"Chidori….did someone hurt you?"
Souske's voice sounded strange, and Kaname wasn't entirely sure it was due to her winding him in an effort to get away from his strange questioning. She felt his fingers on her chin gently forcing her to look at him and, blinking back her tears, she focused on his face which was once again just inches from hers.
His eyes were lowered looking towards her mouth and Kaname gave a small start of surprise when she realised that the back of her hand was pressed up against her lips in an unconscious effort to wipe that memory away. She lowered her hand and Souske's eyes lifted to stare directly into hers.
There it was again, that soft strange sound that wasn't Souske's usual gruff tone of voice. His voice was full of concern and apparently that concern was for her.
Her own voice also sounded odd to her ears, all nasal and raw. She sniffed deeply trying to clear her eyes of tears and get some control back over her stupid emotions that had her on her knees sobbing into Souske's shirt. She was so emotional that she hadn't understood the words that Souske had spoken to her.
Souske quietly repeated the question.
"Chidori, did someone hurt you?"
Kaname heard the question clearly that time and almost snorted.
"Yes, you idiot, you did!" she shoved at his chest trying to move away but Souske's hand moved quickly from her face to her shoulder and held her firmly in place. "You left! Without a word, you left! I was so damn frightened and you just disappeared and left me!"
Souske's voice sounded pained but Kaname did not pause to let him speak.
"I know, I know; orders!" she continued, "You had your orders and had to leave, but you left me alone and frightened. I was so scared and you weren't there to help me. I couldn't stay here, I knew I wasn't safe. I knew I was being hunted and you weren't here to help me. I was a mission that was over and you had gone. I thought I meant something to you, I thought that you were my friend, but you left. You left!"
All the anger and sadness and rage she had felt because of Souske's abandonment of her welled up and out of Kaname's mouth and she was powerless to stop herself rant on, pausing only to take shaky breaths before continuing.
"She tried to kill me, she wanted me dead. I knew she was watching, I knew she was coming. I ran to tell you that I saw her but you had gone! You had left me behind! And when she came up on that roof top in the rain, I wanted you to be there to save me. I wanted you to appear and protect me! But you didn't!
"And then he killed her! Gave the order and crushed her throat. The sounds of her struggling to breath –" Kaname shuddered, blinking away more tears, "She was going to kill me, but I didn't want her to die. I didn't want anyone to die like that!
"He took my first kiss. The sounds of that girl dying were ringing in my ears, it was raining and cold and he took my first kiss! I hate him for it!" She lifted a fist and pounded it has hard as she could in Souske's chest. "And I hate you for leaving me behind on my own!"
Souske winced as Chidori's fist impacted on his chest. It hurt, but his mind was reeling with the words that were spilling out of her mouth. He grimaced as he sorted through her jumbled sentences picking out details of the events and realising that once again he had misunderstood. R.A.I.N. was nothing more sinister than a weather condition recalled by a traumatised girl. Souske mentally underlined the need to track down Wraith so he could thank him in person for the hint that he had given, preferably through the medium of a gun barrel or, perhaps, a few good kicks.
Chidori had led a relatively protected life and it was not surprising that witnessing the death of a person by strangulation was traumatic to her. It was a particularly nasty way to die, not clean and easy like a bullet to the head or the quick breaking of a neck. Given this information and that it had happened on a wet day, Souske finally understood why Chidori was so lethargic on rainy days and why her bathing habits had changed. It was a known that sometimes smells or visual stimulus triggered post-traumatic stress in soldiers. There was no doubt in Souske's mind that the feeling of moisture like rain disturbed Chidori. He felt stupid for not picking up on it earlier; after all he was a trained professional and had dealt with team members who had suffered similarly after fierce battles.
At least she hadn't been hurt, physically hurt, to the extent that he had initially thought. She had murmured about a lost first kiss and whilst Souske's gut twisted at the thought that someone had touched his mouth to hers, he knew it could have been worse. A lot worse.
Chidori was sniffing again, wiping away tears from her eyes and refusing to look at him. Her mouth was red from where she had repeatedly wiped it with the back of her hand leaving her lips slightly swollen. Souske swallowed as she bit her bottom lip with her teeth in an uncharacteristically nervous manner. She made to speak, but Souske stopped her by lifting one finger-tip to her mouth. He was still processing the information and needed quiet to concentrate.
Although he thought the loss of a first kiss was not major, Chidori obviously felt otherwise. Souske worked through what he knew about the culture in which Chidori had been raised. In Japan kissing in public was frowned upon and from the numerous mangas that Chidori and others in her class had forced upon him, it was apparent that a first kiss was important to both Japanese boys and girls.
Something was still not quite in place. There had been many wet days since he had returned from Hong Kong and Chidori had not reacted so dramatically on those other days. Souske ran through the facts once again, this time recalling that he had seen a phone call from an unknown source on Chidori's cell phone.
"Chidori," he began again in as soft a tone as he could muster, trying not to upset or alarm her and also a little wary about how she would react if she knew he had been snooping around her phone, "Chidori, did someone call this morning that upset you?"
Chidori stiffened and then nodded.
"That man. That man who killed her," she said, her lips twisting in dislike.
"What was his objective?" Souske questioned, angry again that he had allowed such a breach in Chidori's security.
She hesitated for a moment and then turned her face towards the window and the outside gloom.
"He told me I looked beautiful in the rain."
Souske's stomach clenched, but he frowned and nodded to himself. He now had enough information to deal with the situation and finish his mission of bringing Chidori back to her usual energetic self. In one fluid motion he got to his feet ignoring the ache his solar plexus was giving him where Chidori had landed her blow. He bent down and held out a hand to Chidori who looked up at him with suspicion before hesitantly lifting her hand to his.
Giving her hand a slight squeeze of reassurance, he pulled her to her feet then walked to the door of her bedroom. He hurried her through for two reasons; he did not want her to focus too much on the damage he had caused and he also did not want her to start fighting him when she realised what his intentions were.
So far as security went, his plan was a nightmare. In normal circumstances he would never leave Chidori as exposed as he intended to do now, but these were not normal circumstances. Without giving Chidori a moment to hesitate he moved swiftly to the balcony doors and slid them open. Twisting, he pulled Chidori around from behind him and unceremoniously shoved her out the door into the rain before he slid the door closed and locked her outside.
Chidori gave a little 'eep' of surprise as she found herself out on her balcony dressed only in her pyjamas which offered little protection from the cold drizzle that was falling from the sky. The chill of wet cloth on her skin, the feel of rain dampening her hair and face were sensations much too reminiscent of that time on the roof and she shuddered before spinning around to face Souske who had his face pressed up against the glass of her balcony window.
He was looking a little edgy, the way he did just when he realised he had done something stupid and she was going to hit him with a paper fan or her fist. Kaname had no energy for this today. All she wanted was to get inside and hide from the horrid sensation of rain water on her skin.
She took a step towards the door, reached out and grasped the handle to try and slide it open. It remained firmly shut. Locked. She stared at the water droplets on the back of her hand as she continued to hold tightly the handle.
"Let me in, Souske." Kaname's voice was quiet, but firm.
"You have to address your fears, Chidori."
Souske's voice was muted behind the glass but Kaname heard him perfectly well.
"What?" she questioned as she jerked at the door again. The glass rattled but the door remained closed.
"You need to face your fears, Chidori." Souske repeated crossing his arms and his eyes darting around the balcony as if he was checking for intruders.
"What?" Kaname shook her head as she tried to understand what Souske was saying.
"Rain is just droplets of water from vapour condensed in the atmosphere. You need to understand that rain is nothing to be frightened of unless you are caught in heavy precipitation on unstable ground. Or in a cloudburst. The rain here is not heavy, nor is the ground unstable. You are safe."
Kaname sighed and dropped her head forward in exasperation allowing it to bang slightly on the glass. As usual Souske had put two and two together and come up with sixteen.
"Souske," she began, "I am not frightened of the rain. I dislike it because it reminds me of the events of that day. So please let me come inside!"
Souske nodded. "Association. It is referred to as Post Traumatic Stress. You need to face the psychological consequences of the confrontation you had. Many soldiers experience this when they are threatened with death and cannot return to their team until they have overcome it because they are a threat to their squad if it remains unresolved."
Kaname's eyebrow began to twitch.
"I'm not a soldier, Souske. Nor am I part of a team. And whatever psychological consequences I may be experiencing I can deal with without your help! Now. Let. Me. In!"
"You are part of a team, Chidori. You are part of my team-"
Kaname's fist banged against the glass hard, and Souske's head moved back quickly alarmed at her sudden violence.
"Part of your team? Don't give me that rubbish! I have never been part of your team. I've only ever been the mission. You made that perfectly clear when you left me alone to defend myself!" Kaname felt the tears begin to well up in her eyes again as she relived the feeling of abandonment.
"I've explained before why I had to leave, Chidori." Souske had pressed his face closer to the glass again, his palms outstretched before him as if he was trying to embrace her through the door. "I had my orders –"
"And you always follow orders," Kaname murmured, crouching down and shivering as the drizzle became heavier, "Don't you understand? Haven't you been listening to me? I'm not frightened of being attacked. I coped with that! I learned from you and I defended myself. I even outsmarted Wraith in an effort to get information about why you disappeared. What happened on that roof with that girl was horrible and I never want to go through something like that again, but I survived it. But that's not what scares me. What I'm frightened of is you!"
Kaname looked up through her wet hair and saw that Souske had also crouched down on his warm dry side of the glass and was looking at her with wide eyes.
"I don't….I don't understand. Explain."
Kaname lowered her head again, shaking it slightly.
"No, I don't suppose you do," she said taking a deep breath and trying to keep calm, "I'm frightened that at any moment, at any time you will disappear from my life again and leave me alone. I'm frightened that you will get orders to go again and not tell me. At any moment when you are not with me you could be packing up your things and leaving. I don't want you to go; I don't want you to abandon me again."
She wrapped her arms around her knees as her tears began to flow again.
"That's why I hate the rain. That's why days like this upset me!"
Kaname didn't hear the door slide open, but Souske was suddenly beside her wrapping his arms around her shoulders pulling her damp body up against his.
"I won't leave you again," he said, resting his forehead against the top of her head, his voice low and hesitant.
"You will get orders-," Kaname argued, but didn't push him away.
"I won't get orders. I've made it clear that my remaining with Mithril is dependant on not withholding information from you in future. If I have to leave, you will be informed."
"But that's just it!" Kaname whispered, closing her eyes tightly, "I don't want you to go. I don't want you to leave, even if you told me you were." She sighed and tilted her face up to look him in the eyes. "Even though you have so many annoying habits, even though you are over zealous and amazingly dense at times, I miss you so much when you are not around. I don't want you to leave, not because you help protect me, but because I miss you. You are my treasured friend."
Souske stared at her, his face tinting slightly red with what could have been a blush or perhaps a reaction to the cold rain on his face.
"Chidori," he began. "Kaname, I don't know what will happen in the future. I can't promise to always be here. Whilst statistically improbable, it is always possible that I could be accidentally killed by being struck by a car, or by lightening-"
"Or carried away by a flash flood caused by a cloud burst," Kaname couldn't stop herself from interrupting.
Souske's normally straight mouth lifted a little at the corner.
"Yes, or killed by an unusual weather pattern. I cannot promise to be here as your friend forever. But, when I think about remaining here with you it makes me feel….warm." Souske's cheeks darkened further.
Kaname felt her own cheeks begin to blush from his words and for the first time on a rainy day since that moment on the roof top she felt her mouth stretch into a smile.
"Ah! And one more thing," Souske spoke fast in the tone of voice that indicated that he was in soldier mode.
Kaname suddenly felt wary. His tone was one that she both liked and was nervous of because it usually meant his mind was working on all sorts of unlikely scenarios, the end result of which was usually one of her being thrown to the floor in an effort to avoid some imagined danger. Kaname tensed accordingly as Souske's eyes darted around the patio before his hand moved up to grip the back of her head to hold her steady. His face loomed close and Souske's mouth attached to hers.
His lips were warm against her chilled skin. For a moment they stood still and stiff, their lips touching but nothing more. And then his lips moved, caressing hers, applying soft pressure that caused bolts of electricity to zoom down to the pit of her belly. Her mind went blank as the sensations overtook her, her mouth moving against his without her even realising it. And then, it was over. He was pulling his mouth up and away from hers and she almost whimpered from the loss of sensation.
"A kiss from a friend to replace the memory of your lost first kiss," Souske said earnestly, his hand dropping from the back of her head to pat her on the shoulder.
Then she blinked again.
Souske tensed as he watched her face begin to flush red and her eyebrow twitch.
"…Souske…." Her voice was a low growl.
He moved back slightly from her, but not swiftly enough to avoid the impressively hard right upper cut her fist landed on his jaw. He flew backwards through the open door to land sprawled and disorientated on the living room floor. Kaname followed, fists clenched, knees slightly bent, feet stomping loudly on the floor in her rage. She stood over him legs akimbo and hands on her hips.
"Souske! You idiot!" she screamed down at him, her eyebrow still twitching.
"…Chidori..?" Souske, perhaps wisely, remained laid out on the floor eyes on the ceiling hoping that she wouldn't kick him while he was down.
Kaname breathed deeply and then turned suddenly. By the sounds of her footsteps Souske could tell she was heading towards the bathroom. Moments later a towel landed on his face, and Souske gratefully used the opportunity of his face being hidden from her to wince from her blow and to use his tongue to check for any loose teeth
"Dry yourself," she said. "I'm going to have a quick shower and then we can go to school."
She turned and re-entered the bathroom closing the door behind her. When the door clicked shut, Souske lifted his hand to his face and pulled the towel away. Sitting up, he half turned to look towards the bathroom door. The sound of the shower starting drifted through mingled with the slightly off key tone of Chidori humming.
Souske's mouth pulled into a smile as he began to rub his hair dry. His mission, despite a very shaky start and mistaken parameters, had been a success. The kiss may have been a mistake but it had certainly returned Chidori to her usual feisty self.
The chirping of his cell phone interrupted Souske's musings. Getting to his feet, Souske quickly retrieved it from his satchel and flicked it open. Eye narrowing he saw that Wraith was calling.
"What?" Souske, despite his good mood, had no intention of being polite to the agent after the vague hints he had been given earlier.
"Do you usually kiss your charges with such finesse?"
The amusement was evident in Wraith's voice despite the voice altering software the agent utilised. Souske grimaced. Wraith must have been observing his encounter with Chidori on the balcony and was probably delighted that Chidori had nearly knocked Souske out.
"Is there a threat?" Souske refused to be baited by Wraith.
"No more than usual," Wraith replied, his words echoing the ones he used earlier that day.
Souske frowned as the dial tone indicated that Wraith had hung up. He turned to the patio door and slid it closed before dropping the towel to the floor to wipe up rain that had blown in. The threat was no more than usual. He looked towards Chidori's cell phone that remained where he had dropped it earlier. He had not forgotten that she had received a phone call from the Amalgam agent. A phone call he felt was dangerous.
Chidori was still at risk and in a strange way Souske found that relaxed him. Kidnap attempts, assassination attempts and attacks he was familiar with and could deal with. He was forewarned and would be prepared should the enemy agent approach Chidori again.
Souske's fingers lifted to his lips as he recalled the sensation of kissing Chidori. Unfamiliar feelings spiked in his abdomen as he remembered how soft her lips were and how warm they felt against his despite the chill upon her skin. Hearing the bathroom door open, he pushed those strange feelings down again and turned to see Chidori emerge from the bathroom looking refreshed and tidy in her uniform.
She paused to simile at him, then turned and walked to the front door. Looking over her shoulder to called back to Souske.
Souske nodded. He was ready to face whatever threat next posed a risk to Chidori. And so was she.
Hope you enjoyed reading it!