When he wakes up, it's 2 a.m. The room is dark but familiar - not because it's his, but because he's spent a lot of time in here. The thick, cotton blanket wraps around him as he turns onto his side, his hair a mess in his face, his heart racing because he's laying on her pillow and it smells like her.
She's still wide awake, eyes glued to the TV screen as she worries a throw pillow between her perfect hands, and she's so enthralled he doesn't think she's noticed that he's awake yet. He means to scold her for starting another movie, for watching it in the dark. It'll ruin your eyes, idiot! and We have that study group at Onodera's tomorrow! But he's looking at her and all he can see is that her red ribbon is falling out and her concentrated expression, the smile hiding at the corners of her perfect mouth, steals the words away from him.
She's beautiful, he thinks, starting at her. The TV makes for poor lighting - it washes out the corn-yellow of her hair and the blue skies in her eyes, dyes her skin such a pale white that she could be a ghost - but she's never looked more beautiful. Make-up smudged and worn, clothes rumpled, hair tangled. He wants to tell her, suddenly. Raku thinks he might die if he doesn't tell her how beautiful she is, how important and essential and special she is to him.
Words have never been his forte, though, so when he props himself up on one arm and draws her attention, he only stares.
Chitoge turns her head and his heart feels like its bursting. She's in the air, in his blood, and he can't breathe. "You're up early," she teases. "And you're in luck - I just started the movie."
He licks his lips and she stiffens, as though sensing that he's somewhere else entirely than in one of the living rooms of her home, Tsugumi asleep just inches away on the other side of her. A make-shift sleepover for best friends. But he is here, he tells himself, caught up in her current as though she's a tidal wave and he's helpless to fight against it.
Her voice is softer, now, a whisper. "Are you alright, Raku?"
His mouth parts. He collects the erratic mess of his thoughts to find his voice. He tells her how much she means in the only words he knows how to say. "You're my best friend."
She must hear it. He speaks the words so tenderly, his eyes gentle and sincere, that her whole body goes still and even in the white-washed lighting of the TV, he can see a blush heat her face.
Chitoge smiles warmly, her expression like sunshine even in the middle of the night. She seems to sparkle but he's sure that's just him, just her, just this moment. Her hand bumps against his as she sets it beside her. "You're my best friend, too," she murmurs affectionately. She thinks a moment and he's still trying to gather his breath. "We should probably go to bed, huh?"
She grabs the remote and turns the television off. The room goes completely dark and its a long while before their vision adapts but he's a live wire and he won't be sleeping any time soon. And from the way Chitoge lies beside him, her hand wrapped fiercely around his - like she's afraid to let go - he knows that sleep is far away from her, too.
Its easier, in the dark, though. It's almost like she's not even here, even though he's holding her hand, too. "That's not what I mean," he speaks into the room.
Her grip tightens. "I know," she says, though he's not waiting for an answer.