It had come to a point where neither of them really knew what day it was or how much time had passed. Though Sougo didn't think more than four, Kagura said she didn't really care and time was just fictitious anyway.

"That's the worst answer in the world." Sougo scoffed, "You can say that about anything."

"So what?" Kagura shrugged, "Everything is made up then, yes. Especially you, you're the stuff of nightmares." Her grin was taunting and Sougo wished they were somewhere different, so they could spar and laugh and leave with a good memory.

"It's nice to know I lord over you, even in your dreams." He snickered at her flipping him off, her tongue sticking out and taking away from the crassness.

"Hello kiddies." Grey's cheerful greeting burnt over both their moods and Sougo tried to ignore how quickly Kagura tensed and how he burned at the sight.

Mark walked in behind him, looking pleased at the boy's snarl. "Today's the last day I'll be seeing you two." He greeted.

"Finally going to off yourself?" Sougo quipped cheerily.

"No, though you might end up committing seppuku considering the shame you will have brought to the Shinsengumi once I get the girl to confess today." Kagura's scoff echoed hollow. "Now, now, don't go showing me that attitude again. I've come up with a beautiful number for you today, truly a masterpiece." Mark's gloating was nauseating.

He loomed over Kagura, his shadow haunting her face like death's promise. His fists tightened around her collar, throwing her to the ground face up. Feet spread out atop of her, he sat over her legs, casually sliding a switchblade out of his pocket. The silver reflected off the fear in her eyes. Gently, Mark polished the blade with his sleeve, assessing it's shine with exaggerated care. "You know, they say the worst part about being a surgeon is cutting through the skin." The blade teased her skin, prodding and caressing. "Flesh has such an awful texture, you can feel the skin break beneath your touch, and the blood!" his nose wrinkled, "Well, they have those suction tubes for a reason."

Slowly, excruciatingly, his fingers curled her top upwards, pulling it up her chest and revealing the expanse of her stomach. Kagura swallowed sharply, the lump in her throat growing. Her arms were spread out taut and immobile and her helplessness choked her like she was trapped beneath ice. She closed her eyes, tried to dissociate, tried to imagine herself anywhere else- anywhereanywherehomehomehome- but a crushing slap forced her eyes open. Her cheek burned with her pride. "You will look at me." Mark commanded before pressing the knife into her skin right above her belly button.

Scarlet droplets amalgamated around the blade and Kagura winced, biting her lip to keep her voice silent. "Girls your age always want tattoos right? How about I give you something to remember our time together, hm?" Mark's tone was light, as though they were playing a game where consequences didn't exist and losing was impossible and they had nothing but time and time and time.

Kagura supposed that was exactly what it was.

Relishing in the agony slow cuts elicit within the nerves of the body, Mark's knife dipped into her flesh like a needle embroidering a tapestry of war. Trying to cock her head up to see the letters or symbols or whatever the lines he dug connected into, Kagura's vision blurred before anything registered. Her breath came in short pants, fists clenching in on themselves, nails biting into her palms. "Where's the princess girlie." Mark asked quietly.

Kagura's breath staggered. "Ok. Let's try this again, where is the princess?" the harshness of his tone was lost to the girl as Mark's finger dipped into her skin, widening the slit and sending her nerves howling, her brain short circuiting.

Kagura gurgled on her scream, panting harder. Mark stuck in another finger and Kagura's body arched, her wail breaking free of the prison of her will. "St-top it." Her eyes were heavy lidded and her tongue felt thick in her mouth.

"What was that?" Mark asked, his fingers twisting inside her, "You know the words." He coaxed, "You know what I want to hear."

Kagura's head rolled, her struggle plain to see in the helpless rage in her eyes and the sweat that rolled down her brow. She must have hesitated too long, because the blade was suddenly in her palm and her hand wouldn't move from its place, pierced into the floor and Kagura was screaming screaming screaming. Howling. She watched with horror as her hand gushed scarlet and the throbbing in her palm was worse than the gashes on her stomach and the pounding in her hand and she couldn't think couldn't fathom, couldn't understand where she was or what was happening. Locked in a nightmare.

The world blurred.

"Where's the princess?" Mark demanded.

The princess…the princess? Oh, the princess. Just tell him where she is, then it'll be over. It'll be over. Mark's fist shattered her thoughts, her skull cracking against the floor. Another fist, another blow, the blade ripped out of her hand, another cut into her side, more blood, more blood. Was she screaming? No howling. Howling, howling. Shrieking. The princess, the princess. Who was the princess? Why did she care? Just tell him, just tell him, then it'll stop. She wants it to stop. .stop.

"Stop." She gasped and it sounded pathetic in her ears.

"Tell me what I want to know."

"The princess.." she whispered and desperately, desperately, her glazed eyes darted around the room.

And all she could see was him.

And though her world blurred, he brought it back into focus. Kagura had never seen anguish on Sougo's face. Had never seen suffering curve his brow. Had never seen grief whirl in his eyes. Or a broken helplessness. And for all the suffering in her body, his eyes hurt her heart worse. She thought about what it would be like to be him. To do nothing but sit and watch as his body, not hers, was ravaged beyond repair. To watch the person you held in the highest regard crash down like a wraith, so pathetic and pitiful as to stoop so low as to betray everything just to stop the pain.

Kagura ached.

She ached for him.

And in his eyes she saw his plea. Endure, endure. The softest please.

"The…princess…is gone."

And as Sougo's lips trembled almost imperceptibly, his shoulders didn't lose any of their tension and his blood didn't beg for battle any less, but Kagura was going to make it. She was going to make it and she wasn't going to collapse like a dying star and Sougo was going to get them out of this and they were going to be okay.

Mark sighed in disappointment and reached into his bag, pulling out what looked to be a canister with a thick tube at the top. "Fine, have it your way." He twisted a dial on the device and a hint of a flame sparked at the tip. "Don't worry though, I still have a lot more planned. I know how to hit a Yato where it hurts." Kagura shifted in her spot, a bad feeling sending armies down her spine, "Sunlight, isn't it? Your ultimate weakness? Look at you, blessed with such beautiful skin, but so, so…sensitive." His sigh was fake but the heat of the flame was terrifyingly real. "Well…I know this isn't a star or anything, but it's about as close as I could get on such short notice." He pressed down on the button and an arc of flames burst through the tube.

Kagura's eyes widened, trembling as the fire danced closer to her. Kagura had been burned before, a pain so excruciating she couldn't bear to remember it. She shrank towards the wall, feeling pathetic at her blatant display of fear but the terror at seeing the flames overriding any other thoughts. As though annoyed with her movements, Mark strode over, grabbing her leg and pulling her flat to the ground. He lifted the bottom of her shirt, exposing her marred skin. The flames licked closer. They took up her whole sight. Kagura's scream ripped through the air.

And suddenly, all she could see was blood.

Mark and Grey's bodies flung into opposite walls, their heads fracturing against the cement, losing consciousness. Above them, two wooden swords gleamed in the dim light. Kagura followed their trail to see the enraged faces of the family she loved more than anything and her relief almost knocked her cold. Gin's rage darkened his face, the air seeming to crackle around him before it all melted away as he rushed towards her, Shinpachi following straight after, his eyes tight with worry. "Kagura-chan!" Shinpachi's voice cracked as he took in her bruised face and battered body.

Her smile, though shaky, was happier than it had ever been. "I knew…you guys would come." And the softness of her voice, so juxtaposed against her usual brashness, clenched the boys' hearts.

Shinpachi shook his head, bitter and sorry, so so sorry. "I'm sorry." He choked, "Because of us you-"

"Stupid…Shinpachi. You guys came, yes? It's…no one's fault." Her smile was sweet and her eyes loving.

"Y-yeah." And if Shinpachi's grin was watery, no one commented.

The young samurai picked up his sword, working to slice off Kagura's chains while Gin expertly chopped off the collar, giving it a good kick as it fell.

Gin's expression darkened the more he looked at his foster daughter. While Shinpachi had rushed over and blubbered away, Gin couldn't let go of the anger that swirled within. Ripping the sleeve off his kimono, Gin quickly wrapped it around Kagura's waist, staunching the blood and giving Shinpachi a smaller piece to tie her palm with. Slowly, Gin's hand reached out, tucking Kagura's head underneath his chin, embracing her with a gentle intensity. "We couldn't save you guys last time, but I promise, revenge is going to be sweeter than all the parfaits we're going to eat when we get home."

Shinpachi's eyes softened, "That's right. It's about time we got home isn't it?"

The samurai's eyes glimmered with the hints of humor, "Ahh that's right, you said you'd buy us hotpot after this mission, right Pachi-boy?"

Kagura tilted forward in excitement, "I haven't eaten in days." She encouraged, "I want-" her body froze up for a second, much to Shinpachi's frantic concern, "I want hotpot." She finished resolutely.

The boy sighed, looking bullied and resigned but not all that sad about it. "Fine, fine. But somewhere cheap. None of that high-class nonsense."

Kagura's smile was bloody, but Gin and Shinpachi's relief was no less paramount. It was going to be okay. They were going to go back home and go back to being idiots and they were going to slaughter some space pirates. Perfect.

Sougo knew the minute the door had burst open it would be those two Yorozuya idiots making a mess and some cheesy speech. But seeing the light in Kagura's eyes burst like fireworks, he couldn't even find it in him to criticize the cliché. Consumed with the sadistic glee at seeing those two bastards get knocked out, he didn't notice that a sword was whipping his way until his hands fell to the floor, cuffs shattered beside him. Startled, Sougo whipped his head up. Truly, he had never been more excited to see Hijikata in his life. Or rather, what Hijikata was holding out towards him. Sougo's sword fit perfectly in his palm, and yet, he didn't know what to say.

"A simple 'thanks Hijikata-san that was thoughtful', would be nice." Hijikata supplied for him, ignoring as Kondo burst into teary theatrics over how grateful he was that Sougo was fine.

"I'm okay Kondo-san. I'm fine." Sougo insisted, patting his commander on the back like he was an inconsolable child.

Sougo's eyes caught Hijikata's, "Thanks."

Despite the curtness, his gratitude was clear. The vice chief looked slightly startled, quickly glancing away and grunting. "Yeah, whatever. You'd be deadweight otherwise."

Except Sougo knew his sword had been lost in the fray of the fight within the hotel room, which meant Hijikata had to have sifted through junk and shattered glass to find it. Something warm blossomed inside him, but he quashed it as soon as he felt it. Tch. He didn't need anything distracting him for his next assassination- er, training exercise.

Gin stood up, surveying the room and finally acknowledging Sougo. He frowned as he noted his lack of disarray and Sougo couldn't meet his eyes. The air seemed to get denser before Kagura dispersed the negativity, clutching Shinpachi's side in an effort to walk, "What is everyone standing around here for? Let's get out of here, yes!"

"You came in on a police spaceship?" Sougo asked, already up and stretching out his aching limbs.

"They already know we're here." Kondo's sword shined like a beacon.

"Oh, what makes you say that gorilla?" Gin posed, though his sarcasm was evident considering the hallway had filled with pirates, all glowers and blades. "Shinpachi." Gin commanded, but he needed no words.

Shinpachi's brows were tight with determination, his grip around Kagura's waist firm. "I know."

Kagura's head bowed, overwhelmed with emotions, but also feeling like more of a burden than ever. "I'm sorry." She whispered.

"Sorry? Sorry for what. We're the Yorozuya, when one of us is in trouble, it's up to the other two to protect them." Shinpachi's smile was kind and Kagura's head rested on his shoulder for only a moment before her fist, being irrelevant that it was still healing from being broken, punched into an enemy's face.

"Kagura-chan! I just said we're going to protect you!" Shinpachi shrieked, his sword flying around them in his spare hand.

"You weren't paying attention!" she defended as she stumbled along beside him.

Shinpachi's berating was drowned out by the clash of metal against metal as around them, a circle of protection formed. Gin's sword slashed into everything that moved, the fierce need to protect and the sick need for vengeance fueling his every move. Sougo ducked in behind him, slicing into a pirate's legs before swinging around in a kick and a parry. Every time his sword landed a hit, he felt just a little better, like a weight was being alleviated slice by slice. Beside him, Hijikata and Kondo seemed to stray just a little too close, like they were worried he'd disappear in the blink of an eye. He thought he should feel stifled. But even he couldn't ignore how much better it was to fight alongside your comrades more than anyone else. He wouldn't call them out on it just yet. He'd enjoy the feeling of home just a little while longer.

Barreling through the hordes of pirates, the group made its way back into the atrium Sougo and Kagura had found themselves trapped in before. Sougo looked around, noted that there was no sight of an escape route, and sighed. "We're lost."

"What! Lost! Gorilla what kind of leader are you!" Gin exclaimed, thwacking Kondo over his head.

"Me?! I was following Toshi!" Kondo defended, pointing at his Vice Chief.

"Whaddya mean you were following me? I was just running!" Hijikata retorted, already feeling tired and craving a cigarette.

Sougo shook his head in disappointment, "I've never seen a worse rescue team in my life. You're all useless." His voice thick with scorn.

As the arguing continued, Shinpachi's attention was drawn towards the wall of screens displaying security footage from all over the ship. As his eyes fell across the screen number seven, he blanched, shaking his head in denial. "No, no, no, noooo." As though emphatic repetition would change the inevitable.

Kagura glanced up at him curiously, before looking at where Shinpachi was intensely staring and yelled, "Nobody was guarding the ship?!"

The screen showed the loading dock where the Shinsengumi had parked itself, which would have been fine save for the figure tossing a black ball onto the roof of the ship before darting away. Three seconds later, all visibility was lost from the smoke that choked the air and their ears rattled at the sound of a boom that beat in their chests. Kondo's jaw dropped, panic swirling in his eyes as Hijikata's horror consumed him. "We're dead." Kondo mourned, looking like he was already in his grave, "The old man's really going to kill us this time!"

"We have no money to pay for this." Hijikata panicked, whipping out his sword and lurching around aggressively, "Whoever blew up our ship better walk into my blade right now!"

The tapping of a cane caught his attention as Captain Yamaguchi strode into the room followed by a horde of crew members. "Walk into your blade? Oh no." he shook his head smirking, "I do hope you're all prepared to die or be enslaved. You have no escape now." He boasted. "You don't see this kind of tactical genius every day, you know."

"Actually, that's one of the stupidest ideas on the planet and in every space drama ever made." Sougo's words dripped venom and his blood blazed with fury as he lunged towards the captain, sword drawn. Immediately, Hiro defended against the blow, his cane clattering to the ground as he whirled, stabbing into Sougo's right side, missing by an inch. Sougo's sword clashed against Hiro's, sparks flying from the friction. He was going to kill him. Slice him up, ribbons of red bursting out. Kill kill kill killkillkilll.

Sougo's sword grazed the side of Hiro's neck, a droplet of blood staining the metal. "We're not planning on escaping." He hissed, fully aware of the battles going on around him between his allies and the crew. "We're going to-"

Kagura's flying kick came out of nowhere as Sougo's sword carved through empty space. Hiro flew back from the weight of the girl's attack, his face bruising rapidly. "We're taking over your ship and arresting all of you scumbags." Kagura gloated, sporting that haughty expression that sent Sougo in a tizzy, "So bow down to your new captain maggot."

Kagura managed to look cool for all of three seconds before howling, arms clutching at her side, globby tears welling up in her eyes along with a puffy pout. Sougo smacked her over the head, ignoring her wail of indignation. "What are you doing you stupid brat!"

Gin spun over, his sword whacking someone over to the opposite side of the room, the most irritating grin Sougo had ever seen plastered on his face, "What? Are you jealous she stole the ending? Is that any way for an officer to behave? Tsk, tsk, so childish."

Kagura turned her nose up, "Honestly Gin-chan, look at how they waste our tax dollars on these babies, yes." How she managed to sound so condescending while clutching her waist in pain the sadist cop didn't know.

Sougo's brow twitched. "You don't even pay taxes."

Gin and Kagura shrugged, looking like the biggest pair of idiots he had ever seen. "We don't even have enough money for food, what do you expect us to give to the government?" Gin defended, picking his nose.

"We could give them Shinpachi's Otsu CDs, yes." Kagura suggested, grinning gleefully at Shinpachi's horrified cry.

"No, no, nobody wants that except otaku dorks." Gin shook his head, patting Kagura on the head for a decent effort.

Immediately, the three launched back into action as Hiro, finally recovered from Kagura's blow, wobbled his way over, sword drawn. Gin glanced at the two kids, allowing himself the smallest of smiles, before turning away and fighting a different battle. Those two could handle it.

"Aren't you going to drop dead yet China?" Sougo drawled, bending into a defensive stance.

Kagura huffed, staying at his right so he could guard her weak side. "Don't underestimate me Sadist. I could still kick your ass on my deathbed, yes." She flew into a jumping punch as Sougo elevated her attack by stabbing at Hiro from below.

Hiro twirled his sword, blocking against them both before jumping back, launching out a kick and spiralling his sword to aim at Kagura. Sougo parried the attack, before realizing a second too late he had left his side wide open. He braced himself for a blow that never came as Kagura's leg kicked away Hiro's arm, leaving Sougo able to slash into the man's knees, watching with satisfaction as he tumbled to the ground with a muffled scream.

Kicking him down, Sougo jabbed his foot into Hiro's back, looking like a lion about to devour his prey. "Now watch as we take over your ship and send you to prison for the rest of your life." And Hiro swore he saw the devil in those bloody eyes.

As Hijikata sauntered over with an overenthusiastic spinning of his handcuffs, Kagura's breath staggered and she felt her strength drain. Gently, her body fell against Sougo's. The boy felt his heart flutter and he stuffed the feeling far down so he wouldn't have to acknowledge it. "You're heavy." He muttered instead.

"Shut it bastard I'm tired, yes."

Beside them, they heard the last body thud to the ground and watched as Shinpachi felled the final crew member with a cry of satisfaction. "Ok." Gin called after looking at the control panel for all of two seconds before giving up, "Anybody actually know how to fly this thing or what?"

Kagura grimaced, her face buried in Sougo's shoulder. "Gin-chan's gonna kill us, yes."

Sougo's eyes flattened with disinterest, "You're not allowed to die yet China, I still own your life from how many times I've saved it." But Kagura didn't do anything more than snort and he was feeling just a little better than content, so Sougo thought it'd be okay if he wrapped an arm around her waist- just to make sure she didn't fall and drag him down with her.

Considering no bones were broken or bruises forming, Sougo figured Kagura thought it was okay too.

Three Days Later

Shinpachi folded his newspaper in two and sullenly dropped it in the trash. "Why is it that whenever we make the news it's always under the crime section?" he bemoaned, half sliding off the couch.

Gin waved his hand in the air, "Everything is arbitrary Pachi-boy. Nothing is even real. Look at us, for all we know, we could just be the figment of somebody's sick imagination."

Kagura snickered, "Well they must not be very smart, yes, considering how plain Shinpachi is. Without his glasses, does he even exist?"

Shinpachi shot up, "HEY! I can hear you, you know! I'm a human! HUMAN!"

But Kagura feigned deafness, ignoring him in favor of stuffing her face with some squid skewers.

"At least we got the ship back to earth." Gin defended, boots crossed over the desk top and hands cushioning his head, "Sure it got a little dented in the landing-"

"We crashed it Gin-san. Crashed it."

"-But the point is, we arrested a whole pirate squadron and we STILL haven't gotten any compensation so what's the REAL crime?" Gin cried, fist slamming against the table.

Shinpachi's face fell into his hands and he wondered if a person could possibly die from disappointment. Reflecting on his life, he figured not. But one could never be too careful.

"Well," he said, mustering up a smile, "At least Kagura-chan's okay. You were really brave you know." Shinpachi's arm wrapped around to gently pull Kagura into his chest in a side hug.

Kagura blushed slightly, hiding her expression behind her free flowing hair. "What kinda samurai are you, getting all sentimental, yes." But she didn't push him away. "I'm just glad Soyo-chan is safe." She exclaimed cheerfully.

Gin shivered, looking increasingly tired, "You're never allowed to be kidnapped again Kagura. Gin-san forbids it. If I have to hear that girl's screaming and worrying one more time, I really might just die."

Kagura stuck out her tongue, expertly dodging a tissue box projectile. The trio settled into a comfortable silence, one filled with the relieved contentedness of everything being as it should be and everybody being exactly where they ought to be. Except, as it always happened with the Yorozuya, things never stayed quiet for long. The front door fell ungraciously to the floor, a boot sized hole in the middle, and the trio's heads swiveled around, bug-eyed at the unfortunately commonplace audacity.

"Oyyy China. I heard your monster strength is back to normal so now it's time for you to live up to your promise." Sougo's bored drawl echoed in the room and Kagura's face slackened.

"What kinda cop are you, breaking down innocent people's doors!" she yelled, already on her feet and ready to kick the sadist cop back into space.

"Is that any way to speak to your superior?" Sougo taunted, smiling with a sadistic kind of excitement, "Wasn't it you who suggested we have a competition when we escaped?"

Kagura blanched. At the sight, Sougo's smirk widened. "And wasn't it also you who wanted to bet on the winner?" The girl's gaze immediately dropped to the side, heat building up behind her neck. "I'm also sure, that considering how utterly useless you were during the whole escape, that like I predicted, I kicked your ass and therefore, you need to help me assassinate Hijikata-san."

"Now wait just a second," Gin interjected, "You can't just go strolling in here and steal one of our valuable workers. We have a livelihood to upkeep! A certain standard of living!"

Sougo pulled out a wad of cash without hesitation, "I'll pay for all of this pig's meals until Hijikata-san dies."



"Listen Kagura, your food expenses make up at least 60% of our costs. Do you know how much money we'll save! It's just economic!" Gin insisted.

"With all the extra money, I can buy you those cute trinkets you like." He offered a few seconds later.

Kagura turned the deal over in her head. "Fine." She agreed, "But if I'm gonna do an assassination, I'm gonna do it right so don't expect this to last long." She warned, pointing her umbrella directly into his face and relishing in Gin's squeak of terror.

"Aye captain!" he saluted.

Turning back towards Sougo, Kagura cocked one elbow over her hip, "Let's hurry this up Sadist, I haven't got all day to waste like you do."

Without skipping a beat, Sougo grabbed hold of the girl's arm and dragged her out, "I'm the one with the real job idiot China girl."

"Sleeping and harassing me doesn't count as a job, yes."

"It's reconnaissance, reconnaissance." He insisted.

Kagura's eyes rolled like the waves. "You're stupid."

Sougo's elbow jabbed into her side. "You're an idiot." He retorted.

"Yeah well your hair's dumb looking and I'm hungry." She declared, punching him into the wall before dramatically pressing her hand against her forehead and widening her eyes, "I'm going to die of starvation. Look at me, I'm withering away! How am I supposed to work when I feel so weak?"

Sougo leered, grabbing her by the waist and throwing her into a storefront door, cackling at her affronted grunt. "Hey Sadist! What was that for!" Kagura's clenched fist shook before her face.

Sougo shrugged, tucking his hands into his pockets all nonchalant, "You said you were hungry, so I, being a gentleman, decided to take you to one of the nicest restaurants in Edo, be grateful." He strode in graciously, stepping over Kagura's sprawled body to approach the startled waitress. "Table for two." He said cheerfully.

Stuttering her greetings, the waitress walked them over to a small table with a nice view of the street before Sougo shook his head. "Actually, I think we need that table over there."

"But sir…that's a table for six."

Sougo's expression flattened as his thumb pointed behind him at a now slightly docile Kagura, "That monster girl's going to eat you all out of your rent for this month, so the bigger table is really just for your own convenience."

"…Right. Right of course sir, please take a seat."

Kagura plopped down onto the booth side, scanning the menu eagerly. "Miss! Miss!" she called, "I want everything!"

"Excuse me?" she asked, barely hiding her disbelief.

"I said I want one of everything, yes! And water! Lots of water and apple juice!" Kagura cried, eyes shining with glee.

In front of her, Sougo snorted, hiding his chuckles behind his hand. "Double the order for all the meat dishes and anything else that's good around here." He added and snickered to himself at the waitress's slightly glazed expression as she walked away.

"So tell me China, how many all-you-can-eat places are you banned from now?"

Kagura shrugged, sliding in her seat, "I dunno, it's hard to remember which ones are my fault and which ones are Gin-chan's for disorderly behavior." And Kagura looked so genuinely confused that Sougo couldn't help but actually laugh this time.

Kagura's cheeks blossomed, "I'll kill you." She threatened.

Sougo didn't have enough time to shoot back a retort as the first round of food was delivered to their table. Immediately, Kagura's hands dove into the fray, shoveling spoonfuls of rare meats, noodles and what Sougo thought might've been a decorative garnish into her mouth at an ungodly speed. Somewhere between amused and sickly fascinated, Sougo rushed to stab something onto his fork before it disappeared into the gluttonous vortex that was Kagura. "Thish ish good." Kagura garbled, a shrimp tail dangling from her mouth.

Sougo nodded, unconsciously speeding up his pace to match her own. As if sensing a competition for the remaining plate of spring rolls, Kagura's eyes glinted and her reflexes sharpened, chopsticks launching out to stab the golden rolls of deliciousness. Sougo beat her to it, snickering as he gobbled it down before choking as the pastry scalded his tongue. Cackling madly, Kagura reached over to grab the meat skewers in his plate and gobbled them down, pausing to splash her water into Sougo's open mouth, dribbling it all over his chin.

"That was just unnecessary China." He deadpanned, wiping at his front only a little petulantly.

"I was saving you from becoming a mute. Do you want to become the boy known for burning his tongue off eating a spring roll!" Sougo's lack of reply encouraged her to abandon all conversation in favor of eating.

Affronted at her renewed ignoring of his existence, Sougo launched himself into the battle for food, determined to out eat the Yato girl even if had to die trying. As the last plate was polished, one slightly nauseous but two utterly impassioned faces locked gazes with the waitress, "EVERYTHING AGAIN!" Glaring at one another, they broke concentration only to begin eating again.

Eventually, Sougo felt like he was going to die. His stomach was straining against the tight waistband of his slacks and he was sure his face was green with gluttony at this point. Flopping backwards he groaned. "I can't believe you're still eating." He muttered, "You're incredible."

Kagura grinned, her belly getting rounder with satisfaction. "I know. I'm one of a kind. I can even out-eat Papi. And he's an alien hunter." She boasted.

Sougo raised an eyebrow, watching as she continued eating with such a gusto it awed him. He never wanted to see another restaurant ever again. Or food for that matter. Or anything even remotely edible. Finally, Kagura licked the final grain of rice from her fork and Sougo wondered how anybody could have such a negative sex appeal. They decided to get some tea and wait to digest a little before even attempting to move out. When Sougo got the bill, he was pleased at how cheap it was compared to what they ate, but was nonetheless unsurprised when he was asked never to bring himself or his lady friend back to the establishment ever again.

Promising to never return, Sougo grabbed hold of Kagura and half-jokingly rolled her out the door like a ball. "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING TO A LADY!" She shrieked, shooting up to her feet.

Sougo pretended to look around, "Lady? I don't see anything but a pig."

He blocked her incoming fist with his forearm, using his other hand to grab at her swinging foot, twisting her ankle so she spun in the air only to whack him in the head with her other leg. Sougo grinned, feeling his blood pump as his fist struck out to hit her in the stomach before immediately stopping one inch before and leaving himself wide open to a blow that threw him flying back. Kagura glared, "What the hell do you think you're doing?" she demanded.

Sougo looked away.

"You don't have to dance around eggshells for me, yes." Sougo bit down the need to correct her incorrect expression, "I'm completely fine." To prove her point, she lifted up her shirt, her skin just as smooth as it had been before the whole mess had started. "You want to hit me, hit me!"

Sougo was mesmerized by the conviction in her stance and the demand in her tone. They didn't need to use words, their fists would speak for them. Their choreographed dance would express all they needed to. The past meant nothing in the face of their future (and Sougo wanted that future, he wanted it so bad).

"Be careful what you wish for China." As Sougo launched from his spot on the floor, his speed hid the grin on his face.

His fist rocketed into Kagura's face but was blocked by a well timed knee jab. Pulling back, Sougo struck Kagura in her chest only for her to parry his next blow and jump over his head in a flip that sent his heart fluttering. Kagura laughed as one of his kicks fell flat though it held no real malice. Grunting, Sougo went all in for his uppercut to get back at the teasing but she grabbed his fist in her hand with ease and tugged him into her. He could feel her hand slip from his to tighten around his cravat and suddenly, all he could register were her lips.

Sougo's brain short-circuited. He tried to jumpstart his thought process but all he could focus on was the fervor of her kiss, her hair tickling his cheeks and the fluttering of her lashes as her eyes closed. Kagura pulled away, suddenly feeling nervous, but Sougo's arms wrapped around her, clasping her against his chest. He definitely didn't want her to see whatever stupid expression he was making right then.

"Don't kiss me when you taste like soy sauce. It's gross." He wondered if he sounded as breathless as he felt.

"Oh because tasting like chilli peppers is any better, yes." She retorted, her voice muffled by his jacket.

Feeling mortified at Sougo's response, Kagura pushed away from his embrace and forced herself to be assertive. Pretending like her face wasn't heating up in the most embarrassing fashion, she pressed her finger into his chest. "L-listen to this because I'm only gonna say it once, yes! I want to spar with you. And I want to fight scummy pirates with you. And I want to be the only person who gets to kiss you." Kagura forced every muscle in her body to stay still and not crumble from suspense.

Sougo looked away, his hands gently reaching out to brush Kagura away. "I'm a selfish bastard you know." His voice was tight with doubt.

Kagura nodded. "I know. But it's okay because so am I."

"I've killed more people than you've ever even seen."

"I'm a murderer." He said after a pause.

Her eyes were steel in their resolve. "Your sword is used to protect. Just like my fists."

He glanced up, expression somber and so uncharacteristically small. "I couldn't protect what I wanted to. Not then, not now." Kagura could practically hear her screams and tears reverberating in his mind, could feel the weight of every bitter loss he carried on his back.

Kagura's fist tapped firmly into his chest, her mouth tight. "Since when have you been a coward? Neither of us have ever been able to always save everything we wanted to. But we're still here aren't we? When that guy was… asking me about Soyo-chan, I almost gave up. But I didn't." her conviction was magnetic, he drowned within her pull, "Because of you." She asserted and suddenly he was breathless, "And back then, we saved that Gorilla didn't we? And this town, and this planet, yes. So maybe we lost sometimes. That doesn't mean nothing has been worth anything."

Her palm flattened so she could feel his thudding heartbeat. "I want to protect what's important to me too. And I want to do it with you, you stupid sadist. I'm practically in love with you." Kagura's gaze dropped, eyes burrowed onto the ground, "I'm not refined like Anego or elegant like Tsukki or as…experienced as Sachan, but-"

Sougo moved faster than Kagura could register, taking her hand from off his chest to brush her knuckles against his lips. "That's not fair." He complained, though Kagura could see the break down of his will and the desperate relief in the curve of his brow, "Here I am fully in love with you and you're not even there. I demand compensation."

For all her confidence, Kagura looked startled, "I…what?"

"Did you suddenly become deaf China girl? I said I love you." Humor crinkled up his lips though his eyes were resolute in earnestness.

"You love me." She repeated, before a rain of relief washed over her and her smile glowed like the sun banishing the clouds. "Well good." She huffed, "Because I had big plans of parading you around town as my eternal servant and doing stupid couple stuff with you and one day having you killed off due to an 'unfortunate accident' to get rich off that widow's pension, yes."

Sougo laughed light and free, unburdened by the crippling fears he had felt for so long. In the end, Kagura was right about him being a coward, too afraid to face his insecurities head on, he had let that little brat take all the glory in confessing. Determined to right that wrong, he trapped her wrists within his grip and pushed the frazzled redhead against the alley wall. "Don't go thinking this was your idea. I already decided I was going to marry you. Why else would I subject myself to letting you eat my chances of ever being a house owner?"

Kagura met his gaze with a warm fire, "Tch. Don't be ridiculous, if I hadn't said anything you'd probably never have done anything." Her tone was endearing despite her teasing. "But since we're together now or whatever, I hope you know that if I ever catch you cheating, I'll string your intestines around the city and make you eat your balls." Her grin was as demonic as it was radiant, but despite the threat, Sougo thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

"That's funny." He countered, "Because I've already put in place three preventive measures against potential assassinations and two public humiliation punishments if I ever see you with another man." His breath intermingled with her own as his lips moved dangerously closer to hers.

"How dare you accuse me of adultery you jealous Sadist. I'm in this for the long haul." She retorted.

"Hahh? Are you trying to out commit me?" his voice was rife with amusement and suddenly, his lips were on hers like a meteor shower. "I want you." He declared, "I want the excitement I feel whenever I see your stupid face and playing out those dumb skits we do. I want everything about you from your obnoxious smile to all your burdens." His kiss was hard against her mouth, "Nobody else will do anymore." And his assertiveness made Kagura's knees tremble, "No one gets to beat you except me but-"

Kagura's eyes glimmered like the stars, "-But it's always more fun when we fight together, yes." She finished, before looping her arms around his neck and laughing into her kisses.

Sougo's chest was pressed up tight against hers and Kagura's fingers were fisted into his hair and despite the increasing heat in every part of his body, Sougo suddenly paused. "Hold on, just how much money are we talking?" he interrupted, more than slightly pleased with himself when he noted Kagura's pout at the broken contact.

"What the widow's pension?" Sougo nodded curtly and Kagura's smile turned positively wicked, "Enough to buy that house, yes."

"City hall closes in an hour…" Sougo suggested casually, but Kagura's hand was already clamped around his and the two were running down the streets of Edo, the thrill of a crazy scheme and love and stupid fun blurring the world. They ran down the streets they loved, conspiring about how best to die and how to convincingly act aggrieved. Kagura's grin sent rockets launching in his heart. Really, Sougo thought, if there was ever a person he'd choose to rip off the government and fake his own death with, there was no one else he'd rather have.

(and if they ended up getting caught by their friends and lectured until their ears bled, well, it was all worth it to see the glee laughing in Kagura's eyes. Truly, she was the only one for him)

A/N Ahhhh it's over, though it was super fun to write. I hope you all liked the ending, I had a lot of trouble with it to be honest, because I feel like Sougo actually would have a lot of issues in committing to someone due to his own feelings of inferiority. That said, the reason why I ship okikagu is because she sees right through him and always knocks sense into him. She sees him for what he is and I hope I managed to convey that well enough.

Thank you for reading this and to everyone who reviewed and here's a sneak peek for the plot of my next okikagu fic!

If it's Illegal, it's Probably Tax Free

Really, it was all their boss's faults for not paying them enough. In which the idiot pair, broke beyond belief and desperate for some cash, decide to launch a get-rich-quick scheme. Naturally, they start a fight club.

Needless to say, when Hijikata finds out, he'll kill them both himself.