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It's just the two of them. The trees and shrubs all around provide a welcome barrier from the outside world as Kiwi sings a soft tune. Miriam, listening contently, nods her head to the song as he sings into the night. Everything is perfect, and as the bard ends his melody, he sits besides her. They stare up at the stars without speaking, the occasional soft tune dancing its way through the breeze. He gazes to the side, admiring the witch when suddenly the world darkens. Once softly lit by starlight, the scene is shrouded in a dark mist. Blinking his eyes in confusion as he looks around, wondering if he's seeing things, he hears Miriam gasp. From her chest, a long bloodied blade protrudes, glinting ominously. Audrey stands behind her, a malicious grin spread across her face as she kicks Miriam forwards and removes her blade. 

" Miriam, no! " Kiwi cries out with horror as he pulls Miriam into his arms, examining the damage. Her head lolls to the side, unresponsive as he holds her close. Shaking as he lifts his fingers to her neck to feel her vacant pulse, a deep chuckle sounds from behind him. Turning his head to face the source, he sees Audrey slowly making her way towards them, dragging her sword on the ground as she staggers forward, cackling. Scrambling back, still holding Miriam, Kiwi whimpers as the hero draws closer. An unhinged look about her, Audrey raises her sword in the air, high above her head. With a hefty swing, she sends it slicing into Kiwi as everything shifts to black. 

Shooting upright in bed, panting heavily, Kiwi looks around the room in a panic. He's home. In bed. A bead of sweat runs down his forehead and catches in his eyebrow as his eyes dart around, searching for anything that may harm him. The sun just barely peeks through the window, a sign that it was morning. He falls back in bed, hugging a pillow close as he slows his breathing and his undoubtedly racing heart. He has somewhere to go today, but a few more moments couldn't hurt.

Time passes by, and as Kiwi shoves away the lingering memories of his nightmare he remembers that he has a place to be today. Miriam's home to be specific. Suddenly leaping out of bed as he remembers, a smile beginning to form, he prepares himself for their rendezvous. Today they are going to have a sleepover, and while not their first, it will be exciting as always. Sleeping on Miriam's couch whenever he went over was always fun, and she couldn't tease Kiwi for his snoring if she wasnt there to hear it. He places his hat on his head and gets it to fit in place before heading out the door. 

After a lengthy walk, Kiwi finally arrives at the base of the hill for Miriam's home. Skipping up with energetic vigor, he knocks on the door with a familiar rhythm. "Oh, Miriam," he sings, "your favorite bard is here!"

The door opens, and Miriam greets Kiwi with a slight smile. "Hey, Kiwi." She invites him inside with a wave of her hand.

His heart flutters when he sees her, safe and perfectly alive. Rather than stepping in, he shoots forward and wraps his arms around her in a big hug, eliciting an, "Umph," on her part.

Miriam stammers for a moment. She isn’t used to touchy-feely stuff yet. Though they’ve already hugged on multiple occasions before now, it still surprises her every time. It takes her a moment, but eventually she wraps her arms around Kiwi in return.

If reality could ever be better than dreams, Miriam stands as living proof. Parting from her only slightly, his arms still around her, he looks down and asks, "So what did you have planned for today?" He grins widely as he holds her in the hug, comforting himself with her presence.

"Uhh..." She falters for a moment, her cheeks slightly flushing. Internally, she reminds herself that she needs to get used to being close to Kiwi, otherwise this will happen every time they're remotely close. "Well, it'd probably be a good idea to eat first." She finally manages to reply.

With a nod of agreement, Kiwi pipes up, "That sounds like a great idea! I uh... forgot to have breakfast before I came over." Resting one arm at his side as he holds the other behind his head with embarrassment, he gives a bashful giggle.

Miriam crosses her arms and huffs. "You're lucky I haven't either. Now, are you gonna come in, or what?" She questions with her playfully snarky tone.

"Alright, alright, I’m coming," Kiwi says with a laugh as he steps inside. The familiar house is a second home to him, and its welcoming atmosphere draws him in.

 

~~~~~

 

Breakfast was delicious, and the rest of the day was equally fantastic. After a long day of hanging out and enjoying their time with each other, the sun has fallen from the sky. Kiwi and Miriam are huddled under quilted blankets, playing a board game.

The board game, Dragon Land, is sprawled on the floor. A deck of cards set in the assigned rectangle, and a few old cards spread about. They’re playing as a dragon and their goal is to get to the castle at the other side of the board. It's a fairly simple game, but fun nonetheless. As Miriam rolls the dice, she lands on a card space, and swipes a card from the pile.

'Hero Attack! You run into a heroic prince who's protecting the castle. Unfortunately, you lose the battle and retreat back to your den to recover. Move back to start.'

"Ugh, really?" She sighs in frustration, haphazardly tossing the card off to the side of the game board. She reluctantly moves her character back to the start. She was so close to winning, too...

With the card landing near him, Kiwi frowns for a moment as he looks at it. A steely blue silhouette of a sword is displayed on the card, and the edges are decorated with fake blood drips for effect. It gives him an unwelcome thought, and in his mind's eye he can see Audrey's sword impaled through Miriam's chest. Biting his bottom lip, he flips the card over, not being able to stand seeing it anymore.

This small gesture doesn't go unnoticed by Miriam. She cocks an eyebrow at him with curiosity. "What was that for? Is something wrong with the card?" She questions, unsure why he flipped it over. Though it might have gone unnoticed or brushed off by anyone else, she knew that Kiwi only gave the smallest of hints to him being sad or upset.They have an annoying tendency to bottle up their negative feelings, but she's learned to pick up on hidden details like this.

He freezes for a moment, before turning to face her, a tight smile plastered on his face. "No it’s just... uh..." Knowing he'd feel bad about lying outright, he decides to bend the truth just a little. Hopefully not revealing too much, but just enough that she wouldn't worry. "Oh you know how I don't like blood and all... its just that!" The dream wasn't real, and he has to remember it was nothing other than that: a nightmare. He isn’t going to lose Miriam anytime soon.

Miriam isn’t buying it. Rather than being mad at him for lying, she's concerned for him. "Kiwi, are you okay?"

Bundling himself up a little, smiling even wider with an unnatural grin that made his cheeks hurt, he nods. "Pff, yeah of course I'm okay! I just didn't like the card, that's all!" Assuring her as best he can, though not certain if he was truly convincing, he shrugs as if to say it’s not important.

She still doesn't believe him, but decides not to pry further, and they continue the game 

Dragon Land ends with Kiwi landing his dragon on the final square. "Great job, Miriam! It was really fun playing!"

 

~~~~~

 

It’s getting late now. When Miriam wishes him goodnight and heads upstairs to her room, Kiwi takes his usual spot on the couch. He hugs the blanket around him tightly, reminiscing through the day. Everything had gone so well, and spending time with Miriam was always something he enjoyed. Not wanting to let sleep take him for fear that another nightmare may strike him, Kiwi lays in silence, thinking. Thinking about the small card with its blue sword, a bloody pattern embellishing the edges. Then to Audrey's similarly colored weapon. Stabbed through Miriam's chest until her heartbeat left her. His thoughts keep going: a downwards spiral. Hot tears start to form in his eyes, kept in place as he lay there facing the ceiling. A soft sniffle sounds in the dark, and with his bottom lip quivering, he begins to cry.

 

~~~~~


Miriam wakes up to the sound of someone sobbing.

It takes her a second to process, but once she does confusion and concern creeps its way through her mind. She's still tired, but she shuffles out of bed anyways. Quickly but quietly opening the door and walking out of her room, she heads downstairs silently. She peers at the couch, and is shocked to be met with the sight of the bard crying. "Kiwi?"

Hearing his name called in the dark, he clasps his hands over his mouth to stifle the noise. Still shaking slightly from beneath the blanket, he turns to face the couch, not letting Miriam see his face. The tears that had been pooling ran sideways, leaving their trails horizontally across Kiwi's visage.

She frowns, rubbing an eye sleepily. Even if she was tired, she was not  going to let Kiwi deal with whatever's happening on his own. Miriam advances towards the couch, standing at the edge. "Alright, Kiwi, what's up?" She asks, deep concern lacing her voice.

He brings his knees closer to his chest, still not facing her. Shutting his eyes tight, sending another tear to follow the trail of its predecessors, he can't bring himself to speak without sobbing. He merely shrugs.

She slowly leans over the couch little by little, trying to peer at his face. "Kiwi." She questions again, more firm this time. There’s no way he's getting out of this one.

Knowing she's so close, he rolls over and wraps his arms around her waist, burying his head on her stomach as he sobs. Kiwi holds her tightly, flashes of his nightmare still replaying in his mind like a broken record. Unable to speak, he lets himself cry into her.

She slightly stumbles backwards before managing to steady herself. In all honesty, she's not sure how to respond to this. Then again, are you expected to know what to do when someone suddenly launches into you and just cries? She hopes the answer to that is no. Slowly, she wraps her arms around him in return, letting him use her as emotional support, still a little uncertain about the whole situation.

Holding onto her as if he might lose her at any moment, he lets himself sob. Kiwi hates showing this part of himself; people tend to worry about him and it’s the worst feeling in the world. Miriam knows him better than anyone else though, and he knows he can’t hide any of these feelings from her for long. He's glad she's here for him now. The nightmare shook him inside, Miriam's gasp as Audrey's sword pierced her chest, and her lack of pulse terrifies him as the thoughts swim though his mind. Adjusting the way he embraces her, he rests his head over her chest, letting the sound of her quickened heartbeat assure him that she wasn't going anywhere. That she’s here. That she’s safe.

"Oh, Kiwi..." She sighs, scooting over and sitting down on the couch. Miriam pulls him a little closer to her, still unsure of what to do in this situation aside from letting him finish crying. Her heartbeat picks up a little with concern and not  because she's so close to him right now. It feels nice though, holding him so near. 

His bottom lip quivering as he holds onto her, Kiwi listens to the swift melody of her heart. As they stay like this for what feels like an eternity, leaving a spot on Miriam's chest soaked with his tears, he finally regains the ability to speak. Hoarsely, he sniffles again before apologizing about this whole situation. He knows Miriam isn't comfortable with too much closeness. "I... I'm sorry about waking you... and-" He sniffles in between words. "-I'm really sorry about this..." His words trail off as he doesnt know what else to say.

She frowns at this. "You really need to stop apologizing for things that aren't your fault." Miriam raises a hand a little and hovers it awkwardly in the air for a moment. After a moment of uncertainty,  she runs her fingers through Kiwi's hair. Though she doesn't believe herself to be a natural at comforting people, it’s all she can think of at the moment. 

At her touch, he relaxes, taking a few deep breaths as he calms down. "Oh, sorry about that." Without realizing he just made another apology out of habit, Kiwi keeps listening, letting her heart beat away the memories of the nightmare.

She picks up on the fact he apologized again but doesn't mention it, knowing it’ll likely lead to him apologizing for that as well. Then it really hits her what she's doing. Her cheeks heat up and she almost considers- no . She's not going to leave her friend in this time of need, even if it is a little uncomfortable for her. It’s not even that bad anyways. Miriam feels like she could get used to this. She clears her throat. "Kiwi? What happened?"

A wave of embarrassment washes over him. He’s upset because of a nightmare, but it felt so real, and now he truly worries him that he may lose her someday. Stumbling over his words, he admits, “I... I had a nightmare and uh...” Realizing how childish this sounds, he shuts his eyes tightly as he continues. “You... you got really hurt! I don’t want to lose you!” With another sniffle, followed by more tears, he tightens his hug around her.

"...Oh." It’s all she can manage to reply with.

“I’m sorry.” Biting his bottom lip, eyes shutting out everything in the world besides Miriam, he sighs.

"Hey, it’s fine, don't beat yourself up over it." Miriam never really thought about what it would be like to lose Kiwi. She honestly can't see her life without him in it, and if he were gone... she doesn't know what she’d do. 

She stops that train of thought before it can continue. "I'd probably be freaked out by that too," She says in an attempt to cheer him up. It’s true, but she's not going to dwell on that fact.

Kiwi parts from Miriam ever so slightly, though he still keeps his arms around her. Even through the dark of the room, and the blurriness from his tears, he can see her face standing out through her frame of cyan hair. "You're my best friend, and I... I don't know what I'd do if you ever got hurt." His face, if Miriam can see it, is shiny and red around the eyes, with heavy tears caught in his lashes and smeared on his cheeks.

She frowns at seeing his disheveled state. A little slower than she intended, she gently runs a hand against his face to wipe the tears off. The wetness feels weird against her fingers, but after wiping them off on her pajamas, she continues to softly caress his face.

Leaning his head into the weight of her hand, he gives a watery smile. "Thanks for listening to me. It's nice being with you." One arm still around her, hugging her gently, he lifts his other hand to rest on hers. Her hand is soft and warm against his cheek, so he holds it there contently.

She doesn't resist the touch or pull away from it. Just letting him lean into it, she averts her gaze. "It’s nice being with you, too,” she quietly murmurs. 

He smiles softly as she turns her head away, noticing the familiar glint of her earrings isn't there. Miriam must have taken them off before going to bed.  "I think I'm alright now," he whispers. "Thanks for helping me sort that out." Gazing at her with gentle eyes, he lowers his hand. "Sorry again about waking you up, you can go back to bed if you like. I think I'll be alright now."

Thinking on this for a moment, she doesn't think she wants to leave. Though not entirely sure why, just chalking it up to wanting to make sure Kiwi’s okay, she pushes down the thoughts of the reason being wanting to be close to him. "It’s fine. I can... stay here if you want." Her gaze darting around the room, intent on looking at anything besides Kiwi, she hopes her tone of voice doesn't betray her want to stay. To give him a choice of course.

Kiwi's face lights up. Wrapping his arms around her once more, he buries his face in the crook of her neck. "That sounds amazing!" Melting into her uncertain hold, he lays on her gently. "Thank you." He's glad she's staying, seeing as she's never slept in the same room as him during their previous sleepovers. Even if she'll probably move somewhere else after the hug finishes, he enjoys the moment with her so close.

Feeling a warmth rise in her cheeks, she presses her mouth into a thin smile. Miriam silently hopes she isnt turning bright red, because she certainly feels as if she's taking the hue of a tomato. Before she thinks about what she's doing, she returns the hug, gently running her hands along his back. It feels nice  just being with him, although she would never admit it aloud. Her eyes droop a little with tiredness, after a soft sigh, she speaks up. "Kiwi, I think I need you to move a little. I need to lay down." She can’t believe she's doing this, so she decides its best to act now rather than think about it.

Kiwi raises his head to look at her. Though she's pink faced and strongly averting eye contact, she's still staying with him. "Sure thing," he replies after a moment of silence, smiling so wide his cheeks ached pleasantly. Lifting his weight off her, he moves to the side, allowing Miriam to lay on the couch.

She adjusts her pajamas before laying down, still unable to believe she was doing this.

Waiting until Miriam was fully settled, Kiwi lay back down. He rests his head over her melodic heart and snuggles into her. Closing his eyes as he gets comfortable, he murmurs a soft, "Thank you," before he succumbs to sleep.

Miriam lays her arms on his back and holds him to herself. It's nice being here for him, being able to comfort him, and being able to just be  with him. Gazing up at the ceiling, she hears Kiwi begin to snore softly. It sounds like he's warming up his singing. Giving a content sigh, she shuts her eyes as drifts off to sleep soon after, lulled by Kiwi's song.