A/N: this is meant to be a one-shot – the way I think Kel COULD have reacted, after Neal's Ordeal.


Kel was furious. Neal had almost died in that chamber. He looked first at her – which she took shameful pride in – and then to Yuki.

But for Neal to look at Yuki was not so bad. For Yuki to do, what she had done – it was unacceptable. On the Islands, she would have been stoned for her actions, if she hadn't been beheaded or ostracized long before because of her rapid decline into the bad habit of showing emotion.

Kel was furious, but she wore her mask.

"Hey Kel, where're you going?" Neal smiled lopsidedly, the shukusen still in his belt.

"Neal, if you don't want one of the Yamani delegations to mistake you for a cross-dresser, you might wish to remove that fan, or carry it more discreetly. I need to speak with Yuki, Sir Nealan, and I should do so with all haste." She bowed within the inch of politeness, for a knight from a squire. He grinned even more broadly, unaware of her anger.

That was good. Either he was inattentive, or her mask even covered her eyes.

Finally, she found Yuki. Lightly, she led her to a quiet, private room, closing the door.


The squire's eyes flicked up, cold. "You gave a man your fan," she near-growled in Yamani.

"Kel . . ."

"You gave a MAN your fan. Yukimi noh Daimoru, so-called eternal spinster. You – gave – a – man – your – fan. Has he asked you to marry him?"


"Have you told him you love him? Has he told you the same?"


"Do you plan to return to the Islands?"

"I – I don't . . ."

"Ever, for the rest of your life, do you plan to return to Yaman?"


"Then you have done an intensely stupid thing," Kel told her frostily. "They will say you have no honor. They will say you flirt like a whore. They will call you stupid, frivolous, and emotional. If you ever wish to return, you must go with Princess Shinkokami, or you will be stoned to death, Yuki. And – you truly must understand this about Neal – he goes through crushes like some children go through pets. One or two years spent on this or that, and on to the next. Perhaps requited admiration will make him settle down longer, but perhaps that just means he'll move on faster. If you don't plan to make this love, Yuki, you had better get your fan back."

Crimson, Yuki bowed.

"And practice your mask, Yuki," Kel sighed. She embraced the smaller girl. "I love you both, and want neither of you hurt because of the other."


A/N: Anyone want more?