HUGE A/N: I AM SOOOO SORRY. As before, Toyko Mew Mew has had less of a draw to me then before. However, there was also the slight problem of my beta reader never actually reading this chapter. But, because it's been SOOOOOO long and because I've had this in my documents for like MONTHS now and I have yet to do anything with it, I have decided to just post the damn thing. Lol. So if anybody finds any errors, please inform me. I went through my old chapters and It's pretty bad. Lol. I obviously need to improve my typing skills. Oh well. Anyway, I might have a chapter 10 on my computer at my fathers, but if I don't I'll have to redo the damn thing. However, I hope to have some free time do at get back into doing this story. I still love these characters, and I do want to finish this story. It might not be as good or long as I had originally intended, but I do hope to still get this jist of it out to you readers. I do want to share my idea/story with you guys.

Anyway, I hope you guys will forgive my HUGE absence. I do hope to get back into writing this story. Do forgive the long time between chapters. I am working on it as best as I can.

Now, ONWARDS ...

Chapter 9

Hello Mr. Floor-san

Last time:

Ichigo laughed nervously, telling Ryou right away that there was a good chance he wouldn't like what she was asking. Maybe that was why she offered to tell him that; because there was such a high chance that he wouldn't do it.

"Can you help me find a way to contact Kish?"

--

(Ryou's Point of View)

She had to be kidding.

She did not just ask him to find Kish for her.

But she did…

Ryou's brain was on overload with this one. Here they were-after a mental breakdown on Ichigo's part and a rather embarrassing confrontation about his friends list over the last few months-and she suddenly has the need to get in touch with old enemies. An enemy who lives light-years away for that matter! I must be missing something here.

In his confusion all he could do was stare at Ichigo with blinking eyes and an open mouth.

To her credit, Ichigo quickly picked up on his confusion and stepped in to persuade him further. "Once he's here I'll explain everything and you can question me all you like."

Ryou snorted in reply. I most definitely am NOT going into a situation with Kish, knowing less then him. But why would she want to confide her problems in him?

(Ichigo's Point of View)

After adding her last point of persuasion, Ichigo waited in agonizing silence while she tried to read Ryou's face. He had given a quick snort in response, but she couldn't be sure if it was to indicate that she had better, or if it were something else. She couldn't read his mind, but with his walls down from their previous conversation she could easily read his most forefront emotion: hurt.

Of course she hadn't been expecting this. Shock, yes. Anger, most definitely. But hurt? Looking away sharply, she studied a piece of trash on the ground, both comforted and not by his openness at that moment.

Ichigo fidgeted as she tried to shift through her thoughts. What was his reason for being hurt? It couldn't be…Up until then she hadn't really thought about it, but in looking back he had been really patient with her, never pushing her on the subject more then needed. And here it must seem like I\m asking to confide in another. I must have made it seem like I would only tell him out of necessity…What a jerk I am, and after he's been so kind to me these past few days. An image of him laughing at her state of attire flashed past her eyes. Well, mostly.

She was snapped out of her self loathing when Ryou spoke in a neutral, business like tone. "If you want to reach him, I'll need to know why. It's not a simple matter, with him being in another galaxy." He stated this while he looked at her blankly, clearly whipping all his emotions from his face in favor of keeping them from her. His walls were back up.

At his statement Ichigo let her shoulders fall in defeat. Of course he was right. He normally is. With a sigh she moved her eyes from the spot on the ground she had been staring at to look pleadingly at him. "I wouldn't be asking you for this if I though me and you could handle this ourselves. Kish or Pie would be the only ones who could possibly have an accurate insight on this!" She grasped a fist full of his shirt, clinging desperately and looking up at him through watering eyes.

Ryou sat rigid, staring at her through hallow eyes. She could tell he was putting all his force and strength into reining his emotions in. In response her other hand grabbed a hold of his shirt, and she pulled him down to her eye level as she tried to get some reaction out of his.

His face turned from hers…

She let out a choked sob, tears finally breaking from her control and streaming down her face. I must make you understand! You NEED to understand me Ryou!



"I can contact them back at the café, but I'll still need to know what's going on before they arrive," he said, speaking low and slow, as if the words pained him. His head was still turned away from her.

All she could do was nod.

--

(Third Person)

They sat in the kitchen, elbows propped on the counter, as Ryou booted up his computer. The walk back from the zoo had been long and silent. There was no conversation, both participants afraid of where it would lead, and neither knew what else to say. Even as they waited patiently for the computer to start, neither could muster the will to start the impending and inevitable discussion they knew they would need to have.

Finally Ryou got up, going around the counter and into the kitchen to disappear from Ichigo's sight. As soon as she could no longer see him, he spoke. "So, where does your tale start?"

"I-I…" Ichigo stammered. She let her head fall down limply, an act that portrayed her exhaustion. There was the sound of a cabinet door opening and closing.

"Is it really that hard to talk about?" was his next question, his voice still eerily neutral.

"H-Hai," was all she could manage to say. The tension was suffocating her…

The sound of a door opening and the soft, steady hum of the fridge filled the empty space.

"And it would be easier to talk to Kish." Ryou stated in a tone that told her he was not asking a question.

"Gods no!" came her quick reply, as she shook her head, still having not been raised.

The humming receded as the door was closed again, followed by a shuffling of clothes as Ryou reseated himself beside her. After letting out an exasperated sigh, Ichigo looked up.

A bar of chocolate sat innocently in front of her.

A weak smile spread across her face as she plopped a piece of the milk chocolate into her mouth, attempting a laugh as she turned to Ryou. "Thanks."

Ryou nodded in response as he flashed her a fleeting smile, meant to comfort her. It was apparent what emotions he was feeling right now, the foremost being confusion. His walls had fallen again. Apparently she had answered his pop quiz to his liking…sort of.

"You know…" she began as the computer screen opened to his desktop, "I could really use-"

Her words broke off as Ryou slid a bowl of strawberries across the counter to sit in front of them. She let out a sharp hysteric chuckle then, as her tears escape her eyes again to stain her cheeks as she launched herself at him, knocking both of them off their seats to hit the floor with a jolt.

Neither felt the hard floor beneath them…

(Ryou's Point of View)

They sat-more like half laid-on the cold floor that was steadily being warmed by the noon sun. Neither made to move, Ichigo's shoulder shaking as she cried into Ryou's shirt while he steadily stroked her hair again. This time though, he wasn't sure how he would be able to comfort her. Last time he'd been able to get her smiling and laughing after admitting his situation and making a few jokes at his own expense. This time however…I don't even know WHAT the situation is!

Ichigo laughed gruffly, tears still flowing freely, as she spoke in a low, unsteady voice. "I came here first, right after I got back." Ryou looked down at her, her head still buried in his shirt, her words slightly muffled. He was sure he still heard correctly, but…Did she come looking for me?

"I came home looking for security, and I knew it'd find it here…" What about her family? Her mom said she normally talks to her about everything…And what about the Mew's? She could have easily contacted Mint. She looked up at him then, and gave him a teary smile. "I came here, knowing I'd find that security in you. I knew you would look after me, keep me safe. You always did, and I guess I took that for granted before. I'm sorry."

He starred down at her, shock clear on his face, as she smiled again and reburied her face in his shirt. He heard her inhale and then sigh, almost like that had been the hardest part. I doubt that. His right arm tightened around her as he continued to stoke her hair with his left. He didn't know what to say, but…She came to me! ME!!

Her head remained down, but he could almost feel her smile through his shirt, and he could have sworn he heard it in her words as she spoke. "I know for certain you're going to give me the whole 'I told you so' speech," he snorted, positive that if she said so, he would, "but ever since I discovered the differences in Masaya-" both flinched slightly at the name, "-all I've wanted to do is hear you call me strawberry and tell me how much of a klutz I am."

She laughed again, and Ryou felt her bring a hand up to whip the tears from her face. He couldn't stop the content laugh from escaping him, his joy overwhelming, even in the face of the impending conversation they would soon have. SHE wanted to see HIM, just as HE wanted to see HER. He hadn't been entirely alone in his loneliness, and…If I'm lucky, maybe she'll stay this time…

"Of course, THIS is a plus," she stated as her hands linked around his waist and she pulled herself in to hug him, her face still pressed into his shirt. She inhaled again, letting out a content sigh as she did so.

She…

At this point, Ryou was sure his heart had stopped beating from the shock. Either he was dreaming, and in that case he didn't want to wake up, or Ichigo shared some of the same feelings as he did. Here they were, sitting on the hard floor, as he hugged her, and she was RETURNING the hug!

She released him so that she could look up at him. He stared back at her, still flabbergasted by all that was happening. When he heard her laughter, his eyes refocused and he looked at her, raising an eyebrow as he did. She giggled more in response.

"What?" he asked her, shocked smile still in place.

Ichigo shook her head, laughing again. "Nothing."

"Come on, tell me?" he asked again, moving his face closer to hers in the intent of making her flustered and uncomfortable. His strawberry really was predictable…

Or not.

Her grin broadened when he brought himself closer to her. She moved herself forward, no hesitance in her movements, as she gingerly placed her lips to his for a moment before pulling away.

The grin returned as she looked at him while he digested what just happened. His eyes were still wide with shock, and his mouth hadn't moved since he had felt the pressure of her lips upon his own. A hand felt the urge to rise up to his lips to confirm that this was in fact reality, but he resisted. They still tingled.

Holy! What just…She just…! Holy!

At this point, Ichigo's mind had jumped in to fill her with doubts. Her smile fell a little, and her eyes shifted nervously. Her hands went to the hem of her shirt, where she twisted and pulled the fabric in an attempt to diffuse her nerves.

"Sorry. I-I shouldn't have done that. Just, forget that every happened," she ranting, her eyes looking everywhere but at him as she attempted to move away. Ryou held tight. "I'm sorr-"

Her words were swallowed by the lips that crashed down on hers. A hand at the back of her head pulled her down, not that she was refusing. This time it was her who stared wide eyed as Ryou pulled away slowly, eyes half lidded and a cocky smile on his face.

If this is what dillusion and insanity gave him, he'd take it.

"Flustered, are we?" He taunted, laughter in his words.

"I…You…We…" she stammered in response, trying to connect what just happened.

"Yes. We," he stated in reply, liking what the 'we' implied. Together… The cocky and proud smile still played across his face.

In response to his words her eyes took on a happy hue-which he hadn't seen in a long time-and she laughed giddily. A light blush stained her cheeks, showing her innocence and modesty in these kinds of situations. As the reddening built, she left the need to bury her head in his shirt yet again.

"May I ask what is so interesting about my shirt?" he asked in a playful politeness.

"It smells like you," she said without lifting her head, and apparently without realizing what she said, because seconds later her face heated up again.

Ryou let out a rich laugh in respond, one of his hands going up to entangle in her hair as he ran his fingers through it. Thiswas something he had been dreaming of, where he and Ichigo would simply snuggle together and enjoy the others presence. Never, had he actually thought Ichigo would return his feelings. Sure he had hoped and dreamed, but because of Masaya being perfect he saw no room for her to have feelings for someone as imperfect and defective as himself.

Maybe she just hasn't realized it yet…

(Ichigo's Point of View)

She was still concerned for him. Right now he seemed fine-happy even. It made Ichigo even happier to know that she helped him; gave her warmth knowing he had accepted her advance, and even shared the same feelings.

Her stomach was fluttering right now. She had felt fluttered and flustered before, with Masaya, but it had never been a comfortable feeling. Always, when she felt these particular emotions around him, she had felt awkward and confused. It had always been Masaya who acted to erase her emotions, or at least put them in the back of her mind for a while.

With Ryou, as she snuggled up to him and breathed in his scent, there was a fluttery, flustered feeling, but she was content and relaxed. If issues weren't pressing, Ichigo knew she could easily fall asleep like this. And that was something, considering her difficulties in falling asleep next to Masaya…But that's because I KNOW him now. Even without HIS influence he was very different from how he presented himself before. Now,well now things are just out of hand…

The combing of his fingers through her hair was soothing, drowning out her thoughts as her eyes got heavy. If he kept at it much longer, she feared she really would fall asleep on him. Now that would be something. How would he react to that...?

Smiling, she looked up at Ryou, who was off in his own thoughts. She could guess fairly easily what he was thinking at that moment. Ryou, by nature, had a very low self-esteem. Add on all that has happened in his life, along with his difficulties in communicating with people and making friends, and as a person he doubts himself a lot. Ichigo could be fairly certain that Ryou was the type of person who belittled himself and constantly had difficulties allowing himself to be happy.

He probably suffered a lot when he was alone. Half a year! Anyone would suffer, but add on the stress of teaching people that are probably his age and the fact that all his friends left, and he must have felt hopelessly alone. Abandoned even.

"You will tell me all that's happened to you, won't you?" she asked meekly, not wanting to discomfort him.

In response, all she got was a sigh of resignation. He knew she would continue until she had pried all the information from him. She grinned.

"You will tell me what happened in London, won't you?" he questioned in return. In response she could feel her grin disappearing.

At his words, she became aware of her surroundings. The hard floor, warmed slightly from the sun, lay beneath them, where she could feel herself getting sore. The kitchen and café lounge was silent and cold, anticipating what was looming ahead for them, as if it knew something they didn't. The buzz of the fridge suddenly assaulted her ears, breaking her mood and filling her with a feeling of unsteadiness.

"Masaya…he-" she started, but was cut off as the café door was opened rather forcefully. The sun outside blinded the two from seeing who it was momentarily. Ichigo let out a sigh. "You really should learn to lock your doors…"

Ryou shrugged in reply. "No one comes here anymore. There was never a need."

Just as Ichigo was going to retort with a comment about burglars the person in the door stepped forward and shouted in a voice drenched in fury, "ICHIGO!"

(Ryou's Point of View)

Ryou's hand stilled in her hair, and his veins ran cold as he finally identified the person in the doorway. There, standing with white fists and a face contorted with anger, was none of then the person they had just been discussing. Here was the person who, in the eyes of everyone but himself, was perfect; someone who never got angry and who cared deeply for everyone and everything. Here, before them, looking like he was going to kill someone, was Masaya.

Ryou could only stare in shock at the sight before him. This was not the Masaya he knew. He had seen through the guy's perfect personality to what he was before, but it was always under layers of being 'the good guy'. This person here was letting it show to the world around him. He clearly didn't care if people saw his true self, and the emotion that he was feeling right then: anger.

He was surprised when he felt Ichigo grab his face and turn it to face her so that she blocked Masaya's view of Ryou. Her hands were cold and clammy, her face dreadfully white while eyes wide and scared starred at him pleadingly. Ryou was baffled by the change in her. Just minutes ago she had been glowing with happiness, and even though seconds before Masaya came she had been discomforted and a little upset, she hadn't been like this. They had even joked when the doors were first opened…before she realized it was Masaya! Gods, what DID he do?!

"Run."

What? It was the only thing going through his mind. Run? He didn't know what to say, other then…"What?"

"Take your laptop and RUN!" She almost yelled in her fear. She was shaking now…

Was she joking? Why would he need to run? "What? Why? Why would I need to-" he started, but was cut off when she placed a finger over his lips. She was looking behind her now, at the person he could see approaching. He could almost feel the hate and angry flowing off of his person.

"You need to contact Kish! He has to know that-" she had started to explain, but was interrupted as Masaya gripped her shoulder. Seconds later she let out a pained cry as his hand put pressure on her tender skin.

"Woman, did we not already say that you would do no such thing?" Masaya asked in a chilling voice, one Ryou couldn't even recognize. As if only just noticing Ryou, though he highly doubted he had, he turned and glared down at him. "So this is the one you tried to call." He stated, rather then questioning. His tone and poster did not allow room for an answer.

His gaze shifted back to Ichigo's to give her a withering, disgusted look. "We thought he had explained sufficiently that you were to not go near him."

Ichigo's eyes were still fixed on Ryou. "Run…"

At the statement, and her lack of response to him, Masaya lost his patients. With a quick flick of his arm he threw Ichigo to the side, where she skidded a little before coming to a stop in a heap of clothes and limbs. In that long moment as she flew through the air and hit the ground roughly, not a noise left her, like this was a practiced and frequent event. He did NOT!

"Ichigo!" Ryou shouted as he started to get up to run towards her. Unfortunately, Masaya had other plans as he stepped in front of Ryou to block his path.

"I think not. You will not go near what is ours."

Ryou stared up at the person in front of him. Masaya had NEVER taken to claiming Ichigo; he just didn't seem like that type of person. Even Ryou, who saw him for who he really was, hadn't thought him to be that possessive. Something isn't right. Abruptly, everything Masaya had said came back to him. We, ours…

"I am NOT yours!" Ichigo shouted heatedly. Of course she would never let anyone claim her.

"You are mine, and are you not his?" Was Masaya's retort, his eyes shifting over to look at her with that same cold gaze. She shrank back for a moment under the intimidating look before she regained her composure.

"I am neither of yours!" she shouted as she got to her feet and stood defiantly.

"We are leaving. Come," was Masaya's only response.

Ichigo's eyes darted over to Ryou, who was half standing, one knee still on the floor. Quickly he got to his feet, intent on making his voice known. "Ichigo may leave when she feels like it. Not before, or by any force of yours."

Her eyes continued to stare at him, sending a silent plea for him to run. Masaya ignored him and made a move to grab her, with the intention of leaving. Desperation and fear crept into her eyes as she took a step back and shouted over to him. "Ryou!" Upon realizing her words, she looked stricken, as if she felt like she had just condemned Ryou.

In response to her call, Ryou moved a step towards her, hand going out as if to grab for her.

Masaya whirled on him, his hand grabbing his and throwing Ryou to the ground, similarly to how he threw Ichigo, except Ryou was almost certain his hand would be bruised and sore later. Again, he started to get up when he was interrupted; this time by Ichigo.

"Masaya and Deep Blue share a body now! This is Deep Blue," she shouted, pointing at the body of Masaya. "Masaya is just as bad, just without the strength!" Her voice took on a desperated, yet defeated tone as her eyes darted back to Ryou and she yelled in a harsh, self-loathing tone, "He's too strong! There is no hope of besting him." Her eyes watered as she watched Ryou's stance shift to attack, and she shook with the force of her fear for Ryou. "No, don't! Run, call Kish!"

At Ichigo's declaration 'Masaya' turned his advancing back to Ryou, walking with a stance that clearly spoke of arrogance and confidence. He would not be brought down. "You should have kept your mouth shut, woman! We realize what this pathetic creature is capable of accomplishing. He will need to be eliminated now." he spoke in an even tone, though his voice was roaring with outrage and anger.

(Ichigo's Point of View)

I should never have involved him, never told him. Now I am responsible for ensuring that Ryou does not pay for my fears and idiocy.

Ichigo stepped forward again, every trace of fear gone from her at the prospect of her mistake. I shouldn't have told him, but I didn't know how else to deal with 'them'.And this was Ryou...everything about him made her feel safe and secure. With him by her side, Ichigo knew she could count on him watching over her. Aside from the dire need to be with him and the safety he provided her, Ichigo had also been certain that Ryou and her would be able to accomplish more then she could alone. Her hope had been that together they could com up with a way to deal with 'them'.

Either way, she would protect Ryou in whatever way she could. I will do better this time..."And you will not hurt him!"

Deep Blue didn't turn around or stop his current course of movement. He moved with slow, confident strides, knowing full well that he couldn't be stopped. Ryou gulped but stood his ground.

Seeing him not deter, Ichigo ran past him and stood in front of Ryou with her arms outstretched as if to shield him. "If you hurt him, I will not go with you."

Deep Blue let out a low, sinister laugh as he replied. "I can make you."

Ichigo smirked then, having predicted his next move. "Masaya will not approve, and we both know you need his consent to remain in complete control," she stated, knowing full well what she was doing.

(Ryou's Point of View)

Ryou gaped at Ichigo's bold statement. Clearly she'd had to deal with this situation before. What more did she go through? How long has she had to bend to their will?

Deep Blue scowled at her, obviously displeased by her declaration. Fortunately, after a lengthy pause in which he continued to glare at Ichigo, he finally relented and turned to glower at Ryou. "You will not go near her," he stated, with the underline threat clear to those present in the café. With that, he grabbed Ichigo's wrist and dragged her along with him as he exited the café doors.

The last that Ryou say was Ichigo looking back and giving him a look that clearly showed she was frightened. Ichigo…How are we going to get you out of this mess??

Any questions or corrections, please inform me. I hope the chapter makes sense. I've gone over it a few times to try and ensure it, but without my beta to give me a fresh perspective, I'm walking with a visibility of three feet so to speak.

Thanks to anybody who reads this. I really am not expecting a lot, so to anybody who actually makes it to the end to read this THANK YOU !!

Okay, sleep time now. It's 12:30 and I have a test first thing in the morning, and I know for a fact tomorrow is going to be a good day to stay away. I didn't make it through today, thats for sure.lol. I had to take a nap before I could get to this. Twas a good nap, although I freaked for a minute and thought it was tomorrow...or should I say today considering what time it is.

Toodles. I hope to see me soon. Lol.