SOME TIME IN THE FUTURE…

It was Halloween, and Saul was alone.

The girls were out, either at parties, invited by their friends to enjoy the festivities, or helping EON with people going out of control because of said parties and festivities.

Though he had gotten better about crowds the more his home seemed to resemble one, he still didn't enjoy them. He'd wished the girls a good time, prepped a bowl of candy just in case someone decided to be American for a night, left Rachnee a message then settled in for a couple shows and a warm drink.

Four episodes into season one of Castle, his doorbell rang. Pausing the show, he pushed himself off of the couch, set his drink aside and grabbed the bowl of candy, ready for kids or teenagers in costume.

When he opened the door, there was none of those. The front step was empty. Except for a small box right in the very center. There was a simple note innocently taped to the top, written in thin, spidery characters.

"Hope you like it! XP"

Humming to himself, Saul picked it up and took it inside, popping a strawberry milk candy in his mouth as he closed the door. "I wonder if Rachnee sent me porn again?" He mused fondly, opening the box and finding a blank DVD within. Shrugging, he ejected the Castle disk and inserted the unknown and sat on his couch.

Whatever it was began to play immediately, showing only a dark screen and static fuzz around the edges. The speakers buzzed uncomfortably, and Saul frowned. "Boo, no porn. Whoever made this sucks."

The image changed. It showed now a bleak, dark clearing with rattling dead trees in the background, with skeletal grass emerging from the ground. At the center of it all was a simple stone well, capped with a lid of wood.

"Wow, the picture in this is horrible," he muttered, cocking an ear. "So's the audio."

He stopped grousing as a line of static buzzed down the screen, and the atmosphere began to darken. The lights, low as they were, seemed to dim as his house seemed to breathe with massive, invisible lungs, the wood creaking and groaning under the strain.

The lid on the well shifted, moved by something inside of the well. Dark fingers curled out from below and pushed it aside, allowing a figure to slowly climb out. It was hunched and shuddering, with a mane of lanky black hair that seemed to cover its body. It moved like all its limbs were asleep, slow and stuff as if weighed down with water and rigor mortis. Beneath the hair, Saul could just about make out a tattered, stained kimono as it fully emerged from the well.

"…Well this is boring," Saul said, hitting the eject on the remote. Nothing happened.

The tv suddenly screeched a burst of static and the person juddered across the screen. Again, the screen glitched and it sped forward. Then it filled the screen.

The house seemed to go still, as if holding its breath.

Then the person pressed her hands against the screen. The picture began to thrash with static and water, murky and rank began to drip out of the bottom. Nails black and encrusted with filth began to emerge from the static, stretching out into the air as more water poured forth, splattering on the wood floor below.

The hands clawed at the air as the elbows exited the screen, slowly at first but then with a sort of desperate anger.

They failed to find purchase in empty air and the entire body came spilling out, landing on the floor six feet below with a loud, wet slap. The house seemed to deflate like a punctured bouncy castle.

The funny thing about Saul's tv, besides the size, was the fact that it was mounted to the wall so that everyone could crowd around the couch or in one of the chairs or beanbags and still see the screen. And also so that a certain centaur or Oni could duck down without straining something when they passed in front.

The woman slowly rolled around on the ground in obvious pain, but making no sound beyond the squishing of wet fabric.

After a minute or so, she managed to roll over and crawl onto her hands and knees, then push herself up onto her feet, swaying and flinching. She was also facing the tv. Turning around, she found the couch empty and her would-be victim gone.

Something wrapped around her from behind, but instead of a garrote or any kind of weapon, it was a towel. A red fluffy towel, which no one would consider a weapon unless they found plush warmth threatening.

"Oh man, you must be so cold," Her erstwhile victim muttered hurriedly, tucking the towel around her body before tossing another on the wet floor. "Come on, no one wants hypothermia. Let's get you a hot shower and some clean clothes."

He couldn't make out her expression under the tangled locks that draped about her like a ragged cloak, but she seemed nonplussed, allowing him to lead her to the closest bathroom without resistance. He bustled her inside and under a shower head before turning around.

"Here you go. Take as long as you want, there's plenty of hot water and once you're done, I'll rustle you up some clean clothes and a hot drink, okay?" He gave her a kind smile as she looked silently at him, then at the showerhead, then back to him. "Okay."

He closed the door. The woman looked at the door, then back at the showerhead. With the towel snug around her, her head of black hair poking out, she looked remarkably like a concussed black bird.

Saul turned the DVD player off and started scrubbing at the water on the wall and on the floor. It was on the smelly side, so he sprayed it down with some orange-scented cleaner and wiped it down again. As he dumped the towels into the washer, he paused. "I don't hear any running water," he muttered, approaching the bathroom. Knocking, he called, "Hello? Are you alright in there?" There was no response. "…Do you need help?" He heard shuffling. "I'm coming in, okay?"

Giving her plenty of time to speak up, he cautiously pushed the door open. The woman was no longer under the showerhead.

She was five feet to left, holding a brightly-colored bottle of shampoo in the way one would hold a grenade if they weren't entirely sure the pin was still in it. She looked up at him, and though he still couldn't see her face under the curtain of hair, her whole body language just screamed 'confused beyond belief.'

He gave her an earnest smile. "Need a little help?" He offered gently.

She looked at the bottle in her hand, the bright petals of the pink flowers decorating it standing in stark contrast to her filthy skin. She looked up at the silver shower head. Then she looked at him. And nodded a little.

Saul motioned her over and carefully took the bottle from her before peeling away the damp towel. "I won't try to intrude on your space, okay? Just tell me if I'm crowding you. Here comes the water." He turned it on low pressure, medium heat and the creaking of the pipe made her jump a little. When the water came pouring out, she flinched violently as the first drops hit her head, but began to relax as it warmed up. Seeing no further flinching, he cranked the heat and pressure just a bit more and watched her slump in place, the tension visibly bleeding out of her…as well as brackish, nearly black water as it carried the filth away.

With her slumped head, her hair very literally hung around her body like a curtain, and was long enough to drape down past her hips and end near her knees.

"Can you step out of your clothes, please?" He asked gently, and her whole body seemed to shrug, her kimono slipping down her legs to pile around her ankles. He grabbed Cerea's long-handled brush and tried to pull it away, but it got caught on her foot. "Can you lift your foot up?" She did so and he pulled it to himself.

Holding it up, it turned out to be a fairly high-quality garment, even though it was more filth and tears than a kimono. "Wonder if Rachnee's friend might be able to repair it," he said to himself, setting it aside and turning back. "Hey," he said, her hair rippling as she turned her head towards him. He squeezed some soap onto a hand brush and held it out. "Here you go."

From the cavernous depths of her hair, he got the feeling that she didn't know what he was on about. She didn't move to take it.

"Hold out your arm," he did so with his free hand. Her hair parted as she followed his motion. He gently grasped her forearm and began to scrub at her elbow, working up a lather that quickly turned gray. "See?" He said, rinsing it off. She still made no motion other than to twitchily flex her arm. Saul shrugged inwardly and got to work on cleaning her arm, focusing on her hand first.

It took several minutes of scrubbing, rinsing and adding more soap until he was satisfied. The beds of her nails were still dirty, but much less so than before. Under the grime, her skin turned out to be very, very pale, paper white even. And the delicate veins under her skin looked very dark blue, almost black. He felt her tense slightly as he cleaned her shoulder, but refrained from anything further and gave her what he hoped was a comforting smile.

He walked around to her other side and she obligingly raised her right arm. He got to work, starting from her shoulder and descending down to her hand. Once that was done, he cleaned it and added some more soap before holding it out. "I'm not gonna do that part," he mimed washing his chest with a slightly sarcastic smile. It might've just been his imagination, but she seemed disappointed by that. He swung a stool around with his foot and patted it. "Foot."

She perked slightly, and lifted a leg. Her feet, while still dirty, weren't as bad as her hands had been and took him much less time to clean. As he scrubbed the inside of her knee, he felt her twitch under his hands, her hair rippling erratically. He stopped and soon after, she did too. He started again and she did too. It took him three rounds of starting and stopping for him to realize that she was laughing. Silently, yes, and without even a giggly inhale, but apparently the filthy mysterious woman who crawled out of his tv was ticklish.

Good to know.

He may have given a slightly stronger scrub once or twice and watched her twitch with a smile, but he stopped once she trapped the brush under her foot and wiggled her toes at him reproachfully. "Sorry," he said, only mostly sincere.

Her head bobbed, hair waving, and she let him continue. He only cleaned up to mid-thigh and only on the outside.

Then Saul stepped away and rubbed his hands together, preparing himself to tackle the biggest challenge yet: her hair.

Even under the constant stream of hot water, it was still tangled and knotted in places, though no longer bleeding filth. "This is gonna be fun," he sighed sardonically and raised a comb.

It instantly got stuck.

The woman jumped and ducked her head, pale hands carding through black locks to cage her scalp. "Sorry, sorry!" He said hurriedly, instinct guiding his hand as he quickly stroked her head. "I didn't mean to, but your hair…this might take a while. Here." He shut off the shower and pulled a stool around. "Here, sit down and I'll…" He sighed, grabbing a few bottles off the shelf. "…I'm gonna do the best I can."

The woman tentatively sat down, hair curtaining her entire body. He grabbed a smaller shower head and clenched it 'tween his teeth like a dagger, dual-wielding a comb and bottle in his hands.

And so the battle was joined.

Among other things, when Lami had visited, she'd brought along what the clans hoped to be a big money-maker. Again, among other things, Lamia were known for their incredibly style-able hair that was tangle-free and wonderful to touch, which they attributed to a product they used religiously. It was an oil, collected from the Lamia themselves, specifically from their scales on certain months, treated with various herbs. Once applied, it made the hair slick, almost like scales, and it became very easy to brush and style.

Of course, Lamia naturally produced that oil and got it all over themselves when they slept, so their hair was permanently like that.

For everything not a Lamia (or a Gorgon, for that matter) that slick feeling would eventually fade, with the hair becoming soft and silky.

Even armed with such a weapon in hand, her hair still put up a valiant fight. It seemed endless, the battle; apply oil, comb, add shampoo, wash, apply more oil.

Saul wasn't sure how long it took, working his way through the hair, cleaning away small rocks and branches that had gotten stuck. But after so long, the final blow was struck, and he stepped back with a tired, victorious sigh.

Her hair was now completely tangle-free. "Alright, I'm going to wash it one more time, then you can get in the bath, okay?"

She shivered pleasantly, white fingers slipping through her black hair, silently marveling at its new state. How long had it been since it was anything other than a tangled mess?

With the battle won, he was free to take shampoo in hand and lather her hair into a foamy mess. "Cover your eyes, here comes the rinse," he warned. She ducked and her hair waved, so he figured she had done so. Carefully, he guided the water over her hair and watched the foam wash away nearly pristine, with no more dirt and grime to clean. "Did I get any in your eyes?" He ducked as he asked, trying to peer under the curtain.

Her fingers emerged from within, strands gathering between before she parted her tresses.

Her eyes were a baleful, burning green. The sclera was black and it appeared that they were on the verge of bulging out of her head with an errant blink. They seemed to take up most of her face, the rest by sharp cheeks, a narrow chin, a delicate nose with a small dab of bubbles on the tip and oddly plump blue lips. Small branches of black veins crawled up her neck and spread across her cheeks.

But in actuality, her eyelids and the surrounding skin was also black, like someone who'd never heard the word 'restraint' when it came to mascara had taken a brush to her face. And the veins on her cheeks accentuated her slim face and lips, in a subtly terrifying but also somewhat attractive way. The less about how attractive he found eyes, the better.

"Got some on your nose," Saul said, wiping it away with a finger. "Boop!"

She blinked and let her hair fall back into place. He went around the bathroom and began to run the bath, returning to her with an offered hand. "Ready to get in?"

She nodded and took his hand, slowly rising to her feet and shaking them out. They'd fallen asleep while her hair was being cleaned.

The instant she was sat down with the water lapping at her hips, her muscles tensed, her grip becoming like that of iron on his hand. "What's wrong?" He asked quickly, scanning the water. It was just water. He put his hand on top of her head and softly stroked her black tresses. She relaxed minutely and sank a little deeper into the lightly steaming water, though she never fully unwound.

He released her hand and went around the tub to shut the water off. Her hand fell into the rim. A tile cracked under her grip. When he returned, she took his hand with a grip of desperation, like she was afraid he'd let her slip beneath the surface. "Easy," he murmured, once more stroking her hair. "I know a way to help you relax."

Reaching over, he grabbed the diminished bottle of oil and coated his hands in it. "Lean back. I won't let you slip, I promise." She squeezed his arm with almost bruising force, like a threat. 'Don't, or else.' Or a plea. 'Please don't.' Or even both. Then she released his hand.

His fingers gently descended on her head, the oiled pads pressing into her sore scalp. Mixing a light scalp massage as he threaded his fingers through her hair, she began to relax after a minute and slumped back as he dug his thumbs behind her ears and eased away knots of tension along the base of her skull and jaw. She tensed slightly as his hands crawled down her clavicle, but unwound again as he moved down her left shoulder.

Saul mentally gave himself a high-five. Going to those lessons with Yukio had paid off more times than he could count, as well just generally being fun. It was another proud notch on that particular belt. As he continued down her arm, he encased her hand in his much larger one, slipping his fingers through hers to massage her palm as the other kneaded her wrist. As one particular knot came undone and faded, she groaned audibly. It was the only sound she'd made the entire time.

He snuck a peek and although he couldn't see under her hair, her body language just oozed comfort. He smiled and moved back up her arm, across her neck and towards the other shoulder. It was something he'd noticed before, but hadn't entirely been cognizant of, was the fact that the woman was on the lean side. Sure, she wasn't skeletal, but the tightness around the joints spoke of more than one night of tight belts. Not to mention that her kimono fell too easily; it must've been tailor made for someone a size or two larger. He determined she would need a hearty meal or three everyday for the next two weeks before she was healthy. To his standards, anyway.

As he finished with her other hand, he leaned against the tub with his arm brushing her fingers, just in case she wanted to grab onto him again, but her slumped posture made him think she was asleep, or at least dozing. She definitely needed it. Whatever her exact situation was and whatever her exact species, the woman hadn't had an easy time of it. If a shoulder, scalp and arm massage by his hands alone had put her in such a relaxed state, Saul and Yukio double-teaming her with a full-body massage would probably leave her a comatose puddle of comfortable goo.

Lost in thought as he was, he didn't notice her slowly slipping deeper into the water until her elbow slipped off the rim and splashed against the surface. His right hand clamped around hers as his left grasped her upper arm, just in time as she shot back to full awareness. Her jump made her slip from her precarious position on the bench and she slid under the water.

As soon as the top of her head went under the surface her grip became bruising and her other limbs thrashed the water into foam. It proved a detriment to his goals as a flying elbow rapped his temple. Saul's vision swam before he shook it off, planted his feet and hauled her up by the arm. She broke the surface with a frightened gasp and he ducked down, looping her arm around the back of his neck and wrapping an arm around her waist to pull her up onto the rim.

Despite the warmth of the water, he could feel her shivering against him, diaphragm heaving for air, arm tight around his neck and heard her suck in shuddering breaths. "Well," he muttered, letting her go, though her hand still clung to his. "That was a little too much relaxing."

She said nothing, simply shuddering as her breathing evened out.

"Wanna get out?" He asked. She nodded. "Alright, let me get you some clothes and a towel." He looked down. Her hand was still locked around his. "…You're gonna need to let go, though."

She looked down sharply at their joined hands as if she'd forgotten about it. It seemed to take some effort on her part, but she peeled her fingers away and let go. Parts of his hand were white for a second before the blood came rushing back. He couldn't help the quiet hiss of discomfort that escaped his lips, but ignored it in favor of stretching and cracking each finger, followed by the palm and then the wrist. With a flick and a flex, the pain, minute as it was, had gone.

"Alright, hold tight, I'll be back," he said with a smile, walking around the tub to open the drain before disappearing out of the door.

She sat on the edge of the tub, hair dripping water and watched as it swirled down the drain, hands fisted in her lap.

And then he was back with a stack of towels and some clothes. "Here you go," he handed her a towel and set the clothes down. "I'm not entirely sure of your size so I guessed, but they should fit." The clothes consisted of a simple cotton shirt, grey sweatpants and underwear. He unfurled one of the towels, which was revealed to be a fluffy white robe. "And you can throw this on over it! They're really comfy. Anyway, I'm going to change and then I'll make us some food. Ramen sound good?"

She ducked her head as her stomach audibly growled. She didn't need to nod, but still did anyway.

He chuckled kindly and let her be. After toweling herself off, she pulled the robe on and tied it securely before turning her attention to the clothes. Holding up the shirt, she gave an aura of confusion before tossing it on the used towel, followed by the pants and underwear. Feeling her hair still dripping, she opened the door and stuck her head out, catching Saul coming down the hall in fresh clothes.

"Yeah? What do you need?" He asked, and she held a lock of her wet hair out. He snapped his fingers in realization. "Oh, right. Uh, I'm not entirely sure I know how to do it, but I've seen it enough to guess." He grabbed the towel and turned to her. "You uh, you need to take your hair out of your robe."

She tilted her head slightly.

He approached her with his hands up and motioned for her to lean forward. "Here," slowly moved towards her face, and when she didn't flinch or backtrack, he carded his fingers through the base of her hair, pulling it together and revealing her face once more. It might've been his imagination, but the bags under her eyes seemed to have lightened a tad and there was a bit more color in her cheeks. Carefully leaning her forward, he did his best to wrap her hair in the towel and bundle it on top of her head.

It was far from neat and funnily enough, a good amount of hair had escaped and while he could still see her burning green eyes, the rest was covered in a veil of shadow.

"That's the best I can do," he shrugged, grimacing slightly. "Ah well. Food time."

She grasped his arm lightly as he led her down to the dining room, pulling out her seat for her at the table. She locked her fingers together as he headed for the kitchen, following his head visible behind the counter.

For his part, Saul knew what to make. Something quick, filling and tasty while also not shit. To that end, he grabbed some Quick Beef Ramen of his own design and set some broth to boil while sliding the slices of meat, vegetables and the eggs in a heating drawer.

Quick Ramen was a simple, easy meal, homemade by himself and Dinah. Fresh noodles, vegetables and meat in a bag with a container of broth. Pop the broth in the microwave, add the stuff, let soak then eat. The girls loved them. A homemade meal at work always made the day a little brighter.

Within a few minutes, the broth was shimmering with heat and the drawer had dinged. He added the noodles first, poured broth over them, added the egg and the vegetables and carefully placed the slices of meat atop. It wasn't as neat as a restaurant, but the thought of a decent presentation should count.

"Here we are!" He announced and the woman jumped, having been lulled into a hungering daze by the scents drifting out of the kitchen. He set a bowl in front of her with some chopsticks then sat across from her with his own. "Dig in!"

She peered down into the bowl and took up her chopsticks, gingerly swirling a bundle of noodles together and holding it up. She sniffed it silently, then delicately slipped it between her lips and bit down.

There was a second of silence, an instant of stillness…then she practically dove into the bowl, ravenously tearing into the meat and vegetables all while moaning in satisfaction.

It was the most sound she'd made the entire night, even after the panic attack in the bathtub.

Saul watched with some amusement, glad that she was both eating heartily and obviously enjoying it. "It occurs to me that I should've fed you first," he said aloud, taking a bite out of his egg.

She paused with noodles dangling from her lips. Then she deliberately bit off a mouthful, delicately chewed and swallowed, then set her chopsticks down and covered her face in embarrassment.

He chuckled merrily, reaching across the table to pay her elbow. "Slowing down might be smart, but don't stop eating on my account. I love seeing people enjoy my food."

She peeked a burning green eyes between her fingers. He gave her a playful wink and nudged her bowl with his chopsticks, then continued to eat. Tentatively, she grabbed her own utensils and slowly returned to filling her belly with a tad more decorum.

Halfway through her bowl, she stopped again, this time by sliding it aside and then resting her head on the table with a low groan.

"Ate too much?" He asked rhetorically. She nodded against the wood. It made sense; none of his girls had small appetites. "I'll save it for later, then. You wanna lay down?"

She propped her chin on the table and gave him an incredibly pitiful look, despite her expression not changing a whit. He finished off his bowl and stood, coming around the table to offer his hand. She slowly turned to face him, lifting her legs up.

"You want me to carry you?" His eyebrows arched in question. She nodded, holding her stomach. "Alright." He pushed her chair around and bent down, looping an arm under her knees and another under her shoulders. She leaned on his shoulder as he carried her from the dining room and into the living, setting her down on the couch. He slipped a pillow under her head and patted her arm. "There you go. Don't be afraid to fall asleep, okay?"

She shook her head firmly.

"Okay. You want some hot chocolate, then?" The woman rubbed her stomach, but still nodded. "Alright then, I'll be back in a bit."

He left her resting on the couch and returned to the dining room, gathering the dishes before heading to the kitchen. There, he set her half-full bowl in the fridge before cleaning his own and the cooking pot. As he dried it off and set water to boil, his phone rang. It'd been in his pocket the whole time, even when he'd been helping her clean and she'd drenched him accidentally.

It wasn't a problem, though. Having a Slime, an Undine and a Mermaid in one house made a waterproof phone a necessity, nevermind the amount of times he'd been pulled into a damp domicile (including a pond, a pool and a bathtub) apropos of nothing.

It was Tio, and her sweet voice echoed over the line. "Hi Sweetie!" She greeted excitably, and he could easily imagine her bouncing in place. "Having a peaceful night by yourself?"

"Hi yourself, Sugar Cookie," he replied with a smile, pulling out the cocoa mix, marshmallows and a bottle of Bailey's. "You could say that. You'd be wrong, but you could say that. How'd the night go? On your way back yet?"

"Ooh yes, I bet your kid's shows are really exciting," she mocked good-naturedly. "We're not coming back tonight, actually. Things may have gotten just a little…teensy, tiny bit…massively out of hand. It started when Cerea took something the wrong way and challenged Lala to a candy eating contest."

Saul paused and frowned. "Not you?" On one hand, it made sense. Tio was both the largest there, so any kind of ego-puncturing ill-suited challenge should've been directed at her. On the other hand, she was the Oni who would spray a whipped cream bikini on herself, then eat it and five more cans of the stuff before happily asking for ice cream even though it was supposed to be a quick booty call.

That had been a strange but not disappointing night.

"No."

"…Why not?"

Something crunched, possibly nuts or more likely hard candy. "I started eating candy at three. I haven't stopped."

He checked the clock. It was now eleven. "And you don't feel wired or a little sick?"

"Nuh-uh."

Saul smiled. "I love you, Tio."

"Aww, I love you too! Mwah!" Another handful of candy met its end in her ravenous maw. He could almost hear the screams. "Anyway, they got through like, two and a half bags each, amatures. And now they're both throwing up. You ever seen someone hurl through their neck?" She sounded both awed and horrified. "I really wish I hadn't. Say hi ladies!"

There was the sound of someone loudly vomiting. "Is that…Master?" Cerea called, voice quavering, "Master *hurk* please forgive your servant her excesses…HUurg-!"

"And then Smith decided that looked like fun but without enough caffeine, so she challenged Haru to a coffee drinking contest."

He nearly dropped the phone in shock. "Smith…Kuroko introduced Haru to CAFFEINE?! Is she NUTS?!"

"Prolly a little bit, yeah," Tio replied blithely, "Anyway, you can imagine how that went. Last I saw they were doing laps around the house, flapping their arms. I think they're about to crash." A loud thump echoed over the line, followed swiftly by another. It sounded remarkably like two people running headfirst into a door. "…Wow, I didn't mean that literally. I gotta take care of this, talk to V2! Love you bye! Hey, I told you to stop running, quit crying-!"

"Why does everyone insist on calling me that?" Verona muttered, her soothing voice thick with frustration. "Good evening, Master. Your evening is marginally more peaceful than mine, I hope?"

"Marginally, yes." He decided to tell them about the new visitor later. She might be skittish around a lot of people, gods know he would be too if he'd been cursed or trapped in a DVD for who-knows-how-long. Also it sounded like there was a lot of vomiting going around and he really didn't want to deal with that. "Where are you guys staying? Hope it's not a hotel."

"It's one of Mistress' properties," the gynoid assured, a pair of quiet groans coming from somewhere on her end. "Silence. You brought it on yourselves."

"Who did?"

"The Lamia and the Mermaid's bizarre rivalry continues. One charged the other with some kind of contest to see who could swallow more noodles at once, and now both are bloated."

"Oh. Who won?"

"Miss Miia. Did you know she can unhinge her jaw?"

Saul did not blush. "Yes, yes I did."

"Mm. Anyway, we'll be staying here so that these idiots can recover from their various self-inflicted tragedies without intruding on your desired quiet night, Master." There was a scuffling noise, followed by a moaned *Darling* and Verona's voice away from the phone. No, you can't have the phone! "Good night, Master. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Good night Verona, take care. Don't have too much fun."

"It would only be fun if I was there with you, Master. My heart was built for you."

The call ended and Saul slipped the phone back in his pocket. It felt like he'd made the right decision to stay home after all. He'd already known that, but it was nice to have confirmation.

After doctoring his cocoa, he added marshmallows to both cups, taking them into the living room where the woman rested on the couch. He set both on the coffee table and gave her a smile. "Let it sit for a bit, okay? When I come back we can watch something, if you want to." She nodded in reply, blinking her large baleful eyes up at him.

He continued down the hall, gathering clothes and towels and adding them to the washer, setting it to go with only the kimono left. "Can't just put this in the regular washer, can I. This one's got a silk setting, right? Right." A good cleaning would do it some good, and then perhaps tomorrow he could send it to Rachnee's friend to see what she could do with it. And that reminded him of something…

He pulled his phone out once more and dialed the first number on his contacts. It rang and rang, but eventually gave him the message that the number he was trying to reach was disconnected. He sighed heavily. When all he got was her voice, its absence was all the more sharp.

Shaking his head, Saul went back to the living room. The woman was now sitting up and seeming not quite so troubled by her stomach. She watched as he ejected her DVD and set it on the coffee table, replacing it with a disk from a case she couldn't see. He sat down on the other end of the couch, not out of reach but not invading her space either, taking up the cups of cocoa and handing one off to her. "Here you go," he smiled, holding his out to hers. Gingerly, with both hands clutching the warm cup, she tapped hers against his, the clink of ceramic barely audible. He toasted her and took a sip, before frowning.

She took a sip and instantly spluttered.

"Oh, whoops," he said sheepishly, hurriedly switching their mugs out. "That one's mine. Sorry." Considering his consisted of three fourths cocoa and one fourth Bailey's, he probably should've kept a closer eye on which mug was which.

Tentatively, she took another sip and slumped into the cushions as the warmth, the sweetness and the fluff of mostly-melted marshmallow hit her tongue. It was almost overwhelming, but the lightest touch of salt evened it out into a delicious treat made for sipping. Saul took up the remote and turned the TV, the DVD already loaded. With a push of a button, the show began to play.

*"There's a hundred and four days of summer vacation, and school comes along just to end it; so the annual problem for our generation, is finding a good way to spend iiiit…"*

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the woman perk up and fixate on the screen, unconsciously sipping cocoa and watching in rapt attention. He grinned behind his cup and settled back into the couch to watch one of his favorite shows.

A new problem presented itself when the cocoa ran dry. It had seemed like mere minutes that she'd started sipping and watching before there was no more sweetness to be found in her cup. She blinked, looking away from the screen and gazed into the depths of her mug, silently sighing at the sight of dregs in the bottom. Holding it in her hands, she glanced at the man who was watching with a fond smile on his face, his own mug also bereft, hanging loosely by his fingers. The warmth of his body heat was just out of reach, so she scooted closer and watched to see if he had noticed. When she realized he hadn't, she scooched over again. Inch by inch, she slowly made her way across the cushion until her knee touched his.

"Hm?" He looked over and noticed her empty cup. "Ah. Here." He took her cup and set it on the coffee table with his, eyeing her still-bundled hair. "I think it's the right time to let your hair down. Hopefully it's dry enough." He stood from the couch and circled behind, rubbing the towel before pulling it away.

Her hair flowed down from her head and spread into a shimmering sheet of silken obsidian across her shoulders. Stunned, she slowly ran her hands through her tresses, marveling at the softness as it slid between her fingers. She wondered how long it had been since it had felt like anything other than a tangled, filthy mess and felt her throat swell.

"Wow. You got a lot of hair," Saul understated grandly, sitting next to her. "Not to toot my own horn but damn, all that effort was worth it." He didn't say anything aloud, but it was obvious to her that he very much wanted to feel it. She scooted closer and bowed her head slightly. "Can I?" he asked. She nodded.

The warmth of his hand shot through her scalp as he stroked her hair, a quiet breath of contentment escaping her lips as he threaded his fingers through her silk strands, unintentionally running the tip of his forefinger along the shell of her ear. She couldn't stop the jolt of something static that shivered down her spine and leaned into his hand even as he drew it away. As the warmth left her, her eyes shot open and she turned her baleful gaze on him, her visage clear with her hair brushed aside.

He met her stare with a small warm smile. "It's beautiful," he murmured, blue eyes glimmering with his honesty.

She had though her heart had died long ago. But the way it thundered loudly in her ears at his earnest words and expression made her rethink that.

Saul suddenly yawned, rubbing his eyes as he pulled his phone out to check the time. "Oh wow, it's late," he muttered, blinking hard as he suddenly felt tired. "After the night we've had, I think we could both use some sleep, don't you?"

She too felt the strain of more than just the night pulling at her eyes, but she turned her gaze to the TV and the paused video there, and pouted.

He looked to the screen and then back to her sad expression. "…Buuuut…we are halfway through the season, and it is hard to stop watching, so…maybe we should finish it?" He asked.

She looked to him, eyes wide and hopeful, and nodded vigorously.

He smiled and chuckled, settling back into the couch. "Well then, let's continue." He hit play.

She sat back and let the joyous energy wash over her. There was only one thing that could've made it better.

She scooted a bit closer, then further until their legs touched. Slowly, she leaned over until her head just barely rested on his shoulder. Saul shifted, pushing her back slightly and she shrank away, dismayed, until he simply lay his arm on the back of the couch, leaving his side wide open for snuggling if she so desired. And she did. With her cheek cushioned by his chest, her heart thumped gladly and she let herself be carried away by it all.

Saul's breathing slowed and deepened, the sounds and sensations soothing her even further. She didn't know when she finally fell asleep, only that it was after she'd snuggled deeping into his side, his arm sliding down to rest on her shoulders.

She awoke with a start. The television was dark, and the lights were out. The moon, near full, shone in through the glass of the sliding door, a white beam of light stretching over wood to touch her disk still resting innocently on the table. Subtle whispers seeped into her ears, her heart growing still and her lungs seizing. Unconsciously, she parted from the sleeping Saul and padded silently to the table, reaching down to pick up the disk.

It burned cold, leeching the remaining warmth from her fingers and the whispers grew. Kill, they demanded softly, and her eyes turned to the only heart still beating. Saul was slumped over the side of the couch, neck tilted at an awkward angle. Kill. It would be a simple task to snap his neck while he slept. Kill. And painless, too. He'd never know the woman he'd given his care to had betrayed it so utterly. Kill.

She remembered the times before, when she'd been summoned by some poor sap's television. Kill. Escaping her prison, watching them flee in terror, chasing them down as the whispers screamed and ending them. Kill. It was the only time she felt anything, even if it was only disgust and horror at her actions. Kill. And then she was right back in her well again, feeling the water-logged vermin nibbling at her skin, her lungs screaming for air as she broke the surface, only to be pulled down again. Kill. The only moments of lucidity had come after a life had been ended, after blood had been spilled. Kill. She didn't even know how long the cycle had repeated. Kill.

But it had been different, this time. Kill. Besides the pain of falling and the surprise she felt when her victim had vanished and her shock when he'd snuck up behind her with a towel of all things, most of her time out of the screen had been one of confusion. KIll. She'd let him lead her about his house, let him wash her and treat her with care and kindness and warmth and he had taken no liberties with her. KILl. He'd fed her, treated her with respect, plied her with comfort and asked for nothing in return. KILL.

She'd felt his emotions, another aspect of her curse that only worsened her lucid moments. KILL. She could read them as if they were written across his face, and had found nothing beyond what he presented. KILL. There had been a twinge or two of confusion and slight dismay, but at the state of her body and her hair, not of her. KILL. And, oddly enough, a slight amount of lust, but only when he looked into her eyes. KILL.

She looked down at the disk, then back at Saul, the whispers having grown to a screaming shriek in her skull. KILL. Her eyes wandered over his form, committing his sleeping face and the echo of the warmth it brought with her to whatever remained of her soul. KILL. A single tear of pure sorrow dripped down her cheek, even as a smile curled her lips. KILL!

She looked back to the disk and snapped it clean in half.

The jagged edges bled black smoke as it began to dissolve with an echoing shriek. In the light of the moon, the silver of the disk looked almost exactly the same as her skin. The smoke consumed the disk and touched her fingertips.

Saul awoke with a start, blinking blearily as he wondered why he thought he heard screaming when all was silent. The darkness of the room was a little creepy, even if he knew it was because the TV shut off after being unused for a certain amount of time and the lights shut off after two so whoever was still up wouldn't wake anyone else. The only source of light was the moon shining in through the backdoor.

He looked down as he realized he couldn't feel the woman snuggled against him and found that she was no longer there. Looking around, he couldn't see her anywhere. He rubbed his eyes and blinked again.

She was standing right in front of him, the white of her robe and the light of the moon having hidden her in plain sight. "Oh, you're awake too," he said, somewhat unnecessarily, pushing himself off the couch with a groan. "Ugh…sleeping on a couch feels so comfortable until you wake up." He stretched his arms out and his back cracked audibly. She turned around to meet his eyes, and he much preferred her with her hair parted so he could see her face, especially when she gave him a small smile. "Staying the night?"

She nodded and offered her hand. He took it and led her down the hall towards the bathroom, turning the lights on low before squeezing some toothpaste on his brush and getting to work. She was watching him, he found in the reflection of the mirror, still with the small, mysterious smile.

He arched an eyebrow in question, before remembering. "Oh right, you didn't bring anything with you," he muttered through a mouthful of minty foam. He spat and washed it off. "I know I got some spares around here somewhere," he said to himself, ducking to stick his head in the cupboard under the sink. He paused upon hearing the sound of brushing and withdrew to find her brushing her teeth…with his toothbrush. He blinked.

She stopped and blinked back at him. Then she continued to clean her teeth.

"Alright, I won't lie, that's a little gross," he admitted, and she paused to pout at him. He shrugged. "Well, it works."

She finished up and spat, rinsing his brush and setting back in the cup before taking his hand again. He looked down at their joined fingers, then back up at her. She smiled her small, mysterious smile.

He continued down the hall, passing by Miia's room, Yukio's, Cerea's and finally Zombina's before finding the room that Lami had stayed in, and Barli after her. It had a large bed with sheets, a blanket and pillows but was almost entirely unadorned. "Alright, here you go," he announced, pushing the door open. She peered into the room, eyes alighting on the bed with longing. "You can stay here until whatever your situation is gets sorted out, okay? And tomorrow, I'll make us some cream of wheat or something. Good night, sleep tight." He gave her hand a final squeeze then let go, turning to head to his room.

Only to be arrested by her hand darting out to take his, anchoring him in place with deceptive strength. He turned back and she stepped into his space, her smile widening until he could see her teeth. They were pristine, oddly enough. Saul inwardly wondered if she wanted a goodnight hug or a kiss on the cheek as she leaned in…only to yelp as she swept his legs out from under him and took him in her arms.

"Hey now!" He protested, the surprise of the carry more embarrassing than the fact that he was being carried bridal style over the threshold. Despite her size and the leanness of her body, she carried him like he weighed nothing, casually kicking the door shut behind her before reaching out with her foot and pulling the blanket back. She tossed him onto the bed, still smiling as he scrambled to sit up. "Look…uh, lady, picking people up and tossing them around isn't nice, you know?" He started to stand up, only to be pushed back. "Okay seriously, what do you want?"

ENDING A: The Wholesome One

She grabbed his hand and brought it to her lips, gently kissing the back. Then she patted the bed, intertwining their fingers firmly before cupping his cheek with her palm. Her green eyes peered into his blue, shining with something he'd seen many times before.

"…You want to share a bed?" He gathered, feeling her run her thumb under his eye. "I…I want to say 'yes,' but…we've only known each other for like, five hours, maybe? And I was asleep for a couple. I'm not one to stand on ceremony, but…" He trailed off awkwardly.

She leaned in, the tip of her nose touching his as her hand drifted down to cup his jaw. Then she kissed him gently.

Even with his power of restraint, borne from months of experience, Saul still found himself leaning into her pleasantly cool lips. The fingers caressing his jaw and the brush of silken hair on their connected hands called him to fall into the comfortable darkness.

Her lips parted from his and his eyes snapped open. He didn't remember closing them, but he saw her gentle smile and faintest hint of pink in her cheeks. "…Okay, you present a convincing argument." Saul looked down and belatedly realized that she had climbed into his lap at some point and he inwardly wondered just how long that kiss had lasted. "…But that doesn't make it a valid one, you know."

The woman frowned lightly, drawing back and visibly thinking hard. Then she brightened and cupped his cheeks with both hands, locking him into looking at her. And then…

She gave him THE POUT.

Her eyes seemed to gain a size and glisten wetly with the potential of tears rimming the bottom. It shouldn't have worked. Her eyes were still a burning green made more stark by the black sclera and the darkness of her eyelids…but it did. And with the downturn of her lips and the slightest tremble, it became absolutely devastating.

He felt his heart seize and his throat close. "So…" he choked, clutching his chest, "So…adorable…"

It was more powerful than even Tio's Look. With time, he'd been able to build his resistance to it and even throw it off entirely.

But this one…it pierced right through his defenses.

Darkness encroached on the edges of his vision as his breath came in gasps and suddenly his sight was filled with her eyes. Then her lips met his again and air rushed into his lungs. He coughed and blinked, coming back to himself with the woman still sitting in his lap, but looking much more sheepish. "…Ow," he muttered, rubbing his chest. "So cute it hurts."

She smiled brightly, briefly, before giving him a sad pleading look, but not a pout.

Saul caved. "Alright! Alright, I'll sleep with you. Only sleep! But!" He held up a stern finger, halting her bounce of happiness, "Only for tonight," he lied blatantly.

She frowned, rubbing his cheek.

"…Okay fine, until you figure out what you want to do," he added, inwardly sighing.

Oh yes, it was such a sacrifice on his part. What a martyr.

She smiled beatifically and stood from his lap, pulling his shirt up as she went. He flailed his arms in surprise, blinking as the fabric was pulled from his head. "Hey!" He complained, "A little warning next time."

She nodded, then pushed him on his back to freely tug at his pants.

"Hey!" He squawked again, "Sleep only, remember?"

She looked back up at him, pants and underwear around his thighs, and gave him an innocent nod, eyes earnest.

Saul sighed again. "Wouldn't be the first time," he muttered to himself, letting her undress him and propping himself up on his elbows as she tossed them into a pile with his shirt. She met his gaze and smiled gently, her pale hands descending to the belt of her robe to undo the knot. It came undone and with a roll of her shoulders, it slipped from her body to pool around her ankles.

It was as if a second celestial body had emerged from the clouds that covered it, revealing the entirety of its beauty. He could see the outline of her ribs and the gauntness of her belly, but that did nothing to detract from her bountiful chest peaked with blue nipples, legs that began with delicate toes and rose to become gently curving thighs that tapered into a slightly too-thin waist. All of it was covered in skin so soft and sinfully smooth that it shone even in the low light.

Saul gulped, his suddenly dry throat aching.

Her smile grew as she climbed onto the bed near his feet, slowly crawling up his body…then stopping at his waist and giggling silently.

He looked down at himself with heat in his cheeks. Even though they'd set the boundary to sleep alone, his body hadn't gotten the message and his erection stood so tall and proud he was surprised there wasn't a flag attached. She booped the tip with her finger, her eyes shining. "Sorry," he muttered, closing his eyes and concentrating. Before her eyes, he softened and wilted away. "There we go," he sighed in slight discomfort.

She gave his softened length a gentle stroke before continuing her crawl until her nose touched his, her hair draped around them like a curtain. She kissed him again, soft and languid, her body cushioned by his, and he carefully wrapped his arms around her. With a light press of her shoulder she rolled them onto their side, her legs tangling with his.

Saul felt the texture of the bed change under his skin and broke away to find his shoulder atop the obsidian sheet of her hair. "I'm on your hair," he apologized, wiggling to move himself off but was stopped by her hand cupping his cheek. He gave her a questioning look and she simply smiled. He heard a rustling and blinked at the feeling of being wrapped in threads of silk.

He looked back, eyes widening as he observed her hair moving of its own accord, slipping over his skin and threading together until they were locked together in a cocoon of black silk. He blinked, looking at her smile, then realized something. "Wait a minute…you could've cleaned your hair by yourself! You didn't need my help at all!"

Her lips curved further and her grin gained an impish edge. She kissed him again, the softness of her cool body flush against his, and her eyes were all that he could see.

"Goodnight," he murmured into her lips, leaving everything aside in favor of sleep, and reminding himself to introduce her to the other ladies of the house. It wouldn't be the first time someone had shown up apropos of nothing and decided to stay.

Then he remembered something. "Wait a minute," he frowned, "I don't even know your name!"

She nuzzled her nose against his and closed his eyes with her fingers. Then, she brushed cheek to his. "Sadako," her voice was the shade of a whisper, so light it could mistaken for the ghost of a breeze as it tickled his ear.

"Sadako…" he whispered, and she nodded against him before her lips embraced his.

And together, they fell into the comfortable dark.

ENDING B: Not So Much.

Her answer, much like almost everything else, was similarly nonverbal but much less vague in meaning. Her hands caged the back of his head and she mashed her lips against his with almost bruising force. Saul grunted in surprise, hands instinctively rising to grasp her hips, mouth opening to accept her questing tongue with the ease borne from the familiarity of suddenly being pinned to walls for a quick make out.

She moaned into his mouth, near-silent but the vibrations still buzzed against his lips.

He found himself on his back before remembering that the woman enthusiastically smooching him had, in fact, crawled out of his TV earlier that night. With great effort, slipped his hands between their bodies and pushed her back. They separated with an audible pop and silent whine from her, but he ignored that in favor of shaking some sense back into his skull.

"Wait a minute!" He gasped out as, even with only a few seconds to gather his thoughts she had begun to press back down on him. She stopped, but with a low pleading noise. "Hold on, please!"

The woman drew back, sitting on his thighs with slumped shoulders. Her brows were knitted together in confusion and a little dismay.

"Okay, listen," he began hurriedly, "I didn't help you because I expected anything, okay? I saw you needed help and I chose to give it, that's all. You don't owe me anything."

She frowned down at him before rapping his forehead with her knuckles and shaking her head vigorously.

He blinked. "It's not because you feel you owe me?" He hazarded a guess, and sighed in relief as she shook her head again. "Alright, good." He pushed himself up and regarded her with a frown of his own. "Listen, I won't lie and say that I don't find you attractive, but…we just met like, five hours ago. And I was asleep for two of them. I don't even know your name."

The woman bit her lip, hands stroking a lock of her hair in thought. Then she reached out with a hand and laid it on his chest, directly over his heart. And leaned in to kiss him softly, taking his hand and guiding it to her chest, just above her heart.

He looked at the circle of chest-touching and thought hard. "…We're connected?" He guessed. She shook her head. "I don't understand."

Her lips pursed in frustration as she clasped his hand with both of hers then kissed him again, pressing their bodies together tightly. He could feel his heart thundering beneath his ribs and echoing up through the back of his hand…but there was more. His heart pulsed, and then there was a drum against his palm. It didn't come from him, it came from her. His heart beat, and hers answered the call with her own.

He felt something cold trickle down his cheek. He raised a hand to wipe it away, only to discover it was a tear. He blinked hard, wondering when he'd begun to cry and why, but realized it hadn't come from him. She drew back, the trail glistening on her cheek and even through it, her smile was wide and beautiful.

He still didn't entirely understand, not in his mind. But it wasn't his mind she was speaking to. He wrapped his arms around her and embraced her tightly, her hands cupping his cheeks as their lips met and meshed. He felt her fingers trail along his jaw, trace the lines of his neck before dragging down his sides, slipping under his shirt and sliding it upwards.

Saul drew back, his hands on hers. "…Is this what you want?" He asked gently. "Are you sure?"

She nuzzled her nose against his and kissed him hard, meeting his eyes and nodding firmly. He saw her conviction plain in her burning eyes and let her peel his shirt off with a sigh of relief, the dissipation of tension swallowed by her as she embraced him with her lips. His hands descended on the bare, cool skin of her legs, sliding up the smooth planes of her thighs to lightly grasp her rear and press her down to feel the entrapment of his arousal. She gasped into his mouth and drew back, her eyes glittering with warmth and arousal as her hands crept up to his shoulders and pushed him onto the bed, her fingers stroking over the heated expanse of his chest as she ground against him, color creeping into her cheeks.

Then with a steadying breath, she crept backwards off of him, slipping her fingers into the band of his remaining clothes and slowly drawing them down. Soon enough, he sprang free with gleeful alacrity to stand tall and proud. She smiled up at him and brushed her fingers along his length, gasping delightedly at the heat throbbing under the skin that she lowered her head and nuzzled it against her cheek, lengths of silken hair brushing over the base. She shook her head, covering it entirely in her hair before continuing her task and to his mind it seemed like her hair stroked his length as she distanced herself from it, removing his pants and underwear in one smooth move and casting them aside.

He propped himself up on his elbows to view her properly as she stood at the foot of the bed. She didn't bother to untie the belt of the robe, simply removing her arms from the sleeves and rolling her shoulders, allowing it to slide down and pool around her ankles.

It was as if a second celestial body had emerged from the clouds that covered it, revealing the entirety of its beauty. He could see the outline of her ribs and the gauntness of her belly, but that did nothing to detract from her bountiful chest peaked with light blue nipples pebbled with arousal, legs that began with delicate toes and rose to become gently curving thighs and between them, pale lips slightly swollen and completely hairless, her hips tapering into a slightly too-thin waist. All of it was covered in skin so soft and sinfully smooth that it shone even in the low light.

Saul arose from the bed and took her in his arms, kissing her with passion and trapping his arousal between their bellies, his hands exploring the satin stretches of skin with feather-light strokes. A part of him was a little surprised to find that, standing fully upright, the woman was actually an inch or less taller than he was. His lips left hers and tracked light nips of her skin down her jaw and neck, kneeling slightly as his mouth found a nipple and began lathering it with attention. Her breast swelled against him as she gasped, his hands gently gripping her hips as he kneaded her flesh with his jaw and stroked it with his tongue, leaving it with a quiet pop and soft peck before switching to her other, determined to equalize her arousal.

Her fingers held his head close, carding through his hair before she summoned the strength to push him back, shoving him onto the bed. He gave her a dismayed look, but she gestured for him to move to the head of the bed, which he did. While foreplay may have been his forté, he would forsake it for her sake. It wasn't just about his pleasure derived from pleasuring others.

She stood at the foot, panting and shaking her head to regain her focus. Once she had, her hair partially covered her face, leaving a singular eye to stare up at him, shining with want and warmth, a pleased smile curving her lips.

It was such a devastatingly adorable, arousing look that his heart skipped a beat with a sudden thud. Saul rubbed his chest and leaned against the pillows, watching as she knelt on the bed and began to crawl her way up his body, breasts swaying in time to her shoulders' rise and fall. Again, she paused above his almost painfully-hard length to stroke it, pecking along the shaft with her eyes fixed on his. She kissed a trail down to the base then up his abdomen, nipping at his skin until she reached his neck, following the line of his artery up to his ear to nibble on the lobe before tracking a trail across his jaw to meet his lips.

She smiled down at him, her hair draped around them like an ebony curtain, cutting them off from the rest of the world to lock them in a realm of only them. He sucked in a gasp as her thighs trapped his length between them, squeezing his heat against her damp core. He made to hiss her name in pleasure when he remembered something vitally important. "I don't know your name!" He announced a bit too loudly, startling her.

Her eyes creased into a warm smile and she leaned down to whisper into his ear even as, with her thighs alone, she directed his arousal towards her dripping lips. "Sadako," she whispered, her voice as light as the ghost of murmur, cool as the spring breeze on a sunny day against the shell of his ear.

"Sadako…?" He repeated in wonder before she pushed back, his head penetrating into her most sacred place. "…Sadako!" He gasped as, even with that smallest of intrusions, her lips seemed to suck at him like a maelstrom, her walls gripping him with the strength of a steel vice. His fingers clutched at her back, her hands grasped his shoulders and she opened her eyes to stare into his as she slowly sunk more of him deeper inside of her, her lips parted to gasp her sweet breath on his cheeks.

His length drove deeper into her depths with a taunting lack of speed, the tightness of her tunnel almost torturous to his taut tool. But as she pulled him in as far as he could go, it was as if he'd achieved enlightenment. "…Ah!" She whispered, stopping to admire the sheer fullness of her stomach, of the heat and the light sheen of sweat traded between their skin. And then, lying flush against him, she began to slide up with sweet, near-sadistic slowness, only to descend back upon him.

At first, the coolness of her body stretched to even inside her core; but as her walls gripped his length with a need deeper than any creature comfort could satisfy, her very being began to heat up, sparked by the blaze lit by their delicious friction.

Saul pressed his lips to hers with a desperate want, embracing her with all the strength he could spare. He rocked his hips up into her as her lips clung to his base and she moaned into his mouth, her hand cupping his cheek. Against the thundering of their hearts and the rapids of adrenaline pumping through their veins, against even the desire burning in their eyes, Sadako slowly slipped his length from her core only to swallow it back with glacial speed. It wasn't about the heat of their passion or the pleasure of friction; it wasn't even the act of sex itself. It was about the *only way they could solidify their connection, deeper than body and mind alone.

Time slipped away. There was only her. There was only him. Their eyes were locked, hearts beating in sync as she pressed him deep and he rocked into her. Lips met lips, fingers intertwined and skin slid over skin.

His hand left hers as both grasped her rear and his pace increased. "Sadako!" He moaned with need, eyes beginning to glaze.

She heard his warning, felt him pulse within her warningly, and heeded it accordingly. For some time, she'd been close to the edge but withheld the finale, if only so they could crescendo together. Her hands cupped his cheeks, eyes locking, "…Saul…" She murmured, descending and locking their lips together.

He could hold it no longer, and neither could she. With a low, lingering groan, he flooded her with molten heat and she shivered atop him, silken walls sucking and milking for all their strength…until, seemingly hours later, they were spent. She slumped against him, hard breaths matching his heaving for air, muscles spasming in the aftershocks of pleasure, skin shining with sweat.

When her strength returned, she pressed down on his shoulder and he rolled them onto their side, still connected with her leg securing it. "Sadako," he mumbled tiredly, rubbing the tip of his nose against hers, "We should take another shower…"

It was obvious that such a thing was last on his mind, and she was no less desirous to leave his embrace. She shook her head and snuggled against him.

"We'll wake up sticky…" He warned half-heartedly, dimly registering that the bedding felt different. He peeked an eye open and realized he was lying on the obsidian sheet of her hair. "I'm on your hair…"

She shrugged a shoulder carelessly and with a subtle rustle, her hair came alive to thread around their bodies, drawing them together in a cocoon of ebony silk.

"…You didn't need me to brush your hair at all, did you…" It wasn't a question.

Sadako stroked his cheek with a thumb, gazing into his blue eyes before nodding seriously.

His lips quirked in an understanding smile. "Good night, Sadako…" He whispered, pressing a kiss to her lips even as his eyes fluttered closed.

"Saul…" She murmured, pressing her forehead to his as she gave in to one last desire.

And together, they fell into the comfortable dark.

"ENDING" C: *Spoopiness intensifies*

The hands clawed at the air as the elbows exited the screen, slowly at first but then with a sort of desperate anger. They failed to find purchase in empty air and the entire body came spilling out, landing on the floor six feet below with a loud, wet slap.

The woman slowly rolled around on the ground in obvious pain, but making no sound beyond the squishing of wet fabric.

After a minute or so, she managed to roll over and crawl onto her hands and knees, then push herself up onto her feet, swaying and flinching. She was also facing the tv. Turning around, she found the couch empty and her would-be victim gone.

Something wrapped around her from behind, but instead of a garrote or any kind of weapon, it was a towel. A red fluffy towel, which no one would consider a weapon unless they found plush warmth threatening.

And she did. With a snarl she tore the towel in half and spun to face her victim. Saul drew back, eyes wide as she lunged for him, fingers crooked like claws and a strangled snarl emerging from her lips. He ducked under the attack and turned to face her, hands up. "Hey! Easy! I just want to help you!"

She lunged again and he dodged, the force of her leap embedding her halfway into the wall. She tore herself free from the plaster and bent her knees, leaping at him with a roar. His hand impacted the center of her forehead and sent her to the ground.

"Knock it off! Calm down! I don't want to hurt you!" He warned, holding her back by the head. Underneath the tattered curtain of her hair, her eyes burned a baleful green in the abyss of her face. Then her hair came alive, writing under his hand as it tangled around his wrist and shot up his arm, intent on wrapping around his throat.

There was a sudden chime of an invisible bell and Saul's skin shimmered with light. It shone and pulsed, blowing her hair away from his skin and sending her flying across the room.

"…So that's how it has to be…" She heard him murmur, painfully pushing herself up from the floor. She turned to attack him again, only to freeze as he was right in front of her. A strip of parchment was slapped onto her forehead as energy coursed through her body, locking her limbs with burning agony.

With his forefinger pressed against the center of the seal, Saul made a hand-seal with his free hand and concentrated, white flames igniting at the edges of her hair and kimono. "I release you from your curse, well woman." Her eyes widened and lost their demonic color, turning brown as the flames began to consume her hands. But contrary to the fiery appearance, for the first time since she'd become aware of her hellish existence…she felt peace and warmth.

"May you find peace in the afterlife," Saul intoned, and nodded sharply. The flames roared around her body, consuming skin and hair until there was only her head left. Then that too was consumed, the fire dissipating with only a relieved sigh to mark it.

Then his DVD player hissed sparks and spat molten sludge from within.

"Oh god-dammit!"

A/N: Like that's what would actually happen. What does this look like, a horror movie, and not a fanfiction based on a harem manga? Bitch please.

Happy Halloween motherfuckers! Instead of going outside all dressed up and wearing masks, how 'bout you stay inside and indulge in a few guilty pleasures? That's what I do!...Even before all this shit.

Originally, I wanted to post this on my birthday, but I underestimated how much work that was. Then I wanted to post it for my sister's birthday, but that still was a stretch. (And she never reads my stuff. Happy Birthday, BITCH.) So instead, I'm posting this on Halloween. Yay!

So, tell me which was your favorite ending, and I hope you enjoyed it. I know I did! Treat yo'self.

And for reference, imagine Hisako from Killer Instinct, mixed with the hot Alma from FEAR 2 with green eyes. And very, very long hair.

Big thanks to all the usual suspects! Why don't you go to their houses…and trick or treat. What, did you think I'd tell you to do something weird?

That's weird.

Don't be weird.

Stay Awesome instead.

~Soleneus

P.S.: I got the perfect way to handle trick or treaters this year. Imma stand at the top of the staircase and chuck candy down at them. One point if they catch it, two if it goes down the center, three if it bounces off of them and goes in, four if it bounces off their face and goes in. Gonna get so many points this year.

Stay Awesome Some More.

~still Soleneus

*this isn't for anyone other than me, and just so I can remember the next part for the aftermath: "It was the only way to connect on a deeper level. Well, technically there were two. Three if they'd known each other long enough."