I brought her inside and sat her down on the couch. She still had her head down. I grabbed a towel and threw it to her from the door of the bathroom.

"Here, I'm turning on the shower. Get yourself warmed up. I'll be out here in the living room." It was now that I noticed the lights had come back on. It was certainly a good thing. It would be weird for her to have to take a shower in my bathroom in the dark.

Just as I had sat down to turn on the tv, another clap of thunder seemed to shake the house. The lights went out again and I heard Aoi scream in the bathroom. I jumped up and ran to the door of the bathroom and opened it just a crack so she could hear me.

"Aoi? You OK?"

There was no reply but I could hear her crying.

"Aoi? I need you to answer me. At least tell me you have clothes on?"

A soft "yeah" came from the room and I threw the door open the rest of the way. She was there on the floor, crying harder than before. I knelt down next to her.

"Aoi, what's wrong? This isn't about me yelling at you is it? Please tell me, I want to help."

She looked up at me, tears rolling down her face. It was just light enough to see that she had opened her mouth to say something but there was another loud crack of thunder. She shuddered and buried her head in her hands again.

I wrapped my arms around her and held her tight. "It's okay. We're safe in here. I've got you." I immediately felt her stop shaking. We held the embrace for I don't know how long. I just held on, protecting her. I could smell the mango scent of the shampoo in her hair. I ran my fingers through her hair, savoring each moment. Finally, she lifted her head and I let go of her.


"I'm okay." She said through tears. "As long a-oop" She covered her mouth quickly.

"As long as what?"

"Well…. I….said as long as you're with me, I…" She couldn't bring herself to continue.


"But," she cut me off. "But I don't want to ruin anything. I want you to promise me we'll be friends with no awkwardness or anything ok?"

Another loud crash of lightning and she buried her face in her hands. Tears leaked out and slid down her cheek. I reached my arm around her again and put my head over her shoulder.

"Aoi, why should we stay friends?" She sobbed even harder. "That's not what I meant. I mean, I like you too. Why should we stay friends in we both like each other? I really like you, Aoi." Another loud crash of thunder erupted in the background, but Aoi wasn't afraid. She had me. She snuggled comfortably in my favorite Old Navy sweatshirt and fell asleep, even though her dreams could no longer be better than reality.