Disclaimer: I do not own Kids Next Door, although I do strongly believe that I was a member and have since been decommissioned…Considering that I'm 21 :(

As It Should Be

She was laid on her back in his bed, clad in an oversized orange sweater, the sunlight streaming in through the half-curtained windows illuminating the room around her and kissing her face, rousing her from her sleep. She allowed a small smile to pull at her lips as her eyes fluttered open, the honey flecks in her brown eyes shining.

She rolled onto her side slowly, her long black silky hair falling across her shoulder that was now bare as the orange fabric slid down her skin. She balanced her chin in her hand and her elbow rested on the pillow as the fingers of her free hand danced over the muscled arm that was wrapped around her middle, his wrist hanging off her hip.

He was still asleep, laying on his front with his face turned towards her, his shaggy blonde tresses hiding his closed eyes, but she could still see the vivid green of them in her mind's eye. He was shirtless; his muscled back a smooth expanse of skin, broken by the light grey fabric of the sleep-pants he wore, resting just beneath his back dimples.

She loved him. She felt like she'd loved him her whole life, she thought as she stared down at him, letting her fingers sweep and explore the exposed skin near her, grinning when he shuffled in his sleep, moving closer.

She knew that he didn't think himself good enough for her, but that was silly. Yes, he'd done some bad and awful things in his life, but that didn't make him a bad and awful person. He was lost, misguided, unsure.

Now though…He was doing everything that he could to prove that he was worth something, that he wasn't the delinquent that everyone thought he was and it wasn't easy. The teachers still labelled him, his family still labelled him, kids at school still labelled him and because of them, he'd taken a few steps back.

He was still surprised that she hadn't left yet, hadn't turned around and walked away and she was aware that he kept expecting her to do that. She'd catch him looking at her sometimes, with an expression that told her that he couldn't believe that she was still here, that she hadn't given up on him yet.

The truth of it is, she didn't know what it felt like to be told that she was worthless, that she didn't mean anything, wasn't worth anything. But he did.

There was something about him that was worth sticking around for, she thought as she pushed his blonde hair from his forehead, silently counting the small freckles that dotted across the bridge of his nose, almost hidden by the tan that grew more golden every summer.

He was a bad boy with a good heart. He fought for what he thought was right and he protected what was his, he stuck up for his friends and his brother, the most important people in his life and he would never hurt them.

If she wasn't sure of that, she wouldn't rest beside him so easily, holed up in his small room away from the rest of the world. She'd realised this a few months ago when she had been trying to find the first aid kit to help heal his bruised hand in her bathroom, tears running down her face and her body shaking as he sat on the closed lid of her toilet with his head resting against the wall, his eyes following her every movement. As she had danced by him, he'd reached for her, his arms winding around her hips and pulling her to stand between his open legs, her hands falling to his wide shoulders to keep her balance.

Kuki… he had started, an apologetic, fearful look on his face and she smiled down at him, ignoring the small rivers of tears on her face as she cupped his cheek, her thumb brushing across the bruise sprouting around his eye, darkening the skin.

I know, she'd whispered before pushing her hand into his hair and his head fell forward, his forehead pressed to the soft skin of her stomach as her breath hitched. And she did know. He'd been defending her, fighting for her, protecting her.

While he was going about it the wrong way, his intentions were admirable, warm, good

He was worth everything, and more, if he'd only believe in himself and the goodness that was settled in his heart.

The people around them, her family and the kids at school couldn't believe that sweet innocent Kuki Sanban was dating hard and rough bad boy Wallabee Beatles.

He's a thief, they'd whisper to her, He's a womanizer, a no-good guy, a bully, a miscreant…

She could see that every slur stung him and darkened his soul a little more, even if no-one else could see it. They had stained his perspective on not only his life, but on himself. If you call an animal stupid enough times, it'll believe you…

Not that she believed Wally was an animal, but the saying fit his situation exactly, perfectly. And she didn't believe that he was stupid, either. It may take him a little while longer, but he found the answer eventually, given enough time and motivation.

You're the only one who thinks so, he'd told her once as she curled into his hard form, her arms winding around his neck, everyone else thinks I'm stupid.

You're not, she'd answered him honestly and with conviction, pressing her lips to the pulse point in his neck, smiling in satisfaction as it sped up beneath his skin, his grip around her hips tightening.

She looked down at him, letting her palm slid across his taunt back between his shoulder blades before it settled on his side, her fingers skimming over his ribs as she leaned forward, her hair creating a curtain around them as she pressed her lips to his temple and his eyes flickered open, a furrow between his eyebrows.

His green eyes settled on her instantly and he exhales a rush of air, almost as if he is surprised to see her still beside him.

Where else would she go?

He pushes his body up with the arm that had been hanging over the edge of the bed and leans towards her, capturing her lips with his own and dragging her closer, rolling her back onto the bed, swallowing her girlish giggle as her leg hooked around his waist, welcoming the familiar weight of him on top of her.

She never wanted to leave. She didn't care about what other people thought or what they did, about how they looked down on them and their relationship. All she cared about was the feeling of being wrapped up in his arms, their fingers twined together when they were laid in his bed, curled up on the sofa or when he would sneak up behind her. She cared about the small twist on her stomach when his breath brushed across her ear or he would drag his lips across her cheeks, temple and nose, then down her chin. She cared about the way that he could make her laugh for days with a simple joke, how his eyes would light up with the prospect of an adventure. She cared about the way she would bite her lip when he would jab at his punching bag with a towel around his neck, the muscles in his back shifting and tensing as he moved. She cared about the ache that sprung in her heart when he left and the overwhelming joy every time he came back.

She cared about the way he made her feel.

He made her happy.

She hadn't been happy in a long time, had always felt like a piece of her was missing, her memory a black hole that sucked all good feeling into it as she tried to reclaim what was lost.

Then Wally had barged his way into her life, unexpectedly, but not unwelcome. Together they'd both been searching for something, anything that would cast light on their minds, casting the shadows away.

The only way to get rid of the shadows is to walk into the dark…He'd told her that, once, laid out in the bed of Hoagie's truck around the campfire, staring up at the stars, their fingers entwined.

With him, he'd brought three other people that suddenly made her life complete; she had given up her cheerleaders uniform, her supposed 'friends' had left her and Ace had even said to her that he was saddened by her fall from the top, her missed chance of having it all, ashamed that she'd settled with that ragtag bunch of misfits that never seemed to fit anywhere.

But he was wrong. The people in her life before didn't mean anything to her, not really. She'd been going through High School on auto-pilot, the blinding, radiating happiness that she could barely remember that she'd had as a child was nowhere to be seen as a teenager. Then four others, who she'd walked past in the hallways, shared classes with, shared lunch hours with, had turned out to be the best things in her life and they all fit together, as if they had always done.

For the first time in her life, she had friends, she wore a smile. And she knew that he had felt the same.

You guys turned on the light, he continued, pillowing his head with his arm curled under his neck, I didn't wanna do that, expose myself, make it easier for the shadows to catch up to me. In the end I didn't have much of a choice.

Shadows thrive in darkness, she'd whispered back to him and he'd snorted a small laugh in agreement, his brow hiking up his forehead as his eyes slid from the breath-taking view to look at her. They're harder to see.

"Wally," she whispered against his lips and he hummed at her, moving his lips to her jaw as his hand slid down the smooth skin of her leg, his palm warm and calloused as it curled around her knee. She dragged her thumbnail gently up his ribs and she grinned when he shivered in delight, tightening his grip around her, scraping his teeth across her collarbone in revenge. "Do you think we could have this forever?"

His body froze at her words momentarily before he lifted himself up, resting his weight on his forearm, his green eyes asking her the question that he constantly thought but was too afraid to ask – why?

Why him? "Just you and me in a tiny, shoebox apartment while I work my way through college as a waitress and make lousy tips, while you work at a mechanics and fix cars and bikes," she laughed under her breath as she pushed his hair away from where the ragged ends had fallen into his eyes again, distracting her. "We could live opposite Abby and Hoagie and annoy them all the time, tease Nigel about his obvious crush on Rachel. We could live off microwave food and go on adventures, complain about our bills and laugh in our teeny home, safe and free and happy from those who doubted us. Who doubted you."

He stared down at her with those eyes that had haunted her dreams for years; they darkened when he was angry or scared and brightened when he was happy and free. They were hidden behind sandy coloured lashes that were much too long then any boys had a right to be. They looked at her with wonder and shock and he practically stopped breathing.

"Are you serious?"

She shrugged her bare shoulder as she smiled gently, hopefully at him, scratching her nails down his neck. "Can we?"

She got her answer in the form of his lips slanting across hers, warm and hard and possessive, marking her as his. One of his hands slid around to cradle her head, tangling with the ebony strands of her hair and his thumb stroked behind her ear, soothingly as he breathed out hard through his nose.

The five of them together. The two of them against the world.

As it should be.