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Shelter Short 2

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                Ruka barely opened his eyes, only to be greeted with the side of Pom’s sleeping face; she had her mouth slightly open, and a bit of drool slipping out. He was laying on her arm, with his own arm around her waist--she felt so warm to him, and through that, he acknowledged the slight chill in the room.

                “I don’t know how you do it,” He said softly, slowly sitting up just enough to reach the foot of the bed. He only laid back down when he pulled the heavy comforter over them both. “You didn’t even have a blanket over you, but you’re not even cold?” He laughed to himself just a bit, moving just a bit closer.

                It wasn’t the first time they had slept together, and it certainly wasn’t going to be the last--though, sometimes they would have to sneak out for a visit or two. It wasn’t exactly the safest method of spending time together, but… Each time, the other decided that it was worth the risk.

                Especially right now--Pom had been uneasy all day, and it eventually led to her having an actual breakdown around bedtime. People were talking more and more about Jay lately--he figured that all the talk would have died down by now, but no--he wished it would, not even for his own sake, simply for Pom’s.

                He hated seeing the way her face twisted in hurt and betrayal whenever someone asked why she avoided him, why it was always Ruka this, Ruka that, nowadays. He hated seeing how silent she would get, if only briefly--contemplating her desire to tell someone what happened, but also the discomfort of disclosing something so personal, something she felt so shameful, to someone else. Someone that was close to Jay. Someone that knew him. The risk of being socially alienated entirely.

 

                He always tried to reassure her that it wasn’t anything to be ashamed of; that she deserved better, and that if she ever did tell people about Jay’s terrible actions, he would be in her corner, he would support her and stand by her through every second of whatever the world threw at her.

                He made sure that she knew, no matter what, he would always stand alongside her and hold her hand. He would always have her back.

                And she made sure that he knew the feeling was mutual; whatever burden he carried, she would carry it, too. She made sure to remind him during her own breakdown, “ If you need to cry, too, just let it out. ” She had said between sobs, her already hoarse voice cracking and shaking as she tried to push it out more.

 

                Right now, though, Pom’s face wasn’t warped from despair and pain, her cheeks weren’t dampened with tears, she wasn’t shaking, or sobbing as quietly as she could (as to not disturb her family) into Ruka’s shoulder.

                She was sleeping peacefully, Ruka laying his head on her arm, and his arm around her waist.  Her expression was so soft and peaceful, though it was far from elegant; she had her mouth open, she was snoring, and there was a bit of drool slipping out of the corner of her mouth.

 

                I never knew it could be this way, Ruka thought to himself, studying her face. If he didn’t know her, or if he hadn’t been with her, he would never have expected her to have been bawling an hour beforehand. I always thought that it would just be me.

                He reached out, gently brushing a few strands of hair off of Pom’s forehead, out of her eyes--only to be greeted by her tired, brown eyes shooting open.

                Ruka gasped, startled and surprised by seeing her eyes wide and her expression confused; she was clearly trying to remember just what happened in the past few hours.

 

                Well. She had texted Ruka, expressing that she wasn’t alright. Ruka asked what she needed right now, saying he would help any way that he could. Pom said she didn’t want to be alone, and Ruka said he would be there shortly. He snuck in the window, and they spent a small chunk of the night talking and comforting each other.

 

                He laughed nervously, pulling his hand back and laying back down entirely, draping his arm back over her midsection. “Sorry, Stealthy Walrus--I didn’t want to wake you up. Need me to move or anything, because--”

                “No, this is fine?” She relaxed a little, scooting closer and burying her face in the side of his shoulder. “I trust you, I love it when we can spend time together like this.”

 

                She was still so sleepy; her eyes shut again, and she yawned, nestling her face into the fabric of his shirt. “What time do you even have to leave?”

                “I should probably be back before it’s time for me to head out for the day…” He glanced over, trying to find the alarm clock. “It’s only… About three right now?”

                “I’ll set my phone for six? That should give you time to get back, right?”

                “Yeah,” Ruka sighed--he wanted to stay longer. Not just three more hours. “That’ll give me plenty of time.”

                “Kinda sucks that we have to get you up and outta here early.” Pom murmured, her free arm snaking around Ruka to find his free hand. “I get it, though. I’m gonna whoop your uncle’s ass one of these days, I swear.”

                Ruka laughed a little--Pom’s fighting spirit was as relentless as always, even when she was half asleep, her words slurring slightly. “I know. Thanks”