Story: The Coming of the Thaw (chapter 10)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 10

When I woke up, I found myself looking into a pair of crimson eyes.

"Ara..." she said weakly, smiling at me, "I must have died and gone to heaven."

I smiled back at her. "Or, I must have died and gone to hell."

"Hell's angels must look much better then."

I reached out and touched her face. "Much better," I admitted softly.

We stared at each other. There was so much that was waiting to be said... Then a tear began to roll down her cheek.

"I'm sorry, Natsuki...So so sorry..."

I shushed her by putting a finger on her lips. Then I shook my head and smiled at her, though I could feel the wetness on my own cheeks.  She looked at me for a long, long moment, then sighed and closed her eyes with a smile.

After a while, I called out to her. "Oi, Shizuru..."

She didn't open her eyes. "Hmmm?"

I could barely speak past the lump in my throat.

"Try not to die again, okay?"

She smiled and nodded, though her eyes remained closed.

She fell asleep then, and after a while, so did I.

It was the first time in months that I slept dreamlessly.


The next few days passed in a blur. Julia spent long hours running tests on Shizuru, until she finally, cautiously pronounced that Shizuru was out of danger.

"The upshot to all of this," she told me and Solomon while Shizuru rested, "is that she's probably going to be immune from future werewolf bites. She still needs to rest though, so I wouldn't let her go anywhere for at least a week, Solomon."

"In that case, I'll leave Shizuru to your care then, Kuga-san." He'd said it with such a knowing smile that I blushed.

The ironic thing though, was that after months of desperately regretting having left so many things unsaid and so many acts undone, I found myself strangely silent in Shizuru's presence. We had been apart so much over the last three years, and so much had happened during that time, that I was no longer sure if the old camaraderie - or the old intimacy - still held.

Still, despite my silence and my awkwardness, I was blissfully happy just to be near her. There were times when I would be seized by a desperate urge to hold her, just to prove to myself that the fact of her continued existence was true. During those moments, she would catch me staring at her and give me a questioning smile. I would only blush and look away.

And during the moments when I could stare at her without her noticing, I could see that she had changed. She was still very much the same calm, composed and charismatic woman she had always been. But now there was a certain gravity to her - a solemnity that appeared almost haunted. I would think of what Solomon had said - of the countless battles she had fought on her own against beasts and demons and monsters, and of what those battles had cost her soul - and my chest would ache.

Then one day, I found her standing by the window, sipping a cup of tea. The sheer familiarity of the image she presented made me smile. For that moment, I forgot about the awkwardness.

"The only thing missing from this scene," I said, walking over to where she stood, "is your laptop on a desk just waiting for me to give it some attention."

She turned to me then and smiled with a hint of her old mischief. "My laptop wasn't the only thing waiting for Natsuki's attention."

She'd outwitted me yet again, but I was too relieved by the return of her old playfulness to mind the way I usually did. I merely smiled at her in response and propped my chin on the windowsill next to her.

After a few moments, she spoke. "And how has my Natsuki been?"

I remembered the last time she had asked me that, and I knew she remembered it too.

I smiled and shrugged casually. "I've been worse."

She raised an eyebrow at me in amused surprise. "Ara, it's a different answer from the last time. And what, pray tell, is making my Natsuki so happy?"

I hesitated. For a long, suspenseful moment, all the old doubts came rushing back - on top of which was my new fear that we had grown apart and become strangers. But when I looked at her, I remembered all the years that we had lost because I had doubted and wavered far too often. And in that moment, I made a choice.

"You." I told her quietly. "You're the one that's making me so happy."

She just looked at me in stunned and priceless disbelief.

When I couldn't take it any longer, I kissed her.

"And just so you know," I told her softly when we parted, "that's what I wanted to do the last time."

She shook her head at me then, the barest hint of a smile on her lips. "Ara, it took you long enough, it did. Though I have to say, it was worth dying for. Twice."

I looked at her crossly. "That's not funny."

When she continued to laugh, I shushed her by kissing her. Again and again and again.

It was a good thing, as Julia pointed out, that she was immune to werewolf bites.

[End notes:


This ends The Coming of the Thaw: Part III of The Chronicles of Blood and Ice. I thank my readers for their patience - both in waiting for this story to come out and for putting up with the relatively lengthy and obscure references and allusions. Again, I hope the wait was worth it, and as usual, comments, reviews and ratings would be greatly appreciated :0)

Finally, I want to end this note with an invitation to read...

The Throbbing of Two Hearts: Part IV of The Chronicles of Blood and Ice, where Shizuru and Natsuki reunite - only to face the possibility of the most final of separations in the war against the Searrs.

Watch out for it :0)


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