DISCLAIMER: I do not own Dr. Stone! :)

Chapter One: Ruri

"…Shall we go to the banquet, then? With everybody."

Ruri and the rest of the group descended the tower together, chatting about the mysterious one hundredth tale that had been waiting for three thousand seven hundred years to be told. As Kohaku, Chrome, and Suika made their way to the bonfires, Ruri caught Senku's eye, and, without a word spoken between them, she led him down a rarely used bridge.

Her companion didn't ask questions, content to follow her for now. After hearing about all the incredible things he had done, Ruri knew that he was wise enough to discern that she had led him away from the others for a reason.

And it was strange that after the years that Ruri had spent memorizing every single word of the Hundred Tales, there was something else, something closer to her heart, that she needed to talk about during the very first time she was alone with Ishigami Senku.

She stopped in the middle of the bridge and looked out at the edge of the water, taking a deep breath and enjoying the fact that she could. Senku, still silent, faced the same direction, placing his hands on the rope barrier as he waited for her to speak.

When she finally did, Ruri told him about herself and Kohaku.

This story wasn't nearly as grand as the one she had told everybody earlier, but Ruri saw that Senku still listened with the same level of close attention. And when she was finished…

"So that's why the lioness didn't trust Gen at first," Senku mused.

"After what I had done, Kohaku made sure she would never be fooled by words again. But it only…"

It only worked because it was me.

"After that, she still fetched hot spring water for me everyday, but she didn't stay anymore. As soon as she emptied her pot, Kohaku would run. But one day, she was away for the whole day and the whole night. And when she came back, I knew something had happened, because her hair was tied differently from before."

Ruri thought she saw Senku smile out of the corner of her eye, but when he didn't say anything, she continued.

"Little by little, Kohaku started to tell me things…"

"Here's your hot water, Ruri-nee. I'm glad I was able to escape Chrome for a while."

After thanking her sister for the second batch of hot water, Ruri couldn't help but ask, "Escape Chrome?"

Kohaku nodded. "Last night, I really tried my best to hold on, but he made me fall off a tree. I just couldn't take it anymore," she said, shuddering.

"Anyway," her sister continued, "I should be getting back – he's all alone with Chrome." With that, Kohaku smiled and gave her a wave before running to the bridge that separated the tower and the arena from the rest of Ishigami Village.

Still confused, Ruri waved back before falling into a somber silence. She had missed Chrome very much during the years… but he must have changed a great deal during their time apart if he was now the type of man who would push Kohaku off a tree and make her feel relieved that she was able to escape.

"Did you know that we're moving around the sun, Ruri-nee?"

"You should have seen it; he said it was called 'electricity.'"

"Look! Isn't it pretty, Ruri-nee? It's like ice that doesn't melt!"

"Chrome's been practicing his fighting for you, Ruri-nee."

"…and things changed. She would drop off the hot spring water for me, and then, after telling me a little about her day, Kohaku would run."

Senku chuckled.

"She ran before, and she's running now? Aside from the talking thing, that sounds 10 billion percent the same to me."

And Ruri tried, the best way she could, to explain to the man beside her how different it was, and what it meant to Ruri to see Kohaku change from somebody who ran away because she couldn't bear to look at her dying sister to somebody who ran to good people and delicious food and non-melting ice; who ran to a new friend who showed Kohaku a life beyond the monotonous, backbreaking work of bringing her sister healing water to delay her death by inches.

Her sister's giggles about her new friend's reaction to Chrome's endless questions; the glazed look in her eyes as she tried to describe to Ruri how delicious chewy foxtail grass soup was; her laughter as she told Ruri how she once had to carry that new friend up a mountain like a kitten; the frown that Kohaku determinedly tried to keep on her face as she grumbled about the irritating man who called her a lioness…

…the looks of wonder, and exasperation, and cheerfulness, and worry, and hope that Ruri saw in Kohaku's eyes during her brief visits; looks that filled Ruri with indescribable joy because her beloved sister was no longer alone in the world…

Ruri was grateful.

Thank you, Senku.

After a few more minutes of conversation, Ruri knew it was time. Solemnly, she turned and walked across the rest of the bridge and into the forest, knowing by his quiet steps that Senku was following her lead.

As they both made their way through the trees, she spoke.

"The last part of the story is a message from your father. I thought you're the only one who should hear it…"

"Ruri-nee, Senku said… that it wasn't useless. All those years… they made a difference."

Ruri knew that she was holding in her hands a jar of medicine that would save her life.

But, in that moment, all she could see was the utterly lovely shade of blue Kohaku's eyes had turned as she told Ruri that Senku said all those years of carrying hot spring water, day after day, had mattered.

(End of Chapter One.) (01/11/19.)

I. My personal comments: If there's anybody in the whole world who loves Kohaku enough to analyze her every smile and laugh and facial expression, it's Ruri ^_^ I wanted to share this chapter with you because, during the course of this fanfic, even if Senku doesn't fully realize the effect he has on the people around him, there ARE characters in the story who are making their own observations. Ruri is one example, and Gen, when he shows up, will be another :) And more characters, of course! Unfortunately, because this fanfic is from Senku's perspective, we're going to get his dense version of events most of the time XD The next chapter will be from Senku's perspective :D

II. Important author's notes:

Hello, everybody! :) Thank you very much for reading the first chapter of my fanfic! :) In writing this story, my number one goal is to write a Senku/Kohaku fanfic that is one hundred percent in-character, and my second goal is to make this story one hundred percent canon-compliant ^_^ This fanfic will explore Senku and Kohaku's friendships and relationships both with each other and with the other characters (for example, Kohaku and Ruri's sisterly relationship).

I also wanted to let you know that this fanfic will be a slow burn romance ^_^ If that isn't the kind of story you're looking for, I'll understand if you choose to not continue reading this fanfic, but thank you for reading this first chapter and giving this story a chance! :D

"If you're already at your limit... I'll go all in with the little gunpowder I have left and try risking it to blow this off of you. But if you can hold out... then it'll take enough time to make you wanna die, but I'll be able to save you 10 billion percent!" Remember when Senku said that to Kohaku the day they met? :D

To the readers who decide to stay, I'm telling you now, this Senku/Kohaku fanfic will be slow burn... so incredibly slow burn that "it'll take enough time to make you wanna die." To quote the work-in-progress dearest to my heart, "Love grew from moments spent together; from shared interests; from confiding in each other and sharing problems and giving advice; from affection and respect." That's the kind of Senku/Kohaku fanfic this will be: shared moments, confiding in each other, affection, respect. And if you decide that that's the kind of fanfic you want to read, thank you so much for staying! ^_^

III. A tiny request: Thank you for reading my fanfic! :D If you've read this far, I hope you'll consider taking an extra minute to leave a review for Chapter One ("Ruri")? :D Reviews really mean a lot to me as a fanfiction writer, and all kinds of positive, negative, and/or constructive reviews are very welcome! ^_^ Even if it's the year 5738 or something, I would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter! :D (By the way, I'm "fireflyhwufanficwrit" on Reddit and "firefly-hwufanficwriterrrrr" on Tumblr :D)