Disclaimer: None of the characters used below belongs to me.
A/N: This is my long-overdue answer to xabie's Photo Albums challenge.
The italicized parts (this is me praying that ff.net would not mess my formatting up, as it is apt to do) are hers. It's called Race Track (Chapter 4). And just in case ff.net does mess up my formatting, it's the first two paragraphs in this story.
This story can stand alone or it can appear as a sequel to my Kindred Arc (Gasps! I have an arc! I always wanted to have my own arc.) =)
I know the characters are OOC, but I don't care. ;)
Oh, yeah, if you don't want to read Kindred, here's the background infor: they're older in this fic. Fuuko's in her last year of college and Mikagami had recently graduated. Hmmm…maybe that could account for the OOC-ness! Oh, yeah, and the two of them are together, as in romantically. =)
This one is for Lady Kai.
She like running, liked to hear the rhythmic thump of her sport shoes on the track; the way her surroundings blurred together; the gasping breathless feeling; the blankness, the mindlessness it created.
Slowing to a stop, she felt her heart gradually regaining its normal speed. She rested her hands on her knees, slightly bent forward, panting. Surroundings suddenly became too clear, too sharp, too angular. She looked up at the window on the third floor. Silver gleamed. Narrowing her eyes, she started to run again.
Tokiya Mikagami looked out the window of his room as he took a swallow of his stiff drink. He saw her stop for a while to catch her breath. She looked up to the hotel, he didn't know if she saw him, but then, she started running again.
He hurt her. He wanted to make things better but he couldn't seem to. He watched as she began another round on the tracks. She'd been at it for an hour now. He wanted to go down and ask her to stop before she pulls a muscle or two.
A frustrated sigh was torn his lips.
He invited her here to escape; to escape the pressures of college, of her numerous organizations, of real life in general. And for him to celebrate. He had graduated from his pre-law course and had been accepted in the top law school in the country.
And yet here he was, and there she was, wasting their precious time together.
A knock was heard. "Can I come in?"
Can I stop you? He swallowed the urge to take out his frustration on the newcomer by not saying anything.
Nevertheless, the speaker tentatively opened the door and crossed the room to where Mikagami was brooding.
"Niisan," the speaker began. And once more, Mikagami realized that he was still expecting the high-pitched voice of a young Kaoru to come from the young man beside him. The voice was deeper now, smoother, but the ever-present smirk was still the same. This kid needs to hang out less with Hanabishi.
Mikagami walked away, away from the view down below, away from the youth attempting to start a conversation with him. "Want a drink?"
Kaoru Koganei's face lit up with delight. He nodded enthusiastically. It seemed to him that no one from the former Hokage ninjas (with the exception of Ganko, but she didn't count since she was younger) took him seriously as an adult. To them he would always be the genki twelve-year old. But he was eighteen now.
But his smile immediately fell when his niisan walked to the room's mini-bar and took out a can of soda. He easily caught the can that was thrown at him. He nimbly tossed it back. "I prefer whatever it is you're drinking."
"You won't get your first alcohol from me." Was Mikagami's reply.
Kaoru snorted, intending to tell him that it won't be his first time to try the stuff, but realizing in the nick of time that such an admission would get him into trouble.
"Where's Ganko-chan?" Tokiya asked as he placed the can on the counter and poured himself another shot of scotch.
"At the breakfast buffet with Domon-niisan," Kaoru grinned at a memory of Domon attacking the buffet table, much to the horror of the waiters and staff. "But that's not what I'm here for,"
Tokiya didn't say anything, so Kaoru took that as a sign that the elder man was listening.
"Guess who I saw lounging around the hotels today."
Tokiya's grip on his glass tightened. Kaoru waited for two seconds and shrugged when all his niisan did was down his drink in one gulp.
"I saw Raiha-niisan." Kaoru waited for his niisan's usual jealous reaction, but found none. "You know."
"Already argued about it with her."
"So that's why she's running around in circles," Kaoru's voice held a hint of amusement as he walked towards the balcony and looked down at his neechan.
Tokiya slammed his glass down on the counter. "He found her last night and told her he wanted to have drinks with her tonight." He moved towards the balcony so he, too, could look at Fuuko. "Drinks my—"
"She told you that?"
"We had an argument as to whether or not she should go with him."
"I told her no."
Kaoru smirked. "And she hit the roof."
"There is no way in hell I'm going to sit back and watch that idiot steal her away from me."
"He's not going to steal her away." Kaoru assured him. "And even if he was, do you think Fuuko-nee would let him get away? Give her more credit than that." He snorted as he moved away from the balcony. "She's crazy about you, you know." Inside, he plopped down on the couch and grabbed the remote control for the television.
"What I don't understand is why she has this need to see him at all."
Kaoru channel-surfed as he pondered the question posed. "Maybe she just needs closure."
Tokiya didn't reply to that. He just looked down, content at watching her run away all her frustrations, run away all her hurt, run away from him…
"Closure," Tokiya repeated to himself.
But Kaoru heard him. "Yeah. Closure." He shrugged. "I mean, why else would she want to talk to Raiha-niisan?"
Though Kaoru didn't see, a smile spread across Mikagami's normally indifferent face. Tokiya took out his hand which he had jammed into his pocket. He stared at his long finger while his hand gripped the rails. His gaze returned to Fuuko after a reflection, a glint, blinded him for a moment.
And he was assured. Of her, of her feelings, of the two of them.
Kaoru sighed and tossed the remote back to the coffee table. "Man, this is so sad. A hundred channels with nothing to watch."
And for the longest while, the regular hustle and bustle in the dining hall of the elite hotel halted as people watched the two beautiful man who had met in the center of the room, unaware (or uncaring) that all attention was on them.
The two men eyed each other disdainfully before sitting opposite each other.
"You knew we were going to be here." Mikagami, not one for useless chitchat, delved right in.
Raiha was the one who had arranged the meeting. But Mikagami intended to take charge of it.
"I had to see her." The assassin told him.
"You've lost that right when you walked away from her years before and broke her heart." Came the cold, caustic reply.
That ought to have satisfied Mikagami, but it didn't.
"Look, Mikagami-san, I just want to talk to her, that's all I ask." Mikagami could see the desperation in Raiha's eyes.
"If she wants to talk to you, that's her decision." Mikagami told him shortly. Then, his eyes flashed dangerously. "But keep this in mind, Raiha. I would not hesitate to kill you if you hurt her in any way."
Raiha frowned, hiding his surprise. From the intelligence he gathered, Mikagami was a jealous boyfriend. And yet, here was the Hokage Iceman, telling him, Fuuko's ex, quite calmly that if Fuuko wanted to see him, then he may do so.
"Don't you care?" Raiha asked, his curiosity stirred.
"Oh, I care." Blue eyes stared into cerulean. "I'm just not threatened." Not anymore, Mikagami added to himself.
"You seem pretty sure of yourself."
"I am." Mikagami told him. "Is that all?" He asked dismissively. He had no desire to eat lunch with this man. "All you wanted was my permission to talk to her?"
"I didn't want to cause the two of you trouble."
"You won't." Mikagami stood up. "If you'll excuse me,"
He watched as Fuuko was escorted by the maitre 'd to the table where Raiha was waiting for her.
For all his confidence the day before, he was worried about the two of them meeting.
He wished that Fuuko would decline Raiha's invitation to dinner.
But she didn't.
What if Fuuko realizes that it's Raiha she loves? What if he begs her to go back to him? What if she breaks up with him?
He longed to hear what they were talking about.
Stop it, Mikagami, He told himself. What was it that Fuuko's mother always says? Ah yes. There can be no love where there is no trust.
Trust Fuuko. With that, he forced himself to turn around and walk away.
Mikagami timed it so that he would arrive just as Fuuko would finish shower. He knocked on her door.
"Hey." Tentative azure eyes probed his as she opened the door to him.
The two of them hadn't said two words to each other for most of the day, since that morning when two of them fought over Raiha.
"Can I come in?"
"Oh. Sure." She hesitated a bit. "Are you still mad?"
"No." He said as he walked towards the couch where he folded himself gracefully. "Are you?"
Fuuko shook her head as she sat down next to him.
"I came by to apologize for acting like a jealous boyfriend." Mikagami told her.
Fuuko laughed. "You are a jealous boyfriend." She snorted.
Mikagami reached for her, as he ached to do since their fight that morning.
"And I'm sorry too." Fuuko snuggled closer to him. "I should've thought about how you felt about this and him. After all, he was my ex."
"What did he say?"
"Nothing much." Fuuko shrugged. "He just wanted to make sure that things are fine between us and that there's no hard feelings,"
"He didn't try to beg for you to come back to him?"
Fuuko seemed to be amused by that question. "Is that what you're scared of?"
Tokiya was in no mood to be teased, even if it was his girlfriend who was doing the teasing. "How would you feel if my ex-girlfriend came back and asked if I could have dinner with her?"
It had the desired reaction he was aiming for. Fuuko's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open. "You have an ex? How come you never told me about her before?"
"You never asked," Tokiya shrugged, glad that for once, he wasn't the one who was experiencing bouts with jealousy.
Not to be deterred, Fuuko had kneeled on the sofa and turned Tokiya's chin towards her so that they would be face-to-face. "Come on, spill it!"
Tokiya gave her a lazy smile. "Maybe later. After you tell me about Raiha."
Fuuko frowned at him. "Tease."
Tokiya smirked as he leaned over to give her a swift kiss. "What did Raiha say?"
"Oh." Fuuko shrugged. "That he still loves me," Fuuko shook her head when Tokiya stiffened. "Sweetie, look at me." She said as he held his chin so he would face her. "He still loves me but he said that his place was with the Uruha, beside Kurei." She smiled sweetly at him. "And my place is right here. With you."
Tokiya smiled as he took the hand that held his face into his hand. Something golden glittered in Fuuko's hand. Her ring. His ring. Their promise ring.
And Tokiya knew that he had done something that no one had ever done before, not even Raiha with all of his talks about destiny. He had caught Fuuko. He had stilled the wind.
And someday soon, the gold band that was wrapped around the ring finger of Fuuko's left hand would be replaced, this time with diamonds.
Fuuko was done running now.
She was caught. He had caught her.
And he had no intention of letting go.
That didn't turn out the way I expected it too. But well…
Oh, and I'm planning to write more stories regarding what happened between chapters 9 and 10 of my fic Kindred (yep, to all those people who have not read it yet, this is your cue to read it). But I don't know when exactly. I guess it would depend on when the inspiration would strike.
Reviews would be very much appreciated!