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Shelter Short 6

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                When the two slept in the same bed, Ruka was usually the first to wake up; he almost always was. It wasn’t necessarily that he fell asleep sooner, it was literally always because Pom slept so deeply and so heavily, and for so long, that it caused Ruka to wonder if she might just stay asleep forever at some point.

                Thankfully, she always did wake up; usually she would groan and throw her leg over Ruka, or an arm, or she would move closer and bury her face in his back or chest. If they were staying at her place, she would ask what time it was, if he wanted food or coffee, and eventually, sleepily trudge to the bathroom to brush her teeth. If they weren’t at her house, she would ask what time it was--and decide from there if it was time for her to sneak out.

                He hated the fact that she wanted to stay at his place often; it wasn’t safe for either of them, and her getting hurt was the last thing that he wanted to happen--they would both try to wake up extra early, before the sun even rose, and he would walk her to the front door as quietly as he could, checking each corner, listening for even the quietest creak of hardwood floor shifting, for any sign that anyone else was awake--sometimes, she would just tell him to not worry about it, and then haphazardly climb out of the window. He wasn’t sure how she didn’t break an arm, especially considering that she had already plummeted to the ground several times before, offering a thumbs up and a quiet groan of “I’m okay” before slowly getting back to her feet.

                He wished that she would just… Let them stay at her place when they actually slept at the same house. 

 

                Every morning that he woke up next to her, he--if he wasn’t already facing her--would roll over, and watch her face--wondering what time he should wake her up, and, if they were at his place, wondering if they would once again pull off sneaking her out.

                He never brought his worry up to her--he knew that she would understand if he did. He also knew that if she met his uncle, she would have a hard time holding back from telling him off--she usually kept her cool, but after all that she had heard, she struggled to around him. Instead, though, she tried to focus her energy on comforting Ruka, spending time holding him close and talking to him quietly in his room--sometimes they would read together, or listen to music with split headphones--whatever it was, they enjoyed each other’s time together.

 

                Ruka, despite relaxing in Pom’s presence, occasionally felt guilty--he had caused her so much stress, so much worry--she would try to hide the fact that she was crying over his injuries often. If they were at her house, she would sometimes silently--which was a little anxiety-inducing for Ruka--get up, go to the nearest bathroom, and come back with whatever she needed to treat any wounds on him.

                Sometimes, he wondered if it would have been better for him to get out of her life after he helped get Jay away from her. She obviously didn’t think so, especially considering how often she fell asleep, holding one--or both--of his hands, or with a leg or arm tossed over him. She cared about him--this was undeniable, irrefutable--but he was worried that her caring would only get her hurt more.

                His train of thought shifted--he furrowed his brow and focused his gaze on Pom when she threw her head to the side suddenly in her sleep--she shifted, clearly uncomfortable for a moment, before she jolted awake with a yelp.

                Ruka slowly sat up, watching her breathe heavily, her palms digging into her eyes to try and force back any of the tears that welled up. “Stealthy Walrus?” He called out to her quietly, his voice soft, reassuring. “Hey…”

                Her breathing staggered as she held back a sob--she didn’t flinch or move away when she felt his hand touch her shoulder, but she shuddered under his touch.

                “Need me to move?”

                She shook her head, a shaky sigh escaping her. “No,” She leaned towards him, no longer covering her eyes. “You’re fine. I know you, Ruka.”

                He slowly put his arm around her shoulders as she moved closer--she leaned fully against him, keeping her legs curled up to her chest as she slowly shut her eyes again, her face finding a decently comfortable spot against his collarbone. “Need me to lay back? We can lay back down, if you want…”

                “Do you need to?”

                Ruka thought for a moment--the question being turned around on him caught him off-guard. He slowly shook his head, moving his other arm around her as additional support. “Nope, we can stay like this.” He said, holding her close.

 

                They sat in silence for a moment, wrapped in each other’s arms, slowly relaxing as they listened to the rain that pelted the window. She had started to cry, her voice muffled by Ruka’s shirt. “Pom…?”

                “I’m okay,” She whispered, one of her hands finding Ruka’s. “I’m fine.” She reiterated, she shivered a bit before inhaling deeply, slowly, and exhaling in-sync with that. Ruka continued to provide a bit of comfort by rubbing a small circle on the middle of her back; he kept his chin rested on top of her head.

                They sat in silence again, Pom listening to Ruka’s heartbeat, Ruka, trying to keep himself composed enough so that she wouldn’t worry--so that she could mentally work through whatever she was going through at the moment.

                “I’m here for you…” He whispered quietly, planting a quick kiss to her forehead; he slowly leaned down, resting his own forehead against hers. “You’re safe, and nobody is going to hurt either of us, alright?” Not right now, at least . He added silently. He reminded himself that he needed to check the time soon--they both needed to leave for the day, before his uncle started to stir.

 

                More time passed, seconds that felt like eternity, and Pom slowly pulled away and offered Ruka a small smile. “Thanks, really.”

                “Anytime…” He tried to hide his furrowed brow--his genuine concern for her--and gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

                “And you know that if you’re not feeling well, you need to tell me, right? I’m here for you, too!” She leaned forward again, her forehead very softly colliding with Ruka’s. “... We should probably get ready to go soon, right?”

                Ruka nodded, tilting his head just enough to glance at his barred door. “Yeah. It’s raining, so… We should leave before it’s time for him to wake up.”