Last Punch

"C'mon, Mitsurugi! Throw another punch!" Shizuma called sarcastically. They both knew they were too weak; barely able to stay standing.

"On the count of three," she finally replied. "One."

"Two."

"Three," they said together. Their arms shot out, each landing squarely on the other's shoulder. The force pulled their weakened bodies together. They both fell to the ground. The match was over. But no one else was around to know.

Ryoko broke down crying; out of sadness, pain, and fear. Her tears mixed with the blood from her cuts, stinging her bruised and battered body. Fighting constantly had taken it's toll on her. The emotions she had kept inside for so long had finally reached the surface. The tears flowed from her eyes uncontrollably.

Shizuma watched her curl up into a ball, her entire body shaking with the force of the sobs. He reached a hand out and placed it on her shoulder to comfort her. She flinched instinctively at the touch, then opened her eyes to see him smiling at her. She crawled over to him, allowing him to wrap his arms around her. She put her head against him chest, listening to his racing heartbeat.

"A last punch?" he asked, moving away slightly.

"Sure," she replied, lifting her less bruised arm and lightly tapping his shoulder with her fist. They both laughed a little. Shizuma pushed himself to his feet slowly. When he was standing, he reached a hand out to help Ryoko up. She grabbed his hand and he pulled her up to him.

She felt her knees go weak and her face heat up. "Ryoko, are you okay?" he whispered, as she nearly slipped back to the floor. He wrapped his arm more tightly around her waist to keep her up.

"Um, I guess so, " she answered, leaning against him to steady herself.

"I didn't mean to go so hard on you."

"That's alright, I'm getting used to it." She turned away, not wanting to face him.

"I'm sorry." He delicately turned her face towards him. "I'm truly sorry." Ryoko looked into his eyes and felt like she was about to melt in her arms. His eyes were filled with sincerity and love. It made her so happy to see him this way.

"I love you so much," she whispered, wrapping her arms around his neck.

"I love you, too," he whispered back. He picked her up and swung her in a circle. Then his legs buckled and they fell down, Ryoko landing on top of him. She laughed softly as she put her lips to his.

THE END