For a moment, just one long perfect moment, Khun’s arms are around him and Bam still feels like he’s vibrating out of his skin, but he also feels like everything will somehow be okay, because he still has this. (more…)
Kukuri woke in Kuroh’s arms, groggy and lightheaded and wondering what had happened to her, if everyone else was okay. Except she couldn’t remember and for a moment, she tried to panic. Had she hit her head, gotten amnesia, but there was Kuroh’s warm smile as he reassured her, “Just rest.”
She listened to the warmth of his voice, the sound of his heartbeat as he carried her away. She looked back, something in her heart disquieted enough to realize something was still wrong.
But Kuroh would make it better, she thought. She would believe the sound of his voice.
He hadn’t meant to stay a cat long enough for this to happen. By the time Saruhiko had an opportunity to change back (after a harrowing long time trying to leave the group he’d been spying on inconspicuously; he hadn’t planned on being found and adopted), he’d almost forgotten how to human.
He was still curled up, catlike, when he heard a loud, very familiar voice, “What did you do to him?!”
He tried to say Misaki. What came out was a meow.
Misaki swore and settled in beside him, soothing hand on his back. “C’mon, let’s get you up.”
He didn’t know how to get up, his paws not working right, and Misaki wanted him on only two. He buried his face in Misaki’s neck and scratched the arm supporting him.
“Stop that,” Misaki said sharply, but he reached up and scratched just so, much gentler, on Saruhiko’s neck.
Saruhiko found himself melting with a loud exhale. Misaki knew just how to do it.
“Good,” Misaki said. He helped Saruhiko sit upright. “Now say my name.”
It took a minute, a few tries, but finally he got out a low, human rasp. “Misaki.”
There was soft singing coming out of Kyouka and Atsushi’s dorm room. It was late at night and both of them should have been asleep but while Atsushi was, in at least a manner of speaking, Kyouka had wakened with the tiger.
The tiger was sprawled across the bedding comfortably in the shape of a crescent moon, tail twitching back and forth in contentment as it purred under Kyouka’s gentle hand rubbing along its flank. She sang quietly as it stared at her with great lantern eyes, bright in the darkness.
It was not the tiger only who was content.
Thunder cracked and lightning lit up the entire inside of the bedroom. Anna shot up out of the covers, blinking at the brightness. She wasn’t scared. Not even a little bit. Nope.
She scrambled out of bed and crept down the hall, shivering at the continuing flashes and thunderclaps overhead. She reached the couch where Totsuka had crashed earlier, pulled back the blanket, and crawled underneath.
“Huh?” Totsuka stirred, blinking at Anna in sleepy surprise.
Thunder rumbled then snapped. Her grip on the blanket tightened.
“You’re not scared, are you?”
“No,” she said.
Totsuka smiled but tucked her in close.
Sleeping in the same room as Misaki was a strange feeling.
Saruhiko had always been alone, and now here was this other person breathing deeply in the same room, sprawled in trusting sleep like he’d never had to worry about who would come in at night or what they’d do.
The door quietly opened. Saruhiko feigned sleep, heart racing for a long moment.
Misaki’s mother glanced over them both.
“They’re fine,” her husband whispered loudly behind her.
“I know. I just like to check.” Then she was gone.
Saruhiko blinked in the darkness, breathed easier. It wasn’t a bad feeling.
She woke him from a world ending in fire.
Mikoto opened his eyes wide in the dark, heart still hammering, aura still thrumming under his skin and in his blood with the ever-present urge to Burn them. Anna’s serious face, her grim mouth, and intent gaze were mere inches away.
He sat up. “Anna.”
“Nightmare,” she said quietly, simply. It disarmed his desire to brush her off gruffly.
Instead, he allowed her to clamber into the bed beside him and tuck herself under his arm, fingers clutching his shirt over his ribs.
They fell asleep like that, his nightmares quieted.
The old preacher wearily settled his bones at last on a wooden pew, harder than the harsh land that had grown this church. Years had bent and burdened him, years of reaching out his once strong, now gnarled hands to a people with ears stiff from not hearing, mouths folded in grim lines, and jaws set each one against their neighbor.