Ken slipped out of the covers, sliding over and sitting on the edge of the bed. He sighed, shaking his head in his hands. HOw could he allow this? How could he possibly allow Yuffie to continue on with this? Continuing this farce could- and would ultimately- ruin his life. Everything. And he was in no position to suck yet another person into his world- a scary world that would give even the Boogeyman nightmares.
Now as he sat in the bed or the hotel, he considered leaving while he could. And how easy it would be! To leave her there, sleeping; peaceful.
"She'll never have a normal life if she doesn't get over me... over us." he decided. He got up slowly, picking up his pants and slipping them on slowly.
"Ken..." the small voice came from behind. Zipping his pants, he turned around, to see a big-tee clad Yuffie, standing in confusion at the other side of the bed.
"Yuffie, I have to go. And so do you..." and so he leaned over, grabbing his shirt and slipping it on, simultaneously grabbing his duffle bag- leather jacket on top- and walked out of the door.

***

Shuwen sighed, returning to his seat on the hardwood floor of his dojo. He was tire, appropriately so, due to "growing pains". Ever since... no, he couldn't think of that- not now. At the moment, he required his sanity.
"Lee." a voice struck from the dark, commanding, yet feminine and aged. Lee turned around, almost the way you do in nightmares when you know the bad guy is behind. Fully around, his eyes grew wide to see his mother emerge from the dark.
"How did you possibly get in?!" he demanded, almost afraid his "memoir" had dulled his senses temporarilly.
"Why, I simply did." she said, leaving it at that. She stepped into the candle light, her wizened face surprisingly pleasant; a beauty, she must have been, in her time. She tapped her cane to the hardwood floor, shattering the silence and fading out with an echo. She wore a small smile, thin lips pursed. And at once, Lee knew why she was here. He had much wished the day would come. And now that it was here, he dreaded it.
"Finally," he said, with a disapproving scoff. "What brings an old woman such as yourself to my dojo?"
"Well!" the woman replied indignantly, her grip on her cane tightening a considerable amount. "Since you have forgotten your manners. I suppose an old woman such as herself has no time to spart for formalities and pleasantries. Nor you, for that matter." The woman added, her voice cautious, yet a mischievous twinkly in her dark brown eyes remained.
"I do not honour that who has disrespected me for so long. Such goes against common sense." He spat, his voice harsh and tinged with bitterness.
"And what of filial piety?!" his mother asked, clearly outraged. He laughed, though it wasn't jovial.
"What *of* it? You disowned me from the entire family, chased me away in the middle of the night, never to see my family again..." he shook his head, folding tense arms across his chest.
"But I come to you now, in your aid as your-"
"I don't need you!" he interrupted, his voice an angry growl, find pointed. He hadn't even realized it, but she had, and in response her hand flew up in a fierce grasp at his wrist, her eyes fiery slits in the candlelight.
"No matter what, you *will* respect me." she whispered, her anger rising. Though her grip was hardly enough to retain him, he knew she was right, which was why he didn't retaliate.

***

"What would you do if I had bound feet?" The cap-wearing woman asked. The harsh, yet pleasant, laugh sounded as Koji set the skeletal foot down.
"I'd point and laugh." he said in jest, which in turn drew a surprised and mock-anger face from Clair. his partner.
"That tells me a lot about your friendship and loyalties!" she said with a chuckle, lightly hitting his shoulder. He smiled and wrote something down on his clipboard about the skeeton on display.
"What?" he asked, his voice an innocent tone. "I like my women with big feet, and big..."
"Hey, hey, too much info. I think I get the point!" she said, laughing along with him.
Koji Masuda, archaeologist extraordinaire, stood akimbo, admiring the work.
"Considering the age of ths, it's very well preserved. I would think this was an earlier body if it hadn't been so very decayed on the inside. But everything is still intact. I'm impressed."
"True, I bet she was rich. It cost a lot to have your feet bound. Only royalty could afford it."
"Clair, I find it so amusing when you try to school me on your modern ideas. You've already got me against foot binding, corsets, and female circumcision!" he said, bursting into laughter as he closed the case on the old Chinese woman.
"I'll make you a sensitive, one of these days."
"Is that a threat?"
"It's a promise."
He grinned then, a mischievous, handsome smile. "Well, you've promised much before, but we both know how *that* turns out." he said, poking her in the side and causing her to jump.
Koji and Clair had been partners for the longest, or so it seemed, and they were the best of friends. Always joking, they were good company in any event. A trio, really, but Ken had been busy recently, dealing with things he couldn't tell Clair- his girlfriend- about. Of course, Clair understood. When you were the girlfriend of an assassin, you learned quickly not to ask questions. The mystery of the relationship was almost as exciitng and appealing as archaeology.
"You guys don't work as hard as you claim!" Ken stated, standing in the doorway. He looked tired, but happy to see Clair again. His tight jeans and wifebeater- all topped with his leather jacket- seemed as though they would capitulate under his overwhelming body. It made Clair catch her breath as she turned, before running over and jumping into his arms.
He smiled and held her close, and in that moment he was the happiest man on earth. Koji raised an eyebrow and went back to his observing of the artifacts. Ken narrowed his eyes, and it was obvious that there was an undisclosed tension.
Clair hopped down, smiling as she looked to Ken, who in turn smiled down at her. He had been gone for perhaps a week, but that tension was still there. Clair chose to ignore it.
About a year ago, when Ken had first began to date Clair, he thought he'd visit Clair at work. Unfortunately he had no clue that her partner was a male and that the job required close and personal encounters. And so he was driven to pound the living daylights out of the man, leaning over Clair's shoulder to take notes. He had snatched Koji up by his collar, fist back, before Clair grabbed his arm and tried to calm him down and explain. Since then they'd had an "understanding". (Touch Clair and I'll shoot you in the face). But Ken had never quite apologized and Koji had never stopped pushing his luck with the witty repartee.