AUTHOR'S NOTE: Okay, this is the third story in the collection that started with Upsetting the Balance and just finished with Child of Darkness. There are some original characters that I created in this, so if you're unfamiliar with obviously didn't read the other two stories! You can keep reading if you want...but you're gonna be up chocolate creek without a paddle.

Okay, the REAL AN: This story is written a little differently. There are going to be HUGE sections written in italics. You'll catch on very quickly as to what the italics are. I don't want to give it away too early though. Also, some of the italics are written in bold. Again, you'll learn very quickly as to why. These two things are key to the entire story, which is why I'm writing this short novel of an AN. Okay, thank you everyone for being so patient while I got this one out. It's REALLY long, so be happy!

CHAPTER 1: Road Trip!


Kei groaned, pushing his head further under his pillow and groped blindly for the alarm clock. He found it on the nightstand and gave it his version of the snooze button. He shoved it on the floor and listened to it break open. He'd worry about it later, at least it was quiet now.

The bed moved next to him and Sete groaned. "God, what time is it?" she mumbled. Her hand worked it's way up under his shirt to rub his back. He hissed at how cold her hand was but didn't bother telling her to stop. She wouldn't anyway.

"Early," he mumbled back. Why the hell did he set that alarm again? He could feel the sunlight and knew it had to be really early from how weak it was. God, why did he set that damn alarm?

The door to his room was flung open and an annoyingly cheerful voice called, "RISE AND SHINE!"

"There will be no rising before nine, and no shining until ten or until I've had a cup of coffee," Kei replied. He heard Sete's little chuckle from under her own pillow. They both yelped and made a grab for the covers that were yanked off them.

Himeno stood at the foot of the bed, full dressed and grinning. She held the blanket and sheet in one hand, the other on her hip. "Come on, we're gonna be late! Mawata just called and said they were bringing the car over now. Get up!"

"What are you babbling about?" Kei snarled, pushing his long hair out of his eyes to glare at her better.

"Our road trip of course! Remember? My mom and dad rented a car for us to take to the beach for two weeks? Kei, you better not have forgotten!"

Oh, right. The beach. Now he remembered why he'd set the alarm. Scowling, he grabbed his robe from the bedpost and threw it on, tugging Sete's arm.

"Lemme know when it gets here," she said, voice muffled by the pillow.

Kei whipped the pillow off her head, grabbed her wrist and hauled her over his shoulder.


"If I have to get out of MY BED," he stressed the fact it was, in fact, his bed. "You're coming with me."

"I hate you. If you don't wanna get groined, you better get me a damn cup of coffee," she said, hanging over his shoulder like a rag doll.

Himeno laughed and practically skipped for the door. "There's coffee in the kitchen! And pancakes, too. Blaise got up extra early to make them."

"He's as crazy as Kei," Sete remarked dryly. She yelped when he smacked her ass. "DEAD! YOU'RE DEAD WHEN I GET DOWN!"

Smiling, Kei carried her over his shoulder to the kitchen before dropping her to get his coffee mug.

Blaise was at the stove, flipping two pans at once. This week, his hair was red with white tips spiked up in messy pieces. "Morning, duckies! How do you want your pancakes? We can do doughy, flat, fluffy, cajun-,"

"Cajun?" Sete asked, taking the coffee Kei handed to her.

Blaise grinned and motioned to the plate of blackened pancakes that Shin, Hajime and Mannen were eating in delight. "You char 'em so they soak up more syrup. Those three are gonna be on a sugar rush the whole trip."

Sete and Kei exchanged glances. "He's dead, not you," Sete said, taking a sip of black coffee.

Hayate stumbled into the kitchen, still blinking and in his pajamas. Himeno ran up to him and kissed him. He just stared at her like she was a strange bug he couldn't decide to leave alone or squish. "Good morning, Hayate," she said bubbly.

"Is it?" he croaked out. Clearly he'd just gotten up as well.

Laughing, Himeno opened the fridge and pulled out the orange juice pitcher. "Yep, it's a great morning! Did you sleep well? You look a little tired!"

"Someone kept kicking me," Hayate said, taking the orange juice she handed to him and chugging it back. "And then I just started falling asleep after the kicker left when the smoke alarm outside the bedroom went off."

Blaise chuckled and turned around. Kei's eyebrows went up. Covering the front of the Englishman's black t-shirt and khaki pants was a bright pink frilly apron. "What, admiring me bit o' fanciness?" he joked, grinning at Kei.

"Pink's your color for sure," Kei answered, arm sneaking behind Sete's waist to give her a quick little hug. Coffee was so good! He poured another cup and refilled hers as well.

"Thanks, mate! I was thinkin' about dying me hair pink sometime."

"You'd look like a Barbie doll," Mannen said around his cajun pancakes.

Blaise whacked Mannen in the back of the head. "Bloody prat! Finish yer pancakes!"

"Are we going to the beach today?" Shin asked, legs swinging back and forth excitedly.

"Yeah," Hajime answered, sitting on his knees in his chair. He leaned across the table and grabbed more syrup to douse his pancakes in.

Hayate grabbed the bottle before Hajime could use it. "It looks like you three have had enough sugar," he said, eying the pools still sitting on the plates.

Blaise slid a plate of pancakes over to Sete and Kei. "Thought you'd like the fluffy ones," he said before flipping the two skillets at once.

"And then she sighs and whispers, 'But we were meant for each other! I simply cannot survive without you!' And he says..." Yayoi and Feryn entered then, fully dressed and staring into each others eyes like there was nothing else around them.

Groaning, Kei used the excuse of kissing Sete's cheek to mutter, "Goddamn chipper people in the morning."

Sete smiled and patted his cheek. "Let's kill them, darling, what do you think?"

"That's better than my voodoo doll idea." She laughed and returned to her coffee.

Himeno clapped her hands to get everyone's attention. "Okay! The car's gonna be here any minute so everyone get dressed and ready! Blaise, don't worry about clean up, my mom's sending over some cleaners to take care of it! Come ON, hustle!"

Shin, Hajime and Mannen went screaming from the room, waving their arms in the air excitedly. They started hauling their bags to the front door and dropping them there. Feryn and Yayoi, who already had their stuff neatly arranged by the door, sat down and started snuggling and kissing.

Kei rolled his eyes. "God, do you two know how to clear a room. Excuse me while I puke!"

Blaise whipped off his apron, grabbing a handful of six pancakes and shoving them into his mouth. "Right behind you, mate," he said around the food, stealing the syrup from Hayate and pouring it straight into his mouth.

"Oh, that's real nice, Blaise," Hayate called after him. Blaise's only answer was a muffled laugh.

Sete stopped at the door to the kitchen and scowled when Hayate made no move to get dressed. "Hey, how come he doesn't have to hustle?" she demanded.

"It takes me about five minutes to get ready, that's why," he answered. "You and Kei spend too much time trying to out pretty the other.""Hey, Hayate? Bite me!" Sete shot back. Kei dragged her away before anything other than a quick insult was thrown.

Hayate smiled and went to the sink to rinse his glass out. It was an automatic gesture that stemmed from him being a neat freak. As if suddenly realizing Himeno was sitting on the counter with some tea, leaned over and kissed her cheek. "Sorry, good morning. I wasn't awake enough to say it earlier."

Himeno smiled and put the plate of pancakes she was eating between them. "Want some?"

Eyes going wide, he almost choked on the coffee he was now drinking. "What? You, sharing food? Unbelievable! OUCH!"

Scowling, she brought her fist back again threateningly. "Wanna keep it up? I've been up for two whole hours already, buddy!"

"I know." He smiled again and gave her a more proper kiss. And just as he'd planned, her fist unballed. He drew back slowly, smiling.

Realizing what he'd just done, Himeno gave him a mock glare. "You're a jerk! Get dressed, cuz I'm not waiting for you!"

Hayate drained off the rest of his coffee and waved a hand in her direction. "Okay, okay! I'm going! Geeze, you're worse than a mother hen!" His breath left him as she jumped from the counter top onto his back, arms choking a little and legs wrapping around his waist.

"Yep, just a regular monkey on your back." She laughed at her own joke, helping to get a more comfortable position on his back as his hands went under her thighs to support her better. And she kept laughing when he piggy backed her all the way to his room before setting her down outside the door.

He turned around, touching her cheek gently. "I missed waking up to you," he said softly before kissing her again.

Himeno sighed against his lips, arms going around his neck. She could taste the coffee on him, but even that was nice. It was still him and he made her heart speed up with just a glance, a little twitch of a smile. She really did love him! When he drew back, she made a small protesting sound, but stepped back all them same.

He was still brushing his fingers against her cheek, fingers trailing in the curled edges of her hair. "Are you sure about this?"

"About what, wanting to kiss you until you can't breath? Sounds like fun!"

Smiling, he shook his head. "No, this. The trip. I mean, it's only been a month since..."

Himeno sighed. Why did he have to remind her of that? "Trust me. I NEED this! I think we all do. Now, get dressed and hurry up. If you don't make it out before Kei, he's gonna mock you the whole trip!"

Grimacing at giving the ascerbic Knight of Light an excuse to mock him, Hayate kissed her again and went into his room, shutting the door behind him.

Sighing again, Himeno leaned against the wall, closing her eyes. Maybe getting away for a bit would do more than relax everyone. She was hoping that being away from it all would FINALLY let her sleep without the nightmares. It was why she'd been awake before everyone else. She'd been dreaming about that day...when she had had almost killed Hayate. She had thought she was over it, but she wasn't. It kept nagging at her when she closed her eyes at night. It wasn't as bad when she slept over at the safe house with him and woke up with him sprawled all over her (he liked to hog the bed), the smell of his shampoo on the pillow under her head. But when she was alone, in her room at home...sometimes, she thought the dreams were so real she'd wake up screaming, hands burning with the memory of being around his throat. Himeno opened her eyes and stared at her hands, holding them in front of her. These hands...they almost...almost...

Long fingers covered her hands, brought them up to thin lips. Hayate had come out while she was lost in thought. He smiled gently, squeezing her hands. "Ready, Tulip-head?"

Himeno's eyes narrowed at the nickname. "'re lucky I love you too much to break your jaw!"

Hayate put his arm around her shoulder and gave her a quick hug as they walked down the hall. "Love you, too...Tulip-head!"

She shoved him playfully and he laughed.

"Whoa...I thought you said she was bringin' a car, love," Blaise said in awe, eyes looking up and up...and up.

Everyone stood outside gaping at the huge travel bus parked out front. They didn't need to be inside to know it was more luxurious than most houses. The door at the front opened and Mawata stepped off the bus, curls bouncing. She offered a little smile to them and came over, She was wearing a jean skirt today with a pink polo shirt and flipflops. "Sorry we're late," she said quietly.

"Hey...I thought we were taking a van or something," Himeno said, still staring at the bus.

"A van? Oh, no a van would be too common place for Miss Mawata!"

Everyone turned around as a shiny bald head appeared at the door.

Blaise squinted and then blinked. "Blimey, you brought a leprechaun? Where' me pot of gold, little man?"

Himeno smacked herself in the forehead, grimacing at Blaise's joke.

Mr. Tanaka drew his four foot ten inch frame up proudly and said, "I'll have you know that I was the tallest in my third grade." This last was mumbled so low the Knight of Flowers didn't hear.

"Mr. Tanaka, please get their bags stored," Mawata asked. Everyone followed her back on the bus, Blaise quirking a brow at the stilts by the driver's seat for pushing on the gas and break pedals. He muttered something about "crazy little men gettin' us all killed" before pulling out his iPod and taking a seat near the back.

The interior had rows of extra wide cushioned seats, more like La-Z-Boys than bus seats. All of the seats had their own miniature tvs. There was a bathroom in the back that even had a shower in it. A fridge was in the back as well, completely stocked with snacks and beverages.

"Wooooooowwww!" Mannen and Hajime exclaimed together. The two looked at each other and then ran for the window seats. Shin followed them, sitting in a seat right in front of them so he could also look out the window.

Kei and Sete took the seats near the front and as far away from the three younger Knights as possible. Yayoi and Feryn found some in the middle and immediately began a mock argument over who loved who more. Mawata, after some prompting from Himeno, went to the back and sat near Blaise, who winked at her but didn't say a word. He was already lost in his music.

This then left Hayate and Himeno with the difficult task of picking their poison. Hayate sighed and said, "If we sit up front, Tanaka's going to be watching us like a cat on a mouse."

"And sitting near Yayoi and Feryn is gonna make me puke," Himeno mumbled.

"I don't want to sit near the kids on a sugar rush."

"But I don't wanna interupt Blaise and Mawata."

They glanced at each other and then Hayate shrugged. "We could sit in front of the younger three. They'll be out soon when they crash."

Himeno nodded. It was a full day and a half drive to the beach. She was kind of glad they weren't all crammed into a van now for the same reasons they couldn't decide where to sit. She followed him back a few rows, letting him take the window seat. She was going to sleep anyway.

Hayate lifted the armrest from between them so that she could snuggle up against him. They then spent a few minutes while Mr. Tanaka was loading the bus to squirm around until they found a comfortable spot. "So, your mom owns a beach house, too?" he asked. Her head was on his chest and it made her smile to feel his voice vibrate against her ear.

She nodded, hugging his arm closer around her. He had one leg stretched across all three seats and had his back to the side of the bus, one of the seat pillows between him and the glass. She was lying down sort of on top of him, on her back, with both legs stretched out alongside his. "Yep, and it's ours until we all get bored with it!" She scowled when Hajime shoved Shin's seat and sent the smaller knight into theirs.

"Sorry, Himeno," Shin said, standing on his seat and peaking over at them.

"S;okay, sprout," she said, ruffling his hair up.

Shin smiled and giggled before turning to look over his seat at Mannen and Hajime.

Mr. Tanaka climbed on board and started the bus. The sound of the engine starting up got Blaise's attention from in back. "Oi, are you tellin' me the wee little man's driving the bus?" he asked in a not-so-quiet whisper to Mawata.

Himeno's laugh burst out of her in a quick snort that Hayate covered up with his hand. They both knew how Mr. Tanaka reacted to things like that and didn't want it directed at them.

They weren't disappointed either. The angry blush slowly spread from his cheeks all the way up his bald head. "I have been driving for the Awayuki family since BEFORE they were the Awayuki family!" he exploded. "And if a common street hoodlum such as yourself has a problem with can ride...THE PUBLIC BUS!"

Blaise sank down as far as he could into his seat, pulling the hood to his sweatshirt up to hide in better. "Blood hell, mate," he mumbled. Mawata was trying very hard not to smile, and was failing at it miserably.

"Can we go now?" Mannen whined, standing up in his seat to see up front.

Hajime joined him, bouncing up and down. "Yeah, we wanna go! Come on, come on!"

"Let's go! Let's go!" Shin added, smiling happily at this new game.

"Mannen, Hajime, Shin, sit down," Hayate said sharply.

All three were quick to listen, Mannen grumbling about taking orders on vacation.

Once everyone was seated again, Mr. Tanaka pulled away from the front of the house and started the long drive to the beach.

Mawata kept glancing over at Blaise, who seemed completely lost in his music. Himeno had said to sit next to him and try talking...but she didn't know what to say! She had his screen name and they talked online all the time, but he didn't know it was her. He thought she was loneangel, a girl who liked everything from opera to Offspring. he'd asked several times if they'd ever met and what her name was...but she'd never told him. She was too scared. The last knight she'd had feelings for...

She crossed her arms over her stomach and looked out the window. No, that was different. She hadn't actually loved Sasame. She loved how he made her feel normal, like what she had been going through emotionally was perfectly natural. He had accepted her, and that was why she had cared for him. This, with Blaise, was the opposite. She didn't need anything from him, whereas with Sasame she needed to hear him reassure her constantly. Blaise made her laugh. He was very kind, always looking out for the others. She really, really liked him.

Taking a deep breath and letting it out, Mawata turned to ask Blaise a question...

Only to find him watching her from under the hood to his sweatshirt. Blushing, she looked away again.

Blaise pulled one earphone out and said, "Right, so what kind of music you interested in?"

"Huh?" Mawata turned back in surprise. Was he...was he talking to her?

"Music? You know, that stuff with the notes and the voices and instruments?" He was grinning at her, brown eyes flickering with amusement.

"Oh...all kinds." Such a horrible answer! Everyone said that. Why did she have to go and say something so cliche?

"All kinds, huh? Well, me too. Got everything on here from Tori Amos to Led Zeppelin to Puccini to Jimmy Buffet. What's your poison?"


"What do you wanna listen to, love? You look bored to tears." He pulled out an extra pair of earphones with a little attachment that would allow them to both listen and plugged it all in, handing her the extra pair.

"Oh, thank you." Mawata smiled, heart beating a little faster. He was being so nice about this! She knew from talking to him online that he really loved music. His favorite changed with each week though (like his hair color) so it was hard to say what to listen to.

"So, I'm guessing you're a classical girl, right? Lotsa piano and arias and all that?" he continued, scrolling through the music menu on his iPod.

Holding her breath nervously, Mawata took a chance and said, "I do like classical, but a friend just got me into listening to the Dresden Dolls. Do you have that?" She knew he did. He was the friend who told her to listen to them.

Blaise looked up, blinking in surprise. " Dresden Dolls? That's right brilliant, that is! Right-o, Dresden Dolls it is!"

Mawata smiled and let her held breath out. "Thank you, Blaise."

"Anything for a lady!" They settled back in their seats, both closing their eyes and settling in for the drive.

Himeno peeked up over her seat to the back of the bus. Did Mawata..."Ahh!"

Hayate pulled her back down again. "Stop checking on them, it's creepy," he complained.

"Creepy? How the hell is it creepy?" she demanded.

"What if they're hitting it off back there and they look up and see some Tulip-head peering over the seat at them? It would freak me out."

Himeno scowled and elbowed him in the stomach. Hayate grunted, eyes opening, but still smiling. "I wasn't peering anyway! I was merely...looking in."

He laughed quietly and pulled her down again. She sighed, resuming her former position. This was nice, just lying here with him. So quiet and...

"If you'd had a ski mask, you would have looked like a stalker."

"Me? A stalker? Again, who was peeping through the bushes when we first met?"

He was fully awake now. "I wasn't peeping, how many different ways do I need to say it? YOU were the one actually in the bushes! If anything, I should be angry at you for that!"

"WHAT?" She sat up, fuming. Mannen, Hajime and Shin had all run for cover, going over to Feryn and Yayoi. Feryn seemed mighty annoyed he'd had to unstick his tongue from Yayoi's throat.

Hayate sat up as well, eyes blazing. "Weren't you the one to throw herself on top of me?" he shouted back.

"I sure as hell didn't THROW myself on you! You got in my way!"

"Did not!"

"Did too!"

"Oi! You up front! Keep the foreplay in the bedroom!"

The entire bus fell silent at Blaise's remark. Kei and Sete looked back from the front of the bus, eyes wide. Mr. Tanaka almost swerved into a ditch. Himeno and Hayate sank down into their seats as far as possible, both redder than red. "Was that absolutely necessary, Blaise?" Hayate called back.

"It was for me peace o' mind! How am I to enjoy me music with you two makin' all that racket?"

"What's foreplay?" Shin asked loudly.

Kei and Sete started laughing from the front at the young Knight of Plants' innocent inquirery.

Shin, looking around confused at all the shocked stares, made big teary eyes.

"It is a game for adults," Feryn explained simply. "It is like hop scotch or jacks..."

"Or Twister," Blaise snickered from the back. Mawata, jaw dropped but trying not to laugh, elbowed him sharply.

"Oh, God," Himeno groaned, covering her eyes. Twister was now definately ruined. It was Shin's favorite game.

"Ohh! Okay!" Shin seemed happy with the answer and sat down again in between Hajime and Mannen.

Himeno felt Hayate's hands on hers, prying them away from her face. "Now that they're not right behind us..." Her arms went around his neck when he kissed her. It was nothing major or serious like what Feryn and Yayoi had been doing earlier, just several little quick kisses that still managed to get her stomach fluttering.

"Are we there yet?"

They both froze at Hajime's complaint. "Please, no..." Hayate grimaced when the same thing was repeated by Shin and then Mannen.

"We are not there yet, and we will not be there for several hours still," Mr. Tanaka replied irritably.

"But why not? We can get there faster if we-mmph!" Mannen and Hajime were quick to cover Shin's mouth before he spilled anything about them being leafe knights.

"We can get there quieter if we throw you three off the bus," Kei commented dryly.

"Hey, that's really mean, Kei!" Hajime shouted.

"I know. It's true though."

"And if you three are lucky, we might even slow the bus down," Sete added.

It got the three quiet and very quickly settled in a matter of seconds.

" two are gonna make such cute parents," Blaise hollered from the back.

"WHAT!" Both Sete and Kei jumped at that, whirling around with panic-stricken eyes.

Blaise started laughing and kept laughing when the other two threw two pillows and a bag of peanuts at him. "Look, Mawata, they're givin' us presents!"

"When this bust stops, I'm gonna be giving you a hell of a lot more," Sete threatened.

"Can all of you enfants please quiet down? Ma belle fleur and I cannot read with all this racket," Feryn shouted.

"Readin' your soft porn again are, ya?" Blaise sneered. It drove him insane to find romance novels lying around the house.

"What's porn?" Shin asked loudly. Again, the bus almost swerved into a ditch.

"Blaise!" Hayate shouted as a warning.

"What?" Blaise asked back innocently.

"Keep the conversation PG, got it?"

"Whatever you say, boss," the Englishman mumbled, sinking back into his seat and scowling.

Mawata leaned in and whispered, "I agree with you. I can't stand going into my mom's library and finding all that romance stuff all over."

Blaise smiled and rolled his eyes to the ceiling. "Thank you, God, for puttin' me with such an understandin' woman!"

Blushing, Mawata smiled and even took a little risk by leaning up closer to him, using his shoulder for support. Perhaps she would come out and tell him on this trip. That was the soul reason she was coming, anyway. Well, that and Himeno had asked her to.

The bus fell silent as the three younger knights fell asleep, their sugar-induced high fading and leaving them exhausted. Feryn and Yayoi were reading together, mixed with little make-out sessions if the characters got..."closer". Blaise and Mawata were listening to music. Kei and Sete were talking softly up front.

Which left Hayate and Himeno alone. Hayate sighed, putting his seat back as far as it would go. "I'm going to sleep," he said.

"Oh, me too," Himeno added. She put the seat down next to his so that it made an awkward little bed. Hayate smiled and let her snuggle in next to him, even sharing the small pillow with her. He was out very quickly, which left Himeno awake and staring at the opposite wall. She really wanted to sleep...but she was afraid. What if those horrible dreams came back? SIghing, she shifted a little to try and get more comfortable. Hayate sighed, arm tightening around her to hold her closer. It was a subconscious reaction, one that made her smile and settle back against him. She really did love him. There was no way those dreams could end the way they did. Never! Himeno closed her eyes and went to sleep.

"Goh! NOO! Don't do it, Goh!"

"HIMENO! You need to get out of there now!"

"Not without Goh! GOH! PLEASE, GOH!"

"It's the only way. I'm sorry, Himeno."

Himeno? Himeno, wake up!

Himeno sat right up, gasping, sweat dripping down her face and breathing hard. Hayate was sitting next to her, a concerned look on his face. "What...what happened?" she choked out, fighting the tears that stung her eyes. Goh...

"We stopped for dinner at a rest station. Mr. Tanaka's taking a break. Were you having a bad dream?" He was touching her cheek gently, pushing back damp pieces of hair and looking really worried.

"I...I guess you could say that," she mumbled. God, that was so horrible! The whole incident played through her mind again, but not as startlingly real as the dream had been. "Hayate?"


"Can you just hold me?"

His arms went around her, one hand rubbing her back. He kissed her cheek and then her shoulder gently. "Hey, calm down. It was only a dream, Himeno."

She knew that. She knew that it was only a dream of what had happened a year ago. It didn't change how it was making her feel right now. Himeno wrapped her arms around his waist, breathing in that crisp apple scent he wore, letting the steady beating of his heart lull her back to a calm state. He always had such a calming effect on her...except for when they were fighting. But Hayate knew when she needed a hug and when to press her buttons. Right now, it was hugging.

"God, you're really worked up over this," he whispered, still holding her. "What happened?"

She bit her lower lip. It WAS only a dream..."Nothing," she lied. "Just...nothing. I can't remember it."

Whether or not he believed her, Hayate let it slide all the same. "Are you hungry? I brought you some food."

Himeno sat back when she heard paper rustle and he produced a McDonald's bag. "Is it...?"

Hayate made a face and said, "Yes, it is. Chocolate ice cream in a cup with chicken nuggets to dip in it."

Grabbing the bag from him and pulled out all the food in there. His normal hamburger and french fries and her chicken nugget special. They both shared the drink.

"So," she asked, making sure to really swirl her chicken around in the chocolate ice cream. The look Hayate was giving her was torn between looking sick and being disgusted. "Where's everyone else?"

"Inside," Hayate answered absently. He seemed almost too distracted watching her eat to eat himself. "Do you do that on purpose?"

"What, eat it? Yeah, I do! How else am I supposed to live?" Himeno nudged him playfully, stealing some of his fries.

"Hey! Those are mine." He made a grab for her wrist.

Laughing, Himeno quickly shoved the french fries into her mouth. And then made a dive to save her chicken that he snatched from her. She fell right across his lap and was laughing so hard she could barely move. The laughter faded though when he bent over and kissed her, pulling her up so that she was sitting across his legs, fingers combing his long hair free of the clip. Hayate made a small sound, arms going around to pull her in closer to him. She jumped a little when his cold hands touched the bare skin of her back, keeping just under her bra and above her jeans. Hayate pulled back when she jerked away, eyes questioning.

Himeno smiled and shook her head. "Your hands are freezing."

"Sorry." He began to pull them away. She grabbed his wrists, stopping him.

"It's okay." She leaned forward and kissed him again, moving her hands from his wrists up his arms and around his neck.

"AHEM! Miss Himeno, that is NOT appropriate behavior! What would Mr. and Mrs. Awayuki say if they could see this?"

"YAHHHH!" Himeno jumped at the sound of Mr. Tanaka's voice behind her and fell off the seat, landing right into the ice cream bowl on the floor of the bus. Hayate managed to grab her arm in time to keep her from whacking her head on the foot rest, but it still hurt her ass.

"Himeno! We heard you scream!" Kei and Sete came running up, almost plowing Mr. Tanaka over.

"It's nothing for you to worry about! Hormones, that's all," Mr. Tanaka declared, going back to the front of the bus.

"EWWW! You two were kissing, weren't you?" Hajime said, twisting his face into a disgusted expression.

"Shut up, Hajime," Hayate bit out.

Hajime stuck his tongue out and Kei smacked him in the back of the head. "OUCH! KEI!"

"You're acting like a bad puppy so you get hit like one. Go get the others. I'd like to get to the beach house sometime soon!"

Hajime grumbled but was quick to do as Kei asked.

Kei, meanwhile, leaned on the seat and shook his head. "Well, I will say one thing for you two. At least you waited to be alone. Unlike a certain other couple." He scowled and looked back over his shoulder as Yayoi and Feryn came back on, Yayoi fixing her glasses, which were a little steamed up.

Himeno wrinkled her nose, suddenly very glad she and Hayate had dinner on the bus. Everyone else piled on, Blaise shouting something about his stomach churning with all the lovey-dovey crap, before taking a seat in the back again with Mawata.

"Everyone, take your seat! We will be arriving at the beach house within the next eight hours!"

Himeno settled back into the seat again with Hayate, leaning her head on his shoulder. Eight more hours and then...