The day Chrome came to live in the Sasagawa house was a Sunday. The sky was gray and threatening rain, but all of Chrome's possessions could fit into a small duffel bag that Kyoko didn't even need to ask her brother to carry for her so the move wasn't a problem. She carried the drab-colored bag for Chrome and thought they should go shopping for a cuter one when Chrome got settled in.
"I can - I can really carry that." Chrome protested quietly as they walked along the neighborhood streets back to Kyoko's home. Kyoko smiled at the other girl and opened an umbrella just in case, taking the other girl's hand with her free one and pulling her close so that she could be covered as well.
"It's okay. Friends help each other out." Kyoko told her. Chrome blushed, but didn't pull away.
They had a guest room, so the move was easy.
"I'm sorry it's so small." Kyoko said - the room was barely larger than the bed it held and a little dresser. Kyoko was determined to find a way to work a desk in there so she would have some place to study in quiet. She set Chrome's bag on the futon. Chrome hung in the doorway, her one visible eye wide as she looked at the cozy little room.
"What's wrong?" Kyoko prompted, gently.
"Is it - is this all for me?" Chrome asked quietly. Kyoko didn't know where Chrome was staying before - she had always been very closed-lipped on the subject and Kyoko had worried that asking would upset her. The others were no help either - it was like pulling teeth to get Tsuna to tell her anything about this mafia business at all, and forget getting anything from Ryohei who was still under the impression that the less he told his sister the more he was protecting her.
"Yeah. All for you."
Chrome's visible eye started to well up with tears, and Kyoko took her hands again, gently pulling her into the room and giving her a hug.
"I know this must be rough for you. Why don't you take some time to get comfortible and settle in? We have all day. My door is right across the hall if you need anything okay? Today is all for you, Chrome."
Kyoko promised herself that she would let Chrome settle in at her own pace, but she couldn't help but worry. She knew Chrome was an introvert and needed a lot of time to herself, and was trying to respect that and not overwhelm the other girl. She had just lost the only family she really knew, it was no time to shove another on her. If Kyoko hadn't been sitting at her desk and willing her homework to do itself while she worried over the one-eyed girl, she might not have heard the knock on her half-closed door it was so quiet. Ryohei and their parents were out, and that aside neither of them knocked so hesitantly. She was on her feet in an instant, opening the door as quickly as she allowed herself, for worry of startling the other girl.
"Um!" Chrome startled, looking up. Kyoko was just slightly taller than her, but many were. She was a little slip of a thing. Sometimes it looked like a strong breeze would knock her over. Kyoko knew she was strong, but she couldn't help but feel so protective of the other girl.
"What can I do for you, Chrome?" Kyoko smiled.
"...I... I'm a little hungry." Chrome confessed quietly, taking to her slippers rather than Kyoko. They were Kyoko's slippers, actually, since Chrome didn't have any of her own. Again, Kyoko wondered about Chrome's home before this. She must have lived with - what was his name, Mukuro Rokudo? But what did that entail, exactly?
"Would you like a home cooked meal, or to go out?" Kyoko offered. It was still midday, though the rain had finally started and was coming down in sheets.
"Oh, I'm not sure - I wouldn't want to put you through the trouble of cooking-"
"It's no trouble at all. I like cooking. But there's this adorable little cafe that opened up just down the block, and Haru and I haven't found time to go try it out yet. Could I bother you to come with me, and we can tell her if it's worthwhile?"
"Um," Chrome stammered again, and Kyoko wondered if she had been too forceful -- but then Chrome nodded, and Kyoko smiled again.
Chrome had boots suitable for rain, but she had to borrow one of Kyoko's coats, and the two girls walked hand in hand under Kyoko's umbrella to the cafe.
The first day was quiet and easy. Ryohei was blessedly training most of the day, so Chrome and Kyoko had an early dinner and then retired for the night. Kyoko lay in bed, listening to the rain and thinking of how the next day would go for school. Again, the quiet knock came. Too quiet to be her brother or her parents.
Kyoko sat up, filled with worry.
"Come in, I'm still awake." she called, her comfortor pooling around her waist, keeping the heat in so she could wear one of her lighter nightgowns. She let Chrome wear the heavier winter one, she was so skinny she must have gotten cold easily.
The door opened just a sliver and Chrome peeked through. She was wearing a standard white eyepatch of light cotton instead of her usual black one, it made her look even softer.
"I'm... sorry for bothering you but. Ah..." She looked down at her feet again, as if it was easier to address them as she struggled with her words. Kyoko sat quietly, waiting for her to finish. "...Could I... stay in your room? I can sleep on the floor, I'm used to that. I just-"
"Don't be silly, come here." Kyoko scooted closer to the wall, pulling back the blankets in invitation and holding her hand out to Chrome. She worried, again, that the girl wouldn't take it. That the show of kindness would frighten her off... but Kyoko and Haru's time around Chrome had paid off, a little bit at a time. Chrome slipped through the little sliver of space that the door had open and took Kyoko's hand, climbing onto the mattress with her. The bed wasn't meant for two, but Chrome was so petite that her and Kyoko could fit as long as they didn't mind getting cozy. She threw an arm around Chrome and held her close, surprised to find that Chrome didn't shudder or pull away but instead curled into the warmth of another person.
"...The buildings, they never have heat." Chrome said quietly, curled up against Kyoko in the darkness. Kyoko threaded her fingers through Chrome's hair. It was stiff, but Kyoko knew that if given a little time she could bring out the beauty of it.
"The buildings?" She prompted Chrome, feeling even more awake than before. Chrome's eye was closed, but she still breathed as if she was awake.
"That's where we stayed. The abandoned buildings in Kokuyo Land. When we had to go somewhere else we'd find old factories... or condemned warehouses. But Kokuyo Land was our home... All empty and cold. It was just Ken and Chikusa and I for a while, but then there were others, and finally Mukuro, for real." She sounded so happy as she talked, reflecting back on a pleasant memory when her little broken makeshift family was 'whole'. "Some of the buildings still had running water, but the power's been shut off for a long time... Easier to just deal with the cold then go looking for someplace else. We'd all sleep close to one another to keep the heat in and share blankets." Chrome yawned, snuggling closer to Kyoko, who welcomed her contact and continued to stroke her hair, remaining silent and listening to Chrome's story. The girl didn't seem inclined to hide things with Kyoko like the others did, Chrome was simply shy. Her voice was fading into a murmur as she tried to explain herself before falling into slumber. "The only time I sleep alone is when I'm in the hospital, and I'm usually drugged into sleep then. It's hard to sleep without someone around."
"It's alright." Kyoko whispered. "You can stay with me as long as you like, alright?"
She didn't know if Chrome had heard her offer or not. The other girl fell asleep before she could answer. Kyoko listened to the rain and Chrome's quiet breathing, and found herself falling into a peaceful sleep as well.