Chapter 7: Promises

--

Kazuma dreamed about Kanami.

She was screaming and he couldn't save her. She was hurt and he hadn't been there to protect her. And he hated himself for it.

When he woke up with a start on the couch in her living room, he wondered if he should leave. His head was fuzzy with sleep and with doubt, and he squeezed his eyes shut and gritted his teeth. His fists clenched in the blanket on the couch. It was going to be difficult for him not to do anything about those monsters that had hurt his Kanami.

At the same time, he felt a different anger. Anger at himself for not staying with her. Because he suddenly realized that home was where he was needed most. He leaned forward and held his head in his hands, rubbing furiously at his eyes. His alter stirred at the rage of emotions inside him, growling to come to life. He pushed it away…this feeling was almost like an illness. He felt feverish and disoriented, dizzy. His sickness would only be remedied by one thing.

He opened the door to Kanami's room, the scent of her hitting him like cool and soothing air. Her eyes opened immediately and he could see their green in the light from the window. "Hi," she said, "Would you like to sit?"

Kazuma mentally slapped himself. He should have known that her alter would have picked up on his emotions immediately. "Okay." His voice came out surprisingly hoarse, and he coughed a little as he sat down next to her.

"I don't want you to worry about this," she said abruptly, sitting up and looking him in the eye, "That ordeal is over. And we both know that if you lose your temper, it will only cause more trouble."

He clenched his jaw and took a deep breath, forcefully shutting his eyes. "I can't stop thinking about those bastards…touching you…"

Her hand covered his. "Let me help you."

A wave of calm washed over his mind, and Kazuma's jaw slackened. He looked at her in confusion dulled by the intrusion on his mind. "What are you doing?" he asked her. He felt like he should be worried or panicked…but all he felt was her soothing touch.

"It's my alter," she said, "Kazuma…I don't want you to go after those men because…they're not in a prison. They're in an insane asylum."

He kept on getting more and more mellow, so he was only slightly disturbed by what she'd just said. Her tears were hot as they fell on his hand, going unnoticed by the passive alter user. "Okay…"

Then she jerked her hand away and the emotions were gone. His eyes widened in understanding. "They're in an insane asylum…"

"I drove them crazy," she whispered, "I didn't know what I was doing…but after that first time, they got away and came after me again. And I did something to them…I used their fear. I used it to make them crazy."

Kazuma thought about that uninvited force in his mind and he unconsciously moved away from her. "You used it on me…"

She let out a sob, covering her face in her hands. "I can't help it sometimes…I'm sorry…"

"When did you find out you could do this?"

"With those guys…it was the first time. I didn't know before that. And Mimori had already left…I was completely alone. I didn't have anyone to help me try to control it."

Kazuma's eyes narrowed. "How am I supposed to know that what I feel is real when I'm with you?"

"I swear I haven't used it on you before…"

"Why didn't you just tell me?"

She swallowed hard. "Because sometimes I can't live with the guilt, and it's easier to pretend it didn't ever happen."

--

Mimori woke up to the sound of a door swinging shut in the darkness and she came to her senses quickly. "Ryuhou?" she said, looking around frantically. No answer. And then she heard the sound of water running and the door to the bathroom opened to reveal Ryuhou walking towards her and wearing…nothing. She blushed, averting her eyes and remembering that she too was naked.

"Did you think I was leaving again?" he asked, sliding back into bed next to her and snaking an arm around her shoulders. She nestled into his chest awkwardly, not used to being so intimate with him.

"It's not as if you haven't done it before…" she said quietly, breathing him in. He kissed the top of her head lightly.

"I'm not going anywhere," he said shortly.

She propped herself up and looked him in the eyes, the full moon lightening up the room. "Promise?"

Ryuhou sighed thoughtfully, delicately touching her face. "I've felt so empty," he said, "I don't ever want to feel that way again."

Tears fell on his face from the woman above him. "Ryuhou…" she started.

He wiped the tears from her face, smiling. "I love you too."

--

Kazuma had a lot of thinking to do.

He leaned against Kanami's door as he shut it behind him, sighing. He could hear her crying on the other side…and his most immediate thought was to go to her and comfort her. But how could he trust his own feelings anymore? She might have been putting thoughts in his head the whole time he had been here…what if she had used her alter to make him stay? To make him kiss her? To make him feel the way he did? He didn't want to think about it…

The fact that she hadn't told him about her alter just made things more suspicious. But if she was a liar, then why would she have told him tonight? Guilt?

The Kanami he knew would never have manipulated him. But the Kanami he knew had never hurt anyone either, and she had quite obviously hurt those men who had attacked her.

What if she had provoked them into it in the first place?

He sat down on the couch and flipped on the TV. The morning news was on, and he smiled when a show came on to reveal photographs of two people he recognized sitting in a restaurant.

"Mimori Kiryu was seen last night in a restaurant with diplomat Ryuhou Tairen…"

Kazuma hated the guy. Why should that asshole get everything he wanted when Kazuma, who considered himself a hero, got screwed over repeatedly?

He was going to have to leave.

Kazuma gathered his things together and put them in his duffel bag. He cleaned up the couch and stacked the blankets and pillows neatly. It would be better for both he and Kanami if he left, he told himself. He turned off the TV and walked towards the door, breathing in the scent of her home one last time.

"Don't go."

He turned around to see her standing in the living room behind him, her hands on her hips. Her long hair covered anything that would be particularly…visible…through her white nightgown, and she looked absolutely beautiful. Kazuma's breath caught in his throat.

He had fallen in love with her.

"I have to."

Kanami shook her head. "No, you don't…" She stared him down. "I've never lied to you, or kept anything from you, before this time. And you should understand why I would…it's hard to talk about…"

He frowned but didn't leave, putting his bag down on the ground and crossing his arms. She continued.

"You left last time…and you were unhappy. I know you were because I could feel it…and I just…I just want you to be happy, Kazuma. Because I'll always know if you're not and it…it hurts…" –she brought her hand to her heart- "…it hurts here. I don't want to hurt anymore."

"How am I supposed to trust you?" he whispered.

"I think you already do," she replied.

He knew in his heart that he did. That if he left now, he would be making a stupid decision. Her words echoed in his mind. Sometimes I can't live with the guilt… What if he returned next time to find that she wasn't here anymore? How could he live with himself if he let this opportunity for happiness…finally, happiness…pass him by?

"You always leave," she said, "You don't have to. But you do. And I think it's because you…you're running away from actually feeling something. I know it's easier not to. But I also know that it can be the most rewarding thing in life. Please…stay this time. You always ruin your own life. Don't let it happen again."

He crossed the room in a few long steps and she welcomed him into his arms, her happiness radiating out of her. "I would never hurt you," she said, beginning to cry again.

"I know…I guess I was just upset because you don't need me to protect you anymore," he said, holding her and giving her a grin.

"I'll always need you," she said, touching his face. "I always have, and I always will."

"I feel the same way," he murmured.

They kissed, and she looked down at the floor.

"I think we should go back to bed now," she said demurely, her eyelashes hiding her green irises.

This time, Kazuma could tell that it was an invitation.

THE END

--

A/N: Wow!! It's actually finished! Yay yay yaaaaay.

Sorry if the characters were OOC. I haven't watched this show in more than a year…but I read over the story the other day and realized I could finish it! So there you have it. The end. Thanks everyone who reviewed, and sorry for the wait! Hope you enjoyed the last chapter!

--Kat