Now

Erin Hasegawa was not overly fond of Valentine's Day. It had always seemed over-commercialized, saccharine, silly, and in that one wretched of school she'd caught her boyfriend cheating on her on February 14, of all the bad days. And she had a hell of a bad cold at the time which always tended to hit her around mid-February like fucking clockwork. Things like that? Hadn't endeared her to the holiday overmuch.

Her fiancee didn't place much stock in the day. After thousands of years without Catholic saints, let alone the holiday, she didn't suppose he had a particular emotional attachment to it. Still, Erin couldn't help but feel a bit lonely with him gone so long that day. He'd said he'd work a bit of a distance away, and in this context she didn't have to really guess what 'work' meant. He'd been gone before she'd woken up, having left her breakfast and lunch in the fridge with a note promising to explain when he got back.

Unusual, sure, but with Hardestadt? Erin had learned the unusual became the usual quite often. She sat back on the couch, her laptop open as she ran through their open cases, along with a multitude of emails and messages. Erin leaned back, not bothering to turn on the TV, tilting her head back to stare at the ceiling. All her friends were busy, Emma and Dani had the entire day booked, Karai was busy…

Ye gods, she was bored. She sighed a bit, looking at her phone. "Geez," she muttered as she turned it on, looking to her pictures. She smiled a bit as she scrolled through the photos of her and Hardestadt's last date. Holding hands with Erin flashing a 'v,' the two arm in arm, Erin's selfie on them in front of the waterfront…she smiled. Alright, so maybe life was pretty good lately. Work to help people rarely let up, so maybe the lulls weren't too bad.

Her phone rang suddenly. She jumped a bit, before seeing the caller-ID. She turned it on. "Kira? That you, kiddo?" Great, she thought. Even her voice was stuffy.

"Is that Erin Ryoko Siobhan Hasegawa!?" She younger sister called cheerfully on the other end of the phone. "What's up? You and Stadty having fun?"

"Uh, well…kinda," Erin said quickly. Kira had a tendency to be very excited about any holiday. Erin didn't have the heart to dampen it for her.

"You sound sick. You sick? Want me to ask mom to ship you some of her chicken soup?"

"I'll be good," Erin said, smiling at her sister's tone. "You know this always hits me…how's senior year of high school treating you, Keers?"

"I'm not five anymore, Erin! You know I hate that nickname...anyways, my boyfriend got me a huge thing of chocol-"

"Whoah, whoah, whoah…boyfriend?" Erin sat up sharply. "You never mentioned a new boyfriend, Kira."

"That's cause he's not new," Kira said cheerfully. "We've been going out for like three months now."

"Uh-huh…" Erin said.

"Drop the overprotective big sister thing, you! He's younger than I am! And isn't Stadty older than you are?"

"I'm not in highschool, kiddo!" Erin said. "Anyways, though…everyone's good?" Erin was the eldest of four. After her had been Aaron, forever griping on the lack of originality in Ken and Naomi Hasegawa's naming schemes, then Maya and finally Kira. She and Kira had always maintained a close bond, as well as with the others. Erin had a tendency to treat her role as elder sister seriously, and had been quite insistent on Hardestadt getting on well with her family.

"How old was he when you were…?" Erin could just picture her sister's sly smile and rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever…you happy, Kira?"

"Yeah, totally. College applications are going out! Mom gave me a hand with them. You should call her later! Aaron and Maya, too, you know how much everyone loves hearing from you!"

"I just spoke with 'em a few days ago," Erin smiled softly. "Gonna be there for your graduation, you know."

"You better! Stadty coming?"

"He hates that name, you know."

"Whatev. When're you two tying the knot anyways?" Kira sounded excited. "I'm maid of honor over Maya, right-"

"Hey, hey, no rush, these things take time to plan out! Look, we're happy as we are now!" Erin laughed. Oh, and the wedding's going to have a few gods, and demons, devils, maybe an angel or two, but all explanations in their own time…

"You'll break mom's heart. She's dying for this happen! Anyways, where is he?"

"Just…work pulled him out," Erin said lamely.

"Wait, isn't he self-employed? Where the heck is he for Valentine's Day with you? I'm gonna yell at him when I see him."

"You really don't have to. It was just an emergency, he'll be back later," Erin smiled. "Look, Keers, I gotta get back to things. We'll talk later, okay? I love you."

"Love you, too, big sis." Kira said before hanging up. Erin leaned back.

How old had he been when Erin was in high school? Older than their great grandparents to the fifth power. As far as her family knew, Hardestadt had a previous 'marriage,' though Erin was aware the actual number was quite a big higher than a single one. And of course, the knowledge he was a half-devil, half-angel warrior and defender of humanity? Didn't really enter much into conversations, even if they did know he wasn't human

Oh, sure, the Devil himself, capital D is my father in law, I help to stop and destroy supernatural monsters to save people…yeah, sounds about like the kinda thing that easily comes up, Erin thought, giving a light chuckle. She instantly regretted it when it turned into a bad sneeze.

"Fuuuuuuuck!" she groaned, flopping back into the cushions. She did think about things quite a bit, admittedly. There was no doubting the genuine depth of their mutual feelings. They had been tested, and come through stronger. His devotion to her was obvious, as was hers to him. What had started as partnership and friendship had grown into more. He was the love of Erin's life.

She had some misgivings, she had to admit, if the reverse was true. Could she be? For someone who had lived so long, done so much? The sheer differences in time were past her comprehension.

But, you know what? Screw that, she thought. What mattered now was their happiness, their work in protecting others. Cherishing one another more day after day. She supposed V-Day was a time for that.

So where the hell was he? She'd tried to text him with no response. Focusing on work wasn't working anymore…

A thought, completely unwanted, crept into her head as she remembered that one rather hated Valentine's Day from college. Catching Ian in bed with another girl at his place hadn't been one of the best experiences. Hell, before Hardestadt, she hadn't exactly had a great streak with boyfriends until she'd decided to focus on her career for a while.

Of course…long silences, sudden absences? Oh, come on, Erin. You know him better than that. He wouldn't be cheating on you. She scolded herself angrily. You two have had an epic story. You're engaged…

An hour ticked by, then another. It was when the sun had begun its descent that she heard the knock at the door. She blinked and stood, walking to the door. Experience had told her not to open it instantly. In fact, she had protection grasped in her hand in the form of a talisman Hardestatdt's eldest brother had given her. She peered through the peep hole. Her eyes widened and she flung open the door. "Hardestadt!? The hell happened to you!?"

Hardestadt was breathing heavily, a ridiculous, happy smile on his face. His clothes were torn, his body covered in soot and scuff marks, even white fur in certain places as he lifted something up in his hands, revealing a pale blue flower.

"Huh? What's-"

"Type of typical flower…only grows in...the mountains of Tibet, a certain time of the year. When you brew it into a tea, it can cure the common cold like it was never there. You were getting sick, so I figured I'd…surprise you? I had to…call in a favor to get teleported there and back?" He tried for a grin. "Sorry if I was gone for a while…"

She yanked him inside, throwing her arms around him. "Moron! Why didn't you call!?"

"No cell reception…and I kinda lost the phone when one of the yetis ambushed me…took longer than I thought it would…and I dropped my keys down the mountain, so I'll-"

Erin squeezed him tighter, her clear 'shut up, Hardestadt' sign. "Oh, my god, you need a shower."

"Yeti tackled me when I went for the flower."

"Shower. Now." Erin said, sniffling a bit. "Then tea. Oh, my god, you did that to cure me of a cold?!"

"You said you didn't care for Valentine's Day, but I wanted to…" he shrugged, the same gentle Hardestadt smile on his face. "Surprise you? I don't want to be too predictable."

"Predictable is the last thing my life is. Shower, now!" Erin was hiding a laugh.

Half an hour later, Erin was sipping very foul tasting, yet oddly refreshing tea, Hardestadt now dressed in simple baggy shorts and a white shirt. He sat on the couch by her, rubbing his head. Erin gave him a look. "Y'know, some may interpret this as condescending…and geez, I was getting worried!"

"Sorry," he said with a wince. "I just thought it'd be a nice surprise if I warped there, got back in a few hours-" she put a finger to his lips to shush him.

"I've thought about us. A lot, you know. You know how happy I am with you, right? In every way?" Erin took another sip of tea. Good god, she thought. This stuff really does help, that's my sinuses clear already!

"You know how happy I am with you?" Hardestadt asked, putting the back of his hand to her cheek. Erin reached up and grasped it. "Tea helping?"

"Totally. But come on, you don't have to go to all the trouble. It's just an annoyingly recurring cold. It passes. What lasts forever, huh?"

"Us?" Hardestadt asked, pressing his hand closer to her cheek. Erin felt her cheeks burn scarlet at that as she glanced aside.

"I, you, that…" she looked up. "Hardestadt. When I said I've had time to think," she managed to face him, the red burn still in her face. "I love you so freaking much. I want to spend every day I can with you. I want to see so many things with you, save people with you. This Valentine's Day stuff? I don't need a special day to remind me of how much I love you. I want every single day to be like that. For as long as we have...I know there were people before me...I know you must have loved them a lot." Erin rubbed his hand. "They were special, huh?"

"Yeah," he said with a soft smile. "But-"

"I'm not comparing myself to anyone, honey. I'm not. I'm happy being with you now. But I want to know about them. I want to know all about them. I want to know these stories," Erin said. "I feel connected to them. Weird, huh?"

"Not at all," Hardestadt smiled. "I'd...be honored to tell you every story, Erin. As much as I can."

"And I want to love every single day with you, honey..." Erin said.

"That's what I want, too," Hardestadt leaned in and kissed her cheek. "You make me feel so happy, Erin. I love every little thing about you. Except for maybe the way you hog the covers."

"Says Mr. Uses All the Hot Water in the morning!" Erin stabbed an accusing finger into his chest

"And except maybe the way you take all the leftovers too quick."

"Oh, except maybe the way YOU mix up my clothes drawers when you put the laundry back!" Erin shot back. The two looked at one another for a moment and then both burst out laughing. Leaning forward, they pressed their foreheads together.

"But what I love about you? Is you, Erin Hasegawa."

"I love you, Hardestadt Delac," she said back, the smile ever present on her lips now. They looked at one another and leaned in, their lips pressing together in a slow, passionate kiss.

"We're eating out, though. Somewhere cheap and tasty," Erin said. "Now that I'm feeling better."

"Well, it IS a special day," Hardestadt said.

"I told you, I don't care about Valentine's-"

"It's another day with Erin Hasegawa," Hardestadt said with a wink. "I'd consider that damn special."

Erin closed her mouth, beginning to laugh quietly. Just another day indeed. Another day with the work that she loved.

In the life that she loved.

With the man that she loved.

"I'll get changed then! You get ready, too!" Erin said, shooting up from the couch. She looked at her lover her betrothed, her Hardestadt. She smiled and walked over, putting a hand to his cheek. She went in and kissed him, long and slow, feeling him return it with the love, faith and joy they had cultivated together over the years.

She wanted as long as they could have together. Forever.

One day at a time.


Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am free again
Whenever I'm alone with you
You make me feel like I am clean again

However far away I will always love you
However long I stay I will always love you
Whatever words I say I will always love you
I will always love you

"Lovesong," by Robert Smith.

A/N: And Lightysnake here! Just some Valentine's day KOD specials here, that served as a bit of writing therapy...hope everyone likes!