Kri woke up in the middle of the night, and was disoriented at first. First she noticed that it was almost too dark to see. Next she remembered where she was, and the events that got her there. Then she was shocked to realize that her back was up against something warm. She was under a blanket with that boy!

She wanted to move farther away, but she felt frozen. She didn't want to wake him up. So she lay there for about five minutes, painfully aware that Noah's side was pressed against her back and his hand was touching the back of her leg. Then she decided she would carefully try to get up and hope that it didn't wake him up. As soon as she shifted her position and was about to get up, though, Noah jerked in his sleep and muttered something.

She froze in an awkward position, kind of on her side but mostly on her back. When Noah kept moving restlessly and making little noises, it dawned on her that he was just having a dream. Then to Kri's awe, he started crying. His eyes were still shut, but there were tears dripping down the side of his face.

It must be a nightmare, Kri thought, not knowing what to do. Then her instincts took over, and she turned to face him and put an arm around him. She was cuddling him the same way Kri's sister would do to her when Kri was upset.

"It's okay, it's okay," she told him over and over. He stopped crying after a minute, but didn't wake up. She wiped his face clean with her sleeve and she was about to get up when his eyes opened a little. Kri didn't know what to do, so she just kept still and hoped he would go right back to sleep. Instead he spoke.

"...Kri? How come you're so...close?" She paused and blushed, removing her arm from him and inching away. She had no explanation but the truth.

"Well, you seemed really upset while you were sleeping. I guess you were having a nightmare or something, and I didn't know what to do but comfort you," she said, blushing even more and cursing herself mentally for sounding so wimpy.

"Oh, uh, thanks," the boy said groggily, and she could see him blushing. His skin was much lighter than hers, so it was easy to see, even in the darkness. Kri felt a pang of sympathy for the guy. How would she feel if someone witnessed a moment of such weakness in her?

"I get nightmares, too," Kri said quietly, to make him feel better.

"I don't really remember having a nightmare, actually," Noah said, staring into Kri's eyes sleepily. The situation reminded her of when her and her sister used to lay in bed facing each other and talk quietly before going to sleep. This wasn't her sister, though, it was a guy. A guy she wasn't related to and barely even knew. She was embarrassed and uncomfortable, but the fact that he seemed more self conscious than her made her feel better and more confident.

He's a lot like me, I think, Kri thought. He seems tough and uncaring, but there's a vulnerable side. Kri let Noah's eyes bore into hers, letting her constant emotional defense fall away. It felt weird letting down her guard, feeling relaxed and not angry or sad. He looked perplexed, as if he could sense a change in her.

"You're shivering," Noah noticed a few seconds later. He put an arm around her and moved closer until their noses were almost touching. To both Kri and Noah's surprise, Kri didn't protest but moved closer. She was tired, she missed her sister, and it had been a long time since she'd let anyone near her.

All of a sudden it was almost like she was in withdrawal from contact with other people. Kri put her head against Noah's chest, hoped vaguely that she wasn't giving him the wrong impression, and just let herself warm up. She felt like it wasn't just her body warming up, but maybe her heart, too.

They lay silently like that for hours, and the next thing Kri knew, it was morning. When she woke up Noah was laying on his back and Kri was on her side, molded against him and using his chest as a pillow. She kind of twitched when she realized Noah's arm was around her and his hand was resting lightly on her chest. The movement made him wake up.

"Hmm?" he said confusedly before he got fully conscious. Then he moved his arm rather abruptly and whispered, "Sorry."

"S'okay," Kri whispered back.

Wow, his personality has changed a lot since I met him yesterday, she thought. Then it occurred to her that she should move. She felt safe and comfortable, but also weird, so she sat up. Noah copied her, and they sat facing each other, legs crossed. They stared at each other for a few minutes, and Kri thought she should feel awkward, but she didn't. She smiled faintly at him, surprising both of them yet again, and stood up.

"I'm gonna go see if it snowed," she said, and walked over to the stairs, then up them. When she got upstairs she looked out the windows and saw that it had snowed, but only a few inches. She went back downstairs and reported, "There's a few inches out there."

She knew she could leave, but didn't want to, and neither of them mentioned it.

The rest of the day passed pretty uneventfully. They ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and asked each other a lot of questions. By the end of the day, Kri had learned a million things about Noah and vice versa. By nightfall they had pretty much stopped talking, though, and were sitting next to each other on the bed, backs against the wall.

At some point a small cut on Noah's hand caught Kri's eye. She picked up his hand with one of hers and brought it closer to her face to look at.

"How'd you do that?" she asked.

"I dunno," he shrugged. "It doesn't hurt or anything."

"That's good," Kri said, lowering her hand to her lap, still holding Noah's hand in it. He paused, then intertwined his fingers in hers. She stared at the way their hands contrasted because her skin much darker than his. She sighed, "I miss Eli..." and leaned against him.

"I know, girl," Noah said sympathetically. After a few minutes Kri laughed softly and said, "You know, if she saw me now, she wouldn't believe it."

"Why not?" Noah asked, smiling a little. "Can't picture her little sister holding hands with a guy? A dirty, homeless, older guy, at that."

Kri let go of his hand to push him and protest, "We're not holding hands! And you're barely two years older than me, unless you're lying about your age."

"Hey, two years is two years," Noah told her teasingly. "And we were too holding hands," he added. "Want me to make your nose bleed again?" Kri asked, trying to sound grouchy but smiling.

"I could always hold you down again," Noah reminded her, grabbing her shoulders playfully.

"Hey!" Kri shouted, laughing.

Then they both got a little quiet, realizing that their faces were dangerously close together. Noah let go of her shoulders and was backing away a little but then Kri suddenly leaned forward, pressing her mouth against his. After a couple seconds, Kri pulled away a few inches.

"I don't know why I did that..." she said in a low voice. Her face mirrored Noah's look of confusion. Then Noah cautiously put his hand on the back of her head and pulled her lips back to his. He kissed her gently and slowly, but Kri kissed him fiercely. After a minute Noah pulled away, leaving both of them panting slightly. Noah was still holding the back of Kri's head, his fingers sliding through her purple-streaked brown hair. She had her arm around his neck. Kri wondered what had gotten into her. This is so unlike me, she thought, looking into Noah's eyes with something like lust. He gazed back calmly, though his breathing was still a little irregular, and she felt like he could understand everything about her.

I don't even know this guy, she tried to caution herself, but that wasn't entirely true. They had talked all day, about so many things. And then she couldn't help closing the space between their lips again.

After a while, Noah tried to hold Kri away from him, muttering, "Kri..." and he would have continued talking if Kri hadn't covered his mouth with hers again. He gave in, held her as close as he could and kissed her back fervently. Their lips hardly separated until they eventually fell asleep, wrapped in the blanket together.