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[Log/Thread] A Very Merry New Year [Asuka, Kureno]

The Christmas Eve dinner with the Inuzuka had gone... Well, it had gone, and nothing too terrible or embarrassing had resulted from it. Kureno had kept one eye out for Hanato when (he thought) Asuka wasn't looking, and Asuka was a little awkward with toddlers and that large number of them, but both had avoided the dangerous alcohol and that's what really mattered. Kureno wasn't sure some of the younger adults had managed the same, but they were big enough to deal with their own affairs now, he preferred to keep to his own. And on New Year's Eve, his affairs only had to do with one thing: his annual tradition of dinner and drinks at the White Birch with Asuka before retreating outside to find a good spot for watching the village's fireworks at midnight.

At twenty minutes 'til, Kureno held the tavern's door open for Asuka to step out before he followed behind her, closing up his jacket as the night air was exceptionally chilly this year. There was no snow yet, as it hardly ever snowed in Konoha; which was a shame because that would have at least helped to justify this temperature. Warm alcohol still flowing through his system helped a little, but in the long run keeping his scarf and coat close would help more. Konoha was full of people who were stubborn on traditions however, as was proved by how most of the usual New Year's pedestrians could still be seen wandering the streets at the late hour, unheeding of the chill.

Keeping a little more to the side with Asuka, he leaned down a little to ask, "Where do you want to catch them this year?" Speaking about the fireworks, of course.



The blast of cold air had the kunoichi huddling in her jacket, hands stuffed deep in coat pockets and shoulders hunched up to try and give her neck a little more warmth. It was times like this when she ought to give in and wear a scarf, or maybe wear her hair down, because at least then she'd have a little more than just a low-neck sweater to help. But it was uncomfortable (to her), the same as gloves were, and even if a pair of gloves might help keep her hands warms and stop them from aching so much, well... she'd really rather suffer.

Though she did hate suffering. Hypocrite.

Alcohol in her bloodstream or not (and she had, very definitely, stayed within her limits this time), she was still on this side of shivering by the time Kureno leaned down to address her. Usually they just picked a nearby roof and dangled feet off the edge until the last fireworks faded from the sky, but here all the eaves were looking decidedly full.

"I think we waited too long to come out," Asuka said, breath misting not all that unlike cigarette smoke. "We could go down by the river. It's fairly close, and it has a good view of the sky."

With agreement from the second half of the party, they wandered through the crowd of pedestrians, down the main thoroughfare to where the road curved around to bridge over the river that flowed through town. Surprisingly enough the crowds thinned out this way - surprising because the sky was clear of buildings or trees over the river, and right in the middle of the bridge was a perfect view of where the fireworks would be launched. Well, better for them. At least alone out here she wouldn't have to share the bridge with anyone but Kureno.

... though it didn't help that the breeze over the river cut right through her jacket and ended her valiant attempts to not shiver.




A shiver that didn't go unnoticed. Kureno hunched a little against the wind himself, but his coat kept him warm. He didn't just shop for style after all, but for quality. Asuka's jacket was looking like something found on the sale's rack of an already generic department store. Not that her really begrudged her that--in his personal opinion, the casual look quite suited her--but in this scenario, the few bucks saved didn't look beneficial enough.

"You okay?" he asked after a moment. "We can go somewhere else..." Although that would be a shame because finding this spot unoccupied had been incredibly lucky. Giving up such a great view and the desired privacy was a bit much, so Kureno brainstormed for another option. "I'd offer to trade you coats but I don't think I'd fit in yours..." He looked down again at his own coat. It was a nice coat. A fairly new coat too, bought just last season. Long, dark, sleek yet thick, and most importantly right now, warm. It was also probably big enough for...

Oh. Now that was a good idea. Seriously, that was the first thing he should have thought of.

"Come here," he said, already undoing some of the buttons to open the front of his coat. "We'll share mine."



She laughed a little at the idea of him switching coats with her. No, he'd definitely not fit; the thought of how short the sleeves would be, nevermind the fact that his shoulders would never fit, was an amusing one.

But the following offer made her pause and blink up at him. ... share it? How exactly did he mean sha - oh. Meaning sharing personal space. As in both of them wearing it at the same time. At least that's what she thought he meant, anyway. Thank goodness it was so cold out - the blush the cold brought to her nose and cheeks thankfully hid the blush brought from thinking about... for lack of a better term... snuggling him for warmth in public.

"Are you sure it's big enough?" she asked, a little bit hesitantly, a lot bit unsure.



"Sure it is," he replied, sounding confident. Frankly he felt this proposal was perfectly within the boundaries they'd already reached. Besides, it was yet another something that fit under his earlier request for her to try a few things to help her get used to having someone else in her personal space. And she certainly hadn't minded a couple times before...

Holding open one side, trying not to shiver at being so abruptly exposed to the cold air (seriously, why didn't it snow?), Kureno tried prompting her once more. "But I guess we'll never know if it's big enough for sure until we try, right?"



It wasn't really that they'd have to be snuggling in order to both fit that jacket that bothered her. Well, sure, she was still getting used to it - she didn't mind so much once she realized just how warm he was (seriously, Kureno was like a ninja and a space heater all in one), but... cuddling up under a blanket on his couch while watching television was miles away from cuddling up in his jacket in public.

Asuka stole a glance around them. Despite the fact that the bridge was a perfect place to view the upcoming fireworks, there was no one within easy sight - probably because of the very breeze that was currently turning her into a popsicle. The likelihood that anyone would see them doing this was small, and the chance that anyone would recognize them was probably nil. And anyway, what did she care if anyone saw them? She could do anything she damn well wanted.

...though that was not to say she wanted to deal with the teasing later.

After a long, hesitant moment, she finally stepped closer and within the warm embrace of his jacket. It took a moment of coordination, but eventually they both decided it would work best if she had her back to him, looking out over the river, almost close enough to be leaning against the railing but not quite.

The effect of being wrapped up in the coat was immediate (nevermind mind how close he was, how warm he was, and his arms wrapping the coat around her); the wind chill vanished, which raised the temperature by itself, but the coat itself was also warm, very nicely warm. Even if it didn't immediately end her shivering, it would certainly warm her up soon enough. She worried that the cold of her jacket might initially chill him, but with as warm as he was she doubted it would be a problem for long.

The kunoichi pulled her hands from her pockets to pull the coat a little tighter around, closing the gaps through which cold could seep through. "Thanks," she offered quietly, both enjoying the sensation of being wrapped up in his coat and arms, and being very nervous about someone potentially seeing them right now. It was an awkward feeling.



"You're welcome."

Kureno had to admit there were some reservations still present on his part to being caught being so publicly affectionate. He too, didn't want to deal with the teasing and numerous, "told you so's" that were sure to accompany any sort of official acknowledgment of he and Asuka finally dating. It would surely become inevitable one way or another, but it was hard enough getting her to relax without a good part of the village's eyes on them. Until they were more secure, he preferred keeping a low profile. ...Which may not exactly match his current suggestion to "cuddle" in public, but it wasn't that open an area, and he trusted that between the two of them they'd be able to detect any approach. With all that would be going into making sure they stayed alone, Kureno was just glad by now he didn't have to worry about where he'd be putting his hands.

And not all of his attention went to keeping a lookout. In fact, it took some extra concentration just to make sure a decent amount went into it at all because as soon as they finally situated themselves, and Asuka's cold jacket ceased to chill him, being pressed to her created quite the distraction. Her tugging on the insides of the lapels involuntarily moved him closer, and he was forced to bend down a little to accommodate; also to allow her chin to reach out past a gap instead of letting her get swallowed up by the amount of material.

This had definitely been one of his better bad ideas.



It was difficult to say whether or not this was comfortable. Warm, yes, that was certain, but awkward, and difficult to relax in. Asuka couldn't help but be a little tense at first, precisely because of the public nature of their location. She had to concentrate more on him and less on their surroundings before she could really relax - remembering how comfortable he was when they'd been like this on the couch, the steadying beat of his heart, the rumble in his chest when he spoke. It was nice, really.

But then the first of the fireworks squealed up into the sky, and thankfully there was something else more distracting to pay attention to. And what was a better way to distract a ninja than with something loud, bright, and shiny?

This year, as with every year, the fireworks were their own particular masterpiece, in a way; one could almost imagine they were being set off to soundtrack that orchestrated bursts of light and color. It might very well have been, had they picked one of the actually populated areas to see this. Thunder from the larger explosions rolled across the river, echoing in her chest, and in the rippling water under the bridge could be seen staggered reflections of the light above.

It was almost kinda funny, actually, she reflected after a bit, the fireworks not distracting her nearly enough; Asuka could just imagine what they looked like, her barely peeking between the lapels of his coat, fitting almost perfect under his chin (but the 'almost' could be because he wasn't standing straight...). And he was warm, and the coat smelled nice (like his aftershave), and the rhythm of his breathing lulled her into a calm sort of comfort.

And, well. No one else was coming along. That definite helped her eventually relax back into him, comfortably leaning against him. Eventually, even, it wouldn't be a lie to say she was paying more attention to enjoying his embrace than to the fireworks they had come to see.



The fireworks, though spectacular, weren't quite enough to distract him from Asuka. Nor were they quite enough to stop him from unwittingly remembering how she felt the last time she was this close. Her frame was smaller than he often gave her credit for, and he somehow felt...large when holding her. Stronger too. Like she was something to be treated very gently and delicately. Which was a far cry from how he felt when they sparred together, and in those instances he was busy trying to keep his guts from being spilled onto her knives. But that wasn't the side of Asuka that was capturing his attention now.

Craning his neck skyward had begun making it stiff, so Kureno gently let his chin rest on top of her head. The fireworks were just as pretty reflected in the water, and the effect made him feel like they were surrounded by stars and sky.

How romantic, he thought with a bit of wry amusement and wistfulness.



That Kureno had eventually started relaxing as well wasn't lost on her; in fact, she rather liked that. She always accused him of being more comfortable with the dating thing than she was, even though he insisted that wasn't the case... but in times like these, she liked to feel that he was comfortable with this. Confidence on his end did occasionally give her confidence as well, or at least enough to push past her own hesitations. If all the years of friendship didn't show her she could trust him, then nothing would.

It was also very cute how he rested his chin on her head. Short cracks aside, it felt almost like she fit perfect right where she was.

As another round of fire-crackers raced up into the night sky, her mind kept looping back toward the errant thought that had passed by - that she fit perfectly right where she was. The longer she stood here with him, the more she decided she did like this, and that the fit was perfect - and, truthfully, felt more confident about the possibility of someone seeing them. Honestly, she was practically lost in this jacket. Even if someone DID pass by, who would be able to tell she was in here? Okay, so it would be obvious Kureno was sharing his jacket with someone, but seeing who that someone was wouldn't be easy from a distance. Said hypothetical person would have to walk up to see, and she could always tell them to go fuck off or something. This was her quality New Years Eve time with Kureno, damnit. Enough had screwed up their traditional quality times lately that she wasn't in a mood to have it encroached upon even by friends.

And then Asuka remembered what she had in her jacket pocket, and wondered when would be a good time to pull it out. She had planned on waiting until they'd been back in private again - preferably his place, since she didn't know when Konohako would be coming home - but... why not here? The location had 'atmosphere' after all, and there was no one around to see. It would be incredibly bold and daring on her part (her heart beat a little faster with nerves at the thought), but... she wanted to do it. Maybe it was better to show him now than later. If she did it now, she wouldn't be able to keep putting it off and putting it off until she never took it out of her pocket at all.

She peeked out between the lapels of his jacket, leaning away a little to look out and across the bridge in both directions. There was practically no one in sight, except for a few people waaaaaay over to the side where it was more protected from the wind, and the path on the other side of the bridge curved away too sharply to see anyone. For all extents and purposes they were alone, and those few within sight wouldn't be a problem - if they could see her and Kureno at all.

Now or never, Asuka. Make it good.

Leaning back in, she squirmed around inside the jacket so she could wrap her arms around his waist in a hug. Who cared about the fireworks any more? Kureno was warm, and smelled good, and there was no one to see her hug him, and she did like his hugs. That was more distracting than fireworks in the long run.



Kureno had to be careful about not pulling back too quickly after his balance was disturbed by Asuka doing what he could only guess was a lookout check. He found himself also looking both ways, in case she'd just heard something he missed, but they remained alone. Then she did something he really didn't expect.

Arms loosening around her as he wondered what she was trying to do, he soon had to grab the front of his coat and keep it closed himself when she let go to turn around. Then her arms slid around him and she leaned her head into his chest, and there was no longer a question about what she was doing. Obviously she was trying to make him happy, and very, very, very much succeeding. He didn't think the smile that crept on to his face could've been hidden, and in a way for that reason he was glad Asuka wasn't in an angle to see it. He hugged her back, of course--an encompassing and cherishing type of embrace. He wasn't sure if she'd be able to tell she was simply melting him with this display of affection on her part, but he didn't put it into words just in case she couldn't. He knew he displayed most of the confidence in this relationship--he felt he had to if there was going to exist any at all sometimes--but when she showed some of her own, it made him aware of how much he needed her to. Because sometimes he worried if he was only putting on a show. But no. No, times like this made it real.

And he desperately needed it to be real.

"This needs to be a new part of our holiday traditions, I think," he whispered in her ear, thinking his smile made it sound a little like a laugh.



Warm and comfortable and good-smelling. And distracting; Asuka found herself deciding that one or two more minutes of waiting in this hug wouldn't hurt anything. Like this should could hear his heartbeat, the sound of air in his lungs as he breathed. Even if they were standing out in the freaking cold, she felt she could stay here, just like this, for a while. And on the plus side, it would be even harder to tell she was in his jacket.

The kunoichi only barely heard what he said, due to the fireworks, but between his words on one ear and his chest on the other, she thought she mostly made it out. Standing out in the freezing cold sharing a jacket should be a new holiday tradition? ...she could live with that. In fact, she could definitely live with that. Asuka just smiled and snuggled closer, deciding that was a better response than trying to yell over the fireworks.

Which abruptly stopped with one more resounding crash, leaving them in pounding silence. Somewhere across the city, the bells that had once been used to signal attack slowly tolled the midnight hour, marking down the time to the new year.

Now would be perfect. Asuka slipped one hand into the pocket of her jacket, and stood up on tiptoe so she could dangle the object above his head while still remaining mostly in his jacket, pressed up against him in a half-hug.

It was the piece of mistletoe they'd gotten from the White Birch - a little dried out, a few berries and leaves missing, but otherwise easily identifiable as mistletoe. Dangling right over both of them.

"I like this tradition best," she replied, heart beating fast from nerves, but almost managing to keep those nerves out of her voice. She counted that as a success.



Identifiable it may be, but it still took Kureno a moment to do so, especially as it was elevated out of his immediate view. (Also he remained a little distracted by the disappointment in her suddenly not holding onto him so tightly.) But when he did at last recognize it, the smile on his face only grew, and this time he didn't mind Asuka seeing it when he turned back down to her, bringing his face close to hers and arms wrapping more firmly around her.

"I'll admit, it's a new favorite with me too," he murmured, right before he kissed her.



Mmm, yes. She liked that. She liked that he liked that. The way he held her closer, and definitely the way he kissed her. This was a new tradition she'd be happy to repeat for quite a while.

Asuka responded eagerly, closing her eyes and relishing the taste and sensation of kissing him. Soft, slow, and generous, just how he liked it. How she liked it, too, though to be honest she was slowly becoming impatient with the carefulness of it. Perhaps it was proof that her nervousness was growing less and less every day, that her enjoyment was over-riding the worry. That was probably why she'd decided to bring the mistletoe (though it was honestly on a whim when she'd grabbed it on the way out the door) - because she knew he'd like something like that, and that she would be happy with his being happy. And, well, with his reaction. She'd rather been hoping he'd kiss her after that.

She sighed into the kiss, a happy and content noise, before eventually lowering the mistletoe to wrap her arm around his neck. The other slid up around his neck too, the better to pull him down to her level so she wouldn't have to stand so high on tip-toe, and because she liked the feel of him pressed up against her like that.

When the bells finished tolling the hour, she hardly even noticed.



Best. New Year's. Ever. Those words pretty much summed up how Kureno was feeling about the entire night. Heck, that sentiment could be expanded to the whole holiday season. He'd have to find a way to make this mistletoe tradition a year-round thing. Or at the very least, he had to hope he could turn this kind of kissing into a year-round thing. That would be a year to look forward to if there ever was one.

Kureno didn't count the rings of the bells, but the sudden silence that lingered and ended their pattern gave him some awareness to the time. He didn't take it as a sign to stop right away, of course, but it was the beginning of him thinking about it--it just wasn't thought about long. Every kiss had its course, and he was more than determined to let this one run its own to the end. And when it finally had, he hardly pulled away far enough to allow them to catch their breath (a part of his mind was devoted entirely to studying the enticing way his deep breaths pressed his chest against her), wanting to stay close and hoping to encourage more. But for now he could spare the moment to pause and smile at her eyes.

"Happy New Year," he whispered, and with no fireworks to compete with this time, his words reached her just fine.



Mmmmm. Yes. A very good start to the new year.

"Happy New Year," she murmured back, only a little disappointed that the kiss had ended, but happy enough to rub noses with him in the meantime. And it wasn't like it was entirely a loss; she still got to cuddle up close to him inside his jacket, and his eyes were especially pretty when seen up close. "Decide what your resolution is yet?"



"Didn't we just talk about those back at the Birch?" he chuckled, but supposed he'd better also come up with a less-evasive reply. Trouble was Kureno couldn't tell if Asuka was distracting him away from more kissing, or if she were serious and this was his chance to say something clever and romantic. ...Better safe than sorry. Kureno lifted his eyes skyward without moving his head, clearly giving her question more thought. He amused himself a little by watching the clouds of smoke left behind by the fireworks waft and lazily dissolve into the cold night air.

They had talked about their resolutions (along with other typical end-of-the-year topics) at the Birch but neither had gotten far. It wasn't too unusual for them not to have their goals ready--even for him, who always seemed to check-list things like this. Kureno wasn't much of one to find the New Year a particularly special occasion to make goals; if you wanted to do something, start on it then and there, don't wait. Asuka was much the same. So they'd skimmed over the topic at the bar, more resolved to come up with a resolution over the course of a few days than meet whatever they said they'd do. After that kiss however, Kureno had to admit he was suddenly feeling...inspired.

Not that she had to know that. Looking back down into her eyes for a moment, Kureno grinned not in the most innocent of ways and leaned in to the portion of her cheek directly by her ear. "Dunno," he said quietly, letting his lips move against her skin as he spoke before pressing them gently there. "Any suggestions?"



Asuka shivered, and it wasn't entirely from the cold. He'd gotten that evil look again, the kind that she'd learned meant he was up to mischief - usually in the form of teasing her with sexual innuendos til she had to practically smack him to get her composure back. This time, though, she had a feeling he had more on his mind that just innuendo.

She tried to think of innocent goals just then. No, seriously, she really did. Kureno's lips by her ear and breath on her neck just didn't make it easy. More like a losing battle.

Goals, goals, goals. Something that would be good for - oh, duh.

"Resolve to get out of your office more," she said after a minute, and if her voice was a little husky, it was because of the cold. The kunoichi cleared her throat and continued in a more normal voice. "Change your work-fun ratio to something less like eighty-twenty and more like fifty-fifty. Or resolve to have at least one vacation this year - a real vacation, not a week off and you still bring paperwork home with you. Or... or resolve to get drunk. .... can you get drunk?"



He huffed and chuckled against her jaw. Of course she would eventually think up something like that. "I'm not going to resolve to get drunk," he deadpanned. "...And yes, I can. I have. No, I'm not telling you anything about what happened when I did."

Kureno began speaking against her neck, just below the ear now. "And what is it with you thinking I never have enough fun? If you're really that concerned about it, I have a couple suggestions myself..."



Innocent thoughts. Innocent thoughts, Asuka. Goals and New Year Resolutions that did not involve him nibbling down her neck or any of a hundred suggestions that were abruptly coming to mind right now. And it was really only half the innuendo that had her breath suddenly short and her heart speeding up; the rest very much had to do with a warm body pressed up against her and arms wrapped around her waist and a very teasing mouth speaking against her neck.

It would be easy to discourage this. All she had to do was back off, stand back on her heels, pull her arms from around his neck. Step out of the warm embrace of his jacket and voila, instant mood killer. Only she really didn't want to do that. Only she did. A strange kind of nervous excitement hummed through her, conflicting her, tying up her tongue until the only thing she could say was exactly the thing she knew she shouldn't say. But she walked right into that trap anyway.

".... what?" Asuka asked, voice definitely husky this time.



And Kureno had to pause (yet he didn't pull away) at hearing that, because he'd certainly hadn't expected her to actually ask. The implication seemed pretty clear, and her usual response to such thus far had been of one nature: an embarrassed change of subject. To have her suddenly even approach it caught him off guard, and he had to think if he really dared to answer her truthfully. On the one hand, mentioning it may put an end to the current mood and closeness, leaving just an awkward humiliation behind. His pride would take a hit to be sure, and the entire night could end on a bad note. ...On the other hand, it could end on a wonderful one too. And it wasn't like his ego hadn't been bruised by her multiple times before, whether purposely or not. This way at least she'd know he wasn't just teasing her all the time, that the matter was serious to him as well.

Perhaps he owed her that. Or at the very least, owed it to himself.

Pressing his face a little more into her neck, he whispered with a mixture of hesitance and apprehension, "...You could spend the night with me."



That's what she thought he'd say. And yet, even though she was expecting it, the words still gave her a thrill of both hunger and fear.

Off to her right, the sounds of footsteps and laughter echoing across the bridge signaled the approach of the people she'd seen earlier. There wasn't anymore adrenaline to spike, though - it had already spiked as far as it could three minutes ago - so rather than freaking and pulling away from Kureno so they wouldn't be seen hugging, she just buried her face against his shoulder. This way they'd just look like any other couple hugging on the bridge, and hopefully the passersby would pass by without comment.

They did. Not without hushed giggles, but pass by they did. And as they did, Asuka breathed shallowly against his neck, hands fisting in the back of his shirt, and tried to decide what to do. It was hard to think, to make a decision, between the nerves that said no and the hormones that said hell yes; maybe it was a blessing that those people passed when they did, as it gave her more time to wrestle her brain into some kind of order.

If she wanted to be technical, he hadn't answered her question - spending the night with him was not a New Years Resolution. But that was changing the subject and not answering the question. And... while a part of her did still want to run away... a larger part of her didn't. Really didn't. Really really didn't. After all, that part of her said, it wasn't like they had to have sex. She could stop it at any point she felt she couldn't progress past, right?

The sounds of the other people faded off to the left, and eventually they fell back into silence. There was only the sounds of the river, the breeze, and her unsteady, hushed breathing.

"..... okay."



While glad Asuka didn't jump away from him as the strangers passed (hiding in plain sight was a good tactic, and he could definitely get used to it this way...), Kureno wasn't happy about the interruption. It forced her their attention away from each other, and he'd noticed Asuka tended to back out of anything intimate the moment her mind had time to wrap itself around the fact. Not that he was trying to seduce her, he just wanted to... Well alright, he was seducing her. And he wanted to finally succeed, dammit, and this felt like the closest he'd gotten her to being so when those people came along and ruined--

"..... okay."

What?

For a moment Kureno dreaded he'd just imagined he'd heard her say that out of wanting it so bad. But... He slowly--so very slowly--pulled back enough to look at her face, heedless of the wonderment on his own. She had said it. He could tell just by looking at her now. She'd actually consented. Said yes. Agreed. Undoubtedly knowing what he'd meant.

...It was unbelievable. So much so, Kureno's first reaction afterward was to ask her if she was sure, but he bit the words back, afraid asking them would suddenly change everything, would take away this opportunity. This chance. He didn't want to say it aloud, lest it put too much doubt in her mind. So instead he just asked it with his eyes. Because she had to know by now he'd wait for her; that he wanted her to be ready.

If she wanted to protest and change her mind, she could do it at any time and on her own. He trusted her that far. So after a couple of wordless minutes had passed, Kureno brought a hand up and tugged one of hers free from his back so he could hold it between them. "...Should we go then?" he said softly. "It's probably only a matter of time before more people start passing over this bridge."



It was hard to hold his gaze when he pulled away to look at her. In fact, Asuka would have much rather he let her continue hiding against his shoulder, but she could understand him wanting to confirm. Would have been nicer if he'd actually asked out loud, though; then she could have broken the nervous tension with a crack about how she'd just kick him out to the couch if he snored.

... he looked so surprised. But... somewhere under that, also happy.

She let him take her hand, wrapping her smaller fingers around his own, and just nodded wordlessly. It was easier not to say anything, because if she kept her mouth shut she couldn't stammer and give away how nervous she was. (Well, give away more than what her expression was probably giving away.) Man, she could use a stiff drink right around. Damn Kureno and his requirement of sobriety.



Before he moved them, Kureno paused and began shrugging himself out of his coat, letting go of her hand only for as long as it took to shake the sleeve off the arm, then he reclaimed it immediately. It was cold out. Very cold out, and he tried not to hunch his shoulders and shrink at the exposure when the air hit his back. It had been so warm underneath his coat, especially with Asuka sharing it. But if anything was going to be a sobering mood-killer, the cold was. And he didn't want to give Asuka any extra excuse to back out than the ones she already had to deal with in her mind. He wanted this; cold weather wasn't going to change his mind in the least. Therefore, of the two of them, Asuka was the one in greater need of the insulation than he.

...He could wait to get back into her arms though.

Making sure she was well situated inside the coat and still holding her hand, Kureno endeavored not to shiver as they walked back to his home, keeping himself warmed by the possibilities that awaited them there.

Comments

...The next morning...

Promptly at five-thirty in the morning, like it had done many mornings before it, Kureno's alarm clock began its ritual buzzing. The first mechanized trills made him twitch but by the fourth his eyes shot (halfway) open and he sat himself up to turn it off. ...Except he wasn't sleeping on his back like usual, he had to roll over. Odd. And his arms were currently twined around something very soft and warm which didn't take him long to identify, it had just been a long time since he'd woken up with someone; it disoriented him a bit, which consequently woke him up more. (Mornings never were his best hour until post-coffee treatment.)

The clock was shut off in mid-cry, and Kureno scowled at it for faithfully doing its work, but his alarm clock already knew it was a thankless job and didn't pay him any mind. One of his hands was still trapped under the other form in his bed, so he used the free one to rub his eyes before using them to look down. He was and wasn't surprised to see Asuka. Something in him remembered she'd stayed at his home the night before, and while it hadn't gone entirely as planned when he'd taken her there (as was evidenced by them both still wearing clothes), it hadn't been a frustrating experience at all... A smaller part of him, however, was amazed to find it hadn't all been merely a very good dream. Months of patiently coaxing her actually working, the proof of success before him with Asuka blearily searching for him without letting herself fully wake up.

His own sleep-dusted eyes made his smile look tired, but it was genuine all the same. "Sorry," he said, free hand finding one of hers that she was using to look for him. "I forgot about turning it off."
She latched onto him with the lack of coordination evident in mostly-still-asleep people, eyes trying (and failing) to completely open and peer back at him. The sound of his alarm going off hadn't completely woken her, instead choosing to slip into her dream and somehow becoming the voice of a news caster she was watching on TV. (Why she was dreaming of news, she'd never figure out.) The feel of him rolling away from her, though, had been what had tipped her over the edge into wakefulness, and now Asuka was currently trying to figure out where he was, what was going on, and why it felt like she had only just closed her eyes. How late had they stayed up last night?

"Whuzzit?" she mumbled, throat husky with sleep. She didn't really care what whuzzit was, just as long as it meant he could come back under the blankets and they could go back to sleep.
He chuckled in his throat, not sure if her thrown-about hair and frumpled camisole looked cute to him because he was tired, or if she was just genuinely adorable. He supposed it ultimately didn't matter and bent down to kiss her forehead, tempted to linger down there with her where it was nice and warm and cozy... But reluctantly (although with self-made determination), Kureno slipped away from her and scooted over to the edge of the bed to get up and begin his morning routine--even if he had stayed up until who-knows-when. All he could truly fully grasp then was that his coffee pot had been waiting for him for three minutes now and he'd never kept it waiting before.

"Gotta get up," he told Asuka when she made a small whine and complaint about his leaving, which had also been cute.
"Mmmmmm," she complained when he pulled away, and flopped back onto the bed when he got out of reach. Uuuuurghnnnnn.... what time was it? Why was he getting up? It was dark out still, couldn't be morning. Not really morning, sun-rise morning. That mean he should still be in bed and be a warm, cuddly presence at her back.

Nnnnnngh. Getting up was a no. Maybe he was just going to the bathroom or something. Yeah, that was probably it. He'd be back in just a minute...

Asuka rolled over into the warm spot he'd left behind, buried her face in his pillow, and promptly fell back asleep.
Perhaps it should have occurred to Kureno to ask himself why he needed to get up, but it didn't until long after he'd shuffled down his hallway (hissing at the cold floorboards), into his kitchen (cursing at the cold tile), and poured himself a cup of coffee. Although, even if that question had popped into his mind sooner, sheer instinct would have continued to follow routine until the caffeine woke him up enough to contemplate larger issues. ...Like why he'd gotten up today at his alarm clock.

True, even on normal days off he'd still get up at the buzzer so as not to disrupt the habits he'd ingrained into himself, always able to find something to do. But today was not a normal day off (and not even a complete one, he had some rather boring patrol duty scheduled for the afternoon). Today--this morning specifically--was very special. This morning he'd had been wrapped around Asuka, who had been unhappy with his leaving her all alone in his bed. Yet like an idiot that's exactly what he'd done, and for what? What exactly was he possibly planning to do this morning that was more tempting--no, more important than heading right back into that bed and tangling himself all up with her again? Nothing, that's what. And that concluded, Kureno put down his empty mug and marched straight back to his--

Wait. Surely there had to be some kind of opportunity here... While still tired, Kureno had unfortunately just done a rather good job at waking himself up. Enough so, anyhow, that falling back asleep likely wouldn't happen for another hour or so. And although he wasn't opposed to the idea of being fully aware of how bundled up he was to Asuka, the fact that it was the first day of the new year made him wonder if there wasn't anything a little more special he could do...

When a satisfactory idea struck him, Kureno moved back to the pot and poured a second mug of coffee. Half a minute later, he had successfully brought it back to his bedroom without spilling any (which for his still-morning mind was pretty good), and set it down on his nightstand before sitting down next to the woman under the blankets. Not wanting to make her awakening an abrupt experience, Kureno softly shook her shoulder (keeping his head at a distance however, lest her reflexes kick in before her other senses and she backhand him in her sleep).

"Asuka, wake up."
Under normal circumstances, Asuka had a 'plan' in mind for what she would do on waking. Like if she knew she was heading in to work the next day, she'd wake up a few minutes before the alarm even went off and be up and ready to go in about an hour. If she were out on the field and knew there was a potential for danger, she'd only really nap, too alert for danger to fall too deeply asleep. When she didn't have a plan, though - when she went to bed without any intention of getting up any time soon - waking up had to be the most difficult thing to do ever.

The extra bit of sleep she'd gotten after Kureno had wandered off for his morning fix had helped, but she still remained remarkably incoherent at her second waking. She knew she'd gone to bed with Kureno; knew this was his bed; knew that it was still dark, so therefore it couldn't possibly be morning yet. Why was Kureno trying to wake her up then?

"S'okay?" she slurred as she pushed herself up onto one elbow, the other still tucked under the pillow she'd claimed. Nnngh, it was cold out there. No one in their right mind would be out there unless something wasn't right.

Did something smell like coffee?

Aww, he's being romantic~

"Everything's fine, nothing's wrong," he assured her, retrieving the mug and ready to hand it to her if she'd just sit up a little more. There was a mixed tone of mild anxiousness and hope in his voice as he continued. "It just occurred to me that the first sunrise of the year's about to take place in the next twenty minutes or so, and...well, since you're here... I thought maybe we could watch it together from the roof. Just you and me."

Save the romantics until AFTER the coffee

Nothing's wrong. He just wanted her to get up, in the cold, to climb up on the roof and watch the sunrise with him.

Asuka flopped face first back into the pillow.

But only for a minute. The longer she was awake (if not coherent), the better her brain functioned (if it could be called functioning), and what little part of her that wasn't longing to go back to sleep could see how that was sweet. A little much to be asking for her to do in the first twenty minutes after waking up, but sweet. The rest of her wondered what it would take to get him to crawl back into bed with her without her having to get out of bed and watch the sun rise first.

The coffee he held in his hands ended up being a sufficient lure. After only a moment she rolled onto her side and slowly pushed herself into a seated position, loose hair floofy from sleeping on it and one strap of her camisole slipped from off her shoulder. Maaaaan, it was cold. She could practically feel the goosebumps hopping off her skin.

"Coffee." The request was mumbled but would be obvious even if Kureno couldn't understand her when she held her hands out for the mug of delicious, steaming life. Conversation would be limited until she got a cup of that into her. Frankly, movement would be limited until she got a cup of that into her - or a good shot of adrenaline, but unless an army broke down the door in the next five minutes she doubted she could count on that to get her moving.

Fine, new rule. Coffee then romance.

To be honest, her initial reaction wasn't surprising and not even a great deal disappointing. He could content himself to just climb back under the covers with her, but...if she were up to taking advantage of the opportunity, he wanted to take it. So he sat there wondering if he should drink the coffee in his hands himself, or just let it go cold. Much as he hated to waste coffee, drinking it would just wake him up more, and if he were going to curl up with her again, he'd rather have a notion of laziness lest his alert mind start coming up with plenty of other ideas she may not be up to either.

But then she sat up and took the mug, making the effort to wake herself, perhaps if only to indulge him in his request. The idea she would do such a thing for him made his chest feel light; and the inviting memory of her skin provoked by her bare shoulder made his heart pick up an extra beat or two. It was kind of evened out by finding her morning face more than a little endearing.

...Oh crap, he hadn't thought about his own morning appearance. He hadn't done anything to it yet, his hair must look a mess.

Self-consciously combing a hand through his dark hair, Kureno was glad he'd shaved just yesterday and at his growth rate, wouldn't have to worry about it for another day. He got up from the bed under the excuse he was going to find her something warmer to wear, sneaking a glance at himself in a mirror while he was up, attempting to make acceptable fixes to his features without the aid of any professional tool. By the time she'd finished the coffee, he'd brought her back one of his own sweaters, hers having only just been put in the dryer some minutes ago. In hindsight he probably should have kept it separate from the laundry that had needed washing, instead of just throwing it in because she'd handed it to him with everything else. Too late now. On the plus side, he had a feeling he'd like the way she looked wearing some of his things.

"Need anything else?" he inquired, feeling exceptionally willing to wait upon her as she needed right now.
Mmmm. Coffee. The stuff of life. Asuka took the mug of it carefully in both hands when it was offered to her, and spent a good portion of her time just cradling it to her chest and letting the scent and steam both warm and wake her.

This was not to say she was yet approaching civility when he came back; the coffee puddling in her stomach had its work cut out for it. But she was considerably more alert than ten minutes previously, and more acclimated to the cold. Or, well, she was from the waist up. Good thing she'd gone to bed with her socks on?

"S'cold out," she pointed out in her unique just-woke-up language, setting aside the empty mug on the bedside table to accept the sweater. Mmm, thick fluffy sweater that smelled like Kureno. She hugged it gratefully to her chest. But would this and sweatpants be enough? If it was windy like it was last night, she'd turn into an icicle long before the sun finished rising. Additional warmth was definitely going to be needed. "More coffee?"
He probably should have known she'd need more than one cup; he'd needed more than one himself. Kureno nodded and took her mug, but paused a few steps from the bed. He detoured to his dresser, pulling out a pair of jeans before vanishing back down the hall again. There was no denying it was cold outside, so some extra layering for himself would do him some good. He couldn't think of anything that would fit Asuka, however, so just letting her keep a blanket or two was going to have to do. That, and more coffee, of course.

The rest of the pot was poured into a thermos, as he found that a more brilliant idea than just trying to jump to the roof with a full mug. (Completely possible for ninja of their caliber, but not the best idea this early in the morning.) Pants pulled on over his pajamas (ooh, just a little cold there; stupid drafty house), he returned and handed her the thermos before getting another sweater for himself to wear over the thinner, cotton one he'd worn to bed. Then left to grab their shoes and two extra blankets, holding one out for her in a way that made it clear he intended to wrap her in it when she put her shoes on and got up out of bed.

"Ready?" They probably had another eight or ten minutes to go now.
"Mm," she agreed once she'd strapped both shoes on. Peeling back the blankets to get out of bed had caused more goosebumps to rise up in objection, but the sweater was as nice and fluffy as it looked and aided in the warming-up-thing almost immediately. She hoped it wasn't windy outside. Even with the two blankets he was bringing along, she wasn't sure how warm it'd be out there.

...well, okay, maybe it would be enough with the blanket. Kureno wrapped it around her and she pulled it tight around her, making her look like more like a little kid not wanting to go out in the cold. Which really wasn't that far from the truth, but she'd have Kureno and coffee and blankets. Maybe that would be enough?

"You hold the coffee," she said, and began to shuffle out the door. With her luck she'd drop it trying to climb up on the roof, and then she'd have to make the trip twice. That would suck.
Kureno hadn't been sure how able she'd be, but only because she looked rather weak just then with her small and sluggish movements. But apparently she still had enough confidence in herself to move on her own, so he'd trust her as well. He'd just also keep an eye on her.

There was a sliding, paper door along one wall of his bedroom that led into the back of the house, a feature that both interested and annoyed Kureno. On the one hand, it was nice to have such ready access without wandering through the entire house. On the other, it was sometimes the source of the draft in his room. But going back to the first hand, occasionally it was a very relaxing and gratifying thing to be able to open the door and have a rather nice scenic view immediately before you. Granted, it was still dark when he opened the door, but enough light from the east made the forest-like backyard of his visible, particularly when glancing off of the low-lying mist that tended to roll across the grass at this hour and season. While some of its novelty had worn off on Kureno by now, sometimes it still struck him as such a different environment than the one he'd had when living further in the village, cramped up in an apartment complex. It had that effect with him right now, in fact, perhaps just for the simple fact that he was looking at it with Asuka now.

...Although, it probably just looked cold and gray to her. It was a little hard to tell when her face was still scrunched up for want of more sleep and warmer surroundings. At least the air was still, if also rather icy. Kureno looked up at the roof, trying to measure the jump more for a sleepy Asuka's sake than his own.

"It's probably a little wet up there," he warned. "The dew comes a little stronger here. ...I could carry you up there if you want. You still look pretty tired is all."
Asuka gave him a look. One that said, in no uncertain terms, that she'd break a finger if he tried to carry her up there. And it would definitely be his dominant hand, the better to keep him from working. And then he'd have to stay home for it to heal up, and she'd have to stop in every evening to make sure he was doing alright and...

No, bad thoughts. Will not do that strictly on principle, breaking boyfriend's finger to make him stay home from work and spend more time with you was not part of a healthy relationship.

"I c'n do it," she ended up muttering (stupid brain giving her bad ideas), and stepped out into the yard.

Damn good thing she'd put her shoes on; the grass was wet and heavy with dew, and even if it hadn't froze last night it sure felt like the weather had given it a good go. Would not have been pleasant to step out in it barefoot (or socked for that matter; definitely would be worse in just socks). At gaging the roof, she could see why it might be slippery - all those old-fashioned tiles combined with dew would not make a pleasant combination. In fact, it was probably going to soak right through the blanket and into the sweatpants and then she'd be stuck with a cold butt all day. Although after the sunrise was over and she could coax him back inside, maybe they could take a shower and -

Damnit, brain! Asuka scowled internally. Concentrate on waking up and jumping onto the roof without breaking a leg, damnit!

In the end, she was able to make it up on her first try, even if the blanket around her shoulders made it a little awkward (and no doubt silly looking). The roof was damp, but not as badly as she'd figured, and unlike the last time she'd been up here (man, ages ago) it didn't look like there were any loose or broken tiles. That was good. No more sliding incidents.

As soon as Kureno made it up and settled down, Asuka sat beside him and cuddled up against him for warmth.
He'd subconsciously stepped back when she gave him that look. It had just been an honest, simple offering. She didn't have to look like she was going to bite his head off or break a finger or something. Guess she was still waking up.

Kureno handed her the coffee back and made room for her between his legs so that he could hold her like he had on the bridge the night before, except now they were sitting. But he figured this would help keep her the most warm, wrapped in a sweater and a blanket, with him and the other blanket wrapped around that. And it seemed he was right to figure so when she fit herself rather contently inside, causing him to grin just slightly.

"Shouldn't be too much longer now," he whispered in her ear, watching intently to the light growing in the east, glad it wasn't a very cloudy morning and it should allow them to see when the sun finally came up over the treetops.
Better not be. While her butt hadn't gotten as wet as she'd thought it might, the roof tiles were still freezing cold, and the blanket/ sweatpants combination didn't completely shield her from it. False dawn had already gotten underway, but she couldn't tell how long ago it had started; it was funny how bright the world could get some mornings long before the sun actually came up over the horizon. However long it had been, though, it wasn't enough to warm the morning up any. At least there wasn't a breeze.

As designated holder of the coffee, she hugged it to her stomach under the blankets, grumping and wishing it was a little less insulated so she could steal some warmth from the liquid inside. But the longer she sat there, the more comfortable she got - the tiles warmed up beneath her, the little pocket of air under their blankets not getting blown away by errant winds. Kureno was just as ridiculously warm as he'd been the night before, and while the blankets might not have done as good a job as his jacket, they still worked okay. Eventually she no longer needed to repress the urge to shiver and could settle more comfortably against him. (Which was, compared to before, very comfortably indeed.)

There was only one bad thing about sitting on a roof top to watch the first sunrise of the year, cuddled up with your boyfriend after maybe three hours of sleep the night before due to very-approved-of makeouts (if not actually sex) - it made a person want to go back to sleep. Especially once she started warming up again. Asuka vainly fought the urge to doze, if only to make sure she didn't drop the coffee.
Noticing how she clutched the coffee instead of using it to help wake herself up further, Kureno couldn't help leaning his head further forward, trying to look at her. "Aren't you going to drink any?" he asked.
She started a little at the question, then fiddled uncertainly with the coffee. Honestly, she'd forgotten about it for a moment; mornings were definitely not her best. But more importantly, there was a quandary of drinking versus not drinking. If she poured a cup it would get cold in no time short, but if she didn't pour a cup it would still get cold anyway plus she wouldn't wake up further or have that heat to help warm her up. On the other hand, if she didn't drink it she wouldn't need to let cold air under the blankets, but if she did it wouldn't matter because the coffee would be hot. Oh, decisions, decisions...

After a moment she gave him a sheepish sideways look, a murmured, "Forgot," and then unscrewed the top to pour some into the attached cup. It steamed heavily in the cold air, and swiftly warmed the small plastic cup. It didn't have sugar or cream or anything, just straight bitter black coffee, but it did wonders for continuing to warm her - and wake her.

The sun slowly but steadily continued rising in the east. Small streamers of clouds, what few there were, caught the light and reflected hues of pink and orange, spots of color against the brighting blue sky. Over head and behind them the sky was still dark and littered with stars, fading night in contrast with morning. Asuka eventually finished her coffee but didn't pour more, choosing to lean back against Kureno and tuck her head under his chin, dozing and listening to his breathing and yes, watching the sunrise, though it was hardly what kept the most of her attention.

After a time, she sighed a contented sigh and said quietly, "Thanks."
"Thank you," he murmured back into her ear, because really, she was the one really doing him the favor of indulging to this whim of his. But it had been worth it, probably even for her. The sunrise, her warm back, and the way he could smell her hair and skin even better out here in the clean, cold air made him very much at peace with...well, everything. It didn't matter to him right now how they got here and everything it took to do so--particularly these past few months. All that matter was that they were there, and happy to be so. His arms tightened around her, finding her waist and hanging on to it as the dawn began to lose more and more of its original splendor and turned into simple daybreak. Kureno pressed his cheek against her hair.

"I have to leave around 2 o'clock today for a 6 hour patrol round. Until then however, I'm pretty much at your leisure. Any other special New Year thing you'd like to do this morning?"
At her leisure for another... oh, six hours? Maybe even more?

Asuka bit her lip and tried to wave away the immediate, not entirely clean thoughts that decided to suggest themselves. Unfortunately, though, other than loafing she didn't really know of anything much to do. Sadly, she didn't exactly have much she did in her spare time that wasn't training or something related. And once she was back inside, she really didn't feel like leaving again until it had warmed up, so going out wasn't really something she wanted to do. Honestly, even after the coffee, all she really wanted do was...

She turned her head and rubbed her cheek against his shoulder, one hand resting on his through the blanket. "Let's go back to bed."
There was a soft chuckle by her temple, short but amused. Figured. Unless she meant...nah. She still looked like she wanted to sleep, but he guessed he couldn't blame her. Even the part of him that had woken up on sheer habit was thinking he could still do with another couple hours of rest. Especially if it was curled up back in bed with her.

"Fair enough," he said, but didn't move right away. It was gonna feel cold again the minute they let go of each other and headed down, which was a feeling he was hesitant to experience right now. But there was the promise of using her to warm back up soon after, although he was warm(ish) now, but...

With a somewhat regretful sigh, he loosened his arms around her waist. "Shall we, then?"
They slipped off the roof, thankfully deliberately and not accidentally, and did not get hurt or rip anything. (Although the blankets did end up dirty where they'd rubbed against the roof, but that was probably to be expected.) Inside it was delightfully warm, at least in comparison to what they had just left, and Asuka trundled down the hall to help him with the blankets. He was such a neat freak, she reflected; honestly, if it had been her blankets she probably would have just tossed them in the corner in favor of immediately climbing into bed. Noooo, Kureno had to make sure they got washed first. Some day she should shove him in the mud just to see what kind of fit he might have over that...

The blankets washed, her clothes retrieved from the drier (though she made no move to change), the thermos of coffee left in the fridge, her shoes put away, and as far as Asuka was concerned, there was nothing left between her and bed. Except Kureno, but if he'd tried to stop her she would have just dragged him along with her.
Quite honestly, Kureno hadn't really expected her to come along and help at all, and he made a few comments to let her know she was welcome to go back to bed without him, he'd be joining her soon enough. But nope, she just shuffled close to him, handing him a couple of things whether predicted or asked for, and generally feeling something like a helpful shadow. It was rather adorable, but she seemed to be that in the morning. Perhaps it was just taking a personal delight in sharing a new side of her--and himself as well.

When everything was put into an order of sorts, Kureno was glad to let her have his hand and "drag" him back to the bedroom. He sat down on the edge he'd previously crawled out of before and entertained the thought or two about setting his alarm for noon. But surely he wouldn't sleep that long, so the idea was just too silly to put any action to. Still, he didn't know how much longer Asuka would sleep, and he was half-awake, so even if he snoozed a little longer, he might be up before her. Maybe he should get a book or something, if just to help him sleep or in bed. And maybe he should have set the coffee machine to go off again in another few hours. What did he have to make a good breakfast anyway? Did he have enough sugar? Asuka liked sugar in her coffee, maybe he should check...

Kureno thought as he sat on the bed, not entirely aware that Asuka had finished settling in and was waiting for him.
Mmmm, bed. Finally. Despite two cups of coffee and probably an hour of being awake, Asuka was more than ready to go right back to sleep. It was New Years Day, a day off, dangit; that meant sleeping in, being lazy, and general enjoying not having to do anything.

She peeled off the sweater Kureno had loaned her before getting into bed, tossing it on top of the covers since it could get some use later without needing washing. This time it didn't seem so awkward to just crawl in under the sheets - perhaps because she was sleepy, but more likely because last night had been a good experience. It wasn't her bed, no, but if she was invited in it she felt no need to hesitate anymore. Especially not if he was in it.

Which he wasn't. She could only see part of his profile, but after a minute of being all cuddled up in the sheets without him coming to join her, it was fairly clear to her that he had his thinking face on. Tch. What was there to think about?

Asuka pushed herself back up onto her knees and scooted over behind him, so she could wrap her arms around his waist and rest her cheek against the back of his shoulder. ...mmm. Actually, he'd make a pretty good pillow even like this. Though it would be nicer if they were horizontal rather than vertical.

If this didn't work, she'd just have to start chewing on his neck next.
A little too late Kureno felt her coming up behind and realized she was probably coming to retrieve him. He expected her to yank on his collar or sleeve however, not slip her arms under his for a hug. Of course he was grateful to be wrong, but it did surprise him to an extent. A happy surprise. One of many more, he hoped.

With a grin, he put his arms overs hers, leaning slightly back into her. "Sorry. Lost in a little thought there."
She straighted to nuzzle the back of his neck, enjoying the way he smelled and the warmth of his back. "You can think under the covers, too. Come lay down."
There was a smugness in his grin now that was perhaps best Asuka didn't see. So much for her not being comfortable or used to touching much yet. Amazing what a little extra intimacy in a relationship could do. He hoped this wasn't just her still-sleepy mind provoking confidence in contact; he'd hate to get the wrong impression about what the new limits were (which he also hoped weren't too many more). But doubting she was up for a talk that would establish their mutual understanding, Kureno just contented himself with what she wanted now, saving such chatter for breakfast perhaps.

There was a bit of shifting as he laid down, not wanting her to let go of him--something she seemed to agree with. His arm was brought over her head and came around her shoulders so she could still keep her arms wrapped around him as he laid on his back, her cuddling up at his side. This was nice. As much as he'd liked holding her through the night, he was much more used to sleeping on his back than his side. This way he could have the comforts of both.

"So," he said once they were both settled, "am I supposed to be wishing you a good night or a good morning now?"
This was... remarkably nice. One arm draped over his stomach, the other curled against her chest, her head pillowed on his shoulder. She could hear his heartbeat even like this, and the calming sensation of his chest rising and falling with each breath would swiftly lull her to sleep. Discovering how nice this was, Asuka sleepily decided, was a present all on its own. She just hoped the peacefulness of sleeping like this would last even when she wasn't exhausted. But that was a thought for another night.

" 'night," she murmured, tightening her arm around him briefly in a hug. Mmm... the sooner he stopped talking, the faster she could fall back asleep...