Promises

by Fuuko no Miko

Chapter 1

I Will Be Your Ninja

This was originally written in 2000. For twelve years I let it sit, and now I decided, after the world's longest writer's block, that I should at least finish it. I owe it to my wonderful muse, Fuuko Kirisawa who has inspired me to write one of my first fanfics ever. This chapter has been edited from the 2000 version, just minor changes, nothing that will impact the reader if you read (or even remembered it) from over a decade ago. To clovergirl100, thank you for your support. This one's for you hon.

Author's Notes: This fic was partially inspired by a challenge posed in the Flame of Recca Mailing List. It was previously proposed that the Uruha assassins had counterparts from the future who wanted to get rid of them. Raiha's proposed alter ego was Fuuko. And it kinda gave me this idea. It also answers this query: What if it wasn't Kagero who got to Fuuko first during episode 2 of the anime? I know this is going to sound far-fetched and all, but hey, that's what fanfics are for, right? For comments, flambes, and what-have-you, you know which button to hit...

"If you beat me, I will be your personal ninja."

The thought hit Fuuko's head repeatedly like an annoying echo. She seethed. It was one sentence that had plagued her for as far back as she can remember. That if she had the prowess to beat her childhood friend/enemy, that spiky-haired, ninja-wannabe baka Hanabishi, he'd serve her for life. A pledge that had remained only that as she's never had the luck nor the opportunity to do so. She refused to acknowledge the fact that he was better skilled than she was in the art of beating up people. Time and time again, she would try to outdo Recca at his game, and would, repeatedly berate herself for not being able to. She promised to live up to the day she was going to take him down.

Then she heard the news this morning...

Gossip travels fast in the high school corridors, and what Fuuko heard was anything but music to her ears. Recca, as been said, had become someone else's ninja. Someone else's lapdog. He was going to go on bended knee and give service to some person who had overcome him. It wasn't that ape Domon Ishijima. It was someone who looked anything but reared-up for any sort of battle. Sakoshita Yanagi. Damn. That frail, brown-haired, wide-eyed girl from her other class. Even her name sounded fragile. Willow. She looked as if she couldn't hurt a fly, much less defeat someone like Recca. Of course Fuuko found out later that the she didn't, and that Hanabishi had voluntarily given his unconditional servitude to her.

"Damn you, Hanabishi!" she yelled to the open air. "One of these days you're really going to get it from me! I'm going to make you kiss the very earth I walk on!" she kicked a piece of rock that had the misfortune to be in her way. "I'm going to make you beg for your life. You'll be goddamn sorry you cheated me..."

She continuously cursed at the empty space before her, kicking the dust beneath her feet, and trying to hold back unshed tears of anger. While doing so, she had been unaware of a pair of green eyes watching her.

"She looks mad." the purple-haired young man said. His gaze turned to the beautiful white orchid in his hand. "Well, I'm afraid if I gave you today, she just might stomp on you." he told the blossom. "Perhaps another time..." he sighed. He contented himself on watching Fuuko's violent outburst. He had been planning to give her the pretty flower today and ask her out for a drink or so, something he had in mind for the past week. But her mood was nothing to mess with. He knew her better than that.

"Oi, Raiha-sempai!" a freckled student called. "You aren't going home yet?"

"Iie. I have a few more things to do." the purple-haired young man answered.

"Like asking Fuuko-san on a date?" the other boy teased. Raiha merely smiled at him. "I wouldn't do that now if I were you. Seems Fuuko-san is fuming over Hanabishi's new girl."

"So I understand." Raiha said. "She's presently venting her anger at the poor tree." he observed.

"Well, I have to go." the other student said. "My oka-san is cooking yaki soba for dinner. See you in kendo practice tomorrow! Ja mate ne!" and with that he waved goodbye.

Raiha waved at the other student and returned his gaze to Fuuko. She was panting, obviously tired from hitting the poor tree in the school's now empty playground. He was about to approach her and say something to calm her down when another figure appeared from behind the trees.

Who is that?

A stranger in a billowing red cloak and an ominous-looking mask...

Fuuko's thoughts echoed the same sentiment. "Who the hell are you?" she blurted out.

A sinister smile registered on the open mouthpiece of the iron mask. "I am Kurei."

"What the hell do you want from me?" Fuuko took a step back, posing in a fighting stance.

"Hanabishi Recca..." Kurei said. A flicker on Fuuko's face confirmed his suspicions. "You know him, ne?"

"Hai. But what business is it of yours?" she stated defensively.

"Plenty." he stated as a matter-of-factly. "Is there any place we can talk in private?" his blue eyes shifted left and right. His gaze located Raiha, but Fuuko didn't notice.

"Sure." Fuuko said tentatively. "Come with me."

Raiha didn't like the looks of the stranger in the red cloak, nor did he think well of their conversation. He quietly disappeared among the line of cherry trees.

"It is called the fuujin." Kurei tells her, as he gave her an odd-looking armband with five stones surrounding a large, main stone. "It controls the wind."

"What do I do with it?" she had said, trying on the armband, which surprisingly was a perfect fit.

"You said you wanted to beat Recca, did you not?" Kurei said, to which Fuuko nodded. "You can use that to do so. It's a very powerful elemental weapon."

Fuuko eyed him skeptically. "And I'm supposed to buy that crap?' she said. "How can this fancy-looking arm-band beat Recca?"

"Try it." Kurei smirks. "Point it towards a certain direction and call for wind currents."

Fuuko would've laughed at this strange-looking man's suggestion, but she thought that there wasn't any harm in so doing. She aimed the fuujin at a particular clump of bushes and called. "Wind currents!" And in a blink of an eye, a powerful current of wind came from her armband and blew the bushes in all directions. Her jaw dropped in amazement as she blinked repeatedly, rubbing her eyes to see if she had not been merely dreaming.

Kurei laughed. "And that's not even half of what it can do." he explained. "It can do much, much more."

Fuuko raised a brow. "I see...but how much are you selling this thing? I doubt it comes for free."

"Smart girl." Kurei remarked. "Nothing in this world does. Although it doesn't cost a cent. I don't need money. I have loads of that going around. And it's definitely not for sale. A madougu like that is earned."

"A what?"

"A madougu. An elemental weapon." Kurei explained.

"How do I earn one?" Fuuko asked tentatively.

Kurei took the fuujin back from a slightly reluctant Fuuko. "Meet me here every afternoon, and we'll see. If you pass my training you can have this."

Fuuko snorted. "I don't need any training. I'm the best at what I do."

"If you're such a good fighter, then how come you can't beat the crap out of that Hanabishi boy, ne?" he mocked her. A corner of his mouth lifted as he saw the reaction it elicited on her face. He turned around, walking away. "Tomorrow, at the same time, same place. You must prove to me you are worth this high caliber weapon. Maybe then you could get your revenge on Hanabishi."

Revenge against Recca.

Fuuko liked the sound of that.

Raiha didn't.

He quietly got down from his perch on the tree and sneaked off. He didn't know who this Kurei person was, but he knew the guy spelled bad news for both Fuuko and Recca. It was the first time he saw something like the fuujin, and he was awed by its' power. That's not even half of it, if he would quote Kurei. He didn't know what the masked man wanted from Fuuko or from Recca. Though he did know this Kurei fellow wanted Fuuko to defeat Recca.

But why?

He lingered on this thought when he reached his apartment. When he opened the door, his eyes fell on the katana hanging on the wall of his humble abode. Above it was a portrait of an old man dressed in traditional ninja gear.

"It looks like we'll finally have use for all that training, Ojii-san." he spoke to the picture. And he took the finely-crafted sword from its' perch, unsheathing it and revealing its silver beauty. "I don't like it, but there seems to be little else I can do."

In the moonlit shadows, a figure could be seen practicing what seemed to be an ancient ritual of death.

The following day, Fuuko could be seen rushing towards the high school backyards as soon as the afternoon bell sounded off. She had changed into her gym outfit as she prepared to meet Kurei.

"Fuuko-san!" she heard a masculine voice call out.

She stopped in her tracks and turned her head. She was a bit taken aback as she saw the approaching figure.

"Raiha-sempai." she said."Uhm, hi!"

"Hello Fuuko-san." Raiha greeted in return. "I was wondering if you were busy..." he smiled.

"Why do you ask?"

"I'd like to...invite you for a snack... maybe some ice cream sundae at the shop across the street?"

Fuuko blushed a deep crimson, much to her chagrin. "Uh...uh..." she stammered. Words seemed to be stuck at the tip of her tongue. "I...uh..." beads of sweat poured on her brow as she searched for an answer. To say she was surprised was an understatement. She was in full blown shock.

"Are you doing anything this afternoon?" he inquired, raising a brow.

"Gee, I...uhm...well, I...see..."

"Kirisawa-san!" a cold, deep voice bellowed. Fuuko turned to see the person she was meeting.

"Kurei-san." she mumbled. "I'm coming..." she then turned nervously towards Raiha. "I-I-I-I got to go Raiha-sempai. My, eerrr...cousin is waiting to pick me up...gomen about that...maybe uh, next time...ne?" and she dashed off in an eye blink.

"Is that your boyfriend?" Kurei asked amusedly, seeing the look of utter disarray on Fuuko's face.

"No." she stated firmly, somehow salvaging a bit of her dignity. "Just someone I know." she said. "Shall we go?"

Kurei snickered. "I like your enthusiasm."

Fuuko said nothing and tried to rid her face of the red color it had been a few seconds ago. How embarassing! she thought. To blush like a redbeet in front of Raiha-sempai just like that! Good grief! if Recca had seen her, he'd be teasing her to death.

Not that she had any feelings for Raiha-sempai. Well...it wasn't exactly nothing...but...Raiha was, along with that cold fish sophomore Tokiya Mikagami, one of the high school heartthrobs. He was the captain of the school's Kendo varsity team, as well as the jujitsu, aikido and gymnastics squad. He was a demi-god. Unreachable. Girls in her class would gladly give up their weeks allowance to get two minutes of his attention.

"You aren't a member of his swooning fan club, are you?" Recca had once teased when he had caught her staring open mouthed at the violet-locked jock in an interschool meet.

She had replied that with a swing at Recca's head, earning him a lump that would last him three days. "Of course not!" she denied violently. "I just admire his martial arts skills." she put her hands on her hips. "Maybe I can pick up his style to beat the crap out of you." she sneered.

"You better." Recca smirked. "The techniques in your current repertoire aren't exactly working."

For a fair number of minutes, the crowd at the gymnasium had their attention averted to a cloud of dust and limbs in the grandstand, namely one of Hanabishi and Kirisawa.

Admiration…Fuuko had concluded. Raiha-sempai was the quintessential martial artist. He was excellent in both armed and hand-to-hand combat. Plus the fact that he had looks that would launch a thousand sighs was nothing to dismiss. His short, dark purple locks fell in soft strands on his face, occasionally covering his long-lashed green eyes that had a certain twinkle to them. He was actually more beautiful than handsome, almost effeminate in appearance, but his demeanor was anything but. He was all male, yet he exuded a charm that sent girls of all shapes, sizes and age groups call out his name in a spell.

She wasn't in love with him. Not at all. She just thinks he's a great fighter. Someone to emulate, not chase around. Somebody to idolize, not to drool over. Someone whose fighting skills are to be imitated. He was an icon. Sensei-material.

And that's why she blushed like a ripe tomato when he asked her to have an ice cream with her a few minutes ago.

Kuso, that didn't sound right.

"You know you should be focused when you train with me, Kirisawa-san." Kurei informed a distracted Fuuko. "Otherwise you'd never earn the right to use the fuujin."

"Lay it on." she challenged Kurei. Her thoughts now shifted to battle mode.

"Prepare yourself." and Kurei assumed a battle stance.

Raiha had grit his teeth, trying to restrain himself from interfering. It had only been an hour since Kurei and Fuuko started battle, but he could see the high school girl was exhausted. She was on her knees on the ground, gasping for air as Kurei stood above her, nary a scratch on his muscled chest.

"Is that all you can do?" his mouth twisted in mocking. "No wonder you can't defeat that baka Hanabishi. You can't even get a decent shot."

"Yaaaargggh!" Fuuko lunged angrily at Kurei, missing him by an inch and causing her to fall face first unto the soft earth, merely the grass cushioning her fall.

"Tsk, tsk..." Kurei shook his head. "At the rate we're going you could finish high school first before you can get a punch at me." he took his shirt that hung on a tree branch. "I think I've made a mistake."

"I am not..." Fuuko was panting, "A mistake! I'll show you..."

"Don't say it. Prove it." sighed Kurei. "Prove to me you're worth my coming here." He pulled the fuujin out of a duffel bag he was carrying. "Prove to me you're worth every crystal of this madougu."

Fuuko looked with hungry eyes at the fancy armband the black-haired stranger was carrying. She slowly got to her feet and wiped the dirt from her face. "I am worth it." she declared determinedly. "That madougu will be mine."

"I like your attitude." the dark-flamecaster said. He put his shirt on and returned the madougu to the bag. "Enough for today. I'll be back tomorrow...and you better improve."

Fuuko nodded as Kurei disappeared among the thick trees.

I will improve. I'm going to do better. She repeated this in her head again and again.

This is not right. Raiha thought. He hadn't much of a clue what Kurei was up to, but he definitely intends to find out. He smelled trouble a mile away. He knew he had to stick his nose in before Fuuko gets deep into this warp. But how?

"Konbanwa, Fuuko-san!"

The purple-haired girl turned about upon hearing that soft voice. She was almost surprised, as she thought she had been alone in the gym. Apparently not. His figure came clearer as he emerged from the dark corner of the gymnasium.

"Raiha-sempai! What a nice surprise." she scratched her head for the lack of anything to do and as a sort of prophylaxis to keep her face from turning red again. "Wh-what-what brings you here?"

The smile he flashed her way was enough to knock any girl's feet over. "I left my kendo stick after practice." he explained, showing the weapon in his hand. "I came back for it when I heard a noise here." His gaze moved towards the punching bag flattened in several places. "You're auditioning for the kickboxing team?"

"Uh, well, yeah sort of..." she lowered her gaze and poked her worn-out gym bag on the floor with her foot."I just wanted to improve my skills...you know...about this thing with Recca and me?"

Raiha nodded understandingly. "If you beat him he'll be your ninja, right? Or so I heard."

"Yeah...kinda..." an idea then came flashing through Fuuko's head. A conspiratorial smiled appeared on her lips. She might have to beg and grovel for this, but she had to try...

"Raiha-sempai, I was wondering..." she smiled innocently at him."Could you uh….help me?"

"What possibly could I help you with, Fuuko-san?" he tipped her chin with his hand, causing her gaze to meet his and a warm flush to run through her cheeks.

Kuso...why did he have to do that? She was suddenly all tongue-tied all over again. Damn. "I...I-I...I want to uh," she swallowed. "I want to improve my fighting skills...and I...was wondering if you could help me out. After all, you're so good with this stuff, ne? You're quite a warrior."

"The mighty Fuuko Kirisawa, asking me to help her?" he asked amusedly. "What for?"

An irate expression crossed Fuuko's face. "Well, then don't if you don't want to." she proceeded to pick up her gym bag and walk past him when he held her shoulders.

"Matte! I was just asking. Gomen." he smiled apologetically. "How can I refuse such a request from a pretty girl like you?"

This time she was blushing big time. She swore she had turned red down to the root of her hair. "You'll help train me then?" she asked enthusiastically. "You'll be my sensei?"

"I'll do better than that," Raiha winked. "I'll be your ninja."

Allllrighht...what the hell am I up to? What is wrong with this fic? Raiha doesn't know Kurei. Kurei has the fuujin and has a strange interest in Fuuko. Raiha going to the same high school and having short hair at that...well I certainly cannot give the plot away ^.^. Just you wait. The plot thickens...and this is as twisted and off-cannon as it can get. Almost like that Mikagami-Mikoto fic I'm dishing up...*KIDDING* (gets scalped by Mikagami fans, and Mikoto fans if there are any). Ah well, you know the routine. For comments, reactions, reviews, flames, icicles, wind currents and nose rings, you know what to do.