"Umm…I wanted to thank you." Natsumi stammered, still linked arm in arm with Giroro.


"For taking me to the dance." The girl blushed and a small smile flitted across her lips. "I really wanted to go but going alone felt silly."

Giroro blushed in return and stammered. "It's- it's my pleasure. I'm really glad I could take you…" His voice grew soft as he regarded her from the corner of his eye. "I was afraid you'd say no."

"What?" Natsumi stopped up short, pausing the pair of them just inside the brightly lit circle of a streetlamp. "How could I?" The snow fell around them, dampening the sound of anything but her words. "I mean – after you'd gone through so much trouble, how could I say no? Besides…" Her eyes sparkled as she looked at him. "well… never mind, it's silly." She blushed and looked away again, her heart pounding in her ears, her throat tight with emotion.

Giroro laid his and on hers, holding it tight to the crook of his elbow. "Um hey – why don't we hurry up? I bet you'll want to see all your friends." Inwardly he cursed himself, stumbling over the true words that should have come easily to him.

"Ya, you're right." Natsumi seemed almost resigned and she lightly squeezed him arm in reassurance as they began to walk again, disappearing back into the darkness between the lamp posts.

"Hey Natsumi? I'd meant to ask, but what's a Pekoponian dance like? The ones back on Keron were all really formal. Are there any dances that I should know?"

Natsumi looked up at Giroro in wonder, trying hard to imagine the frog she knew so well as a fighter learning dance moves. "I… Can you actually dance?"

Giroro raised an eyebrow and looked down at her, crimson eyes locking with copper. "Dancing is just another form of fighting, you learn the set and that's all there is too it. I'll have you know I was a very sought after dance partner on Keron…" Giroro's eyes narrowed. "If only because the others in my platoon are idiots and kept stepping on the other persons feet."

"Oh ya?" Natsumi felt herself blush but pushed past her emotion and kept talking. "Then show me. Teach me a Keronian dance." She pulled up short again, letting go of Giroro's arm to turn and face him.

Giroro regarded her anew. This was a side of her he hadn't seen before; playful and yet still commanding. It sent shivers up and down his spine to think of her this way. Eyes gleaming predatorily he gave a wicked grin. "You want to learn a Keronian dance? Alright then, you'd better be ready."

Natsumi, without thought adjusted her stance to more of a fighting pose, watching Giroro carefully.

With a swift movement Giroro moved to stand shoulder to shoulder with her, offering his hand palm up. Natsumi took it, laying her gloved hand atop his with no hesitation and together the two of them took two steps forward and turned to face each other. Giroro's movements crisp and clean while Natsumi's were slower more hesitant. In a flourish that brought a flush to her cheeks Natsumi found herself pulled in close to Giroro, very nearly held tight against his chest. One of his hands supporting the small of her back the other cupping her hand.

Time seemed to stop. Even the snowflakes fell slower, each one a diamond in the air as it moved. Natsumi could have sworn that her heart was nearly bursting as Giroro easily twirled her around in the dark. Each pass they made left a graceful arc on the snow covered sidewalk. Natsumi gasped, with each tiny movement she could feel the grace and ease with which Giroro's muscles moved, the strength behind them that she never knew. Without realizing it and almost half dreaming Natsumi felt herself spinning and dropping thru air only to be caught at the last second by Giroro's hand holding tightly to hers.

Lightly pulling her, Giroro helped her back to standing, watching the blush grow on her cheeks.

"I- I felt like I was flying." She said softly, pressing her free hand to her cheek to try and quell the burn she felt there.

"I told you I was a sought after dance partner." Giroro laughed a bit uncomfortably, trying to squash down the butterflies in his own stomach. "You didn't think I lied about that did you?"

"No! Of course not." Natsumi smiled and giggled softly, leaning on her tip toes to lightly kiss him on the cheek. "I don't think you'd ever lie to me." She laughed harder when his face turned red and he turned to look at her. With a wink and a smile she was off, running several paces ahead in the snow. Giroro laughed and followed her, feeling a lightness in his heart that he hadn't for years.

It was there in the darkness and the cold that a most unusual pair found a connection that few ever manage to attain. Laughing and excited the pair raced along, scooping up handfuls of snow and throwing them at the other person, shrieking happily in return when the frozen liquid landed on their skin and clothes. With each movement they approached their destination, the school looming ahead of them in the dark, it's windows brightly lit against the falling snow.

At last their pace slowed, the laughing became soft and then stopped as the pair of them stood in front of the doors.

"Are you ready for this?" Giroro asked, lightly grasping Natsumi's hand in his.

"I- I'm scared." Natsumi risked a glance at him and gave an apologetic smile.

"Me too." Giroro squeezed her hand and offered a weak smile of his own.

"I really want to go in - " Natsumi began.

"but I don't want the night to be any closer to being over." Giroro finished. Natsumi nodded sadly. Giroro's brow furrowed. This wasn't something he had stopped to think about, not really. But the sadness and fear in Natsumi's eyes outweighed his own and he turned to face her. "Let's just have a good time tonight okay? We'll worry about the future tomorrow. Tonight is just for us."

Natsumi wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and smiled up at him, nodding.

"There's my good girl." Giroro leaned forward and in the light that spilled from the open doorway he kissed her. The heat of it surprised them both, there in that light there was nothing else, not even the beating of their hearts. With what seemed like aeons passing Natsumi finally closed her eyes, wrapping her arms around Giroro's neck to pull him closer against her, needing to feel the safety of his body, the reassuring weight of his arms wrapped tightly around her waist. It couldn't have been more than a few seconds before they broke the kiss and yet they were both out of breath, flushes spreading across both their cheeks. Without a word Natsumi took Giroro's hand again and led him into that bright light, disappearing into the school.