A/N: So, I haven't been around in a while. oh well, I have a life (which is a relatively new thing for me) and I feel that excuses such things, maybe perhaps kinda you know.

This isn't quite...fluff...but is certainly a virtual manifestation of my inclination towards self-gratification. Enjoy? R and R? Please?

oh, also, I don't own anything. no really, I'm a college student, I own ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, so don't sue me.

You'd think such a question would have a simple yes or no answer to it do I like her like that? It probably does, it's just that I don't know is all I seem to have in response. And as she sits there on the couch, sipping her tea as the sun slips over her hair hair like honey waiting for me to explain why I'm staring at her like a particularly difficult math problem, I can't help but think god, this is so stupid. I know that I like her she makes me warm and fuzzy inside, melting the ice I fight so hard to keep solid but I can't help thinking the only reason I blush and stutter when she's around is her teasing damn irritating. It has nothing to do with the way she smiles that's never genuine anyway or the curves to her chest and hips at least not when I'm awake. I just like making her happy the way her eyes light up is just…just…she's too gorgeous for words when she's happy.

"Nat-su-ki." I jolt at the seemingly sudden interruption of silence between us.



I huff in annoyance. "Why'd you say my name?"

"Ara…it's such a beautiful name, I just couldn't resist." She smirks as I flush.

"Baka!" And then she does that, and all I can see is wait, is she serious? her amusement at my expense she's serious as my cheeks quickly deepen to the color of an overripe tomato she just wanted to say my name. "Why do you always have to tease me like that?" I mean it as a complaint that came out as an honest request. How can she just sit there like that and smirk? How does she know what to do, what she wants, how she feels? Why?

"Natsuki is cute when she blushes. Have I not said this before?"

My cheeks, which had been returning to their normal pale coloring, quickly pink up again. "Yes, but…why? What does it…what does it matter if I look…cute…or not?" I hated to use her wording I'm not cute! but the question is honest, and I need her to know that.

"I…" she looks confused at the question, but sees my curiosity and presses on. "I suppose it is…that I…that I can provoke such a reaction? That is not quite it…I…" She looks off at the wall in the thought, her cup of tea entirely forgotten, and taps her chin out of habit. "It is that I can…that I do…cause such a change in you." She turns back to face me, her eyes just barely giving away her struggle to articulate. "I like being the reason you look so cute." The answer falls far short of profundity, and she tries to smile her trademark mask, but it's a little cracked. She's nervous. I don't know why I know how you feel as I doubt there's anything she could say that could truly shock me I know how you love me, how wholly and purely and powerfully.

"I…think I can understand that, Shizuru." Her eyes widen, my response unexpected. I explain "Sometimes when you're with me" alone "I can make you laugh" as natural and free as the whispering wind in the leaves "and I feel..." warm "I feel proud of myself for it. For making you so carefree" so beautiful. "Does that make sense?" I look up, realizing I've been staring at my hands as I speak guess I'm nervous too only to see her eyes still wide, her mouth open slightly. It takes her a moment to swallow, to blink, to breathe.

"Y…yes, yes it does."

Silence sits on us as I try to force myself to speak. It's so difficult with her. So…

"Shizuru…I'm…confused, sometimes." She sits there, still quiet, and I can't help but feel grateful that for once, she doesn't try to cut through the awkwardness with humor, instead letting me continue. "Not sometimes, really, all the time. I don't…I don't understand how I…how I feel?" Everything is halted, questioning, but keep going, just keep going I feel the need to continue, lest I just stop and never speak at all. "You make me feel so warm inside, like…like as long as I'm with you, I'm home, and I'm safe" so safe. "And safe is something I…I don't…I didn't feel before I met you. Not really. Confident, yeah, sure, but…actually…honestly safe? Like I didn't need to watch my back, and…you know? I hope you know because I'm not really sure I do, but…but the thing is, I'm trying to figure out what it is, because…you know…and…and every time I try to name it, or…or shove it in some stupid box, it just makes less sense! It's too big for a damn box, you know? Too big, and too complicated, and too…too important for words and labels, but I can't just not think about it, right? I'm always too impulsive, and with this, I want…I want to know. To be sure. I don't want to hurt you, or hurt me, or really, I don't want to hurt us, and" and that's the part where I look up again when did I get so shy? because she's standing up, her eyes a little wet, and holds her hands down to me, as an invitation to what? That's the important part. To what?

"Come here," she says, and part of me just shuts up, holds her hands softly, and doesn't resist when she pulls me up into a hug, for once her arms around my waist as mine go up around her neck, my head on her shoulder. "I know you already know this, but…but I love you, Natsuki. And I know you love me too, as much, as strongly-"

"But I don't know how I love you, Shizuru-" I whisper gruffy into her skin. I'm close to tears, but she's nearly sobbing into my neck.

"That does not matter. Just that you do. Just that you care enough to even try to make me laugh, enough to put up with my teasing and see through my smiles, that you…god that you can stand here and tell me all of…of this. Don't you see? Don't you see what it does to me?"

I pull back just enough to see the sun still shining through her hair. My left hand stays behind her head as my right slides back to rub gently at her damp cheek. Her eyes are a mixture of pride and vulnerability, fiery and fierce as she tries to show me show me, Shizuru how she feels. And that's when I decide to lean in, because damn it, I need to feel you, Shizuru I just can't hold myself back, and it doesn't matter that her lips are salty I think I'm crying too, now. I can feel her melt into me, both hands moving up to cup my cheeks, holding me in place. She wants me, wants meand doesn't want me to go not ever, I won't. It only lasts a couple seconds, being as chaste as the last one we shared right before we died, but it doesn't matter, because that isn't the point. It isn't about hunger lust. This is a different kind of want a different kind of need and even if that hunger is alive and well and if I'm honest, it is at other times, it doesn't make a difference right now.

"Shizuru…" My forehead rests against hers, and I watch her face, her eyes still closed.

"I love you, Natsuki," she breathes.

I rub my nose back and forth against hers, enjoying the simple sensation even as my heart pounds in my chest. "I love you too."

I reiterate, please review. It makes me positively joyful, and is a beautiful remedy for writer's block. I mean, if you don't want more, you can always criticize the hell out of me in the hopes I shut up, too. Constructive either way, right? :P