it's two in the morning, and the mankai dorms are quiet, dark, and lonely. most people are asleep by now, aside from tsuzuru, who's up late working yet again.
and zero. that's much more uncommon. she rarely stays up this late unless she's helping yuki work, and that's not what she's doing tonight.
tonight, she's just laying in bed, staring up at her ceiling. she's not sure what she's doing, or why she's unable to sleep. usually she's passed out as soon as she hits the bed, but... it's been three hours since she laid down, and she still feels wide awake.
zero sits up, carefully climbing out of her bed as to not wake omi. she knows omi would just try to help, but she doesn't want to bother her poor, sleeping brother. she can handle this on her own.
she's silent as she slips out of their room and closes the door. when she gets to the living room, she notices the lights are on. there's a figure on the couch. she gets closer and realizes it's sakyo.
"zero?" sakyo's voice calls once he notices her standing there. she stares at him blankly for a moment, until he speaks up again. "...is something wrong?"
something in zero breaks in that moment. tears well up in her eyes, no matter how hard she's trying to stop it. she raises her hands up to her face, rubbing at her eyes vigorously to stop herself from crying more.
"shit," sakyo curses. he's not that good with comforting the kids like omi would be, but he doesn't have a choice right now. zero looks like she needs someone there, and sakyo's all she has right now.
"...come here," sakyo says, opening his arms.
zero looks surprised, but she walks over anyways, still sniffling. she sits down beside him with her legs thrown over his lap, immediately curling into sakyo's chest. he's a little hesitant to wrap his arms around her, but once he does, he holds her tight.
she starts crying again soon after, pressing her face against sakyo's shoulder as she quietly sobs. sakyo would never admit it, but the sound of his... his daughter, crying, breaks his heart. so he just holds her, a quiet gesture of his love and affection.
"i don't know what you're going through, but i'm here for you, okay? i'm here, zero," sakyo says quietly, his voice taking a much softer tone than usual. he goes quiet again afterwards, letting zero get it all out.
it takes a while, but eventually she's not crying anymore. she stays curled up close to sakyo, yawning quietly at some point. that elicits a quiet laugh from sakyo.
"are you tired?" he asks, stroking her hair quietly. zero nods, but leans closer to him. sakyo laughs again. "you're like a 5 year old, you know that? i suppose you can sleep here. hold on, though."
sakyo stands up, lifting zero off his lap and laying down on the couch. zero curls up on top of him, and sakyo sighs. it doesn't take too long for her to fall asleep there. sakyo gently pats her head.
zero's much too big for him to treat her like such a child at this point, but he loves her too damn much to deny her anything. he'll sleep on the couch with her, even if it means his back will be beyond fucked up in the morning. if it makes her happy, then he'll do it.
maybe, that's love. and sakyo's okay with that.