L-chan's notes:  This is the first thing I've written that isn't a CCS story, so we'll see how it goes.  I've only read the first 3 TokyoPop editions of the manga, and this was inspired by a scene in Volume 2.  Also, I noticed this category mostly has Sana/Akito stories, and maybe I'm showing my age, but Rei is my favorite character.

Disclaimer: Kodomo no Omocha was created by Miho Obana

Sunglasses at Night

(A One-Shot Rei POV)

"Oyasumi," she says to me, curling up in my arms.

"Oyasumi nasai," I respond, just like any other night, holding her close as she snuggles against me.  Her long hair tickles my nose, and when she sighs happily, I can feel her soft breath on my neck.

She falls asleep quickly.  The long days wear her out.  I don't know how she does it all.  School, work, friends.  When I was twelve, I was still a child.  You're supposed to be a child, when you're twelve.  But she is like a tiny adult, so smart and professional and dedicated.

Yet so naïve.

She's dreaming already.  Even in her dreams, she doesn't stop working.  She mumbles the slogan for a commercial that's coming up tomorrow, and even adds the girlish giggle that's supposed to accompany the line.  Then she says my name, which, for once, isn't immediately followed by the words "no baka!"  She often uses her dreams as a way to berate me for committing her to so many projects at once.

And as I'm there in her dream, she knows I'm still here, too, and she hugs me in her sleep.

All I am is a big, living, breathing teddy bear.  A stray dog.  A pet.

She'd say otherwise, of course.  She uses grown-up words like "lover" and "gigolo", flaunting our relationship.  She loves shocking people with it.  But she doesn't know.  She has no idea what those words even mean.

But I sleep with her, and she pays me.  It's all very innocent, and if it wasn't happening to me, I'd think it was funny.  Instead I feel like some kind of pervert.  But I'm not doing this for me.  I'm doing it for her.  She wants me to be her lover; so I am.

I owe her my life. 

And I do love her.  She is so very precious to me.

Like a little sister.  I think.

I'm trying to be patient.  Soon she'll grow out of this, won't she?  She'll leave behind her toys and dolls and teddy bears.  And me.  She'll find a boy her own age who will be just crazy about her.  Who wouldn't be?  I am.

But that doesn't change the fact that one day I'm going to break her heart.

God, I don't want to. 

Why can't things just stay like this?

Sometimes I almost believe they can.  Her cheerful energy is so infectious, her smile so bright that it lights up any room.  It even reaches my heart, and I can feel it, soft and warm, like something tangible, chasing away the pain.  It makes me realize how much I need her.  And I consider the future, almost hoping that she'll still want me when she's all grown up.  She's going to be such a beautiful and amazing woman.  I start to think that we could be happy together.

And then I remember that it can never be like that.

But a young girl needs her dreams. 

Aren't I entitled to a few as well?

We're such a strange family.  Why her mother ever let me stay, I'll never know.  She talked to me that day, laid down the rules in no uncertain terms, and never once have I betrayed the trust she so generously offered.  Then her mother said something that didn't make sense, that we were a family of strays who had to take care of each other.

They saved me.

She helped me when no one else would even look at me.  She showed me kindness.  With her big smile and her even bigger heart, she gave me hope.

And little by little, I began feeling human again.  I even smiled, and it felt so strange, so foreign.  I didn't even recognize myself.  She clapped happily and said my sad eyes were gone, and now I was so cute that she was afraid someone would take me away from her.  She wouldn't let anyone see me.  She gave me these damn glasses with instructions that no one else was allowed to see me without them.

Now I rarely even let her see me without them.

Because then she'd see that, sometimes, those sad eyes come back.

I can't do that to her.

She needs to believe.  Things work out.  Wishes are granted.  Fairy tales come true.  People live happily ever after.

If she can believe, then maybe I can, too.

For a little while, at least.

She's snoring now.  She doesn't believe it when I tell her, but it's true.  She snores.  I try not to laugh, because she's so cranky when something wakes her up, but I do allow myself a small smile. 

It's the little moments like these when I think that maybe my life isn't so bad after all.  In fact, life is pretty damn good.  I have a home, a job, and a girl who loves me.

I've got it all, right?

She rolls away from me.  It happens at the same time every night.  She used to hold on to me until morning, as if she were afraid I would leave her.  Now she takes it for granted that I am here, and that I will continue to be here.

I take off the stupid glasses and set them on the nightstand.  The glare from my reading lamp blinds me for a second, before I grope for the switch to turn it off. 

Tomorrow is another busy day.  I need to get some sleep.  I haven't been sleeping well lately.

I turn toward the wall and wrap my arm around my pillow.  I can't face her when I sleep.  I have to pretend she's not there, but I'm never able to forget it.

She's growing up so quickly. 

The harsh realities of life are starting to make themselves known to her.  You can't solve everyone's problems.  Fairy tales are just stories.  Lovers leave.

Wouldn't it be easier if she could just stay a child forever?

If things could stay like this?

If we could stay together?

Someday, everything will change.

But for now, I belong to her.

~~-~~

Since I'm not familiar with the entire series, there may be some inconsistencies here.  But I wanted to write something other than CCS, and this was the first idea I had.  If it's bad or way off, feel free to let me know.  Otherwise, thanks for reading!