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They were so close.

Way too close.

Well, it’s not like they haven’t been in this proximity before; every time he felt like biting her out of the blue, the first thing he would do was sneak up behind her, one arm wrapping around her waist and the other holding onto her shoulder or hand. He’d usually make them stay like that for a while before doing his business. And that happens more than once; often, to be exact.

But this time was…different. Sure, they were close, but the atmosphere around them felt so heavy, so dangerous… heated, even. They were currently in a secluded area in the school, in a place where no one could possible walk in on them (which should’ve been reassuring, honestly), but that made it all the more exciting; for him, at least, since it meant that he could do whatever he wanted with her.

Right now, he was holding her down with her back against the wall, one hand holding hers high above her head, using what little height he had over her as a way to block any possible path for resistance; he may be fragile-looking, but his eyes, for her, are intimidating enough to make her knees weak.

(But despite this, she can’t help but meet his cold gaze, for it was that very intimidation that mesmerized her in a way that’s new to her)

It takes about a minute of silence before the white-haired boy took the initiative to break it, his face moving closer until he was able to whisper these words into her ear:

“…you’re quite eager today, aren’t you?”

His voice was enough to shake her senses conscious, eyes suddenly blinking. A few more seconds in and her cheeks started to redden in embarrassment; it surprises him when she still manages to stutter out a small ‘no’ in response. Despite this, Iroha chuckled in amusement at her reaction, pulling himself away slightly to look at her as a small smirk made its way to his face.

His free hand moved towards her face, one finger twirling a few strands of her hair. “You shouldn’t be that embarrassed. We’re the only ones here anyway,” he said, his smirk turning into a more genuine smile.

Her eyes widened at this. “Th-that’s not it! It’s just…”

“What?” he asked, raising one eyebrow slightly. “Don’t tell me you’re nervous. This, this isn’t the first time I’ve bitten you. And besides,” he paused, whispering again, “weren’t you the one who called for me? It’s usually the other way around,” he stopped again before mumbling, “not to mention you’ve been avoiding me—“

“I’m well aware of that! It just…feels different. S-somehow…”

Well, it did. The girl just found it hard to describe, but she’d been feeling…weird lately. Whenever each of their ‘biting sessions’ (as she’d call it) would end, she found herself not wanting him to leave, as if begging him to continue. And even outside of that, she felt weird as well; every time Iroha would so much as touch her, even slightly, it felt as if he had sent hundreds of sparks lit inside her.

(Which eventually led to her avoiding him; though the said feeling wasn’t what she’d call bad, rather, it was something so pleasing that she found it hard to control)

“Mm… I wonder about that,” he muses, almost to himself, as he starts to do his usual routine of undoing the top buttons of her blouse, though she mentally notes that he’s a bit slower now compared to how he usually is. She could swear that he was taking his time to stare at her now-exposed neck.

Without another word, he proceeded to lower his head just enough to reach her neck, his raised hand lightly gliding down her wrists as he loosened his grip to accompany his movement. The pink-haired girl could feel his breath tickling her skin, inching closer to where he was planning to bite. She was expecting him to bite right after that as per usual, expecting his fangs to sink into her skin.

But instead of fangs, the first thing she felt was his lips ghosting against her skin; quick, yet enough for her to realize that he…

Wait.

No way. Did he just…?

“…what’s with your expression… Are you that shocked?”

Her thoughts were interrupted by his inquiry, followed by a small chuckle. He looked at her a bit, revealing a playful smirk on his face.

By this point, the young Taoist’s face was already colored in a million shades of red. The first thing she would’ve done was to deny his claim, but she can’t find the strength to do so, mainly because he was correct; Iroha had never kissed her in any way before, regardless of circumstances. The only time she could recall him doing something similar was when she first visited his crypt, but even she wouldn’t count that time as a real kiss. The bottom line of it all was that he’d never try to kiss her.

So why?

Her current thoughts consumed her so much that she hadn’t noticed him go back to her neck, his free hand lightly holding her shoulder.

This white-haired boy proceeded to kiss her a bit above her collarbone, his lips now staying longer than the first time around. This elicits a small gasp from her, body shaking slightly from the sudden feeling. Smiling at her reaction, he kissed her one last time before licking lightly at the exact same spot, making her breath hitch.

The moment he did that, she was now sure that he was going to bite her, eyes now tightly shut as she prepared herself. Yes, he was usually the type to bite immediately, but there were these rare moments where he would lick her skin for a few seconds before doing so. That was understandable.

But it doesn’t explain why he kissed her.

And as expected, she started to feel the sensation of blood leaving her system just a few seconds later. She bit her lip slightly, raised hands now balled into fists as she bore everything. It was still painful, yes, but it was a pain that she had become accustomed to for the past few weeks—or was it months?—and so she wasn’t really that surprised anymore.

Eventually, she could feel his tongue lapping on her skin; that was a sign that he was done with her. Since she’s heard of some jiang shis that just left their prey as is without cleaning them up, she’s at least thankful that Iroha isn’t like that. Once he was done cleaning up her wound, the next thing he’d do would be to let her go to properly button up her shirt, then mention a few reminders for her before leaving both of them to their own devices.

Well, that’s what he usually did.

So it surprises her yet again when he doesn’t seem to let go.

“I-Iroha…” she mumbled, voice reeking of uncertainty and confusion, “…you’re…finished, right?”

“Mm?” he hummed, before adding, “…I don’t remember saying that I’m finished. Now be quiet,” he ordered, his head moving a bit lower before—not again—kissing her on the same spot where he had been just a few moments ago.

(At this point she’s starting to feel strange somewhere down, but she’s doing her best to shrug it off for now)

As he did so, he slowly let go of her hands, making her internally sigh in relief…only for her to want to take that back after feeling him unbutton her shirt a bit more, exposing her chest. He started to leave a trail of light kisses from her neck down to the area that’s just above her breasts, and this causes her to gasp his name without thinking.

(Lower. P l e a s e)

She’s now internally panicking at this point, and the first thing she wanted to do was to push him away, but she knew that doing so could lead to much worse things (like getting herself hurt, for instance). She could also tell him to stop, though it would be futile as well, knowing him.

(But do I really want him to stop)

Her mind’s in such a mess that she doesn’t notice him focus his attention on her face; Iroha was now trying to hold in his laughter from seeing her confused. While that expression of hers pleased him, a part of him felt irritated knowing that her attention wasn’t focused on him.

How do I make you think of me again?

His mind goes back a few minutes, and suddenly he knew how.

And without thinking twice, he closes the distance between them, his lips enveloping hers in a kiss. This successfully snaps her back to reality, eyes now wide open. One hand was now holding her shoulder, while his other hand firmly gripped her left wrist into place.

Only now was she suddenly aware of how she could literally feel his body on hers, his legs blocking any possible way out. The pink-haired girl was now at a loss for what to do; not only is she surprised, but this is her first kiss. With the person she least expected to share it with.

Her heart races, and before she could respond properly, he pulls away.

“…Ahaha. Your face is redder than before,” he remarked, his hands now cupping her face. His pink orbs then met her red ones, surprising him; he usually had to ask (force) her to look him in the eye.

How cute.

“A-after what you just did… how did you expect m-me to react to that…” she uttered out, her heart still beating wildly. Stop doing that, she thought, it wasn’t that heavy of a kiss.

As if to mock her more, he gives her a quick peck on the lips, startling her. She puffs her cheeks in anger—or was it in frustration?—before saying, “S-Stop that!”

He takes a moment to laugh at her actions, amusement clearly written on his features, before whispering in her ear, “…and what if I don’t want to?”

That was enough to send a few shivers down her spine; but at this point, she honestly wasn’t sure what she’s feeling right now. Is she scared of him? Intimidated? Or… did she now want him as much as he did her?

(Even if it’s just my imagination)

“That’s… I…” she began weakly, voice faltering. It became clear that at that moment, pushing him away won’t make sense. Now that she looked back at it, she was the one who called for him after all. And as she realizes why, she ends up saying a few words…words that he least expected to hear from her.

“…don’t leave…”

“Hm?”

Her words caught his full attention. He was sure he heard right, he wasn’t deaf in any way; but he wanted to hear her say it clearly, just so that his heart and mind would be at ease.

“I didn’t really hear what you said, so… hey, can you repeat that for me?” he dragged, his voice a whisper as his face was less than an inch away from hers.

Tell me that I’m needed. That you need me as much as I do you.

(I hope you really do)

Eyes looking straight into his, she whispers, “I need you… please… don’t leave…”

And that was all it took for him to close their distance once more, his lips capturing hers in a kiss deeper than earlier; one that was obviously inexperienced, but strangely sincere.

Every time he was nearby, she usually has a hard time calming down; not out of nervousness, but out of fear for what he does. It wasn’t until recently—especially now—that she started to become conscious of how she was around him…all out of anticipation.

When did she start wishing for him to stay longer? When did she start longing for his bites, more so his touches? When did she start missing his voice that conveniently called for her?

When did she start needing…wanting all of him like this?

(And so before she knew it, she’s started to long for him and his presence. Whether or not it was on a whim, or out of sheer desperation, she couldn’t care less about that anymore)

The young Taoist now found herself easing into the kiss, her eyelids fluttering to a close, letting her instincts take over for now. Her hands, once used to push him away, were now holding onto him, trying to gently pull him close in hopes that he’d return it. It seems to work, because after she does that, he lets out a silent groan as he presses his body closer to hers, fully eliminating  any possible distance they had.

Only now does she realize that he wasn’t kidding back when he told her that his body was always cold; it didn’t help that her skin was partly exposed. It greatly contrasted how warm—alive—her body felt, and she liked that, somehow. She usually disliked cold things, but if it was him, she figured that maybe she’ll let that pass.

(Especially not if he feels like this)

After a few moments, they broke off the kiss for a bit of air. Iroha took this opportunity to take a long look at the girl in front of him. In his eyes, she was already cute from when they first met, but she looked even more so now; her slightly teary eyes glazed over, her lips were parted open a bit, and her face was completely flushed.

Knowing that he caused her to look like this made him feel a bit proud of himself.

(Just how much more can I get out of you, I wonder)

With a light chuckle, he kissed her cheek before proceeding to kiss her neck again. As his one hand now moved lower to hold her thigh, she moaned, biting her lip lightly as she clings to him, wanting to feel him more. Their bodies brush against each other, and he has to hold himself from making any sounds, because fuck, that action coupled with her voice felt really good for him. He realizes that he has to find a way to distract himself.

He opens his eyes a crack to look down at her opened shirt. A smirk appeared on his features before he whispers nonchalantly:

“…you really like pink, huh…”

As soon as his words sank in, her face reddened in embarrassment for the nth time.

“Y-You…! Did you really have to look?!” she sputtered out, completely flustered. She suddenly had this urge to cover herself entirely and run away.

He only chuckled in response. “…so? You weren’t complaining at all when I unbuttoned your shirt and kissed you, now, did you?” he asked, dragging out the last few words.

“Ah, by the way,” he pauses, glancing at her chest before going back to her eyes again. The girl raises an eyebrow in curiosity before the young jiang shi leaned in a bit to continue his words, “…black lace would look better on you, but white lace isn’t so bad~”

She’s taken aback for a few seconds before she retorts, “You didn’t have to point that out! A-And I don’t need your input on that!”

“Mhmm, sure,” he says nonchalantly, easily dismissing her words before he lands a chaste kiss on her cheek. “You should be grateful that I’m giving you advice, you know,” he added, pouting slightly… and for a second she almost felt like she could forgive him with that expression he’s making. That is, until she feels his left hand inch closer to the last buttons of her shirt, undoing it completely.

“Are you even listening to me…” she says weakly, looking to the side while off-handedly speaking out her thoughts.

“…and to think it was feeling really nice…”

“Hm?”

Silence.

Not liking the sudden absence of words, he pressed on. “Hey… what was that?” he whispered, kissing her near her jaw line as his hand gently massaged her thigh.

“Nothi—ah…None of that was supposed to slip, no. The girl let out a nervous chuckle, barely catching herself before replying, “Ah, n-no, it’s nothing… I didn’t say—mnn—anything—“

Like hell that’ll work.

Obviously unconvinced, he kept going and kissed further down her neck, each kiss staying longer than the last. “…are you sure?” he asked, his other hand now inside her shirt, resting on her back as it drew closer to where the clasp of her bra was.

By now, the pink-haired girl was at her wit’s end for what to do; it was getting harder to resist his touches despite him breaking all momentum earlier, but she didn’t want to give in too easily for once. “Y-Yes. I didn’t say anything,” she finally says, her voice less shaky than earlier.

In a split second, she suddenly regrets saying that, because the moment she spoke, the atmosphere became heavy, close to suffocating. The boy in front of her suddenly stopped his ministrations, and without warning, he lets go of her all too quickly.

Her feelings of embarrassment changed to complete shock; that was the last thing she expected him to do.

Huh…?

He seemed to be able to read her mind, because he responded to her unspoken reaction immediately.

“…what are you getting shocked for? You didn’t say anything, nothing at all, right?”

No

“I know, but—”

“I was sure… I was sure I heard you say that you liked it,” he interrupted, backing away just slightly. “I wanted to hear it from you directly, you know. But,” he paused, his expression darkening. As he did so, she could sense her feelings of fear coming back to hit her in the face.

No… this isn’t good. What have I done…

“You… just now, you denied having said such, right…?” he continued, his voice now laced with irritation and sarcasm. “Then that means you don’t really want me here with you, right?!”

No… nonononononono

Panicking, the girl waved her hands in front of her as she tried to explain herself. “No, th-that’s not what I meant… I—”

SHUT UP!” he yelled at her, leaving her stunned. “If that’s not what you meant, why are you pushing me away?! You… you wouldn’t do that if you really wanted me to stay! You know that, right?”

The more he talked, the more the girl was slowly starting to pinpoint his exact emotions. At first glance, he seemed to be purely mad at her, but there was something else mixed in; something that had long been there even when they first met. Something she’s never really triggered until now.

Sadness. Fear.

It was at that moment that she came to realize that somehow, there’s more to him than just being plain possessive—in more ways than one, his mannerisms resembled that of a broken child.

One that didn’t want to be left alone, regardless of the circumstances.

“Why… it hurts, don’t you know that?! It hurts to be pushed away and be unwanted. It… hurts to be betrayed. It hurts… I…” he stops, biting his lip so hard that she could’ve sworn she saw a bit of blood. He looks away, feet frozen in place.

In all the times they’d been in each other’s presence, she… had never seen him this sad before. The mere sight ate out at her insides, sending a dull ache she doesn’t remember feeling before. She then comes to the realization that no matter how long they’ve known each other, she doesn’t really understand him that well at all.

It hurts her to know that she barely knew him at all.

The Taoist no longer knew what to say to him at this point, being at a complete loss for words. Relying on her instinct, there was only one thing she could think of doing, and she could be pushed away for it, but she didn’t care.

Wordlessly, she slowly pulled him into a hug, in the sincerest way possible.

She had expected him to push her away and scream at her, but he didn’t.

As they stood there in silence, he let both of his hands hold onto her, his grip gentle yet firm enough so that she can’t make him let go. As he fully rested his head on her shoulder, she could feel his body shaking slightly, his breathing a bit uneven—

The girl places a hand on his head, stroking it softly.

“…you’re confusing me…” he finally whispers, albeit shakily. “Weren’t you pushing me away earlier?”

Silence. A heavy one this time.

“…hey. Answer me now, would you.”

She lets out a small sigh, not letting go of him.

“Maybe.”

“Then why are you holding me now?” he asks, his voice louder, a hint of desperation in it.

She stays silent for a while, as if picking out her words. Anything she says from this point onward could make or break whatever they had now. If they had anything, that is.

No… don’t think like that, she mused to herself, he probably sees me as nothing more than how he did before.

(But her feelings still stay, regardless of what he feels about her)

I

“I was lying.”

This causes him to raise his head for a bit, obviously shocked by what he just heard.

“What?”

The girl smiled weakly. “You heard me.”

Iroha then looks up fully, his eyes meeting hers yet again. She almost regrets catching his attention, because now she could see just how pained he was. His features remained blank, but his eyes conveyed everything he felt at that moment. It was almost as if he could cry any time.

Despite that, he stayed silent, as if asking her to speak more. Maintaining her gaze, she continued, “…I wasn’t being honest with you all this time. I… I don’t really know how I could word that without hurting you in any way, but…”

She pauses, so as to make sure her voice doesn’t crack halfway.

“…please. Please believe me when I say that I don’t really mean to push you away. That’s… that’s the last thing I want to do right now.”

Hearing this, the white-haired boy laughs dryly. “You’re… seriously expecting me to believe you now? After what you did earlier?”

“I-I did say ‘maybe’, didn’t I…” she replied—I’ve seriously never seen you look this fragile, you know—“I know it seemed like I was pushing you away. But… like I said. I wasn’t being honest with you back there. A-and besides…”

The girl sighs momentarily, trying to keep herself calm as she says her next words, “…I was the one who called for you… remember? If… if I really wanted to push you away, I wouldn’t do that.”

“…b-but I understand if you won’t believe me! I…I’m sorry…” she continued, looking to the side for a bit. “Just… I want you to know that I want you with me… I don’t know…”

Well. That was embarrassing, she thought, if only I could disappear right now—

Her thoughts were cut off by him landing a kiss on her forehead.

Her eyes blink in surprise. A few more seconds in before a blush appears on her cheeks. “…wh-what was that for, now…”

“Next time,” he begins, one hand cupping her cheek, “…be more honest with what you feel. Our first meeting… that didn’t go nicely because of that, you know. Again, it’s your fault…”

What’s with this sudden change? “You’re one to talk. You were almost crying earlier, weren’t you?”

He chuckles. “Me? Haha… no way. I’m not like my stupid older brother,” he says, almost rolling his eyes.

“That aside…” there it is again, his usual self “I want to ask you something… and I’d like you to answer properly… honestly, this time… you get that?” he whispers, his voice quieter than usual.

The pink-haired girl looked up at him, eyes having a shine of genuine eagerness to them, despite her calm expression.

“Tell me,” he began, leaning in close until his face was a few millimeters away from hers, “do you need… no, do you want me to be with you?”

No longer thinking twice, she slowly answers, “…yes. Please.”

And in an instant, he gives her another kiss, one that was gentler than the previous ones. She pulls him closer, and in the midst of it all she could feel him smiling into the kiss.

Funny how we’re this close, yet you still feel so far away from me. It’s almost as if you’re unfamiliar to me.

If he wasn’t so occupied with her right now, she would probably be laughing with slight tears in her eyes.

It’s no use. In the end, I can’t push him away anymore. All I can do it this point is to be honest with him. Even if… it probably won’t change anything.

But I can hope, right?

She internally sighs, this time a bit out of relief more than anything. While she knew that it would take a long time to get him to be honest with her, she believed that it would all be worth it in the end. Everything that happened today was already one big step towards that goal. All she has to do now is to be patient with him.

After all, impatience never brought the best results.

I’ll wait for your words.