I know I said that the third chapter of AYWD(IBAK) would be next, but this showed up and demanded to be written. All while listening to "Champagne Problems." I own nothing!

It had been a lovely evening. All the evenings had been lovely so far, all of their date nights. Thursday nights were theirs to keep, thanks to Yashiro's tireless efforts. They would order in, or he would try to help her cook, and then they would sit on the couch, talking or watching TV. Simple, quiet, private, perfect. She leaned up against him, with his arm around her shoulders and his nose in her hair. And maybe it was because of that, because he had become drunk on her smell and her contact, that he murmured, "I can't wait to marry you someday."


And everything shattered. He pulled back from her to look her in the eye, but she wouldn't look at him. She stared down at her lap, her hair falling forward to shield her eyes. He had struggled to breathe, fought to not show how destroyed he was by her answer to a question he hadn't actually asked, but he shouldn't have been surprised, not really. No matter how long they had actually known about each other's feelings, they had only been actually dating for a month. At last, at long last, he was able to break the silence, if only barely. "May I know why?"

She swallowed, fighting tears that shouldn't be coming, but wanted to, everything else be damned. Her voice was even softer than his was as she answered, "Because if we're not married, it'll make everything simpler when you want to leave."

He tried not to be angry or hurt, but he couldn't help it. Not with the words coming out of the mouth of the woman he'd been in love with for years. Who still, somehow, believed that he didn't want her. What did I do wrong? "Kyoko, have I not been making you… have you not been happy with… with me?"

Her voice is thick because dear God she doesn't want to cry. She'd expected this, so why was it so devastating? "I've never been happier than I have been this last month, Kuon."

"Then why -" He was fumbling, he couldn't find words because the shock was just too much. His voice cracked as he asked, "Then why would you think I want to leave? Why did you -" reject me "-say that?" When she doesn't answer, doesn't look up at him, doesn't even move, he asks in a desperate, broken voice, "Do you really think so little of me?"

"Of course not," she said, and hated how weak her voice sounds.

"Kyoko, I've been in love with you for since - since before Dark Moon. Why would I want to leave?" He was begging her with his eyes to look at him, but she wouldn't, her eyes still hidden by her hair. "Please. I don't understand. What did I do that would make you think that?" Or are you trying to tell me that you want to leave?

"I'm not good enough for you," she whispered, arms coming up to hug herself. Trying to trap what was left of his warmth. "I've been waiting for you to realize that since," her voice faltered, "since the elevator. Since you confessed that it had been me all along. And I just kept waiting for you to wake up, when you called me almost every day from the U.S., since you came back to Japan and asked to be together for real. I've been - I've been waiting for you to realize I'm too much work, too much trouble, just a neurotic mess of a girl who's hardly worth looking at, much less dating." She finally looked up at him and broke, truly broke, as she choked out, "That I'm not the type of person to spend your life with, to share your family with. To build a home with, to… to love. So I decided that I would just selfishly enjoy it for as long as I could. Until you came to your senses."

And she's not sure when she started crying, but now she can't stop no matter how hard she tries - how much she needs to stop because she's proving her point. She's not worth the hassle or his time or his love, and she's trying to apologize. She's trying to stand up, to leave, to do something other than prove her point. Her vision is blurred from tears and she hates that it might be the last way she's ever allowed to see him. That's when she was enveloped in his warmth. He had pulled her into his lap and was holding her like she would vanish if he let go. Which is fair; her first instinct for a long, long time had been to run.

After a while, she realized that she was not the only one who was shaking. She looked up and he was crying, too. Her confusion must have shown on her face, because he choked out, "God, Kyoko, why can't you see yourself the way I do?"


"Kyoko, you saved me." He was pleading with his eyes, begging her to understand. "You came back into my life and helped me put myself back together before I even knew what was happening. Before I'd told you anything at all. And then I told you and you stayed, you stayed and forgave me for keeping secrets that broke your heart. All while you've been through hell and back and have only come out stronger for it." He reached up tentatively and cupped her face with one hand, relief pouring through him when she leaned into his touch. He wiped away one of her tears with his thumb. "A little broken, yes, but you took those cracks they made in you and filled them with gold."

"Kuon," she started to protest, but her voice caught in her throat.

His voice was hoarse. "Don't you realize that I'm the selfish one here, the one who doesn't deserve you? I'm an absolute disaster, Kyoko, and you know it. Yet somehow I'm lucky enough to be the one you've chosen to be with. Can't you see that? How you're everything to me? How part of me wakes up terrified that this will be the day I fuck up badly enough that you'll wake up and realize that you want out, that I'm just a dangerous, selfish prick who can't cook to save his life. How I'd give -" and then he couldn't hold her gaze anymore, couldn't stand to see the emotions there, not knowing what they meant "- anything to keep you by my side for the rest of my life, to start and end every day with you in my arms? I missed you so badly in California that it physically hurt, Kyoko. I don't know - I don't know what I would do if I lost you. And you think that I want out?"

And now she was the one desperately seeking his eyes. Trying to tell him that he was wrong. But her throat wouldn't work, and her mind was going in circles. One of her angels murmured that maybe, just maybe, Maria-chan had a point about going to therapy for her issues. The young girl had never said Kyoko should go - no, she never suggested just a thing. But she had told Kyoko how much it had helped her see her mother's death in a different light. How it had helped her smooth out her relationship with her father.

Then Kyoko was crying again, if she had ever stopped, as she gripped the front of Kuon's shirt. "I don't think that, I don't want to, I just - I'm so scared, Kuon," she whispered.

His arms tightened around her.

"I'm scared you're going to wake up one day and realize that you've made a huge mistake in being with me. That you're going to wish for all of this time back."

"Kyoko, you say that as if I'm capable of regretting you." She couldn't see his face, since it was buried in her neck, but his voice was horribly pained. "You say that as if I would still be here without you."

She was terrified in a whole new way when she asked, "What do you mean?"

"If… if we hadn't met again… I don't know what would have happened to me," he admitted. "I know that I wouldn't have been able to play Katsuki. And that… may have gotten in my head worse than it was before you helped me. I probably would've spiralled - back into Kuon or further into Ren, I don't know. I might not have been able to move forward at all. I don't think I ever would have gone back to California. I was never actively suicidal, but… I've told you about how I was. I was reckless, or I shut down. Neither ended well. I couldn't have ended well, without you," he whispered. "But you saved me. From everything."

She shook her head. "I wouldn't be where I am without you, either, Kuon. Ignoring… Tokyo, even. Without Corn, I never would have made it through my childhood. Without those memories, without your stone, I - I could never have done it. Not really." And then, because high emotions aren't opposites but instead right next to each other in the brain, she burst out laughing.

He pulled back enough to look at her, bewildered.

"I just," she forced out between laughter and sobs, "you were literally my rock, Corn."

And that makes him smile, then laugh, and she thinks it might be the most beautiful sound she's ever heard, better even than the fairies singing her to sleep when she was young. She knows she wants to keep hearing that for the rest of her life, and starts to understand that he really, truly wants that too. That thought makes her cry again, but this time she wraps her arms around his neck, cuddling into him, because this time she isn't afraid.

"I love you," he whispered, and she knows that she's scared him with this - all of it. But she was glad it's out in the open now.

"I love you, too, Kuon." She pulled back a bit and gives him the best smile she can with her face aching from sobbing. "And I'm so sorry. For… all of this. Can I change my answer?"

He stared at her, not remembering for a moment, his head too fogged up by emotion. "Please," he finally whispered.

"Someday, yes. Because we're both stubborn and we're never going to agree who's the lucky one here. But… I think we need to talk more. Not now, because I don't think I could handle it, but - I was stupid to keep that from you. And I'm really, really sorry for ruining date night like this." She ducked her head, the best bow she could do without letting him go.

"I vote no more hiding stuff like this." One of his hands started stroking her back. "I hate that you were this miserable for a month."

"I'm sorry. I didn't… want you to leave, if I bothered you." She looked away.

Something fell into place for him when she said that. "Oh, Kyoko…."

She looked back up at him and was startled by the tenderness in his gaze. "Yes?"

"I promise I won't leave. I am going to continue to choose to be with you until the day I die. Because this is a choice I am honored to make." He swallowed, unused to how his throat felt after all that crying. "And please, please bother me. I want you to be a bother, and I'll come bother you, too. We're… we're not alone anymore. All of this - we can do it together."

The look she gave him was so full of a hope she didn't want to let herself have that his heart broke anew for her. "You don't… you don't mind?"

"No. Because I'm going to be the clingiest, most insecure version of myself, too." A corner of his mouth quirked up. "As long as you don't mind."

She let out a breathy little laugh, shook her head, and kissed him. It was probably the saltiest-tasting kiss they'd ever shared, but also one of the most earned… so far. After all, they would have a lifetime of kisses to compete with it.

Well, that was a thing. Thoughts?