by Jin

Disclaimer: I do not own Flame of Recca or any of the characters. I’m merely using them for my own pleasure. Please don’t sue me. Thanks.

A/N: I’m back people. *checks the last chapter and cringes* I was hoping that it would go well enough. In case any of you don’t know, this is actually my first serious Rekka no Honou fic ever. ^^;; I hope that explains my way of writing. Anyway, I do apologize if the chapters are getting boring. It is really, REALLY hard to write about couple and their relationship. Most especially if you’re dealing with people who’ve had traumatic pasts. And it does take time too. I don’t want to rush things, so forgive me minna-san!

I’ve added my share of the well-awaited mush in this chapter. And just so there’s some consolation for those seeking the love scene and everything, it all happens in the end. I mean it! The last 2 chapters of this fic have been planned and everything. All you have to do is bear with my silly stuff first. Actually, IMO, it’s Tokiya who gets the harder end of things because he’s about to realize the cold, harsh reality that Fuuko might never...oops. ‘Nuff! I’m giving away things. ^_~ Thanks to the wonderful reviewers! You guys are great!

Any complaints, constructive criticisms and suggestions are all welcome. Feel free to email me at And without further ado, on with the story.
R and R please! I’d appreciate it if you do!

Chapter 6: I’m falling

Hours had been spent tossing and turning, kicking the sheets and endless flinging of pillows. It took that long for Tokiya to realize that apparently, he was definitely not going to get any sleep at all that night. Insomnia had taken over his mind and he had tried very hard to get it out since 11 pm. Now it was 3 in the morning and he was starting to get a bit irritated. Though it was a good thing that the following---or rather day, was a public holiday. He’d get a break from school. His present situation was hard enough. This was bad. It would mean not having enough sleep for two nights now.  Convinced that Kami would not grant him any rest, he got up and walked over to his kitchen.

He slowly prepared himself a cup of tea. He opened the shelf a few inches from him and ran a finger through the boxes containing tea bags of all sorts of flavors. There were numerous selections, actually. The 17 year old preferred tea to beer and the other drinks people his age would usually enjoy. An occasional soda would suit him but most of the time, he drank plain water and tea-hot or cold. He finally settled on jasmine and took it out.

The steaming cup on his hand brought warmth to him and the sweet-smelling aroma kept his senses awake. Outside, the hard drumming of raindrops was heard. Rain fell on the street and thunder rumbled on. It sent a chill towards his room but inside, he was warm and relaxed. Having nothing else to do, he decided to remain seated there, listening to the downpour. In a few hours, the sun would be up. But whether the weather would remain the same, he could not tell. He didn’t have any problems with the rain, anyway. He loved it, albeit he would rather watch it from afar. There were days in his childhood when he would step out and soak himself, relishing in the cold and the wet feeling.

He took a sip and felt the hot liquid trickle down his throat. What now? He stifled a yawn. His whole body was aching for sleep but his mind would not rest. The smell of jasmine filled a small portion of the room. He was faintly reminded of Fuuko.

He recalled, during their near collision at the subway, inhaling the scent of her hair. It smelled like fresh, wildflowers blossoming in the outskirts of Tokyo. It was bubbly, happy and easy. That was Fuuko Kirisawa. Her austere self was jovial but she was yet a puzzle. Something he couldn’t quite figure out. Unlike ordinary girls, whom he could classify with the blink of an eye, she was different. She haunted his mind, her actions kept him wondering and her eyes had managed to cast spell, rendering him defenceless and lost.

“Fuuko...” he whispered.

Could it be? Was he...

No. You can’t. He reminded himself. Again, he told himself firmly that his motives were to help her with her traumatic ordeal. He was to be a friend, someone to comfort her in her time of need. That was all. Simple. Nothing else. Now that he looked at it, his actions reflected that of an older brother and not that of someone crushing on her.


The mere 5-letter word sent him to the world of confusion. Not again, he groaned. It can’t be! It just can’t. He survived 3 months without seeing the Hokage and not once did he recall ever missing their presence. He was a loner, by nature. Why the sudden longing for others’ presence now? This couldn’t be happening. He hadn’t felt this way since Mifuyu died. After she left, all emotions and feelings escaped him. This was just so...strange.

Think Tokiya.

He was thinking. And so far, this was what his mind brought him. Not a headache, not a dizzy spell, but random thoughts of a girl who he spent the whole day with. Maybe that was it. He spent too much time with her, and so she was stuck in his mind. Could that be possible?

No. There had to be another answer.

He found himself comparing this to another chemistry class and him trying to find the formula of the combined mixture of sodium hydroxide and other bases hanging about. What was the technique he used? Examine, experiment, and conclude. He did that alright. He examined his present thoughts and feelings, he experimented with them and tested them...exploring all the sides and angles. But did he come up with any conclusion?

This isn’t science class. It’s all about human relationships.

He needed someone to help him with this.


Definitely not Fuuko. He had to find someone. He couldn’t contact his spiritual adviser at the moment. Not even Mifuyu. He had taken to asking her about this, but no answer came to him. Just blankness. It left him perplexed and agitated. The ensui master was used to finding solutions within 5 minutes of careful analysis and precise observations. What was happening now? He could not even get something logical out of what he was doing.

Kami-sama, I beg you to give me an answer. I’ll go insane.


“Coming!” he half-yelled, after hearing the doorbell ring. Who would be visiting him at this time of the day anyway? He placed his plates inside the dishwasher and padded over to the door. He reached over for the knob and opened it.

Please let it be...

She was standing there in front of him. The very girl, who kept him from sleeping that very night, had appeared in front of his doorway. “Ohayo!” she greeted him cheerfully.

“Ohayo.” He managed to say. “What are you doing here?”

She lifted a paper parcel and handed it to him.

“What’s this?”

“It’s your jacket.” She answered. “I um, forgot to give it back to you yesterday, remember? So here it is. I put it in the washing machine and dryer overnight. Thanks for lending it to me. I kept me warm. And guess what, my cold’s gone now!”

“Oh. Okay. You’re welcome.” He nodded politely, peeking inside the paper bag. Inside lay his jacket, neatly folded and pressed. He looked up again and found himself staring at her for a while. She was looking exceptionally attractive today as she was sporting a simple blue blouse and a dark, black denim skirt. Since when did she start wearing clothes like that? If he could remember correctly, Fuuko was the tomboy between her and Yanagi. He always saw her in shorts or pants and plain shirts---anything she was comfortable fighting in. But now? She nearly took his breath away.

They stood there, staring at each other silently as time passed.

“Um...” she fidgeted nervously.

He was staring at her. Again. Damn those eyes! Say something, he urged himself.

“Care to stay for a while?” was what he could muster. He tore himself from her eyes, her features and opened the door a bit wider. “I take that you came for something else.” He noted, as the girl readily stepped in.

“Well, I was kinda hoping to ask you some things...”

Oh no. His mind panicked. Did she notice his odd behavior yesterday? How on earth will he explain that if he himself could not even answer? A quick flood of questions went through his brain and most of them were already beyond reasoning.

“You look terrible, Mi-chan. Something happen?” she asked, concerned as she peered at his tired face and worrisome eyes. “You look like there was a ghost in here.”

“I’m okay.” He shook it off, offering her a smile. “Do you want anything?” he indicated to his refrigerator, trying to change the subject. Hopefully, she wouldn’t detect anything.

She shook her head. “I just had breakfast with the group. I was trying to call you up, but no one was answering. It figures, though. Seems like the storm affected the phone lines around your place. Recca told me all about it.”

“Maybe.” He acknowledged. “How is everyone then?”

“Oh, they’re fine. I apologized to them and everything. I even explained that you were helping me. We had fun. Wished you were there, though. It would have been livelier.”

“I doubt that.” He responded dryly, taking a seat beside her on his couch.

She playfully slapped his back. “You’re silly, you know that? Come on now, everyone was anxious to see you again. And they wouldn’t reject you, seeing that you’ve changed and all...” she giggled, but then her tone changed as she noticed the silver haired boy pale and appearing a bit weak. “Hey...are you sick or something?”

“Huh?” He glanced at her. “No, I couldn’t sleep last night. Insomnia or something. But I do feel a bit terrible right now.” He admitted. He woke up on the couch not feeling himself that morning. After checking his watch, it seemed as if he only had 3-4 hours of rest. He had managed to get himself a bit to eat but his eyes were playing tricks on him and he felt hot, even though a moderate drizzle persisted outside.

Fuuko placed her small hand on his forehead. “You are a bit warm.” She observed. “I think you have the flu.” She concluded.

Ugh. He felt like crawling back in bed. But not when she was around. “I’m okay.” He insisted. “It’s probably a simple cold or something. It’ll blow away.” She was right, again. Not only did he wake up feeling bad, he also started with a cold, was coughing and was extremely dizzy. He rarely got sick. As far as he was concerned, his vital systems were always healthy. The rain had somehow gotten to him.

“No, you’re not.” She told him. “Want to go back to bed?”

He shook his head, but found himself losing balance in spite of his being seated. Tokiya was about to lean towards the floor when he felt her arms encircle his and pull him towards her. He raised a hand to his forehead and gently pressed on his throbbing temples.

Fuuko pulled him over to her lap. “Here, why don’t you lie down on me for a while?” she offered gently. “You really do look sick.”

He let her draw him to her lap and he lay his head down gently. He closed his eyes, shifting slightly to a more comfortable position. “This is just great you know...” he muttered. “I’m at your mercy for the moment. I think I even got this from you.” He joked.

“Yeah, it was my fault.” She said, her tone sober. “Gomen ne.”

Alarmed that she took his teasing tad too seriously, he quickly replied. “I was just joking, Fuuko.” He told her. “Don’t act all guilty about it.”

“If only you didn’t give me your jacket, then you’d be warmer.” She insisted, recalling the fact that she saw Tokiya go back, nearly soaked and she was protected from the elements. How stupid! She should have invited him inside instead of having him go back home in that rain. “I’m sorry about this.” Fuuko apologized again. “I should have returned your jacket.”

“It’s okay.” He reassured her, eyes still closed. “I’ll be fine. I’m not dying anyway.”

She smiled, despite her guilty admission. “Here, let me make it up to you.” She said, as she brought her fingers to his face and started massaging his temples gently. “I do this all the time for Ganko and Yanagi.”

“That feels nice.” He muttered, feeling the pains diminish little by little as his muscled began to loosen up a bit. “But it’s also embarrassing.”


He opened his eyes and looked at her curious ones seriously. “If Recca or anyone else finds out that I’m being cared for and massaged by a girl like you, I’ll never hear the end of it.”

“Didn’t Mifuyu do this for you, when you were sick?” she asked, trying to suppress laughter.

“Yeah, she did actually. She’d make me soup, give me a mug of chocolate milk and everything else. But after she died, I looked after myself. I was forced to,” he said, not taking his eyes of her. “At an early age, I had to learn how to balance accounts our deceased parents left us, I had to learn how to cook and do things for myself. My teachers at school would take turns looking after me but as soon as I turned 13, I decided to do things my way. Alone. Worst of all, I subconsciously threw away my emotions with everything else.”

She listened to his change of tone, stroking the strands of hair gently. “Gee, mi-chan...I knew that Mifuyu died and all...I didn’t know you were that alone.”

“I was.”

The pain in his voice and the sadness in his eyes caused Fuuko the shock and realization that Tokiya, though he appears and seems to be older, mature, and calm might be just a frightened boy underneath. Seeing him with his eyes closed reminded her of the innocent boy he would tell her about. The same boy who lost his sister at a tender age. He had such a bright future before him, but the incident that caused his nightmares brought him to the troubles that plagued his mind.

“And to think,” he added angrily, “that bastard Meguri Kyoza, actually encouraged me to become a heartless killer. He told me to throw away all of what’s left in my heart. He said that it would make me weak, it would make me a sissy, it would prevent me from finding my sister’s killer and disposing of him effectively. If only I had known...”

“Ssshh.” She hushed him softly. “Tokiya, that was the past, remember? Those days are gone. The Urabutousatsujin, your lessons with Meguri Kyoza, everything...that was the past. You can’t do anything about it anymore.”

“But Fuuko,” he continued. His voice was reduced to a whisper. “They...he...took everything I loved. Everything that was important to me. He managed to ruin my life and that of my sister’s. We were living contentedly by ourselves. I don’t know what brought him to use my sister’s death as a trigger for my potential with the blasted ensui. He could have found someone else to torture. Why me? Was it because I deserved all that?” his voice trailed off. There was an unfamiliar feeling of wetness in his eyes.

Was he crying?

This was new. He never cried. He brought his hand to wipe them away but her fingers gently brushed over his eyes.

“I guess we both have a problem with letting go.”

He nodded silently; absent-mindedly letting her wipe his eyes while her other hand slowly caressed his cheek. “I never knew there’d be so many similarities between us.” She continued saying. “I mean, when I first met you, it would never cross my mind that we would actually be here, opening up to each other and everything.”

“You know what? I felt the same way.” He admitted. “I thought of you as some reckless tomboy who knew nothing about life or the pains of humanity...”

“And you were just some stuck-up guy who’s obsessed with revenge.” Fuuko replied teasingly.

True enough, he said to himself. Everyone saw him as that. Cold, silent, sarcastic...what more? He was an ice block there was no doubting that. He refused human contact; he shrugged off people who were trying to make friends with him...No wonder 7 years of his life was spent being miserable. Yet, here he was. Telling her things only the 4 walls of his room heard. It was a new experience for him, but damn, he’d been hiding these feelings for so long already! He wondered whether it was Kami-sama’s will for him to surprisingly unlock all of it now.

He felt his face grow warm as Fuuko continued massaging his head. His headache had gone away, miraculously. She was just so close to him! He had to know why this was happening...why she was being so kind to him, why she suddenly became soft and gentle with a man who never treated her equally until the present times...

He had to ask.

“Why are you doing this?”

“Why am I doing what?” she asked, looking at him.

He stared into those pools of blue again. He was willing to risk being captured, if it meant knowing the answer. “I don’t deserve this Fuuko. After the many times I’ve harshly rebuked you and the rest of the Hokage...I don’t know why you still put up with me. Heck, even Yanagi. She’s been so kind to me even when I left, when I was cold. And now you’re actually...”

She touched his hand. “Because you managed to pull me up when I was down. When I was drowning, you saved my life and made sure that I would still live. Because you were the only one who understood me...and everyone deserves friendship, Mikagami. Whether you’re the coldest or the unhappiest man on earth. You can’t stay isolated from the rest of us forever. Believe it or not, we’ve grown into a family because of the UBS. And families stick together, right?” she smiled, squeezing his hand warmly. “I know Mifuyu’s death caused you so much anger and anguish. But there are others here who are willing to offer you the comfort that you long for.”

So that was it. Somehow, his pain was eased. A small voice inside him reassured his hungry soul that he was loved---in one way or another. If here, he had no relatives or family, he had them. Yanagi and the rest...they were there. Just waiting for him. He was the loner, the aloof member of the team. How stupid could he have been back then? It was his foolish pride that had kept him from being closer to them. Perhaps now...would they give him a second chance?

Those eyes caught him once more. Those blue orbs filled with gentleness and understanding. And he was led to believing that 2nd chances weren’t that hard to achieve. They spoke out loud to him. The same pair of Prussian blue that managed to capture his mind and soul. His hand covered hers. “Then let me say that I appreciate everything you’ve given me. Everything you’ve said to make me feel better despite my wrong doings. Yet, still I feel that I don’t deserve to be held by such an angel...” he whispered, both hands clasping hers.

::What’s going on here?::

Fuuko felt her heart skip a beat when he uttered those lines. Her hand was caught in between his and try as hard as she might, she could not stop herself from blushing. She wasn’t supposed to be blushing though. But when she saw his eyes with a look she could not decipher, she immediately knew that she was lost. The pale blue eyes, the fair skin, the silver locks of hair...

And he called her an angel?

Stop being silly Fuuko, she scolded herself. Yet, she found herself drawing closer to him...he was pulling her nearer. Nearer to his face, which held an expression she had never seen before...nearer to his lips. Her mind had taken off, all logic was gone and she could do nothing but close her eyes and anticipate the surreal moment her heart was awaiting.


She jerked away at once. So did he, trying to sit up quickly but his current condition still left him unstable. Fuuko immediately placed her hand under his neck to support him, lest he should fall. She brought her head up to see where the voice of the new comer came from. Seconds ago, their lips were that close to contact and now it was broken for someone had come. A mixture of disappointment and relief greeted her as she felt her mind tumble into a faint miasma.

“Yanagi-chan? What are you doing here?” she found her voice at last, asking the longhaired maiden who stared at them fixatedly.

The latter had a look that plainly said, Funny, I was about to ask you the same thing. “I was going to check up on Tokiya-kun. But um...” she trailed off, indicating that she was not necessarily needed as she knew that the two were obviously keeping each other company.

“I’m okay Yanagi-san.” Fuuko at last heard him speak. There was no sign of embarrassment or nervousness in his voice in spite of what the young healer had seen. “I just caught the flu, that’s all.” She had to hand it to him. He was an excellent actor, after all.

She was still holding him, and he was still physically close to her. Fuuko was sure that Yanagi was now coming up with all sorts of conclusions. She wished with all her might that the girl would not elaborate on each and every detail later on.

“You have the flu, Tokiya-sempai?” Yanagi went over to them worriedly. “It is pretty high,” she mumbled, running her hand across the swordsman’s forehead. “Would you like me to cure you right now?” she offered him.

He nodded. “That would be better. I was suffering from a headache and was extremely dizzy.”

Yanagi smiled at him. “Don’t worry. I’ll have it finished in no time.”

As Yanagi bent over and began the healing process, Fuuko was stuck there on the couch, seated as Mikagami was still lying on her lap. He was a bit weak to stand or sit up on his own so Yanagi had suggested that he lay down and relax while she took the time to push the bacteria from his body away. For the mean time, Fuuko could do nothing but keep her hands together, to prevent them from fidgeting. She was having the hardest time, trying to avoid turning a deeper shade of red than she already was.

Just what had transpired between the two of them moments ago? He was telling her more about his past and his hardships and she comforted him to the best of her ability. She saw another side of Tokiya then. She saw an innocent boy, scared, frightened and angry. He revealed another aspect of himself to her and she was sure that no one else knew about it. The mere fact that she could see tears streaming down the silver-haired bishounen shocked her and most of all, saddened her. So that was what he was hiding from them all this time. The pain, the anguish and the guilt of not having protected the one he loved the most. Never in her life had she seen Tokiya in that state. He looked so helpless and desperate.

Just like her when she lost Raiha.

Fuuko was positive that she made no mistake in saying that they both had a lot of similarities. They were both lonely, and had lost a loved one. Hers was more recent but what difference did it make? After all these years, Mikagami still had a hard time forgetting about his sister. She still blamed herself for not being able to help Raiha. It was only until then that she had started her ‘therapy’.

And the next thing she knew was that she was being pulled close and near to kissing him. A few seconds before Yanagi made her appearance felt. What was that? Suddenly, she was being drawn to him? How could that be happening? She shook her head furiously. It was probably a spur of the moment then. But those eyes, the look on the face he had...

It was unforgettable.

“Finished.” Yanagi said, interrupting her thoughts. “Are you feeling better now?” she asked Tokiya while standing up and brushing her dress.

“Much better, Yanagi-san. Arigatou gozaimashita.” Tokiya nodded politely thanking her. He carefully rose up and stood on his feet. “It’s nice to know that that persistent headache disappeared. I thought I would have to spend the next few days taking care of myself here at home.”

“I’m sure you wouldn’t have to. Besides, Fuuko would be here to help you, ne?”

Fuuko felt the temperature rise up her face for a split second before giving Yanagi a slight glare. She didn’t notice however, that the ensui wielder also had tinges of pink around his cheeks too, well hidden by the angle of his face. Both were quiet for a while, not knowing what to say when Yanagi finally broke the silence.

“Well, now that Tokiya-sempai’s flu is gone, I was about to ask if you two would care to join Recca and I for a stroll in the park? The sun’s up, thankfully, and we were both thinking that it would be nice if you decided to come along. Tokiya-kun did miss the breakfast we had this morning, ne?” she asked, with her sweet smile.

“I wouldn’t mind...” Fuuko began, giving Tokiya a short glance. “The weather has improved a lot.” She noted the halting drizzle and the shy sun peeking from the vast clouds.

He agreed, silently nodding his head. “Why not?”


Baka, baka, baka!

What in the world possessed him to do that stupid thing?

He was near to punching himself in annoyance. He was a fool. A real dumb one, at that. To actually draw her near and let his senses take over when the door was left open? Yanagi-san caught him/them. The look on her face was unmistakable too. Surprise, disbelief and unless his eyes were playing tricks on him, mischief. He had not known Yanagi’s face for showing such but he saw it with his very own eyes. She actually looked delighted, though it was mixed with confusion and shock. What did she think of them now? Tokiya was no fool. He knew that any blundering idiot that would stray inside his apartment would know that something was going on.

Was she mad at him for taking advantage of her?

Hopefully not. She didn’t even seem to protest. What did that mean?

He messed things up. What an idiot! He yelled inwardly on and on throughout the whole period. He wasn’t paying attention to anything at the moment. All he knew was that he had recently exposed his vulnerable side to a girl who confused him, and that he nearly kissed her. And after all that, Yanagi appeared and caught the two of them in a prominent position that would give away the term: lovers.

Then again, maybe it was a good thing Yanagi showed up. If it continued, if he did kiss her, what would happen next? Would she get mad at him for doing so?

He was too caught up with his thoughts to notice the girl beside him. Apparently, she was thinking the same way.

Just give me an explanation, will you?

Yanagi had taken notice of the two teenagers walking behind Recca and her. She chuckled secretly to herself and she took hold of Recca’s hand, whispering to him a few, well chosen words. Her boyfriend immediately gave her a look of pure surprise, which then on turned to glee and excitement. Good. He was just as into this as she is.

How are you sure it would work? He mouthed to her.

She gave him her sweetest, most innocent smile, which proved ironic for the plan they were commencing. It was too perfect. After catching the two that morning, a plan had instantly registered into her mind and she was determined to make it work. It would be good for the two of them, especially Fuuko who was looking so dense and the other so troubled.

They looked so cute. She giggled quietly, and shortly after, received a small poke from Recca. She promised to quiet down as she whispered the directions discreetly to her faithful ninja, who decided to help her out with her newly laid scheme.


::Thank Kami, it’s empty::

Fuuko nearly sprang to the swing set of the park. She sat on her favorite one, just under a big sakura tree. Too bad it wasn’t in full bloom yet. It was spring, and the blossoms were just starting to grow. Still, she was there for the comfort of the good old swing and not the tree. As soon as she properly adjusted her skirt, she kicked off and began reaching towards the sky. Fortunately, the rain decided to halt its activity and hid for a while to make room for the sun to shine. It felt nice; the air for it was crisp and cold...not hot or humid. It was perfect for her.

Just as she was starting to enjoy herself, she felt someone pass behind her. She gave a quick glance to her back and saw Tokiya retreating over to a small marble seat by another tree a few meters away. She was puzzled at his behavior. She didn’t get to see his face---only his back and she wondered whether the ensui wielder was angry with her.

“Hey, there.” A gentle voice greeted her from the behind and began pushing her.

“Oh, hello.” She responded immediately erasing Tokiya from her thoughts and staring at the sky before her.

Yanagi continued pushing her gently. “So...what’s up with the two of you now?”

Rather surprised at the straightforward question, Fuuko frowned. “What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean Fuuko. I wasn’t blind. I saw the two of you, and you know that very well.”

“That? Hey...were you spying on us the whole time, then?” she asked.

Yanagi laughed. “Of course not, Fuuko-chan. Like I said, I was walking by to check on Tokiya-kun this morning. I saw that the door was a bit open so I pushed it some more and eventually walked into you two. Don’t change the subject please, and humor me. What you were doing seemed interesting. Mind on giving me tips?” she asked, teasingly.

“Yanagi!” Fuuko exclaimed, indignantly. “How could you? You know Tokiya and I weren’t doing anything! What has gotten into that head of yours?”

“Fuuko,” Yanagi giggled, “I’m kidding you, okay? But really now, why do you sound so defensive then? I mean, if it were nothing, then why am I imagining my best friend to be blushing up to now? I assure you, she was pretty good at it for I saw her an hour ago.”

“I am not blushing!” she protested. “There’s nothing going on between me and Tokiya. Cut that out. That thing that you saw earlier was just a...”

“Delusion?” Yanagi cut in, hopefully.

Boy, I wish it were then. Fuuko muttered inwardly. “No, Yanagi...” she sighed exasperatedly. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know what it was.” She confessed.

“If I may say so...” the young healer put in carefully, “I think it was an outward result of mutual attraction, don’t you think so?”

Fuuko coughed. “ attraction? You must be kidding me. Who said I was attracted to him? And for kami’s sake, haven’t we discussed this before? How can Tokiya ever be attracted to me? That’s kinda strange. If you ask me, it might be you who’s having the delusion.”

“If he wasn’t attracted to you, then why was he about to kiss you and vice versa?” Yanagi posed.

She stopped dead right then and there. Fuuko opened her mouth to answer back but nothing came out. There was nothing to say. Yanagi got her, and she was right. She sat there, swinging blankly as her mind raced on and on with different questions, assumptions and nervous thoughts on a particular teenager with long silver hair.

“I...I...” she began, stammering. “I don’t know, Yanagi. I don’t know.” She shook her head sadly. “This can’t be happening. I...He knows about Raiha and I. He knew that Raiha died and that it was hard for me. He knows that I still love Raiha until just can’t be.”

“It is happening Fuuko, whether you like it or not.” Yanagi confirmed gently, halting the motion of the swing and holding the purple-haired girl’s shoulders in place. “There’s no denying it, right? Stop fooling yourself.”

“Yanagi, no matter what happens, all of you know that Raiha will forever and only be the one who’d be able to make me happy! You know that!” she said desperately, her confusion taking over.

“Aren’t you even willing to try, dear?”

::Get a hold on yourself Fuuko::

She shook her head again, this time firm. She promised Raiha to try and get over it, but not over him. “No. What you saw was just a mistake. That’s all it was. Mikagami and I are _friends_ and nothing more. We’ll never be anything more. Please get it through your head. I’ll talk to him later, by myself and sort things out.” A note of finality was present.

It was Yanagi’s turn to sigh. It was harder than she thought. She hadn’t anticipated that Fuuko would be this tough, this stubborn still. The girl was evidently in love with Raiha until now even though the man was dead. Why, though? Was it that hard to let go of love? Yanagi couldn’t blame Fuuko, herself not even knowing how’d she react if her Recca left her.

And how could she refuse Mikagami? The guy was good-looking, smart, witty, and most of all, kind and gentle. Though his exterior in the past did not show it, Yanagi knew her guts were correct. He wasn’t that bad. And he was falling for Fuuko! Most girls would kill for just 10 minutes to spend alone with the bishounen. It’s not everyday that you’d see Tokiya Mikagami with his eyes set on a girl. It was the perfect chance, and it was ruined because Fuuko had this problem with letting go.

Yanagi bit her lip. “I’m sorry, Fuuko-chan. I just thought it would be good for you.”

She heard the fuujin master exhale loudly. “Yanagi, you may know what’s best for me most of the time, but not all the time. This is my own fight; let me battle it by myself. I’ll run to you if I need healing, but I ask you to let me do this. I need to figure it out first. Okay?”

“Hai.” Yanagi nodded. She couldn’t do anything about it at the moment. She began pushing Fuuko again and both of them enjoyed the solitary moment. She could probably try Tokiya later, however her friend would be talking to the guy. She sighed once more. The only thing to do now was to hope that things turn out right. But with the way things are going, Mikagami being so restrained and Fuuko being so mulish, it was impossible that the two would end up as a perfect couple.

“Those two need to be pinched in order to move...” she mumbled softly.

“huh?” Fuuko asked. “You saying something Yanagi?”

A smile found its way to Yanagi’s lips. “Nope.” She answered quickly.


Great. What do I do now?

There was no way he was going over to her at this moment. Not when Yanagi’s there. They were probably laughing at him. Or she might be mocking him. He saw her lips moving and Yanagi’s mouth was full of bubbly laughter. There was no denying it; he was dumb when it came to these matters. Ask him a question on world history, he’d answer within a snap. Tell him to solve complex calculus on the blackboard and he’d have it faster than any man in school. But ask him about a girl?

He would end up stammering, red and blank.

Tokiya sighed and put a hand to his face. This was hopeless. There was no way he’d be able to get anything as close as a smart guess on how/why women act in different habits. He never meant to take advantage of her. It just that she...well, damn! She was just so captivating and he couldn’t resist. How would he put it into words? His mind had gone blank at that moment, his senses took over his practicality and all was lost as soon as he ventured into the depths of her being.

It was just so surreal, he couldn’t define what he was feeling.

“Oi, Mikagami...”

He looked up and saw the face of Recca’s peering over his. This was perfect timing. He never mentioned needing a sea monkey to help him with his personal distress. “Hi. What are you doing here, Hanabishi?” he asked tiredly.

“I was going to ask you the same thing.” Recca grinned lopsidedly. “Is that seat there taken, by any chance?” he asked, pointing to the empty space beside the quiet man.

“I have a feeling it’s about to be.” He replied dully.

The younger man plopped down eventually after snickering for 2 minutes. “So, is there any problem? You’re looking
pretty glum today for your usual passive self. Care to tell me?”

Tokiya gave him a strange look. “Why should I?”

“Uhh...because you’re my friend? And friends help each other, right?”

He gave out another small sigh. “I guess...but this is personal Hanabishi. I can’t let you know. I’d rather deal with it by myself. I appreciate your concern...but...”

“This doesn’t have anything to do with a girl, ne?” Recca hinted.

Mikagami frowned. “What is this, a set-up?”

A look of nervousness took toll on Recca’s face. “ What made you think that anyway?”

Tokiya narrowed his eyes. “What do you take me for then? Stupid? I’m not like that Hanabishi. I saw you and Yanagi whispering on the way here. And I have a good idea on what she was telling you. If you’d like to know, there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, going on between Kirisawa and me. If you’re here to match us up, nice try but it won’t work.”

Rather taken aback by the grim face and curt warnings, Recca widened his eyes. “Okay, sure. I knew you’d figure it out even before I say something.” He admitted. “Yanagi wanted me to coax you into talking to Fuuko because for some strange reason, hime is excited with the pairing...”

“What pairing?” Tokiya asked annoyed, but knew the answer was coming somehow.

“You and Fuuko.”

He rolled his eyes. “Shit, Hanabishi. This thing is getting on my nerves. First Fuuko, now Yanagi. What do you guys want me to do with her anyway?”

“With Fuuko?”

The silver haired man closed his eyes, drawing long and deep breaths before opening his mouth to answer Recca. It was getting to be irritating. He wanted to get out, to be alone, to escape this. However things weren’t that easy. Now the pesky ninja was on his trail and he didn’t even know what to do with Fuuko. He wanted to talk to her, to explain to her...but explain what? Rubbish?

Why couldn’t he explain what was happening?

That sole moment with her...alone, before Yanagi brought back everything. The scent of her violet locks, the arcane eyes and her personality that could match that of an angel. He called her an angel. He never thought the day would come when he’d change her label from tomboy to angel. It was usually reserved for Yanagi, whose kindness overcame any impossible problem. Things were different now. He saw her, not as a playful monkey, but as something else...

Is this what you call love?

He didn’t know. He was still confused. He needed help. From someone with experience. Tokiya glanced at the flame caster sitting beside him and waiting expectantly for his answer. Bingo. Maybe this guy could help him, knowing his relationship with Yanagi.

“Tell me, Recca...” he began, but hesitated. He inhaled and exhaled once more. “When you first met Yanagi, how did you feel about her?”

“Naze?” It was Recca’s turn to be confused.

“Just answer my question, please.”

“Ookay.” Recca shrugged. “Well, it was something I really couldn’t describe. I just met her one day and the next thing I knew, I was drawn to her.”


“When I saw her with those kids, when she healed me after I saved her...I just, well...why do you want to know
anyway?” the flame caster paused and stared at his former teammate. “Is this some kind of interrogation? Listen, if you’re going to do one of those Q&A about us, I’d be happy to tell you that we’re doing fine. We’ve fought and
everything, but it works out fine so you don’t have to slash me or anything.”

Mikagami laughed. “No, you don’t have to worry about me, having to kill you.” He started to loosen up a bit. “You already know my problem, don’t you?” he asked, a tad more seriously this time.


“I don’t know how I feel about it. I don’t get it.”

The Hokage leader halted briefly. “You’re in love with her.” He finally said, looking up at Mikagami. The latter was staring at him, with his mouth parted slightly. Speechless and eyes wide open, Recca would have found the whole picture funny if things weren’t that intense.

“You’re saying that I’m in love with her?” he repeated, blankly.

“Well, your symptoms are pretty obvious.”

“What symptoms?”

“You’re thinking of Fuuko, right?” Recca asked.

“...hai. You could say so.”

“You enjoy spending time with her too.”

“As a friend, well I’m supposed to, right? Well, yes again.” He agreed.

“And you nearly kissed her for no damned reason, am I correct?”

A few moments of silence pursued before Mikagami nodded slowly.

Recca shrugged again. “Well, there you go. There’s your proof. What are you going to do about it now that you’ve finally realized that you’re attracted to my childhood friend?”

“I have no idea.” He replied, indecisively. “This can’t be. You know, I can’t be in love with Fuuko. There’s got to be a reason why I’m acting like this, why I’m feeling this way...there’s got to be some logical explanation---”

“You know what your problem is, Mikagami?” Recca cut in.


“You’ve put too much reasoning into this whole thing. That’s the problem with you. You’re too serious about everything. I know you’re tired of hearing the same line over and over again, but lighten up man! Since the days of UBS, you were that rulebook person and up to now, you’re still finding the reason for love? You can’t explain what goes on when you’re in love. It just happens. Trust me. There’s no logical explanation, as you put it, because love is a feeling. You can’t explain emotions. So do yourself a favor and stop trying to figure out this thing. It will give you the headaches, I assure you and in the end, you really won’t get a single decent motive.”

Half stunned at the rather, wordy talk of Hanabishi, Tokiya had no choice but to listen to him. Was that it, then? That was all? He was in love with Kirisawa Fuuko? Maybe Recca was right. So many sleepless night had been spent just trying to figure out what lured him into her. Maybe there was no logic when it came to this feeling. But what was he going to do now? Approach Fuuko and tell her outright that he was head over heels for her?

She’d laugh at him, she wouldn’t believe a single word he’d say. Heck, he wasn’t quite sure that he was believing what Recca just told him. Love was an alien word to him now. He threw it away with the rest of the emotions he used to have when Mifuyu died. It was only now that things were coming back. How was he ever going to deal with this?

“Trust me, Mikagami. You’re in love with her.” Recca plainly stated, reading his thoughts.

He gave up.

“So maybe I am.” He heaved a sigh. “Look, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was supposed to help her because
during that time when I met her, she was suicidal, depressed and every negative emotion was spilling out. But she’s changed so quickly, that it’s hard to believe that I actually contributed to her happiness. It just happened. I was irritated and clueless on how to help her at first and the next thing I know, I was...” he trailed off.

“After knowing Fuuko these years, trust me. She was able to recover because you pushed her in the correct way. If it had been me or Yanagi or heck, Domon,” Recca shuddered a bit, jokingly, “she’d still be stuck in the islands of despair. And you were falling for her? Well, let me say that I was a bit taken aback, knowing you and our previous
experiences...but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. I have to agree with my hime that you two do look like an interesting pair to match up.”

“Do something silly and I will have your neck.” Tokiya threatened him. “I’ve seen too much matchmaker schemes in my class and none of them work out correctly.”

“Relax, man.” Recca playfully punched him. “I didn’t agree to that part. I told Yanagi that she should expect two
archenemies if I ever tried my hand at it. I promised to talk to you, that’s all. It’s up to you now, what are you going to do about it?”

“Shut my mouth and keep quiet for the rest of my life.” Tokiya replied sourly.

“Nani? Why on kami-sama’s name are you going to do that now, huh?” Recca asked incredulously.

“Have you forgotten one thing Hanabishi? Or did Raiha’s death seem to slip through that thick skull of yours?” Tokiya sarcastically said, rolling his eyes.

“Raiha? But I thought she was over that...”

“Apparently not.” He informed him. “One thing you guys should keep in mind is that it’s not easy to let go of a loved one. Fuuko’s still has problems letting go of those memories, though she tries not to show it. Hope that answers your question.”

“How would you know? You haven’t even tried telling her how you feel.”

Tokiya bowed his head slightly, letting silver tendrils fall past his ear. It took him a few moments, staring at his hands, fingers interlaced with one another. Was he willing to tell her? How could he anyway? She’d reject him. What’s the use?

He would rather not spend his time worry about how she would react to him. He knew the answer anyway. “No,
Hanabishi. I’m not going to tell her.”

“You’re not even going to take the possibility? You never know, I mean...”

A firm shake of the head told Recca that he wouldn’t be getting anything from the man.

He couldn’t tell her. Not now, not ever. He wasn’t willing to take any chances. He was a risk taker, in nature but the circumstances were different now. He wasn’t in a battle arena, gambling his life for Yanagi’s sake. Fuuko wouldn’t understand. She was too busy. She loved Raiha. Would there be space left in her heart for him? Most probably none. Still, he couldn’t keep himself from wondering, but reality hurts and this one had already struck him square on the face.

He wasn’t willing to risk getting hurt again. The prices were too high now.

to be continued