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Chapter 1

"What? You think you can kill me?" He stopped to look at her over his shoulder, his lips twisted up in a smirk.

Yuya frowned grimly and tightened her grip on her revolver. Fighting to keep the fine tremors in her hand from being seen, she cocked the gun and aimed for his heart.

"Oh?" Kyo swung around fully, his arms crossed lazily over his chest. "You are being serious today."

"Kyo," she said through grit teeth, "You killed my brother. I have to kill you."

In response, his lips broke out into full grin. His red eyes crackled with amusement through his long, brown bangs. Then, he chuckled.

"Damn you, Demon Eyes Kyo," she fumed, "How dare you laugh at me."

With an infuriating smirk still pasted on his arrogant features, he stepped toward her confidently. Yuya waited, her index finger gently pressing the trigger. Her sometimes enemy – sometimes protector drew nearer and she waited, rationalizing that he would be an easier target at a closer range. But she still didn't fire when he stopped in front of her, the muzzle of her gun pressed to his chest.

"So," he drawled, tossing his chin into the air, "You still think you can shoot me?"

She inhaled angrily and jammed the revolver further into his chest. "I hate you," she said, her eyes dropping to the place where her gun touched his clothing. "With all of my heart, I hate you."

He leaned in suddenly, the wisps of his dark hair brushing her forehead. "So shoot, little girl," he whispered.

Little girl. The two words she hated hearing the most. Everyone said it, usually as an endearment - but how she hated the words, especially when they fell from Kyo's condescending lips. Her lips tightened into an angry line. Then, forcing all thought from her mind, she closed her eyes and pulled the trigger.

The blast rang out in the still of the forest and even she was startled by the sound. Slowly, she peeled here eyes open.

"Do you always shoot with your eyes closed?" The voice came from just behind her ear and she spun, brandishing her revolver.

Yuya suddenly found both her wrists imprisoned in an iron grip. Kyo grabbed them and pulled upward, shaking her harshly. With no effort, he plucked the revolver from her fingers and tucked it into the back of his obi. For good measure, he shook her again by her upraised arms.

"Did you actually think that someone like you could kill me? Hn, little girl?"

Yuya muttered something under her breath, her head drooping so that her blond bangs obscured her eyes. Even so, Kyo could see the pleasing blush that rose to her cheeks.

"What was that?" He leaned in, taunting her with his patronizing tone.

"I said," Yuya exploded vehemently as she threw her head up suddenly, nearly biting his nose off, "I hate you!"

Kyo's eyebrows shot up and he nearly dropped her dangling arms. Then, his expression darkened – a subtlety completely lost on the irate Yuya, whose green eyes were sparkling in anger.

"You," he began in a deep rumble, his fingers tightening painfully around her abused wrists. He paused as Yuya's foot connected solidly with his shin. "Fool girl."

"Let go of me you arrogant, murdering bastard!" She kicked viciously at his shins again and was distantly surprised when he made no move to dodge.

Suddenly, Yuya found herself flying backward as Kyo threw her away from himself. She tumbled into a heap and instantly arched back to rub her smarting backside. Her eyes jerked up as she heard the crunch of dead twigs and dry leaves. Kyo walked to her fallen form, his lips set angrily and his eyes dangerous.

"You little twit," he said, looming over her.

Yuya said the first words that came to her. "I hate you," she repeated, spitting the words up at his shadowed face. "I hate you so much that I want to kill you."

He squatted and she suddenly found her eyes level with his. "Really?" It was a flat, deep statement.

"Your killed my brother-"

"I killed thousands. I didn't know he was your brother. It didn't matter at the time."

Yuya didn't hear the low tone of his voice or see the softening of his eyes. All she heard was that it hadn't mattered to him. Without thinking, she lunged forward and caught him by the collar of his yukata, dragging herself to him.

"I am going to kill you for my brother," she hissed, "And I don't care if I loose my life doing it." With that, she rocketed to her feet and took off into the forest.

Kyo straightened slowly and watched her go.

Yuya trudged miserably toward the nearest outpost of civilization. That haughty prick. She slapped her hand to her forehead, remembering how she had forgotten to get her gun back before rushing away. She smoothed her fingers over her face and sighed. Pressing the tip of her index finger to her chin, she thought of the ease with which Kyo had dodged her bullet. Well, she amended, it probably hadn't helped that she had closed her eyes. She smacked her fist into her palm. Why couldn't she just watch the bastard die? Why couldn't she just ignore the painful twinge in her chest every time she imagined the bullet embedding in his ribcage, the blood seeping from his wound, the arrogant smirk slipping from his face?

Continuing her conversation with herself, she threw her hands into the air. A revolver was probably not the best weapon to use against Kyo. He was much too fast to be killed by a bullet. Perhaps a blade, then? Yuya thought long and hard about it. There was no doubt that he was far, far superior to her in swordsmanship. However, she mused, as a plan began to take shape in her mind, everyone needed sleep, right? She adjusted her path and picked up her pace, heading for the town she knew that Kyo and the others would be meeting in.

The sun was already dipping low in the sky when Yuya slid the door open to her comrade's room at the inn. They all turned to her.

"Yuya-san!" Benitora called, waving a hand, "You're just in time for our drinking game!"

Yuya ignored him as her eyes passed over every person in the room. "Where's Kyo?"

"Said he wanted to be alone," Yukimura said as he reached over for a jug of sake.

Beside him, Sasuke rolled his eyes. "Actually," he amended in the voice too low for a child, "He said he couldn't stand our stupidity and wanted to be as far away from us as possible." He turned his honey eyes to Yuya. "I think he got himself a room at the end of the hall."

"The snob," Yukimura pitched in, chuckling, "He's in a dark mood, Yuya-san. I wouldn't go near him if I were you."

"Thank you," Yuya said shortly, the screen door snapping closed behind her. She padded down the long wooden hallway. She stopped at the last door and paused.


There was no answer. Assuming that any decent person would have answered, she slid the door open. As she expected, Kyo was sitting near the balcony with his sword resting against his shoulder.


"Hn," he said, not bothering to turn to look at her, "The lost kitten comes crawling home."

Yuya snorted angrily and stepped into the room, sliding the door shut behind her. "Why aren't you with the others?" She asked.

"Why aren't you with the others?"

She shrugged and knelt across the room from him, observing his sunlit profile. "They're drinking."

"And you assume I'm not?"

She watched as he tipped a sake cup to his lips. She shrugged again. "You're not coercing me into playing drinking games."

He smirked at this and set the porcelain cup onto the low wooden tray. "Make yourself useful and pour me a drink then."

Yuya huffed and tossed her hair. "Why should I?"

"Because," he said, turning his head slightly to pin her with an amused glare, "You're a woman and I'm a man and I'm thirsty."

"Arrogant, self-centered, egotistical, chauvinistic pig," she rattled off under her breath, reminding herself of how deeply she loathed this man.

"Stupid woman." He turned back to look out onto the bustling street beyond the balcony.

Grudgingly and not really knowing why, Yuya dragged herself up from the floor and stomped over to him. Then, with a grace that caused Kyo to raise one eyebrow, she knelt beside him and reached for the carafe of sake, pulling her kimono sleeve back with her other hand. He watched from the corner of his eyes as she delicately poured a thin, clear trail of liquid into his shallow sake cup. She set the carafe back on the tray and straightened.

"Oh?" Kyo turned, gracing her with a wicked grin, "So my stray cat has manners, after all."

Yuya frowned and glared. He lifted the cup to his lips and watched her from under hooded eyes.

"Hn." He set the empty cup down.

Yuya sat up in her futon. The moon was high in the sky and shone through the open screen door, painting the polished wood floor silver. She pulled a dagger that was the length of her forearm from under her blankets and held it in both hands. It was a simple piece, bought from an elderly swords smith. The old man had chided her for buying such an unladylike object and she had pretended to giggle, saying she only bought to protect her virgin honour. She pulled the blade free from its sheath as slowly as possible. Yuya studied her reflection in the blade. Could she kill Kyo? Could she drive this piece of metal through his heart? He was a real jerk but he wasn't all that bad. Then, her thoughts turned to her brother and she immediately felt the stirrings of guilt. How could she not at least try to avenge her brother? How could she continue to happily traipse along behind her older brother's murderer?

Her mind made up, Yuya crawled out of bead and made her way to where Kyo was sleeping, his back against the wall. She crept across the room and each creak of the floorboards beneath her feet made her cringe in fear. She stopped when she stood over Kyo. He slept sitting up against the wall with his forearm resting on one propped up knee, his other leg extended. For a moment, Yuya reconsidered as she looked at his face, tilted to the side as his head rested against the wall.

Then, she crouched before him, and, angling the dagger toward his chest, inhaled deeply and prepared to plunge the blade into his heart. Her breathing hitched slightly as she let her eyes close, imagining how she would pin him to the wall, how the blood would spill onto her hands, how his eyes would open just before death to see her face, how she would weep… Yuya shook her head with her eyes still closed and drew the blade back in preparation to stab him, wishing for her brother to rest in peace.

"Sorry, Kyo," she mumbled quietly as her muscles tensing for the strike.

"Apology not accepted."

Yuya's eyes snapped open and she was met with Kyo's red glare. Before she could react, she was tumbled backward onto the hardwood. Kyo pinned her forearms to the floor with his hands, his knees between her open thighs.

"So," he said, leering down at her, "This is why you came back."

"Kyo," she began angrily.

He cut her off. "If you're going to kill someone," he told her dryly, "Just kill them. Don't spend five minutes thinking about it."

"You," she strained upward against his grip on her arms, "You think it's easy to kill someone."

"Yes," his voice dropped, "I do."

Yuya fought the angry tears gathering at the corners of her eyes. "Well, I don't."

"And that," he said, lifting one hand to run his calloused fingertips over her cheek, "Is why you'll never be like me."

She bucked angrily beneath him, succeeding only in rocking her hips against his. "Let me up, you damned monster." She didn't check her tears as she struggled under him.

Kyo's jaw clenched as he pushed her shoulders into the floor. "Stop it, you little idiot. What would you do if I let you up?"

"I would kill you!" She fought to keep her voice at a furious hiss.

With a barely perceptible sigh, he leaned back and pulled his hands away from her wildly twisting torso. Instead of lunging at him with the blade still clutched in her hand, Yuya scooted as far away as she could and crouched into a little huddle of misery, cradling the sword in her arms. Even in the dark, Kyo could see the trail of tears tracking down her cheeks as they shone in the moonlight.

"Stupid woman," he said gruffly. He stood and strode to where she was bent over, crouching down in front of her. "What happened to your plans of killing me?"

Yuya did lunge at him then, with a barely restrained cry. He let himself be knocked over backward and she ended up straddling his waist, the tip of the dagger hovering over his throat.

"Come on then," he said with infuriating calm. He smirked and placed his hands behind his head. "Let's see you have your revenge."

"Damn you," she said quietly, her tears hitting his face.

"You're thinking too much again."

Yuya stiffened. Ending his life was proving much more difficult than she imagined. All she had to do was press just a little harder and the blade would break his skin, puncture his jugular and then he would bleed out to death. It was so simple and yet…

She trembled with uncertainty and then jerked as she felt his large hands cup the back of her thighs.

"What are you doing?" She demanded indignantly.

"I got bored of waiting."

She studied his placid face incredulously as his hands slowly traveled up her thighs. Kyo's smirk widened then, and one hand smoothed up her side, past her ribs, over her breast and across her collarbone. His long finger wound around the nape of her neck, the rough pad of his thumb brushing the underside of her chin.

"You really can't take a life, can you, Yuya?"

He didn't give her a chance to prove him wrong. With just the slightest of force to the pressure point at the base of her neck, she slumped forward against him, the dagger clattering to the floor. Grunting, he rolled her onto her back, letting her hit the futon just beside them. He stood, staring down at her unconscious form. After a moment's pause, he knelt back down, his hand going to the hilt of her dagger.

He spun the dagger away from them and it slid across the room. Then, he heaved himself on the futon beside her, pulling her none too gently into his chest. With a devious grin, he pressed a long finger into her shoulder and pushed the collar of her yukata down to her elbow. Kyo wedged one knee between her lithe legs and secured her waist to his with an arm.

He smiled into her skin and wondered what kind of conclusions she would jump to when she woke.