"...Thanks for understanding, guys...I just need some time alone," Rand stated sadly. The group landed in front of Township, and Rand made his way to his room. Rand had requested that they go home instead of chasing Habaruku, after seeing his mother Daisy crushed by the wall of stone. They agreed completely, and quickly made their way home on the back of Mina, the Great Bird. The rest of the group headed to their own rooms to sleep, while Sten and Bow stayed downstairs, Sten filling Bow in on what had happened, and to inform the rest of the group not to disturb Rand.

Katt put away her staff in the closet of her room and undressed, removing the small purple top she always wore, as well as removing her leggings. She slipped into bed and began to doze off immediately, exhausted from the events of the last few days. She hadn't slept well after Tiga and Ryu's fight, and she got a bit of restless, anxious sleep before they entered Evrai, only to have the day become one of the worst she had ever known...Tiga and Claris died before their very eyes and the eyes of the congregation, as well as Rand's near-death experience, only to have his life exchanged with his mother's...

"The stubborn old woman..." Katt whispered to herself, already feeling hot tears fall down her cheeks. Daisy was rough, and a bit pushy, but she was a loving mother, and she cooked well, too. Katt enjoyed the meal they shared in Daisy's home. She had sat next to Ryu and they had joked and laughed all through the evening...now, that time seems like it was many years ago. So much has changed...

"RrrrraaaaaaaRRRRRHHHHHH!" A deafening, unearthly scream echoed throughout the night and the countryside, jarring Katt from her sleep. She slipped out of bed and quickly put on her top, grabbed her staff and headed downstairs. Nina was there as well, awakened by the noise.

"W-what is it?" Nina asked the young fullen warrior. She looked shaken, shivering slightly as she trembled from the cool temperature inside, as well as the frightful cry. Her nightgown hung down to her feet, but she floated above the ground, her wings keeping her aloft.

"I dunno, but I don't think it's good..." Katt said, looking around. No one else had awoken, surprisingly. She started to head to the door. "Wait here, Nina...I'll check it out."

"Be careful..." Nina whispered, watching her companion walk outside their home. She ran through Township's streets, and headed out into the open field. Making good time with her amazing speed, she ran toward Mt. Fubi, where another cry rang out. She grit her teeth, and gripped her staff tighter, reading herself for anything.

Katt ascended the stony mountainside, looking for danger, or some kind of ferocious monster. As she came closer to the top, she sniffed the air. A familiar scent lingered in the breeze. Then she saw him.

Ryu sat atop the mountain, crying for the first time in many, many years. His eyes blurred as more of his tears fell to the ground, his sobs racking his breath. He pulled out his sword, the Empire Sword, and slammed it into the ground, sobbing uncontrollably. Everything that had happened in all of his life suddenly caught up to him. His father and sister's disappearance...his rejection from Gate...the pain he felt as Claris and Tiga died before them, as well as the mother of Rand. He punched the ground, doubled over as he bawled.

Katt watched her best friend cry his heart out, and she nearly began crying again too. Her heart went out to Ryu, and she wished that there was something she could do. She began to ascend the mountain to try to comfort him in any way she could. As she came closer, Ryu suddenly lifted up his head and let out a long, strangled cry, and transformed into a large blue dragon, and he quickly began flying away to the north. Katt hopped down the mountainside and ran off in hot pursuit.

Back at Township, dawn arrived to find most of Ryu's friends already awake, milling about. Nina prepared breakfast, Sten set the table, and Bow went to awake any stragglers, excluding Rand. Rand was free to come down as he chose. Spar stood near the window, absorbing the early morning sunlight. Bleu came down after Bow's prodding, rubbing her eyes and stretching, scratching her back with her scaly tail. Jean gave a few pieces of advise to Nina on her dishes, which she debated with him. Rand came down shortly after everyone, looking extremely tired and saddened. Bleu uncharacteristically slithered over to his side and placed her hand gently on his arm. Rand turned his large head to her, and lightly placed his massive hand over hers, his eyes bloodshot and puffy from last night's tears. He smiled a little, and went to have a seat at the table along with everyone else.

"Where's Katt and Ryu?" Bow asked, coming downstairs. "I haven't found them anywhere." He scratched his head and wondered where they could possibly be.

"Katt left last night to investigate some strange noise...and she hasn't come back..." Nina answered, looking down. "I hope she's ok..."

Rand looked up at Nina. "She'll be ok. I've known her for a long time, and that girl can fend for herself. And Ryu is a strong lad. I'm sure that he is fine, wherever he may be. Now, let's eat, and then we'll start looking." Everyone nodded in agreement, and took their places at the dining room table.

That same morning sun shone on Katt's fur as she panted, having jogged almost all night long after Ryu. She lost sight of him, but kept moving on. "Where could he be? I thought I last saw him around here, somewhere..." she asked herself, stifling a yawn. She wandered over the bridge near Coliseum and started heading north, sniffing at the air occasionally. Suddenly, her ears perked up as she caught Ryu's scent again. She headed to an open field to the west of Coliseum, and found the young ranger unconscious in the tall grass, having exhausted himself in his dragon form. Katt sprinted to his side and checked his pulse, and after finding it normal, she placed her arm around him and half dragged, half carried Ryu to the nearby town.

Katt paid the innkeeper and carried Ryu upstairs, gently placing him in the empty bed and covered his warm, muscular body. She stared at his sleeping form, and reached out to touch his face...she hesitated for a moment. Her fingers gently brushed over his cheek, feeling its warmth. She smiled softly, looking at the strong young man. Her heart fluttered as Ryu unconsciously moved toward her hand, nuzzling it in his sleep. She stopped for a moment to pull up a chair next to his bedside, and continued to lightly caress his cheek as he slept peacefully.

"Mmm...so warm..." Ryu mumbled, slowly awakening from his sleep. It was nighttime, and he was a little disoriented. As his vision cleared, he noticed two things. The first was that he was not at home in Township. The second thing was that a soft, warm, furry head was resting on his chest, and fuzzy fingers were resting on his shoulder.

Katt had fallen asleep looking after him, and Ryu could not help but smile warmly at her sleeping form. She looked so sweet...but she also looked uncomfortable, resting like that. So Ryu did the only thing his still-sleepy brain could think of...he gently picked her up and set her in the bed with him, lying her down next to him. He kept her head on his chest and lightly wrapped his arms around her, snuggling closer to her. "Goodnight..." he whispered, leaning down to kiss her forehead tenderly, closing his eyes and falling back asleep.

Ryu awoke the next morning with a yawn, and felt Katt's weight on his chest. He looked down only to find Katt's deep green eyes staring up into his. He smiled and gently ruffled her red hair. "Morning sleepyhead," he whispered. Katt still continued to look into his eyes, making Ryu blush slightly under such scrutiny.

"Why did you put me in the bed with you...?" She finally asked, gently trailing her fingers down his shoulder and chest.

"You looked so uncomfortable sleeping like that, hunched over the bed and in the chair...and I was partially asleep, so I just did what I thought was right. Do you think what I did was wrong...?"

"N-no...not at all...I just wondered and...and I..." Katt trailed off, looking down at his muscled chest, covered in his usual white shirt. Ryu smiled and lifted her chin to make their eyes meet.

"Don't worry Katt...I did it because I wanted to. Ok?" She nodded slowly, looking at him with uncertainty in her eyes, but also something else, something hidden, but yearning to be free...
"Why'd you kiss me?" She asked somewhat bluntly. Ryu looked a bit shocked.

"You were awake?" She nodded. "Oh...well..." he blushed and looked at her bashfully. "You looked so cute sleeping there...I couldn't resist." Katt's heart was beating like a drum, and Ryu could feel it, her chest pressed against his stomach. He cupped her cheek lightly in his hand, stroking her soft fur with his thumb. She closed her eyes and rubbed against his hand, purring softly, the first time Ryu had ever heard. He leaned down and kissed her full lips softly, catching her by surprise...but after a few moments, she melted into the kiss, returning it tenderly. They stayed together, their lips locked, for a time, finally drawing away and opening their eyes. Katt began to speak, but Ryu put a finger to her lips, hushing her, and wrapped his arms a bit tighter around her body, gently squeezing her close, her breasts pressing into his stomach. Katt's purrs echoed in the small room, vibrating against Ryu, and she slowly placed her head back upon his chest.

"Oh Ryu...I...I love you..." Katt whispered, nuzzling his chest. Ryu pulled her up closer, their legs entwining under the blankets, and their green eyes met. A fire of love burned brightly in them both, and they could see it, reflected in their emerald-colored orbs.

"Katt...I love you too," Ryu stated quietly, his lips meeting hers again in a passionate kiss. Ryu's eyes opened wide as he felt Katt's tongue brush over his lips, but he slowly parted them, drawing her tongue into his mouth. "Mmm..."

At noon, the two returned to Township, and were immediately assaulted by the group, bombarded with a hundred questions. "Where were you?" "What are you two doing together?" "Ryu, did you make it to third base?" "Bow, don't ask that! Are you two feeling ok?"

Ryu raised his hand for silence. He looked down at Katt, whose arms were wrapped around his chest, and he looked back up at the group. "Katt came after me and helped me through some...difficulties. We're home now, so there's no need to worry. And no, I haven't made it to third base yet, Bow." Katt winked and Ryu smiled, striding past the gawking company.

"Did you hear that?" "Aww, that's sweet..." "He said 'yet' as in soon!" "Oh geez, get over it already..."

That night, there was a knock at Ryu's door. "Come in," he said, putting down his sword, which he had retrieved from Mt. Fubi. Nina, who entered with a tray of food, greeted him.

"I thought you might be hungry after everything that had happened," she said quietly, setting the tray down on the nightstand. She looked at Ryu with a soft gaze.

"I am, thank you very much," Ryu stated, taking a bite of the food. "Mmm, delicious! My compliments to the chef!" He smiled brightly at Nina, who blushed.

"You're welcome...can I ask you a question?" Ryu looked up and nodded once, setting his food down. "Are you and Katt...in love? I mean, I think it's pretty obvious, but is it real love?"

Ryu answered without hesitation. "It is Nina...I love her dearly, for many reasons." He stared off into space, thinking about Katt, and heaved a sigh. Nina smiled and placed her hand on his.

"Good luck to you both, then...she's a lucky girl to have you." Nina winked and slowly flew out of his room, shutting the door behind her. Ryu smiled and started eating, noting that Nina had given him an extra plate and too much food for him to possibly eat...when Katt walked in.

"Ooooh, meat!" She squealed happily, and pounced Ryu, flattening him to the bed. Ryu laughed and gently pushed her off, Katt resting next to him. She giggled and kissed his cheek. "Can I have something to eat? I'm starved after chasing you." Ryu smiled and nodded...and mentally thanked Nina for being so thoughtful. The two shared a warm, friendly meal, often feeding each other forkfuls of Nina's cooking.

Ryu's eyes wandered over Katt's body as she ate...he noticed her graceful, voluptuous curves, and his mouth started watering, not for Nina's cooking. Katt caught him staring at her chest and she grinned a toothy smile. "See something you like?" she asked, pushing her chest out and cupping her hands under her breasts, as if offering them to him. Ryu swallowed nervously, blushing deeply. He felt a stirring in his loins, and Katt noticed this too. "I think that's a yes..." she said, pointing down at his pants. Ryu looked down and turned absolutely red, hiding his 'problem' with his hands. Katt merely smiled and climbed into his lap, grinding her hips down on him. "This is going to be a fun night..."

The third morning after returning from Evrai cast its sunlight in Ryu's room. Clothes were scattered on the floor, and the two lovers slept peacefully, nude and content in each other's arms. Katt wore a giant grin, obviously showing she enjoyed making a man out of Ryu...and vice versa. Katt gently ground her hips against Ryu's, waking him in quite a pleasurable way. "Morning sweetie," she cooed, kissing him. Ryu smiled and hugged her tightly, causing her to purr in content.

"We'd better get up...well, out of bed. You already helped me get up..." Ryu said, winking. Katt giggled and nuzzled his cheek. She slowly climbed out of bed, awarding Ryu a look at her lovely body.

"How about we go get a bath? I heard Niro got a hold of a water- heating machine. Hot baths are best!" She turned around and pulled Ryu out of bed. They peeked out of the door to see if anyone was awake...and quietly slipped downstairs, in the nude. Thankfully, it was still very, very early, and no one was awake quite yet. They slipped into the room where the water heater had been installed. Ryu turned a knob, and warm water began pouring out into a large tub, steaming in the early daylight. Once the tub was filled, they contentedly slipped in and bathed each other, with plenty of kissing and fondling in the process. This spurred them into another quick love-making session...

Shortly after breakfast, Sten, Nina, Katt and Ryu headed out of Township to go to Evrai and stop Habaruku. Rand decided to stay back, still shaken up by his mother's death. Bleu spent her time comforting Rand, since he responded well to her care. The four who were flying with Mina vowed to get revenge for him...

Disclaimer: Not my stuff. Except for the story, in and of itself. So there. Bleh. By the way, this story isn't over yet. So keep your eyes peeled. And please review. Reviews make me feel special. ^_^