A soft sadness seemed to hang, to linger in the air with the rain. I looked, seeing streams of water flow down the window pane, soaking up the scenery beyond the glass.

Everything was beautiful, almost tragic on a rainy day. Darkened nature, gloomy, silver skies, the scent of rain. Now that I lived in a rain-soaked city, I was starting to enjoy the dampness. While everyone else was busy complaining about the weather, here I was. Watching it out my window with a crooked smile.

Retrieving my umbrella, I stepped out into the windless downpour. It was perfect! A warm, yet steady rain; I loved the sound of raindrops splashing hard against the umbrella while I was safe and dry.

"Ah, there he is,"

I spotted him right away, dashing through puddles on the sidewalk, towards me.

"I told you I'd come pick you up, didn't I?" Shigeru ran a hand through his hair, eyes searching mine. "You should've waited for me. It's really coming down."

He tilted his own umbrella slightly as he glanced towards the sky. I fought my coming smile. I couldn't get enough of this guy.

"But we're going out in the rain anyway," I protested. "And it's fun, just standing out here. I love it."

"You love this?" he waved a hand through the curtain of rain.

"Yeah. Can't I?"

He chuckled. "Absolutely you can. It's a quirk of yours I'll keep right here," he patted his heart briefly as I rolled my eyes. He broke into a grin. "What else am I missing?"

"Hmm, I wonder," I replied, curtly. "You're just going to have to stick around me long enough to figure it out yourself."

"Ha. As you like," he said. "Forever, then? Unless you think it might take longer."

I swallowed once, nearly intoxicated by his sweetness. He held out a hand to me, and I took it quickly. The warmth of it passed into me, through me, like an electric jolt.

One thing was better than the rain. As we made our way down the street, I enjoyed the silence that filled every space.

We were paying a visit to the Sawachika household today; I was getting into the habit, lately. I loved Shigeru's family. They were mostly nuts, aside from his confounding older brother, Akito, and Chisa, his quiet sister. She wasn't shy quiet, though… nah, it was more like stuck-up quiet. For some reason, it didn't bother me. Possibly because I was so distracted by the rest of the family.

Anyway, I was interested in both Akito and Chisa. Chisa was the type to hang back, to observe… and Akito. Well, what could I say for him? He was around so long as Nakuru was, too. As if it was her that forced him to show his face.

They were always on the tip of my tongue when I talked to Nakuru… a line-up of questions about Akito. Nitty-gritty, personal sorts of questions. But I figured if I demanded answers, I might fall a rank or two in her good opinion. Aha. I do work at being subtle, and often times succeed! See!

"Welcome, welcome!" Jun was already at the door, beckoning us in before we were halfway up the steps. Shigeru and I exchanged a grin. "You kids are late!"

"Did we set a time?" Shigeru asked, glancing over his father's shoulder.

"Early as possible!" he responded, thumping him on the back. "Now, get in."

"Jun-san," I stopped before him, handing him the bag of goodies I'd somehow managed to throw together this morning. "Here. I can't guarantee the safety of consumption, though."

Jun laughed out a hearty laugh. "Thanks, girl. I like you."

Of course, he said that to me every time he saw me. Like it was his catch phrase or something.

Then, stepping inside, I felt the pressure of warmth from inside the house. Sure, rain was wonderful and spiffy, but with prolonged exposure, I'd been chilled past my coat. This was great.

"Miyuki-chan, ah. Miyuki-chan!"

I shed my shoes and coat, which was taken by Jun, and centered my attention on Nakuru. She looked pretty enthused.

"Nakuru-san, good morning," I greeted, confused by the energized atmosphere. An irresistible scent wafted from the kitchen.

Nakuru took my hand, breaking into a smile. I tilted my head, thinking she looked pretty with such an expression on, just as Sachi hopped to her side.

"Happy birthdaaaaay!" she sang out, startling me. Both women threw their arms forward, wrapping me in a rather suffocating double-hug. I couldn't respond for both that, and laughter.

Once they'd pulled back, I scoured the room until I found Shigeru. My gaze narrowed. He grinned. What a brat. When had I ever told him my birthday?

Chie appeared from the kitchen with a round cake. "Miyuki-chan, happy birthday!"

A chorus of voices echoed those very words. I groaned.

"I'd like to respectfully inform everyone," I began, holding up one finger, "that I no longer celebrate the anniversary of my birth."

Shigeru rolled his eyes, pulling me into his side. "She obviously means, 'Shower me in more of your attention. I'm just eating it up.'"

I glared at him. "Why didn't you tell me your birthday? Think I'm psychic or something?"

He laughed. "That day came and went,"

I socked him in the arm, taken aback. "You punk! I am so offended."

"Is everyone ready to eat?!" Jun bellowed from the kitchen. "Birthday girl, c'mere!"

I made an exaggerated face. Following Jun's summons, Tetsuya flew up the stairs, greeting me with a quick salute before disappearing into the kitchen.

"Wait. I'll go force Akito out of hibernation," said Nakuru, moving for the staircase.

I nearly offered to go with her, but gave myself pause, realizing that might be kinda awkward. I motioned for Shigeru to go on without me, inconspicuously trailing Nakuru. I listened from the bottom of the stairs.

"Akito, we're eating now."

I missed his muffled reply.

"Yep, so hurry up." Nakuru said, yanking his door open and re-emerging with a grip on Akito's arm. He was dressed casually enough to think… he'd just gotten out of bed. My thoughts were confirmed moments later.

"I can't believe you were still sleeping,"

"Neither can I," he told her, moving so she released her grasp. "Let's not be so late again tonight. Weren't you tired this morning?"

My face smoothed out with surprise. Whoa, there, whatever I was listening to was obviously none of my business! I scampered away, and finally, into the kitchen.

"What's with that face?"

I turned to Shigeru. "Oh. Erm, nothing. So, cake?"

"Cake comes," Jun began, setting the remainder of his masterpiece feast onto the table, "after this!"

Well. I could hardly complain, now could I? A feast for breakfast. And then cake! A much more interesting order of things.

After having dinner for breakfast and eating a small sliver of cake for dessert (I could hardly stomach even that, with all I'd eaten), we went to the living room where I suggested we watch a movie, instead of playing the array of horrifying games (such as Twister) that Sachi had already laid out for me.

Chisa, who hadn't eaten with us, now stood in the corner, engaged in conversation with Shigeru. Curious. I dropped to the couch, chattering with Nakuru and Akito (who put in an occasional word) until Shigeru met me there. Meanwhile, Sachi was fighting with the remote, trying to figure out how to run the DVD player.

My birthday wasn't all that important to me. Not like the deal they were making of it, anyway. Since my mother passed away August 15th hadn't been celebrated, nor had I received gifts. Except from Shinichi, that is, he always remembered my birthday. Yet it was just a day. I wondered if it wasn't best left forgotten.

But, as Shigeru led me away later that evening, refusing to tell me where he was taking me… I went with the after effects of a warm, enjoyable day with his family. It might not have been much, but I loved and appreciated them for the effort.

The rain had lifted, the sky was peeking through the clouds. Against the velvet navy above, I could see a few poke holes for stars, shimmering dim in the distance.

We eventually reached an isolated stretch of coast, littered with trees. Shigeru dug a flashlight out of his pocket, switching it on and shining it against a thin, dirt path that led into the foliage.

"We're not going in there?"

I glimpsed the evidence of a smile in his expression, hand-in-hand, we went. With the help of his flashlight, he directed me forward, helping me over a thick, fallen log. We reached the other side of the forest pretty quick, opening to a cliff that gave a gradient-blue view of the sea beyond. The moon was a crescent that night, hovering like a broken star above the waters, occasionally blocked by filters of cloud.

Shigeru didn't speak, not with words, instead he motioned for me to sit. And together, we did, legs dangling less-than-safely over, what, roughly five meters of cliff? Could've been higher, a fall like this wouldn't kill us. We sat on damp ground, but neither of us seemed to care.

"Now, will you tell me how you pilfered my birthday information?" I wagged a finger at him.

His smile was wry, reaching to and lighting up his eyes. For crying out loud, his eyes. In the moonlit darkness, they reflected a haunting depth, dark blue and mesmerizing.

"And why are we here?" I breathed. When he still didn't respond, I added, softer than intended, "And are you mute?"

He chuckled airily. Guess not.

"Not mute," he said, cocking his head and taking up my hand. "I just don't have words for," He pressed my hand to his chest, just over his heart. The beat was steady, strangely beautiful, "this."

"That makes two of us."

I leaned into him, instinctively, my head where my hand had been previously. Listening to his heartbeat was quieting, calming. I felt protected by the sound. Contented. He smoothed a hand over my hair, through it. When I eased away, he pressed a kiss to my forehead, saccharine.

"What are you thinking of?" He brushed a hand against my cheek.

I cracked a smile. "Ways to dilute flattery, if you must know,"

Because I was admiring his eyes. The shades of cerulean, with shards like blue crystal… it was stirring, artistic even. God was creative.

"Well I," he began, his voice sending a vibration through me, "was thinking of ways to compile flattery, in jewelled and pretty words, maybe tied with a ribbon…"

I smiled immediately. What a dork. Yet I couldn't imagine a better response. I forgot to reiterate my previous questions. I didn't much care for the answers anymore, not now. Not as I wound my fingers through his sandy hair, my heart aching at the same time it was full. How could two opposing emotions go so tenderly hand-in-hand?

"By the way. What did you say my eyes do to you…?" he asked, the words passing through me like an electric jolt.

Too much. Just as it was now, my heart bursting with erratic beats, the blood hot in my veins.

"Did I ever say that?" I managed to whisper.

He chuckled, breaking, in part, into my reverie. I loved this. Him, in particular. Breathing in the vestiges of rain; the fresh, earthy scent helped clear my mind. Supposing I wanted it clear…

"Miyuki, what would you say," he wondered, "if I asked for your hand directly?"

"I'd say you've chosen a lovely proposal atmosphere," I said jokingly, still quite taken with the silvery-reflected sea. "But then I'd…"

Freeze with the look in your eyes. Realize you're probably not joking.

My hand. In marriage.

I stopped my breath.

I knew already I would say yes. A thousand times over. But, the words didn't form in my vocal chords.

"Don't worry," he said, patting my shoulder as if I were worried, "Not now. But, I will someday. And when I do, you'd better be ready for it."

"Is that a threat?" I wondered, aimlessly.


He grinned. He could read me, I knew it. My eyes read plain as day of my love for him, and he knew it. If there was one thing I wanted out of this life, it would amount to simplicity. If I could live out the rest of my days with Shigeru, that would come as close to perfection as I could imagine. And there we were, one-minded in our thoughts.

As sure as perfect love drives out all fear.

A/N: The end. Yes, that is it, the last chapter… wow. Did it meet your expectations? Thank you for reading and sticking it out with me until the end!