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After a few moments, Toko was the first to speak.

“W-Wow, Master… I don’t think I’ve ever… f-felt that good in my life…” She sighed between breaths.

Byakuya didn’t correct her on his name this time. Instead, he reluctantly retracted his fingers from between her legs and sat up.

“Yes, well, I told you I was good at pleasuring women, b-but you should be grateful that I went back on my word and decided to actually do something to you. I was supposed to be the King, remember?” His voice was stern, cold. It made her smile falter.

“O-Oh… Right… Yeah… I r-really appreciate it…” She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and sat up. She reached over to the nightstand to retrieve her glasses, fixing them on her face. With her eye-sight back, she glanced over toward her lover, who was sitting on the edge of the bed with his back to her. She couldn’t help but notice the tension in his shoulders.

Byakuya wasn’t sure how to proceed. They had… done it. Now what? It’s not like they were at their own respective places and could send one another away. They had this room for the night.

Were they supposed to share the bed or was she still going to sleep in the chair for the night? If they did share the bed, would they both sleep naked or would they get dressed first? What about cuddling? No doubt, she’d want to do that, but would he? What about after they wake up? How would they move on from this?

Could they move on from this?

Could he?

His thought process was interrupted by the loud sound of his stomach growling. With red cheeks, he clutched his abdomen uncomfortably.

Behind him, Toko was adjusting her bra back onto herself.

“Hungry?”

“M’fine.”

“Y-You really should eat.”

“Don’t tell me what to do.”

His icy tone caused her brows to furrow. She held up her hands as if to calm him, but he wouldn’t even look at her, “I’m s-sorry… I wasn’t trying to…” She bit her lip and glanced at the clock on the nightstand. It wasn’t too late for dinner, “Th-There’s a restaurant down the road, m-maybe we could—”

“I’m not leaving,” He wouldn’t even let her finish. It wasn’t because he wasn’t hungry and that dining out didn’t sound good, it was that he didn’t want to be seen out with her.

With how their night had gone, there’s no doubt that people would see them together and assume they were romantically-involved. Toko would probably exchange far too many flirty glances and cling all over him and Byakuya… well, Byakuya probably wouldn’t have the strength to stop her.

He winced at the thought of going out on a date with her and enjoying himself. God, what the fuck was wrong with him? He spent years hating her, the way she followed him around, her borderline obsession with him being a constant thorn in his side.

Why the fuck was he thinking about her like that? Why did he want to kiss her? And hold her? And sleep with her? Why did he never want this night to end?

She had spent years trying to win him over. Had she won?

Byakuya wished he had time, to ignore her, let these initial feelings of… blegh… puppy-love subside. He only felt this because they had made lo— had sex and that’s it. She hadn’t won a single thing.

The feeling of her arms wrapping around him and her lips kissing the back of his neck felt… far too warm.

“Byakuya…”

“Don’t call me that.”

“Wh-Why not?”

He forced himself to stand, leaving her alone, half-dressed, rejected on the bed behind him.

“Wh-Where are you going?” She called out to him.

“Shower.”

“Bya— Master, wai—”

But he was long gone, bathroom door once again slammed in her face, followed shortly by the sound of the tub running again.

Toko sighed, swallowing back tears.

“I’m sorry…” She whispered to no one. I’m sorry.

On the other side of the door, Byakuya stepped into the shower. He didn’t care that the water wasn’t warm yet. Any sort of physical discomfort was better than the unfamiliar fluttering in the pit of his stomach. He pressed his head against the tile wall and clenched his eyes shut.

It felt like an eternity, just standing there under the running water, thinking. Maybe… Just maybe the water would wash away everything: All of the memories of that night, all of the intrusive images of Toko that were not inherently platonic, everything. He cranked up the heat until it was scalding, letting it burn his skin.

He wanted to scream. He felt like he was losing himself, everything he had built himself up to be, all because of one woman. He was supposed to be strong, resilient, but his heart was mere putty in her hands.

Byakuya clenched his hands into fists and cursed, “Fuck…” Digging crescent-shaped indents into his palms with his nails, he cursed once more, “Fuck!”

He wondered if she had heard him out there, if she knew what was going through his mind. She had been able to tear down his walls and read him like a book thus far, who’s to say she wasn’t celebrating her victory right now?

Worrying his bottom lip between his teeth, he glanced down at his feet. He watched the way the water spiraled before sinking down the drain. He was so embarrassed. He wished she could melt and float down the drain as well so that he wouldn’t have to face her again.

But he had to. He could spend hours in that shower, but he’d eventually have to leave, whether it be because of the cold water or the check-out time the next morning.

After thirty minutes, he finally stood up straight and shut off the water. He retrieved his glasses out of the sink and fixed them onto his face. Grabbing the towel he had worn before all of this off of the floor and wrapping it around his waist, he exited the bathroom to find a fully-clothed Toko sitting on the bed, surrounded by food.

“What’s all this?”

“Y-You said you didn’t want to leave so I went and asked for c-carry out…”

He blinked.

Judging by the way his heart skipped a beat within his chest, this act of generosity certainly wasn’t helping his internal conflict. He tore his eyes away and began getting dressed.

“How much was all this?”

“I-I-It’s on me… It’s an apology.”

Byakuya paused, “For what?”

“F-For upsetting you in a-a-any way.”

“I…” He snapped his mouth shut before starting over, “Don’t worry about it,” He mumbled.

“You’re mad, aren’t you? That we did that? Y-You hate me…”

The last statement wasn’t a question. Byakuya clenched his jaw. Shut up.

“I m-made a mistake reading that b-book to you. I-I-I knew I was going to have to read that scene out loud to you and I m-made you uncomfortable. I sh-shouldn’t have done that, I m-messed up!”

His knuckles turned white. Shut. Up.

“And now y-y-y-you hate me! I probably wasn’t e-e-even that good! I—”

“Shut up, Toko!”

His voice echoed throughout the room. Her silent tears streamed down her cheeks as she watched him in shock. Byakuya took a few relaxing breaths, calming himself down before…

“…Thank you.”

“Huh?”

“Thank you… for the food… for tonight… thank you.”

“Y-Y-You don’t… hate me?”

“…No.”

Toko rose to her feet and smiled, approaching him as she spoke, “O-Oh, Master… I-I’m so glad you don’t h-hate me for what I did. I l-love you so much, I w-wouldn’t know what t-to do if you—”

And just like earlier, Byakuya grabbed her wristed and pulled her body until she was pinned against the wall.

“Maste—”

With a hand to her chin, he tilted her head up and brought their lips together for a tender kiss. Once it was over, she stared at him with stars in her eyes.

“What… was that for?”

Byakuya closed his eyes and pressed his forehead to her own, just breathing.

His pulse relaxed.

Thump... Thump...... Thump.........

“…Can we eat now? I’m famished?”