten so bad it's affecting her everyday life as well. I'll do something..." he repeated, trailing off as though going into deep, serious thought.
Karuta blinked at him once before nodding, a plead in her actions, and then she stood and retrieved a damp cloth from the adjoining bathroom and gingerly placed it on her ill friend's forehead. The favorable change in temperature was enough to make Ririchiyo stir, and not long afterward, her beautiful pink eyes fluttered open like tattered butterfly's wings. Once her irises shifted into focus, her three companions cried out simultaneously:
They looked down at her with worried eyes; even Nobara seemed to take on the appropriate attitude the situation demanded.
It took her a moment before Ririchiyo guessed what was going on.
"You three..." she moaned. "Thank you for taking care of me, but please leave."
"I cannot leave you!"
The three replied respectively. Ririchiyo attempted to redeem herself in their eyes.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to be harsh. It's just that I'm okay now and I don't want to bother you all. I just need some sleep."
"Nonsense! You weren't being harsh." Soushi corrected her. "You're just being as selfless as ever, Ririchiyo-sama. Do not worry about inconveniencing us, especially me; I am your Secret Service agent, after all."
"Don't worry about me either!" Nobara declared. "You take prioritey over that bum any day!" She said, referring to Renshou.
"I am also currently unneeded." Karuta added in.
"Don't say it like that, idiot." Ririchiyo sighed. "But you've all done more than enough now. Just let me sleep for now. I'll be fine."
Liar! Soushi gritted his teeth, angry at himself for being so helpless. Stop saying you're fine! How do you expect me to leave you in this condition?
"But Ririchiyo-sama," he said softly so the others would not hear. "Your insomnia will not allow you to sleep unless you are unconscious."
"Don't talk about that. It's not that bad." She tried to reassure him. "I just want to try and get some sleep."
He noticed a fatigue in her eyes that suggested she was trying to take advantage of this illness; she was trying to let it consume her into unconsciousness so that she would be able to sleep peacefully for once.
"But-" he tried to oppose again but was cut off by Nobara.
"She's right." The pale, blonde-haired woman agreed.
"Eh?" he looked at her in disbelief, believing she would also be opposed to leaving his mistress in her current condition.
"We should just let her sleep for now. Plus," she added more quietly, "even if something goes wrong, you'll be able to sense it, right?"
"I...I suppose you're right. But-"
"Miketsukami-kun." He turned his head quickly to meet her Ririchiyo's eyes. He frowned when he realized what she was about to say. "I'll be fine."
"There. Come now, you two let's leave her to sleep." Nobara waved Soushi away from the bed as she pushed a reluctant Karuta across the room. "Sleep tight, Ririchiyo-chan! Don't let the bed bugs bite!"
"Rest well." Karuta wished her.
Soushi found Ririchiyo's small, pale white hand and kissed the back of it. "Sweet dreams, Ririchiyo-sama. I'll always be here if you need me."
"Yes. Thank you, Miketsukami-kun." Her eyes were becoming duller with tiredness again, and she was obviously fighting to stay awake. This gave her guardian a small flicker of hope that she may be able to get some rest after all.
He held onto her hand a moment longer than was necessary, savoring her warmth before he gently placed her hand back onto her stomach and covered it with his own hand.
"Ririchiyo-sama..." he wanted to say something else, but he could not think of what words he should muster. He felt the swelling tears on the brim of his eyelids once more but held them back, gazing down at her slightly pained face.
"I'm...fine..." her breath slipped away from her as her sheer fatigue won her over at last and her eyes fell shut. Soushi watched her a moment longer, but her condition did not change, and despite the aches she must have been feeling previously, she seemed to be unaffected now.
Slowly, he left her and walked across the room, shutting off the light and closing the door behind him.
"I shall sleep out here tonight." He informed his colleagues. Both of them nodded in understanding; when a Secret Service agent's master's condition required their servant to sleep outside in the hallway, that was where they would sleep; any sacrifice was sound for the well-being of their masters.
"Good idea." Nobara nodded, fully understanding his decision. "Make sure she's better soon so I can play with her too!" She winked playfully before heading off down the hall.
"Take care of her." Karuta begged him.
"Right." He swore as she took off after Nobara. "I hope I can." He added softly to himself. "I must. No matter what it takes."
After about half an hour of worrisome pacing up and down the length of the hallway, Soushi finally stopped and sat down, leaning his back against room 4's door.
Despite the lights being on up above, he told himself that he needed to at least try to get some sleep, lest his mistress required his assistance and he was not at above sufficient conditions to attend her. Though he closed his eyes, he made sure that a small part of his conscious remained alert for any signs of trouble.
Several hours passed in silence and the late night soon became early morning. Soushi slept quietly with his head leaning against the door for that long, until presently, his eyes flew open. His body was instantly awake and tensed from fingers to toes as he felt an unexplainable sensation of dull pain throbbing in his temples; and when he listened very intently, the ruffling of bedsheets in the room behind him suggested that it was not because he had slept the night in the hallway, but something much more crucial.
Immediately, the half-youkai was on his feet, trying to shake off the drowsiness of slumber that now left him completely refreshed aside from the slight pain. "Ririchiyo-sama..." he choked out as the pain grew slightly worse.
He wanted nothing more than to race into her room and comfort her with whatever troubles were making her so pained that even he could feel it clearly, but his restrictions as a Secret Service agent had borders that he was forced to recognize.
However, Soushi was an impatient and demanding caretaker, and he was now simply waiting for the second that marked the end of his ability to hold back and keep away from his distressed mistress. With his acute hearing, he could easily make out the quick motions of how she was twisting about in her bed, but this was not like the few previous nights, somehow.
The hair on the back of his neck raised when he heard her whimper and he was poised with his gloved hand hovering over the doorknob. He could hardly bear to wait outside and listen with only a thin piece of material such as a door separating him from her; had he been anything other than her agent with limitations to his actions, he would never have left her bedside.
The pounding of his heart reverberated throughout his entire body and he knew instantly that it was because of his link with her that he was feeling this. He gritted his teeth, telling himself to only wait one more moment, just in case she somehow recovered and he was no longer needed.
But the final straw to his patience was snapped when he heard a small sound come from within her room. It was the tiniest sound on a thin, strangled breath, but to him, it was as clear as a bell.
He took the signal of his mistress calling out his name as the invitation into her quarters and burst through the door as though a pack of demons were on his tails; not that a pack of demons was not something he would not be able to easily handle at the expense of his mistress's safety.
"Ririchiyo-sama!" he yelled as he rushed to her bed. His eyes adjusted quickly to the darkness to find the lamp on her nightstand, the light of which he had seen illuminating the late night into early morning hours so frequently since he had met her acquaintance. When the room was brightened by the light, the shadows in the corners becoming darker than before, Soushi stared down in sheer horror at the sight before him.
The small girl whom he had come to know and love even before actually meeting her, lay in her bed, the covers around her discombobulated as though a great storm had seen to them. Her normally long, silky, soft, onyx hair was now a disheveled mess of dark strands, wrapping around her entire body like small, constricting snakes. The straps of her black nightgown dress had long since slipped off her shoulders as her body jerked about in spasms. Sweat covered her forehead and her eyes were squeezed shut tightly as if forcefully glued, and her breath was hardly existent at all as she continued to thrash about, as though being tossed maliciously between the jaws of some unseen beast.
Soushi was utterly appalled, horrified and unsure of what he could possibly do for her. He stared down at her in terrified silence, wondering just how long she had been in such condition without him realizing it.
He snapped out of his reverie long enough to realize that he had done nothing but gawk since entering her room, and forced his body to move in some way. He tentatively reached forward, whispering her name again fearfully as he got a good look at her tormented expression. But before his hand could reach her, she tossed to her other side with a soundless scream parting her lips, her eyebrows furrowing as the silent torture inflicted upon her continued.
Soushi wanted to feel her pain as if it were his own, but whatever internal monsters were tearing her apart were hers, and hers alone.
At last, he could not stand to see her like this any longer, and knew he needed to cease her spastic thrashing first and foremost. Determination overtook the fear in his eyes as Soushi reached down and firmly grasped her shoulders.
Instantly, Ririchiyo let out a yelp of sheer agony and he recoiled as though he had been struck, even though her flailing legs had not made any contact with him. However, he would not allow himself to be discouraged, and so he repeatedly reminded himself that his actions would be for her own benefit in the end before he gathered himself for a second attempt.
This time, he looked away as he grabbed her shoulders, not wanting to see that look of pain on her face caused by his own two hands. He commanded himself to ignore her strangled scream and pushed down on her small frame, pinning her shoulders to the bed and momentarily stopping her harmful thrashing.
Once her body had been restrained from movement, something seemed to click inside her subconscious that made her realize that this stillness was natural. Her shoulders trembled beneath his palms, making him realize just how tightly he was pressing her down, and he slowly relinquished some of the pressure. Her legs were still stiff and her back was arched from the haunts of her nightmares.
Tears streamed down her pale cheeks, and Soushi was aware of his own tears brimming at his eyelids. It was aching to him, more than anything, to have to listen to her clipped, shallow breathing, which was presently the only sound in the room. The cold sweat on her forehead had gone as far as her neck and collarbones, which quivered with panting breaths that did not seem efficient enough to provide her body with oxygen.
Soushi tried to make his voice sound calm when he spoke her name again. "Ririchiyo-sama?" He whispered. "Are you-"
But his question was cut off when he felt her small body surge upward again against his firm hold on her as she suddenly cried out, "No!" and just like that, her body was contorted in its thrashing agony all over again.
Soushi struggled to keep her shoulders in place as her hands gripped the bedsheets, her fingers curling and her nails digging into them until they went through the fabrics and reached her own palms; he noticed fain dots of crimson begin to seep through the material. Her legs kicked out before recoiling again, her knees raised as her feet pushed against the bed, trying to escape his grasp.
But he was not going to let go of her this time.
Soushi was shocked at how much effort he needed to put into securing such a tiny, nearly weightless girl. The power stored within the small shoulders below his palms was immense, and he knew she was no longer relying upon her human half to fight this torture. He sensed her youkai strength surge up against him, and Soushi needed to call on some of his own powers in order to suppress hers.
Eventually, he found the correct amount of pressure that was necessary to keep her as still as possible; he just hoped it was not enough to hurt her any more than she already was. He held onto that amount of pressure and proceeded with the plan that had formed in his frantic mind. Staying where he was, Soushi waited, holding her shoulders down and trying not to look at her face.
Several moments ticked by painfully slowly as he waited for her to wear herself out. It was far longer than he would have imaged before she finally began to lose her physical strength; he could feel it ebbing away from her.
Then, she let out a pitiful, strangled wail, like that of a small, wounded animal as its life flew away from its body; such a sound coming from his mistress sent a horrible shiver down his spine. Her wail died away thinly and ended in a moan that begged for help.
"Ririchiyo-sama!" he cried out, praying that his voice somehow reached her. "It is only a nightmare! Nothing can harm you; I'm here! I'm right here! Ririchiyo-sama..." his voice trailed off helplessly. But as her body went from tense to limp, he could not help but think she looked the slightest bit less tortured.
Gradually, he released the weight upon her shivering shoulders, and her arched back collapsed onto the mattress. Ririchiyo lay still then, only because her limbs were too exhausted to continue movement. But her tears still overflowed from her shut eyelids; her pillow had long-since been damp with puddles.
Soushi could hardly look at her now, could hardly bear to listen.
Her breathing was the only thing that had not calmed down. Each gasp that she tried to draw into her lungs was expelled within less than a second, before it could even serve its purpose. Each breath was more strained and desperate than the last, as though she was being suffocated by some massive weight upon her chest. As she gasped harshly, her chest heaved violently, and the shortness of breath due to her crying made it even worse.
Soushi was too painfully aware of his strong hearing picking up every rush of air that she drew in and knew how ineffective they were to help her. He counted that for each normal breath he drew, his whimpering mistress went through about ten.
Leaning down over her, Soushi gently slipped his arm beneath her heaving shoulders and lifted her up sightly so that she may breathe easier. He sat down on the edge of her bed and pulled her limp weight up toward him. Her shortness of breath had not improved yet, and a sharp, fresh pang of worry shot through him.
He could feel her little heart thundering against her ribcage and was horrified that such a violent tumult was transpiring from within such a small, fragile body. He stroked her quivering back with his warm hand, tracing slow, soothing circles over her shoulder blades. He murmured her name repeatedly as he did so, and was relieved when at last, he felt her breaths begin to become slower and deeper. He continued to pat her back with one hand as the other pulled her into his lap and he began to wipe her tears as best he could manage.
It seemed eons before her pulse finally dropped back to its original pace; he could hear the beats of her heart slowing as he felt her breathing return to normal. As he brushed aside her final tear with his thumb, her eyelids fluttered open like tattered butterfly's wings to reveal the gorgeous, piercing pink irises that were unmatched by any other gaze or color in all the universes.
Although they were glazed from utter exhaustion and fatigue, past the fear and remaining pain, Soushi could see the slightest flicker of an emotion she had reserved only for him, and he, for her.
Her lips parted as she attempted to speak, but her voice came out as a cough which erupted into a series of coughs, as though she had just resurfaced from drowning. "Ririchiyo-sama!" he called out as her body rocked back and forth in his arms as she coughed. "Please, be calm. It's alright now. Nothing can hurt you anymore. Please, just breathe. Please..." he begged her.
A moment passed before she was quiet again, resting in his strong embrace before she blinked her eyes open once more and opened her lips for a second attempt to speak. He was about to scold her and implore her not to try to speak, but as she found her voice, she managed to rasp one word from her worn-out throat; "Miketsukami...kun..." she choked as fresh tears began to stream over the trails of the dried ones he had just erased.
Soushi felt another tear slip from his own eye as he composed himself to reply.
"I'm here, Ririchiyo-sama. It's all over now. I'm right here. What can I do?" he asked pitifully, drawing her closer to him.
"Just..." her voice was small and trembled as she spoke, but he heard her as clearly as ever before. "Just...hold me tightly..." she hiccuped as sobs overwhelmed her yet again, reaching her arms up to lock around his neck.
Soushi gladly obeyed, pulling her into him and embracing her as tightly as he could, something he had never been granted appropriate circumstances to ever do before. He wrapped his arms around her back and waist as she curled her legs up beneath her and strained to rest her chin on his shoulder.
They felt the other's tears drip onto their shoulders as they remained there a long while, relishing the closeness, the comfort, the warmth of another person.
Ririchiyo breathed in his scent, that protective, strong, yet gently caring scent that constantly wreathed around every second of her life. She let it fill her aching lungs, and it seemed to heal them with every breath.
Soushi, too, took in her sweet, alluring scent that was faintly of blossoms. He held her, pressing them together in a near-crushing manner that was simply borderline perfection itself. She hugged him back as tightly as her weary arms would allow her too; she wanted to show him just how grateful she was for him with her embrace alone. But her trembling arms were not sufficient enough to tell him those emotions, so she resorted to tell him herself.
"Thank you..." she breathed into his ear, letting the last of her tears fall.
"I am unworthy of such praise." He replied with disdain for his own helplessness and held her tighter.
"Nonsense." She whispered. "You deserve...much more...praise than that." She felt herself fading quickly now as she fought to keep her eyelids open. As her grip around his neck slackened, his grip on her back strengthened as he slowly came to support all of her weight.
But before she succumbed to sleep, Ririchiyo managed to kiss his cheek and whisper something more into his ear. Then, she gave a final exhale of breath and was silent as sleep overtook her.
Soushi's eyes widened as he felt those soft lips graze his cheek and listened to those words bless his ears.
He held her there a few moments longer, listening to her steady breathing and feeling the rhythmic beating of her heart.
Then, he brought himself to loosen his embrace on her, and shifted as he gingerly laid her back down onto her bed. He smiled when he saw the tiny grin on her lips that spoke of pure happiness, happiness that can only be acquired after the passing of such a frightful event such as the one that transpired that night.
Soushi dutifully shielded his mistress from the slightly-chilled air with the bed covers and he fluffed her pillow as best he could manage. He spent several moments smoothing out her hair, brushing his fingers though her tresses and letting the silky sensation tickle his fingers. He lifted each of her hands in turn, kissing the small wounds on her palms she had given herself in her desperation.
He glanced down at her now, sleeping peacefully, her dreams untainted, and thought that this was how it should always be for her. Something told him that the things that haunted her sleep had come to an end with the passing of this night; it seemed previous sleepless nights had built up to prepare for some unexplained explosion of nightmares that would not allow her to escape them simply by waking up.
Looking at her now, Soushi felt compelled to respond to her earlier actions; even though she had not permitted it, she had not denied it either.
Therefore, he justified his actions with that thought as he leaned over her and kissed her forehead lightly before he whispered, "I love you too, Ririchiyo-sama."
Then, he made the snap decision to sit on the floor beside her bed for the remainder of the night, merely to stay by her side. The light emitting from the lamp would before long be joined by the beginning sunlight that promised the new day.
As Soushi sat down, he reached up and found her small hand, and grasped it with his own.
He closed his eyes and listened to her soft breathing, letting it lull him to sleep.
Many more troubles surely awaited the Secret Service agent and his mistress, but for now, relief had come, allowing them a time of peace to relax and prepare for whatever tomorrow had in store for them, for whatever it may be, they would face it together, side by side.
A/N: Thank you all so much for reading this! I apologize if it seemed rushed at times, but I was pressed for time when writing. I do hope you enjoyed it! I'll surely be writing more for this series! :3 Feedback please? Help me out a bit so I can make my next one even better!