Her love rains down on me

easy as the breeze.

I listen to her breathing

it sounds like the waves on the sea.

I was thinking all about her,

burning with rage and desire.

We were spinning into darkness;

the earth was on fire.

-Pink Floyd
"Taking it Back"

----

"Dearest, can you tell me something?"

Nisshoku's head rose, her hair curtaining around her face. She was perched on the edge of the large feather bed in the room she and Kurushimi shared, and had been staring at her bare feet. "What is it, Kuru?" Her brown gaze fell upon her companion's face, searching her eyes for the truths they usually revealed.

"My love, can you tell me what it is you so desperately search for in your life?" Kurushimi was leaned back on the numerous pillows on the bed, slowly unbraiding her long hair. It created a massive waterfall of ripples down her back. She was wearing a plum colored yukata, her expression calm and serene, yet concerned and questioning as well.

"You do not know?" Came the quiet response. Nisshoku was surprised that Kurushimi was asking her such a question. Usually, the other girl seemed to know everything in her heart. Kurushimi was the only person besides Gesshoku who could read her emotions.

"I know. I was wondering if perhaps you did not. You haven't found it yet, have you?" Those inky eyes never left Nisshoku's face; she continued to peer at her from under long lashes.

"Kurushimi, you are my whole world. There's nothing I wouldn't do for you. But please don't make me say it. Please; you know already and when I am able, I will say it."

"You're not being honest with yourself, Love. You're denying the truth and that is not good. I only want you to be at peace with yourself, whether you say what I want to hear or not."

Nisshoku stared down at her hands, rather than look at her companion. Her heart was pounding, telling her not to be scared, to just say what she had to. But her mind wouldn't let her and her face became an incredible shade of red. Why am I so weak…? Her eyes welled up with tears which spilled over and ran down her cheeks. Gessho thinks I'm strong…Gessho thinks I know what I'm doing. Gessho thinks I fear nothing…

Holy shit; I hate this feeling. I'm supposed to be the strong one, not the one ruled by my emotions. I hate feeling helpless and confused, like there's nothing I can do. I hate to cry, to display my imperfections to the world. I am a swordswoman, cold, cruel, unfeeling…So why the hell do I feel so naked and open around Kurushimi?

Her hands became a blur as the tears continued to fall. She hadn't realized she was crying until that point; hadn't thought a thing about it at all. She just felt warm and prickly. But there, tears were splashing onto the front of her silk yukata, creating dark spots on the fabric. She hugged herself, rocking slightly, her chest heaving as she sobbed. "I can't…"

"You can't what?" Kurushimi asked gently. She was aching to draw Nissho into her arms, to hold her close and comfort her. But she knew the younger woman was standoffish about such things; she couldn't just touch her. Nissho was not a fan of physical contact.

Why isn't she consoling me? Nissho felt like she was suffocating in nothingness. Her whole body shook as she cried, yearning to be in Kurushimi's comforting embrace. Whether she knew it or not, she wanted nothing more than to be held by her friend, for it was in Kurushimi's arms where she felt most at peace. I want her to want me…I need her to need me…"I can't live like this any more…" She whispered, "I've got to tell you the truth. I-"

Both girls jerked to attention when the door flew open. Their heads turned simultaneously to the entryway and they unintentionally drew closer together on the bed at the sight of Nousan Kasa's form blocking their only exit.

"Nousan-san, is there something you'd like?" Kurushimi asked calmly as she could. Her heart was fluttering rapidly; she was frightened at the shock of the door so suddenly being flung open in the middle of the night.

Kasa leered at her, his face looking positively sinister in the pale light cast by the flame of a small candle he carried. "Why yes, my dear, there is something I'd like." He said smoothly, "You. Right now."

Nissho's eyes widened and she felt Kurushimi tense beside her. There's no way in hell that bastard will lay a finger on her. I would die before letting her get defiled by such a man. Her blood seemed to boil in her veins. Kurushimi was not going to be harmed.

"I'm afraid you cannot have me, Sir." The older woman declined politely, "I'm not that kind of person."

"I don't think you have a choice." He snarled, stepping into the room, "The two of you coming in here, all alone, prancing around in those suggestive clothes, so young, so innocent, so beautiful…" Lust hung on the air. He was practically overpowering them in it and the atmosphere became tense and uncomfortable as Kuru continued to meet his dark gaze.

"I will not." The girl crossed her arms. "If you don't leave I'll be forced to-"

"Forced to what?" He was across the room to the bed in only a matter of steps, glaring down at both girls as if he were a hungry beast and they his pray. His free hand shot downward, grabbing her by the wrist, pulling her up from the bedding. "I'm afraid there's nothing you can do."

Nissho moved towards the edge of the bed. It wasn't common knowledge, since it was illegal, but she still carried a sword when she traveled. It was tucked away among her things, idly waiting for a chance to get some use.

"Where do you think you're going?" Kasa demanded, "You stay put; you're next."

"You'll never touch her!" Kurushimi raised her unrestrained arm, attempting to slap the man, but he caught her by the elbow.

"Don't even try it, sweetheart." He laughed, "Two women like you could never harm a man like me." He pulled her closer and she turned her head away. His breath reeked of sake and his hand shook as he clasped her narrow wrist.

"Let me go." She was staring at him, her eyes wide with fright, "I love some one and it's not you. I won't allow you to have me, solely due to that fact." She brought her knee up swiftly, catching him in the groin.

He roared, releasing her, shoving her roughly down on the floor. She landed on her behind with a thud. He glared down at her, his eyes wild and savage as he bent over her. Nisshoku hurried from the bed. Skittering across the bare wooden floor, she dug through her things, looking for her katana. It was buried amongst her clothing; she pulled it out and straightened up.

"Let her go." She said darkly, stepping back towards the lecherous man and the unwilling woman. He was bent over her, pawing at her, doing the gods only know what, and Nissho would be damned if she would allow that.

"I told you." He responded mockingly, "There's nothing you can-"

There was a flash as candlelight glinted off steel. The sword slid smoothly from it's sheath, glistening deadly in the pale light. "I can do plenty." She said coldly, her eyes gleaming dangerously.

Kurushimi drew in a breath as Nousan let go of her. Her heart seemed to resume beating and she rubbed her arm, sliding up into a half-sitting position. Her heart sank at the sight of Nisshoku poised to attack, sword held low; the girl shifting her weight for a better position.

She hated violence.

"Get out now. Don't mention this to any one and I won't have you arrested for assault. If you come back, if you stay, if you try anything in the rest of the day we're here, you will die." Her words were hard, unfeeling, emotionless.

Kurushimi, usually in control of her emotions, began to tremble uncontrollably. She knew that Nisshoku was being serious; she would not hesitate to kill that man. She opened her mouth, but no sound came out. Her throat dried, constricted; her voice vanished like a whisper on the breeze. Tears spilled from her eyes, running down her face and splashing into her lap.

Nousan looked from one girl to the other. His animal instincts were telling him to flee; there was no way he could take on a girl with a sword. Especially not one as deadly looking as this one. So he decided to do the smart thing.

He backed off.

Time stood still for an eternity as Kurushimi and Nisshoku stared at one another. Kuru's eyes were wide, her mouth slightly open, tears trickling down her face. Nisshoku's heart hammered wildly against her ribs. Kurushimi…

Time resumed with the clattering of Nissho's sword against the floor. She dropped the weapon, running across the room to her companion. She sank down to the floor, drawing Kurushimi into her arms, hugging her tightly. Irrepressible sobbing soon followed as she held her dear friend close. "I thought…I thought…I thought he was going to…"

Kuru returned the hug furiously, her voice still caught in her throat. Her fingers shook as she twinned them through Nissho's long hair, burying her face in the younger girl's shoulder. "…I thought so too." She finally managed, "Thank you, Nisshoku."

"I couldn't let him…I mean, he wanted to hurt you…Kurushimi…I couldn't let him do that." Came the reply whispered, "Not when I love you so…"

Kurushimi was silent for a long time, letting what Nissho said sink in. Not when I love you so…I love you…Love you…Love…The words hammered against her brain, marching around in her mind, telling her, for the first time, what she had already known.

"I was about to tell you…" Nisshoku sat back on her heals, looking at Kurushimi evenly, brandy brown eyes meeting inky black ones, "I was about to tell you everything…But he came in and…I thought he would kill you because you didn't want to and you would never know…" She lowered her head.

"You…love me?" Kuru repeated slowly.

"I've always loved you. From the moment you first spoke to me, I have loved you."

This admittance was made quietly; Kurushimi wasn't sure she had even heard it. Maybe she was dreaming. Maybe she was dead…Maybe this was what death was like…She had lived a good life; perhaps Heaven was the place where Nisshoku loved her back a hundredfold.

"But I was afraid." The young woman's voice went on, "I was scared and disgusted with myself, knowing I loved another woman. I didn't want to…I didn't want to be like my sister's husband. I wanted to be normal. I told myself I was confused, that I was just so happy to have some one to talk to…I told myself everything but the truth."

"It's okay…" Kurushimi finally spoke, "I know it's hard but…" Her hand rose, brushing back the hair falling across Nissho's face so that they could see one another, "No matter how much you lie to the world, you can never lie to yourself. I know you never wanted to feel this way, to be so confused, so afraid, and I'm sorry. But the heart simply does not lie and I'm glad you finally told me the truth."

Half a smile flickered across Nissho's face and she blushed a little. "I'm glad I finally told myself the truth. It was killing me." She leaned forwards, cupping Kurushimi's chin in her hands. "I will love you always, if you will always love me."

"Always." Kurushimi's heart burst into song. This was more than she could have hoped for; more than she ever dreamed. For four long years she had waited for the day when Nisshoku would stop trying to change who she was and get over her feelings. She had watched as the other girl rose to new levels of joy, sank into despair, was consumed by jealousy, anger, self-pity. She had shared every bit of her soul with her friend and for what?

Love…

Nissho's mouth found hers, searching, tasting, kissing desperately; her fingers sliding through the mass of dark, wavy hair cascading down Kurushimi's back, pulling her closer. It was a kiss that could stop time; nothing but passion and raw emotion.

Kurushimi's mind suddenly went blank. This was indeed what she had wanted for a long time and now there was nothing to stop her. There was no rationality, no "Nissho would not approve," nothing to tell her she couldn't proceed. In fact, there was nothing other than Nissho; her warmth as they clung to one another, her taste as they kissed.

The world stopped around them as Nissho snuggled into Kurushimi's welcome embrace. She nestled her head under the older woman's chin, sighing contentedly. "When I was crying before…" She began softly, pausing to collect her thoughts.

"What about when you were crying?" Kurushimi asked softly. She was the one who had been attacked, but she knew it had affected her love more. Nissho had faced harm -even death- many times. Kuru knew this for a fact. But when faced with the death of one she loved…

"I wanted you to hold me. Why didn't you hold me…?"

"I wasn't aware you had wanted me to, Love." Came the gentle reply. A warm smile crossed Kurushimi's face as she drew Nissho into her arms. "But now, I can hold you for a million years and never get tired of it."

Nissho smiled in return, leaning against her friend. She felt truly happy for the first time she could ever remember. So this is why Gessho said I didn't understand…I never knew love -no, not that kind of love- until this very moment…"That sounds about right." She said quietly, planting a kiss on Kurushimi's cheek, "I love you, Kuru. That sounds perfect." She grinned.

Kurushimi yawned, resting her head on Nissho's shoulder. "I've never seen you smile like that, Darling." She brushed back a lock of her hair; her hand moving slow, her fingers soft, "And you're beautiful when you smile."

You're beautiful all the time…The words wouldn't form in her mouth. Nissho simply held Kurushimi closer to her. I'll never deny my feelings for you again…

----

Mou…I'm having trouble ending chapters. *sighs*

This is a relatively short story; it's almost done. But, if people like, I can write more about Nissho and Kuru in the future.