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Kazuma was getting extremely uncomfortable with this greasy kid who was obviously flirting with Kanami - his Kanami - and he couldn't hold back the scowl that quickly found its way onto his face. Obviously, the little bastard didn't notice.
"Can't believe you finally came back!" Haruko said cheerily, "Kanami talks about you all the time..."
Kanami nodded with a blush, casting her eyes down to the ground. Kazuma was about ready to kill this kid...it was he that was the source of Kanami's discomfort, and the alter user didn't like it at all. "Aren't you like her brother or something?"
Kazuma stopped short. This kid had it coming...
Satisfaction came when a look of shock registered on Haruko's face as Kazuma put an arm around Kanami possessively. The small girl looked up at him with the same look of surprise, but it quickly turned into a smile. "No...she's actually my girlfriend," Kazuma said, feigning nonchalance, "I missed her all that time...and it made me realize how much she really meant to me."
It wasn't just an act; Kazuma meant every word he said and every thing he did, and Kanami's knowledge of that fact made her face light up. But she stayed quiet around the dark-haired boy, not saying anything, not even agreeing with him. It made him even more infuriated at this kid, and he hastily excused Kanami and himself from the conversation. "Well...we gotta go. See 'ya around."
"Yeah...see 'ya. Bye Kanami!"
She just barely waved her hand over her shoulder at the boy, settling into the crook of Kazuma's muscular arm and smiling up at him. But Kazuma couldn't get that kid out of his head...
He swore that if he found out Haruko had done something to Kanami, he would kill him.
Mimori's fork dropped to her plate with a clatter, and she was surprised that her jaw didn't follow her fork. Ryuhou just watched her, his brown eyes seeming to bore into her heart and rid her of any poise that she had left. "You...you came here...to see me?"
He nodded, his eyes staying on hers confidently. "Yes. It was...it was in a city when I thought of you again. I'd seen your face all over the news, of course...but it was in the city that I saw a couple there. The woman reminded me so much of you that it made me wonder if you had...if you had found what you deserved. And I knew I just had to see you...to find out."
She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Was he really doing this? Was he really baring his soul to her like this? "You...I can't...I can't believe you're actually sitting here telling me this. I'm sorry, but it's...it's so unlike you, Ryuhou."
His eyes closed slowly and he wove his fingers together in front of his face as if pondering something important. When they opened again there was a newfound intensity there that Mimori had somehow failed to notice before. "I had a lot of time to think when I was on the mainland," he said, and she believed it. Ten years. Ten damned years that he'd had to think about it, while Mimori grew sick with worry about where he could be. "I'm not a stupid boy anymore, Mimori. And I've realized how much...how much I..."
A gasp escaped her parted lips when his hands quickly moved away from his face and closed over hers, his eyes fiery and pleading. "I need you in my life!" he started, as if it were the most important discovery he'd ever made, "And I was too arrogant to tell you back then...but there was something missing for that entire time and I figured out when I saw that couple in the city...it was you, Mimori! You!"
He'd just revealed the most important thing to her, something she'd waited years and years to hear, so she opened her mouth to respond.
"People are staring, Ryuhou."
The look on his face immediately told her that she'd said the wrong thing, and she cursed herself for saying it, jumping to grab his hand before he did something rash and left. "I'm sorry...I didn't mean that. But I want...let's go for a walk."
Mimori could tell that she'd put him in a foul mood as the left the restaurant at a quick pace, like Ryuhou was trying to leave her behind. A million thoughts went through her brain before one single one flashed before her eyes, making her get angry. He just told me he needs me, and I said one wrong thing and he's ready to get up and leave again!
He froze when she wrapped her small hand around his wrist, glancing back at her with the same cold and detached eyes that she'd seen far too often. She responded with just as much heat, enough to melt his resistance. "Don't walk away from me."
His face turned more to her and she continued angrily. "A few minutes ago you told me you needed me...and now you're ready to walk away after one stupid thing I said?" If he was surprised at her forwardness, he didn't show it, but she supposed that that was the way he was. She kept talking. "Now...I don't know about you, but I don't know if you have grown up that much, Ryuhou. Please...you've got to understand." She paused, taking a breath. "I didn't mean anything by saying that in the restaurant. I've got a public image that I need to keep up. But I...I've wanted to tell you the exact thing you just told me for so long...and you ran away. I hated you for it for so long; you caused me so much pain! But I held on...because I'm in love with you. I've been in love with you since the day I met you, and that's never changed, Ryuhou!"
Mimori gasped; his abrupt movements caught her by surprise once again when he pulled her to him in one quick motion to hang limp in his arms, her face just millimeters away from his.
"Will you let me kiss you?" he asked quietly, his breathing quickening. Mimori felt her own breath go faster as well, her heart racing.
"Yes," she breathed.
His kiss was hot and rough, yet tentative at the same time, testing her to find her limits and what she wanted. She let herself fall against him, just barely gripping his shirt collar in her hands, and he moved her over to one arm, allowing his long fingers to be engulfed in her long black hair, peppered with gray because of all the worrying she'd done...for him.
She'd been waiting her whole life for this one kiss...and she finally had it. But she knew there was no way could ever be satisfied with one kiss from Ryuhou; she already realized that she would want more.
They pulled away from each other slowly, and Ryuhou leaned his head down to rest his forehead against Mimori's, taking breaths in short gasps, his hands still lingering on her hip and in her hair.
Their eyes met for just a moment before Mimori pulled her mouth up to his for another kiss.
She barely even noticed as he lifted her slightly and then she was leaning against a cool brick wall, his lips pressed against hers. She gladly accepted him when she felt his tongue gently probing along her bottom lip, enticing her and making her yearn to feel more of his skin against hers. She wondered if it would really be rational to spend the night with him after seeing the first time in ten years...but she'd wanted this forever! And she knew that that was where they were headed; his kiss promised a sleepless, passionate night. He needed her.
Her mouth tipped to gain better access to his mouth and he let out a primal growl, his fingers curling on her back while her own hands gripped his shirt collar tighter. She devoured his delicious mouth, delirious from the intense pleasure she was getting from this encounter.
"I love you too, Mimori..." he whispered, his hot breath warming her cheek.
And then they were hurrying down the road towards Mimori's apartment.
Kazuma found himself lacking the ability to listen to the rest of Kanami's tour, his mind completely on Haruko and what that little bitch had done to his angel. He would personally strangle that kid if he'd done anything to hurt her...he was already replaying the death scenes in his mind.
"Thanks for standing up for me back there...with Haruko."
Kanami's small voice forced him out of his thoughts and he turned towards her, an absent look on his face. "What?"
She made sure that her glowing blue-green eyes met his before continuing. "I have something to tell you."
They found themselves at a little table outside a small restaurant on the edge of town, overlooking a grassy field that Kazuma knew belonged to the farm. A few cows meandered on the horizon, but Kazuma barely even noticed the distraction as he watched Kanami take a few deep breaths. He frowned, reaching out and placing his large, callused hand over her small, delicate one. "What is it you wanted to tell me?" he asked as gently as he could. Anger traced into his voice when he continued. "It's about that Haruko kid isn't it...I swear Kanami, if he hurt you..."
"No, it's not that," she said quickly, shaking her head, "I don't like him at all...but it's not that."
Kazuma's eyes widened in surprise - he'd been sure it had been that kid! - before he nodded. "OK...sorry for interrupting. Go ahead."
She closed her eyes and took another deep breath before speaking again. "Please listen and don't say a word until I'm finished...I want you to hear me out." She watched for acknowledgement before starting her story.
"A lot of things happened while you were gone. It was ten years...and they were the hardest ten years of my life. I was growing up and becoming a woman, and I didn't realize the things that people thought of me or what they...what they wanted to do to me. I maintained that innocent, youthful trust for so long...even after you were gone, I kept on believing in people and trusting them. Tachibana was an OK mentor and everything...but he was busy with Cammy, and he didn't have the time to take care of me.
"Well, some of the village boys started showing interest in me, and to put it nicely I was not interested in them. But they were really persistent...you know how boys can get. And when they're in that mob mentality they'll do a lot of dumb things that they normally wouldn't even dream of.
"They used to whistle and yell at me when I would go into town to get things, and I didn't like it, but of course I didn't say anything because...because I'm quiet and I thought it was harmless.
"I was wrong.
"One morning I went to the market to get some groceries, just like I do every day, and they were there...they were waiting for me. It was on the hillside down from the house to the marketplace, and they just came out from behind the trees, out of nowhere. They told they were angry that I kept on teasing them and then rejecting them...that it was my own fault if they did something stupid. It sounded threatening.
Kazuma watched Kanami go through a series of emotions as she told the stories: anger, sadness, and regret all passed over as she spoke. But the one that infuriated him the most was the one she had now: guilt.
"I ran away from them, and of course they chased me...it was early morning, so nobody was out on the road yet and I was all alone. I was so scared, Kazuma." - she turned her palm upward and gripped his hand at this phrase, squeezing her eyes shut - "I was so scared that I couldn't stand it. There was this one boy, Saku, and he was especially rowdy, and he caught up with me quickly. He...he grabbed me...and he pushed me up against a tree..."
Kazuma could barely contain himself. A low growl emitted from his chest, his free hand clenching into a fist. He could feel his alter ready for use from his anger, choking out any other emotion.
"The other boys caught up...and they pulled off my shirt...they cut me -" Her hand flew up to her shoulder as if she still had the wound. "Because Saku, he had a knife...and that's when Haruko showed up."
Kazuma raised his eyebrows. "So Haruko was-"
"Shh...yes, Haruko was there. He told the boys to get off of me, and he didn't watch while I put back on my shirt. Then he helped me pick up all my things and get to the village safely...but I was so scared...and ever since then he's been asking me out on dates constantly...and he always brings up that incident as if I owe him something."
Kazuma growled in frustration, shaking his head vigorously. "Kanami, you don't owe him anything! Any decent person would save a girl that was going to be...to be...Kami...what happened to the boys?"
"Don't worry...I told people about it, and the boys are in jail now...and nothing ended up happening...but it was so scary. I came so close to being...and I didn't want to tell you because I thought you would blame me..."
His eyes widened. "I could never blame you for that! It's not your fault! Kanami, don't blame yourself, please..."
But she had one more point to address. "Promise me that you won't do anything stupid...they're paying their dues, don't do anything for revenge."
Kazuma frowned, but slowly nodded. "I promise, Kanami."
He had his fingers crossed.
Author's Note: OK...so I am really really really happy with this chapter! I thought that the slight zest with Ryuhou and Mimori was hot...and I was very pleased with Kanami's story. So I hope you are too...which means you should review!!!