by The Bluhdy One
(Started: December 7, 1999)
"Someone to have...and hold..with all my heart and soul. I need to know...before I fall in love..."
"Hey Domon hurry up!" Recca called his best friend. "Or we're leaving without you!"

"I'm coming! I'm coming!" screamed Domon as he grabbed his duffel bag and kissed his mother goodbye. "I'll be back in a few days." he said.

"Have fun!" Domon's mother bid her son. She watched as Domon literally fly down the steps of their home and dash to the van parked in front. Inside the car were Recca's father Shigeo Hanabishi, Kagero, Recca, Yanagi, Fuuko, Ganko, Tokiya and Kaoru. Shigeo was driving. As soon as Domon entered the vehicle, it sped towards the highway leading to the outskirts of Tokyo.

"Did you bring your swimming trunks?" Recca teased his best buddy, "We can't let all those beautiful girls down." 

Domon winked, "Of course. I know they'd all be dying to lay their hands on this fine piece of anatomy." He turned to Fuuko who was seated behind him. "I hope you don't get too jealous, Fuuko. I know I'm a chick magnet, but you know you're the only woman in the world for me."

Fuuko walloped him with a fist, causing Domon to fall on a protesting Recca. "Don't flatter yourself Domon." she snubbed him, "I think you're the one who's going to be green with envy when all those handsome studs fall all over me when I prance in front of them in my bikini." 

Domon's eyes bulged and his tongue protruded, "You're going to wear a bikini?" 
He had barely regained his composure when another flying fist connected with his jaw.

"Not when you're around!" she screamed.

"Oi!" Recca's father reprimanded them, "Not in the car, you two. I don't want us ending up in the hospital instead of the beach."

"And what would you be wearing, my beautiful princess?" Recca turned to Yanagi who blushed at that instant.

"A swimsuit," she replied shyly, "You know I don't have much of a figure to wear a bikini."

"I'm sure you'll look good whatever you wear." Tokiya commented, "And your figure is just fine with me."

"Who asked you?" Recca angrily interjected, with his tekkou-clad fist aimed at Tokiya.

"Boys!" Kagero hushed. "No more arguing in the car. If you don't stop, I'll see to it that you walk all the way to the resort!"

"Sorry, Mother." Recca apologized. He leaned over to whisper to is mother, "Did we really have to bring him along?" his lips pointed to Tokiya who was talking at that moment to Ganko.

"Recca!" Kagero scolded, "You very well know he's part of the family."
"Not mine." Recca pouted, glancing over at Tokiya.
Kagero smiled, shaking her head. Despite all that they have been through, Recca and Tokiya still can't seem to get along. 

Several hours later, they had arrived at the resort. They had to leave the van at the dock and take a ferry to the island where the resort was. It was a small privately-owned beach run by one of Shigeo Hanabishi's wealthier clients. He had given the Hanabishis a free cottage where to spend a few days of vacation on, in gratitude for a fireworks display Shigeo had made. 

The merry group arrived at the island. It was a tiny paradise, with white sand spread over the coast and the clear blue sea water smashing against nature-carved rocks that lined the shore. Tall palm trees formed linearly with a fathomless blue sky as its backdrop. Not too far away were several wood cottages with terraces that opened to the bayside scenery. There were only a handful of people by the beach, basking in the warmth of the morning sun.

"Wow!" Recca exclaimed as they alighted from the ferry. "What an incredible place!"
"How romantic." Fuuko expressed, "It's like a scene from a movie!"
Domon winked at Fuuko, "How would you like to be the leading lady, my beloved?"
The latter dumped her heavy bags in Domon's arms. "And who are you going to be, Jaws?" She ignored him, taking Ganko's hand  and leading the child to the path going to the cottage.

The cottage Shigeo's client had given them was as marvelous as the beach itself. Wide and spacious, made entirely of wood. It had four separate bedrroms, two bathrooms, a den and a big kitchen-dining room. There was also a terrace that had a view of the ocean.

The group divided into four. Recca and Domon took one room. Tokiya shared his with Kaoru and Shigeo. Yanagi went with Fuuko and Kagero took Ganko. Later they went swimming at the cool blue waters and had a picnic with food made by Kagero. They happily spent the afternoon swimming and diving. Ganko and Kaoru built a sand castle which Recca merrily stepped on. Tokiya went on his own while Domon and Shigeo went fishing for dinner. Fuuko was sunbathing side by side with Yanagi and Kagero.

"Isn't this great?" Fuuko told Yanagi. "I wish we could always be like this. Like one big happy family. The Hokage Ninjas."
Yanagi nodded. "Yes. i don't want us to go through another hardship like the Urabutousatsoujin."
"If only it would be possible." said Kagero, "But Mori Kouran is still alive. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants. And that spells danger for all of us." 
"He's a sick, demented fartbag." Fuuko said. "He doesn't deserve his life and his wealth. He ought to be assassinated. I'd be glad to oblige."

They became silent for a moment, remembering the ugly dark shadows of the Urabutousatsoujin. All the memories they suppressed these months came flooding back like the tide. Yanagi shuddered. She had come so close to becoming Mori Kouran's guinea pig. If it had not been for the courage and dedication of her friends, she would've been encased in a glass cage by now.
It was at this time that Recca chose to appear, asking her if she wanted to take a stroll along the shore. Yanagi obliged and went with her beloved protector.

"I'm going to take a nap." Kagero declared. "All that travelling made me weary. You want to come back with me to the cottage?" she asked Fuuko.

"No thanks." declined Fuuko, "I think I'll stay here for a while."

Fuuko stretched on the sand. She adjusted her sunglasses to the fading sunlight. It was so relaxing lying there and staring at the orange-pink sky. She sat up from her position and shifted her gaze to two figures who were chasing each other by the shore. Recca was running after Yanagi along the coast line. Yanagi screamed when he caught her and they ran towards the waters. Fuuko sighed, and despite herself, felt a little stab of jealousy. Not that she ever had any affection for Recca. Lord knows the only thing she wanted from her childhood friend was his unconditional servitude. That and nothing more. Yet she can't help feeling envious toward Recca and Yanagi whenever she saw them together. That little pain in her heart had arisen only in recent days. A pain that bore a tide of longing. An emotion that bespoke of wanting to have someone to hold her, tell her that he was going to give his life for her, make her feel protected and appreciated. Someone who would unconditionally make her happy and wouldn't give a hoot what the whole world thinks.

That's it. She wanted someone to love her too. Just the way Recca loved and cherished Yanagi. How funny, she thought, all the while she never felt this way. Only now...

Not that she was ever short of suitors. Not a few boys would come over to her and ask her out on dates. She consistently recieved invitations to parties and had flowers and chocolates arrive at her house. It's not uncommon for her to get wolf-whistles and glances of appreciation from men whenever she walked by. She had merely ignored them all.

Her attention shifted to Domon who was on a raft with Shigeo, struggling with a huge fish that would serve as their dinner. Now here was a guy who would risk life and limb to protect her. A guy who would serve her unconditionally and make her happy for all time. Someone whom she had known for almost as long as Recca and who had been her friend and confidante for ages. Someone whom she cared deeply for and whom she know she could trust with her life.

Why couldn't she love him?
Fuuko asked herself that question for months. For despite her closeness with Domon, she couldn't get herself to look at him as more than a dear friend. She could not get past that relationship between them. She knew it wasn't because of his appearance, as she wasn't that superficial. Somehow she can't overcome that seal of friendship between them. Yanagi had once told her you can't be forced to love someone no matter how ideal he is. Love is one thing you never plan. It comes when you least expect it. And when it does come, it can occur between two people who wouldn't even think of the other as the right one for him or her. It just happens, spontaneous and unexpected. When it does happen, the two people involved are caught in a whirlwind of emotions, not caring what the whole world thinks and understanding only each others' feelings.

Whew. Fuuko didn't think Yanagi thought that deeply.

Could it be? she thought. That she was waiting for that somebody who she could feel that exhilirating emotion for? That she was looking for that one person whom she would adore, regardless of what the whole universe thinks? And that someone who feel the same way towards her. Then they would be together, for all eternity, bound by a love so strong nothing can hold them back.

Yuck, Fuuko thought. I'm becoming mushy and sentimental. She shivered. All that hanging out with Recca and Yanagi is making her a softie. She removed her sunglasses and put them back in the basket beside her beach towel. She stood up and walked towards the shore.

"Where are you going, Fuuko-sama?" Ganko inquired.
"I'm going out for a swim." she replied disappearing into the sea amidst the fading sunlight.

"I know I need to be in love...I know I've wasted too much time..."